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What is transparency mode and how does it work in headphones?

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Apple popularized a feature called “transparency mode” in its fitted AirPods Pro headphones. The feature was also later added to Apple’s expensive on-ear headphones. So what exactly does transparency mode do and how is it used?

Transparency mode on AirPods Pro and Max

The AirPods Pro are Apple’s first pair of noise-canceling headphones. Active Noise Cancellation (or ANC for short) uses microphones to monitor ambient noise around you. The headphones they do their best to mask these frequencies or “cancel” the noise.

Noise-canceling headphones are usually of the in-ear type, as a better seal with the ear means less noise will passively enter. When you turn ANC off, you hear a lot more noise reaching your ears, particularly low frequencies that travel farther, such as traffic noise or engine hum.

AirPods Pro in its case
Apple

The silicone ear tips are quite good at passively blocking noise, which means it can still be difficult to hear the world around you, even when you turn off the ANC. This is where transparency mode comes in.

Using the microphones already found in the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, Apple’s solution channels the outside world into your ears at a comfortable volume. It does this with an imperceptible delay, which was a problem with a previous implementation of this technique for the original AirPods called Live Listen .

How to use transparency mode on AirPods

You can switch between ANC and transparency mode on Apple AirPods Pro by pressing and holding an earbud (the default setting), or by pressing the noise control button on AirPods Max. You can leave the transparency mode on all the time, but it doesn’t necessarily work well this way.

In order to hear people talking, for example when you pay for an item in a store, you probably need to pause the music even at a moderate volume to hear what is happening. If you’re listening to spoken word audio, like a podcast or YouTube video, it’s much easier to hear people without pausing the content first.

Some AirPods owners rely on transparency mode as a safety feature, allowing them to enjoy music and other content at low volumes without being oblivious to the threats around them, such as when walking at night or using public transport. alone.

Best of all, you don’t need an iPhone to take advantage of the feature, as both ANC and transparency mode work with Android (or whatever other Bluetooth audio device you connect them to).

Other headphones also feature transparency mode

While AirPods Pro introduced many users to transparency mode, many other wireless earbuds now support the feature, including Jabra Elite 75t and Sony WF-1000XM4 , two of our best options for the Best Wireless Headphones for iPhone and iPad Users .

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