Monday, July 6, 2020

AirPods Pro: Rattlegate


So there appears to be a widespread issue with the AirPods Pro: they seem to eventually develop a rattling noise when Noise Cancellation or Transparency is in use. It is believed to be a hardware problem at this stage and fairly widespread.

Apologies for the use of yet another “-gate”, but no one seems to have a consistant name for this issue: terms like “rattling”, “crackling”, “clicking”, “staticy”, “clacking”, “rumbling”, and “crinkling” are just some of the phrases I’ve seen used. I’m hoping to draw some attention to the issue, both so people experiencing it know they’re not alone or doing something wrong, but also to put some pressure on Apple to acknowledge the problem and properly resolve it (instead of people getting replacements that go on to develop the same problem).

The forum thread is still active, currently with almost 200 replies. I haven’t seen this problem myself, though.


Update (2020-07-09): Peter Steinberger:

I‘m on my 3rd pair. I give them until November to break again.

Update (2020-08-07): Philipp Defner (Hacker News):

There’s something very wrong with this product line and just getting a new one every few months is — financially and ecologically — not sustainable as they end up in a landfill.


Wow. I’ve had this same problem for months. I spent over an hour on the phone with Support just trying to describe the problem, until they came to the conclusion that there was absolutely no way to send me new ones or to have me send them my broken ones…because I live in Puerto Rico. The week prior, Apple had sent me a new cable for my phone in 2 days flat, yet when I had a problem, there was nothing they could do about it.

Felix Krause:

I need to get new AirPods Pro every ~2 months so far. Apple always gave me replacements for free

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One of my AirPods Pro earbuds developed this issue after about 6 months. Contacted Apple Support via iMessage, who ran through some basic troubleshooting and directed me to take them to an authorized service provider. They replaced the faulty earbud for free.

To me, the issue seemed to be rattling due to low frequencies. It sounded is as if something had physically broken/come loose inside the earbud. Turning on noise cancelling or transparency modes made the noise happen almost all the time, I'm guessing because the headphones are constantly emitting lower frequencies to counter / balance external noise. But I'd still get occasional rattling when those modes were off when listening to more bass-heavy music.

My right AirPod Pro definitely has this issue. If you slide it out ever so slightly it’d go away, but then the seal is not as good as it’s supposed to be. With the latest firmware 2D27 it appears to have been mostly fixed, replaced by a bit of screeching when I’m sliding it into my ear and only feeling like something is loose when I tap it.

It’s a good tip to know that it is indeed a hardware problem and that the may replace it. Too bad the Apple store is closed.

Yep, this happened to my right AirPod Pro after about 6 months. It took weeks of back-and-forth with Apple support — yes, I have reset the AirPods, multiple times; okay, fine, send me a new ear tip, but it's not going to help — before they finally replaced it, and I'm sure it'll happen to the replacement (or the left one) again eventually.

Happened to me to. Already multiple times. First time they changed both Airpods Pros. It was barely an issue on the other but other was in really bad shape. Next time it happened only on my left one. They again changed that one. And now it has appeared again in my right one. I need to go to change this again. I tried the tape trick to clean the outer part of the dark grill but it didn’t work. Really annoyed since when these work they are amazing but this is not long term viable thing to go to change these every few months.

Happened to me as well in one ear bud. Apple replaced it for free thankfully but still annoying.

On my third set so far. Got them on sale on Amazon back in May. After about 2 weeks the right pod's bass was slightly weaker and it started to make an annoying rumbling noise whenever I moved my head, like it wasn't properly cancelling out internal body noises anymore. It also failed the fit test 100% of the time no matter what tip I used. This happened in noise cancellation, transparency, and off modes. It started getting louder and I was still in the return window so I got a replacement set from Amazon.

Second set was fine until August, when the same annoying rumbling issue started happening with both pods. This time I was out of the return period so I chatted with Apple Support and got free replacements sent to me under warranty. Before I sent the faulty pair back, I compared the the two sets and the new set always passed the tip fit test, clearly had more bass, and seemed to cancel out noises better.

Now I've had these replacements for not even 2 weeks and the right side is acting up *again*. It's rumbling and always fails the fit test with all 3 tips no matter how I adjust it in my ear. Never dropped them or exposed them to liquid or anything, and I've been basically babying them this whole time. They just randomly start making this irritating internal rumbling noise. Ugh.

Yes! Thanks for naming this, my right AirPod Pro rattles, too, when either mode is turned on.

I describe it differently and maybe others can relate:

It sounds like there is a hair or tiny piece of paper, etc., in my ear that is moving against the speaker, when I walk. There isn’t. At first, I only noticed it when I was walking every time I set down my right foot. Now, I notice it sitting still, but not without some movement such as caused by talking or chewing. I think the sound quality is worse Now, too, compared to the left, but may not have noticed for a while since I usually wear only the right one.

Now, whenever I touch the right one, no matter how lightly, a variant of the “rattling noise“ begins and persists until I stop touching it. This rattling is lighter and constant and seems more like static to me, but is clearly a lighter variant of the louder rattle. Again, only happens when either Transparency or Noise Cancellation mode is on.

Warranty? It’s been over a year.., I think?

Robert Clayton

Had this exact same issue, had them replaced through the Apple store to fix it. From what I've read, the very early models had too aggressive noise canceling and could actually cause internal damage. If you didn't update the firmware (it's supposed to be automatic but for whatever reason mine never updated) then they would basically self destruct. I bought mine on October 30 last year, so I barely made the warranty period, whew.

I've replaced my left APP twice now. I bought them in July, replaced the first left piece in October, and just replaced the same one a second time this month.
I'm left-handed so I use the squeeze switch on the left side much more often. I wonder if that has any connection as my right earpiece is unaffected.

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