Noise-canceling headphones like the AirPods Pro block conversations and other sounds from entering, but what about when you want to hear them better? This is precisely what the Conversation Boost function is for. Here’s how to activate it.
What is the conversation boost?
Apple doesn’t explain exactly how Conversation Boost works, but the feature’s option does explain that the feature focuses on the person speaking in front of you, which means they’re probably using head tracking.
Other than that, Conversation Boost probably works the same as a prescription hearing aid. This increases the level of audio entering specific frequency ranges (mainly the frequencies of the human voice). This processing prevents the overall volume from exceeding a specific level, so you don’t have to worry about loud sounds becoming deafening.
Prescription hearing aids are tailored to a person’s specific hearing needs, so Conversation Boost will not be as effective. Still, if you need a helping hand hearing people talk, it sure won’t hurt.
Requirements for using Conversation Boost
First of all, note that this feature is only available on AirPods Pro, not on original AirPods.
Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro offer all of the ease of use of the original AirPods as well as audio enhancements like noise cancellation and transparency mode.
Additionally, Conversation Boost is only available on iOS and iPadOS 15 and later. If you’re not sure which version you’re using, check out our guide to updating to the latest version of iOS.
You will also need firmware version 4A400 or later. To check which firmware version you’re using, connect your AirPods Pro to your iPhone or iPad, then open Settings.
In Settings, select General, then About. In that section, scroll down until you see “AirPods Pro” and tap the name to see your firmware version. You can’t manually update the firmware, but as long as you keep your AirPods Pro connected to your iPhone or iPad, they should update automatically before too long.
How to activate the conversation boost
Conversation Boost is not a stand-alone feature. Instead, it’s a custom setting for Transparency mode, a useful improvement made possible by AirPods Pro. This means that to activate it we are going to have to enter the settings.
Open Settings, then scroll down and select Accessibility. Here, scroll down and select “Audio / Visual” in the Hearing section.
Now tap on “Headphone hosting” and scroll down and tap on “Transparency mode” to change its settings.
Here, scroll down to the bottom of the screen, where you will find the “Conversation Boost” option. Tap the slider to activate and you’re good to go.
How to quickly activate or deactivate transparency mode
You can’t turn Conversation Boost on or off without going to Settings. That said, Conversation Boost is a custom setting for Transparency mode, which you can quickly turn on and off.
On your iPhone or iPad, pull down at the top right of the screen to access Control Center. Here, long press the volume control to access the personalized settings of your AirPods Pro.
Under the volume slider, you should see “Noise Control” on the left and “Spatialize Stereo” on the right. Press Noise Control to toggle between Noise Reduction, Off and Transparency mode. This allows you to quickly turn Conversation Boost on and off.
If you’re wondering what this “stereo spatialization” is, take a look at our overview of what Apple spatial audio is and how it works.