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Why AirPods are crackling, popping, rattling, staticy and ways to fix it

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Erin L

Erin L

airpods pro cracckling, buzzing, how to fix
Were you one of the early adopters of Apple’s AirPods Pro? Apple did a great job selling us all on the seamless connectivity between all of our Apple devices, and the new fit and design of the AirPods Pro, plus outstanding noise cancellation made it a no brainer. My AirPods Pro just celebrated their second birthday, and I’m disappointed to report they won’t see their third. In the last couple of days I’ve noticed a very annoying rattle inside the right earbud. This rattle or crackling in one ear usually overtakes any sound that is still audible, and tapping on the earbuds makes it more pronounced, almost like something has come loose inside and is rattling around. Hoping to find a fix for this, I did some thorough research on static in airpods and found a couple of recommended solutions.

Why AirPods are crackling, popping, rattling, staticy and ways to fix it

What to do first: iOS Update

The first step is to ensure you are running the latest iOS firmware. (I’m not sure why the firmware would be causing what sounds like an audible rattle, but that was one of the first things Apple recommends I do in order to resolve any concerns with my AirPods Pro.) Sadly, but not surprisingly, the software update did nothing to help. The next recommended fix is to do a hard reset on the Apple AirPods Pro. Here’s how:

How to Reset Apple AirPods Pro

  • Put your AirPods in their charging case, and close the lid.
  • Wait 30 seconds.
  • Open the lid of your charging case.
  • On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, go to Settings > Bluetooth and tap the More Info button  next to your AirPods. (If you don’t see your AirPods in Settings > Bluetooth, just go to the next step.)
  • Tap Forget This Device, and tap again to confirm.
  • With the lid open, press and hold the setup button on the back of the case for about 15 seconds, until the status light flashes amber, then white.

Reconnect your AirPods: With your AirPods in their charging case and the lid open, place your AirPods close to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Follow the steps on your device’s screen to reconnect.
Much to my dismay, this also did not fix the problem.
How to properly clean AIrpods, pro

Next: Clear vents in AirPods Pro, try a thorough clean

Next I found some chat forums dealing with airpod cracking where they recommend using sticky tape to remove anything that may be potentially blocking the tiny almost invisible grills on the Airpods. My results using tape to press and release over the grills in hopes of removing any dust or debris: Nada.

Moving to more extreme measures, I tried cleaning the AirPods with cotton swabs, and a drop of isopropyl alcohol. This proved ineffective as well.

How to clean AirPods Pro with compressed air: use with caution

Figuring at this point I had nothing left to lose, I moved to the last and most extreme fix; blowing them out with compressed air.
There’s plenty of websites that will tell you using compressed air on your AirPods Pro is a dangerous game because it could blast something loose inside (that’s not already loose, that is!), so only use this as a last resort.

There are three vents or small grills on your AirPods that might have something lodged inside them. Use a can of compressed air to indirectly (try blowing the air across the grill rather than right into it) and gently blow them out.
Again, this didn’t work for me, but I’d love to know if anything up to this point works for you… post your comments below.
AirPods Pro making an odd rattling, clicking or popping noise? You may have a big problem. Here's how to fix it + what to do if you can't:

Last resort: Replace the broken AirPod Pro

At this point I have to assume something has broken inside my right AirPod Pro. As these are out of warranty, my only option is to replace the damaged bud at a price of $89USD. So, that is an option, and it’s definitely cheaper than buying all new AirPods Pro. But it is a bit disappointing I only got just over 2 years of use out of them.

In the end I did purchase a new earbud directly from Apple and now my AirPods Pro are as good as new and I’m glad to report they’re working perfectly.

If you are having similar problems with your AirPods, I’d love to know if any of the fixtures I suggested did indeed work for you. I’m also curious about the longevity of other people’s AirPods too (how long before you saw issues? What fixed it?) so don’t forget to post your experience and comments below.

Shop AirPods and AirPods Pro on Amazon, or find them at Walmart.

Shop Airpods wireless charging case and cleaning kit on Amazon

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Erin L

Erin L

I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.

13 Comments

  1. Burke Ferrari on May 2, 2023 at 6:06 pm

    Just a quick update for people I have the same issue took it into the Apple Store they can’t fix it and AirPod Pro first generation’s are not sold anymore. But turning off noise cancellation seems to fix it. Will do that until they really break. Bummer to lose the noise canceling.

  2. Nedim on November 27, 2022 at 2:22 am

    When I use only left side, I don’t have any issues, but when I plug right side (as streo), issue starts. After I’ve watched your video, I tried coule of things (forget device, clean a little bit) at last swiching off noise cancellation/transparent worked. I guess mic is causing my issue.

    • Merica Mike on April 9, 2023 at 8:10 pm

      Exact same scenario but the right AirPod still isn’t clear…

  3. Christopher Chua on November 23, 2022 at 11:15 am

    I experience the same issue with my own airpods pro. I’m wearing it right now and the sound just disappeared after a new fading sound seems to have ‘recalibrated’ the NC. I have tried using my warranty for my device and have my airpods looked into by Apple in their store but they said that, after some checks done in half an hour, there was no problem. They just suggested that I keep my firmware up to date, which has been completely useless given its been kept up to date since Ive used it. I’m hoping to hear from this discussion who succeeded to get their airpods replaced.

  4. Penny on November 2, 2022 at 11:54 am

    Yep. This happened to my AirPods, too; also the R pod. This was too much of a coincidence that it is always the R pod, so I figured it must be in the software. So, I first did IOS updates on my iPhone AND iPad and then I reset my AirPods, just as you directed. However, when I tapped “Forget this device”, a window popped up and said my iPods would be forgotten for ALL of my devices, and to confirm forgetting this device. I said yes, then waited about an hour to “reconnect” AirPods to my iPhone, but I still had static on the R. Then I decided to toggle the “Noise Cancellation, Off and Transparency” tabs under Bluetooth settings and magically there is no more static from my R pod. Both AirPods are working beautifully.

    • Alex on January 24, 2023 at 8:45 am

      The issue is with the microphone. So if you disable Noise Cancellation, the issue goes away. You can do that without a software update; it’s nothing to do with software.

      However I will say that it is indeed odd that it’s always the right Airpod.

  5. Albert on October 19, 2022 at 4:28 am

    i am experiencing the same issue and it looks like Apple have acknowledged a common fault and offering free repairs/replacement. doesnt appear to need to be in warranty, just purchased within 3 years.

    • Erin L on October 20, 2022 at 1:34 pm

      I should try to return/replace mine!

  6. Michael Brandon on October 18, 2022 at 6:57 am

    I’ve experienced the same exact issue, right at the two year mark of ownership. I went through your article and tried all the steps, with the same result you experienced. I will also be ordering a new right earbud…apples planned obsolescence is no secret- they’re built to last until the warranty is up..

    • Erin L on October 20, 2022 at 1:35 pm

      So. Frustrating. Right?

  7. Stephen on October 18, 2022 at 6:41 am

    Why didn’t you take them back to Apple? This is a known issue and they have a program to fix them. It’s good 3 years from your purchase date.

    • ikomrad on September 16, 2023 at 6:35 pm

      Because mine are past 3 years. They are 3 years and 1 month, and Apple refused to fix them.

      • AB on October 19, 2023 at 4:53 am

        Same issue here. 2 months past the 3 years term. They do refuse.



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