Nearly everyone owns a pair of Apple AirPods. But what are their applications for tinnitus? Dr. Ben has put together some thoughts on the uses of Apple AirPods 3 and the AirPods Pro for his patients and others.
Fit & Features
The AirPods Pro occlude or block the ear since they are fitted with a rubber tip. Thus, all the sound that comes into your ear is processed through the electronics of the device. That said, the AirPods Pro offers a feature called transparency mode where the microphones on the device will pick up ambient sounds and process them into your ear so that you have more clarity when speaking and listening.
Apple AirPods 3
In contrast, the AirPods 3 have a hard plastic coating that does not fully occlude the ear, resulting in a semi-open fitting style that enables more ambient environmental sound to come in. The AirPods 3 do not offer transparency mode; that said, as of the iOS 15 update, they do offer something called background sounds, which is akin to sound therapy.
I recommend the AirPods 3 for those patients with mild hearing loss, as they can benefit from the sound therapy features and the semi-open fitting style, which allows you to hear ambient sounds in your vicinity (unlike the AirPods Pro, which fully block the ear). Nonetheless, the AirPods 3 are limited by their six hour battery life and thus aren’t a sustainable long-term solution for those following a tinnitus retraining plan.