AirPods quieter in one ear or both? Remove speaker mesh! (Read description for results)
*Please note that I am making this post for people whose AirPods have become so quiet in one or both ears that they are virtually no longer useful, and no cleaning method has fixed the issue. This is NOT claiming to instantly make any pair of AirPods sound better.*
ISSUE: I’ve had my first gen AirPods for about 2.5 years, and I’ve noticed they have become much quieter over time, sometimes significantly quieter in one ear than the other.
(edit) THINGS TO TRY FIRST: clean with a bristled brush, cleaning with a rubbing alcohol soaked q-tip or soaking tip in rubbing alcohol (suggestion from u/Fredifrum) and trying to suck the earwax out (suggestion from u/Mc-Meaty)
SOLUTION: Even though I always kept them clean and didn’t use them during intense workouts or physical activity, I suspected earwax could be the only issue causing this. My music started to get so drowned out that I figured I had nothing to lose by removing the speaker mesh. I removed the mesh by picking it with a thumbtack and pulled it out with little difficulty. It turns out there’s actually two layers of mesh, and they trapped a *lot* of earwax, no matter how clean you keep them.
RESULT: Not only is my music the same volume in both ears, but it is louder and crisper than ever! I am extremely happy because I was considering purchasing a new pair.
NOTES: If you choose to do this, you are doing so at your own risk. It is not at all hard to do, so here are a few suggestions:
1. This is for the *first generation* AirPods, I do not know anything about any other model
2. Only do this if you are experiencing this issue at an *extreme* case, there’s no benefit otherwise
3. This procedure does leave the speaker and inner components slightly more exposed, but not an issue if they are not subjected to rigorous use
4. If your AirPods will be subjected to heavier use, a small piece of foam or cloth can be inserted into the speaker holes, which should provide sufficient protection for how small the holes are
5. (edit) The mesh is not replaceable once removed, but this isn’t an issue if AirPods are kept clean.
Again, I’m not encouraging everyone to rip the speaker mesh from their AirPods, but it saved me a cool $159, so I wanted to share my results. I’m happy to answer any questions or concerns!