This is a big week for AirPods Pro features. Along with expanded Find My support for tracking down lost earbuds, the latest firmware has also unlocks Conversation Boost that amplifies the sound of the person talking in front of you.
Conversation Boost uses your AirPods Pro microphones and computational audio to zero in on the sound of the person you’re speaking with. It works in tandem with Transparency Mode but instead of amplifying all sounds like Live Listen, Conversation Boost pinpoints human voices directed at you. You’re also able to adjust the level of ambient sound to help you focus.
Here’s how it works, First make sure your AirPods Pro are on the latest firmware, version 4A400. You can check by connecting your AirPods to your phone, then going to Settings, About, tapping on the name of your AirPods, and looking at the firmware number. If it’s not 4A400, you can put your AirPods in the case, plug it in or place it on a wireless charging pad, and wait for them to update. There’s no way to force an install, so it might take a while.
Once they’re updated, you’ll find Conversation Boost in the Accessibility section of Settings. Scroll down to AirPods, then Audio Accessibility Settings, and Headphone Accommodations. On the next screen, tap Custom Audio Setup, then Continue to adjust the Transparency Mode settings to adjust the volume, balance, and tone. Finally, switch the Conversation Boost toggle to green.
You can also add a Hearing shortcut to the Control Center inside Settings. Tap the plus next to the “ear” icon to add it, then tap the same icon inside Control Center. Next, tap Headphone Accommodations in the drop-down menu to turn it on and select Transparency Mode. That will take you directly to the settings page where you can turn Conversation Boost on and off with the toggle as needed.
Conversation Boost only works with people, so if you’re looking to boost all sound coming to your AirPods, you’ll still need to use Live Listen.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He’s still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.