When listening to audio using Airpods, people usually prefer stereo. It’s an option where sound passes through a minimum of two channels. To do this, you’ll have to utilize the power of both your Airpods as it’s the only way to get the complete dual-channel experience. But you know, sometimes we just want to use a single Airpod.

There are several reasons why some of us opt to use just one Airpod. Number one, we want to share the other with another person. Number two, our hearing is actually impaired in one ear. Number three, we forgot where we put one of our Airpods. Finally, number four, we want to remain aware of what’s going on in our surroundings.

All these are valid reasons for wanting to use a single Airpod. But how do you get the complete sound experience when, technically, you only have just half of the product? That’s simple, you have the option to enable Mono Audio in the accessibility settings. This basically means all the audio is fed to one Airpod.

Why Use Mono Mode?

In most cases, it’s difficult to notice any changes in stereo channels which simply require your Airpods to remain in stereo audio mode. The words to the songs, the dialogue in movies, and the sounds typically come from both channels, after all. There are, however exceptions, as some films and music do attempt to achieve a better effect by utilizing stereo separation.

This is emphasized a lot in songs that have so many hi-hats, and action flicks that have sounds alternating between the right and left channels. It’s no longer just modern music or instrumentals that sound off when only delivered through one channel.

It becomes worse when you have impaired hearing and are using your Bluetooth headsets or Airpods in a single ear. You can only truly enjoy a listening session with another person while sharing one Airpod with them when you take advantage of the iOS mono mode.

How to Enable Mono Audio for Airpods

First off, we’d like to share this interesting tidbit: it’s not just your Airpods that have the mono mode, other Bluetooth headsets have it, as well. Feel free to pair these devices with any of your Apple gadgets.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to enable mono audio for Airpods, other headphones, and the wired EarPods included in your iPhone package, please determine which platform you’re using before following the steps.

Mac

First, go to “System Preferences” located on the Apple Menu. You then need to click the “Accessibility” button. At the right side is a bar with different headings; stop under “Hearing” and then select the “Audio” icon. Proceed to check the box labeled “play stereo audio as mono” and then you’re all set.

iPhone

Go to “Settings” on your phone and then click the “General” option. Press the “Accessibility” button and, from there, scroll downwards until you get to “Hearing”. Under that label, simply go to the mono audio option and then click it to enable.

After you’re done with this simple process, make sure to re-enable the stereo sound. This should result in the stereo sound from your iPhone being fed completely to each Airpod. This also means that if a friend is borrowing your other Airpod, he or she will hear exactly the same thing you are without missing a single beat. Once you’re done sharing Airpods disable mono mode right away.

Apple Watch

To alternate between stereo and mono mode using your Airpods or wireless headsets with an Apple Watch, make sure to use the Watch app that’s on your iPhone.

First, open the watch application found on your iPhone and then click the tab for “My Watch”. Select “General” from the list of options and proceed to choose “Accessibility”. Activate the mono audio mode that’s just below the “Hearing” heading.

Apple TV

You can easily set your Apple television to mono audio output by going to “Settings” and then clicking on “General”. From there, it’s easy enough to select “Accessibility” where you can click the “Mono Mode” that’s just below the “Hearing” heading.

Test for Stereo Separation

How do you know if you’ve successfully enabled the mono mode? Use one Airpod or earbud and place the other inside its charging case. Play music or videos from the device you’ve paired it with and listen if you can hear both channels from that single Airpod. Now, remove the other Airpod from its case and secure it in your other ear. You’ll see the audio revert to stereo mode.

Finally, remove one Airpod from your ear, but keep it in your hand. It should still be in stereo mode up until one earbud is stored in the case.

Mono Mode Improvements We Could Use

There’s no smarter listening device than Airpods; they know when they’re being utilized and sense when they’re not. If you’re using only one Airpod and the other is in its charging case then an automatic downmix of audio will take place. This basically means that sounds from both the right and left channels will be going through the single earbud.

What many tech experts and enthusiasts have suggested these days is the instantaneous activation of mono mode when the device senses its other half not being used. So, basically, when a user holds one Airpod in his hand while using the other, mono mode should automatically be enabled. There doesn’t have to be a need for the other Airpod to be in the charging case.

Here’s another really cool idea: having the option to direct calls to one earbud and music to the other. Another great suggestion would be for the Airpods to sense how far they are from each other so that when that happens, mono mode gets activated instantly.

Final Thoughts

If you already knew how to enable mono audio for Airpods beforehand, then congratulations. If not, then I guess now you have an explanation for those off-sounding classics, right? There’s no need to worry now about one earbud ruining your listening experience because that can no longer happen now that you’ve discovered the magic of mono mode.

About the Author

I am the head author of ForTheSound. I want to bring you the best in-depth reviews of Headphones and earbuds.

Frank Bechstein

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