How to Customize Headphone Accessibility Settings on an iPhone

If you're hard of hearing, or just experiencing a little hearing loss, the audio from your headphones or AirPods may not be as loud or clear as you need it to be. Headphone Accommodations are Accessibility Settings that help you customize your listening experience. 

Related: 5 Apps for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing

We've shown you several accessibility settings on your iPhone, including Siri voice commands for the blind and visually impaired and turning on features, including the iPhone Flashlight with Back Tap. Now, let's learn how to customize audio levels on your EarPods, AirPods, and Apple headphones. To do this, you first need to find out if your AirPods or headphones can use Headphone Accommodations. Next, we'll go over how to turn on and customize Headphone Accommodation settings. We'll also go over ways to adjust your audio settings even if you have a set of headphones or AirPods that aren't compatible with Headphone Accommodations. For more great Apple accessibility tutorials, check out our free Tip of the Day.

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Which Headphones & Earbuds Do Headphone Accommodations Work For?

If you have one of the following compatible sets of headphones or earbuds, you can use Headphone Accommodations. Also, make sure that the iPad or iPhone your headphones or earbuds are paired to is updated to the latest version of iPadOS or iOS.

  • Powerbeats
  • Powerbeats Pro
  • Beats Solo Pro
  • AirPods (2nd generation)
  • AirPods Pro
  • AirPods Max
  • Apple EarPods (with Lightning connector or 3.5 mm headphone plug)

How to Turn On Headphone Accommodations Settings                         

  1. Open the Settings app.

    iphone settings app
  2. Tap Accessibility.

    iphone accessibility settings
  3. Tap Audio/Visual.

    audio visual accessibility settings
  4. Tap Headphone Accommodations.

    iphone headphone accomodations
  5. Toggle on Headphone Accommodations.

    toggle on headphone accomodations

How to Adjust Headphone Audio Customization Settings

  1. Tap Custom Audio Setup to be walked through your Headphone Accommodations options. 

    tap custom audio setup
  2. Find a quiet place and set aside about five minutes to take the audio test, then tap Continue.

    tap continue to set up headphone accommodations
  3. Tap Continue again to take tests that determine your ability to hear speech and music in various formats, and find which settings in Transparency mode best help you hear clearly. 

    tap continue to set up headphone accommodations
  4. For speech, you'll be tested to see whether you can hear someone speaking, and choose settings that boost vocal range if necessary.

    audio test
  5. For music, you'll hear a few versions of music with different tunings and be able to choose the version that's the most clear to you.

    choose which music sounds clear
  6. You'll also customize Transparency Mode by adjusting Amplification, Tone, and shifting Transparency Balance from the left to the right ear as needed.

    customize transparency mode settings

Adjust Headphone Audio Settings for Headphones & AirPods That Can’t Use Custom Audio Setup

You can also manually adjust some Headphone Audio settings. Even if your AirPods or headphones aren't compatible with Custom Audio Setup, you can still customize these settings.

  1. Try out Balanced Tone, Vocal Range, and Brightness to see which option is clearest for you.

    adjust audio tuning for headphones
  2. Adjust soft sounds to Moderate, then Strong using the slider, then test by tapping Play Sample.

    adjust how soft sounds are played in airpods
  3. Toggle on Phone to apply your settings to all your calls, phone, FaceTime, and video calls.
  4. Toggle on Media to apply these settings to podcasts, audiobooks, movies, music, voicemail, Live Listen, and even Siri.

    toggle on phone, media, or both
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Author Details

Leanne Hays's picture

Author Details

Leanne Hays

Leanne Hays has over a dozen years of experience writing for online publications. As a Feature Writer for iPhone Life, she has authored hundreds of how-to, Apple news, and gear review articles, as well as a comprehensive Photos App guide. Leanne holds degrees in education and science and loves troubleshooting and repair. This combination makes her a perfect fit as manager of our Ask an Expert service, which helps iPhone Life Insiders with Apple hardware and software issues.
In off-work hours, Leanne is a mother of two, homesteader, audiobook fanatic, musician, and learning enthusiast.