How to Use Live Listen Without AirPods

Why Are My AirPods So Quiet

A quick Google search of AirPods will provide you with results that point to the tiny devices being rather expensive. It’s not necessarily uncommon to pay that kind of money—$120 (USD) or more—on a pair of headphones, especially if they are of high quality. However, compared to other headphones, their gimmick is the missing cables.

But what if you don’t want to spend that kind of money? What if you like the Bluetooth headphones you already have? Well, your favorite pair of Bluetooth headphones might be your next choice when using Live Listen.

Live Listen feature is also known as Hearing because that’s the name of it in the Control Center. You can turn on live listen without AirPods and the better your headphones and mic, the better the sound quality coming from your headphones. So you can activate live listen without AirPods and in some cases, they sound better with other headphones.

Does Live Listen Only Work with AirPods?

Live listen doesn’t only work with AirPods. You can use Live Listen with other Bluetooth devices that are supported. You can use the Live Listen feature with other headphones, not just AirPods, as long as you have iOS 12 or above. Any iOS version below this doesn’t have Live Listen so you won’t be able to use it. The only reason why people think that the live listen feature only works with AirPods is that when you select the Hearing feature on Live Listen, it says [your name]’s AirPods. This may lead you to think that the Live listen feature only works with AirPods.

If for some reason you’ve lost your AirPods but you still want to use the Live listen feature, you can still do this. As long as the headphones you want to use have a mic, you can use the live listen feature to listen to what people are saying when you’re not there. There’s nothing special about your AirPods that means that the Live Listen feature only works with them. As long as the headphones you want to use have a mic, you should be good.

Another reason why people think that they can only use AirPods with the Live Listen feature is that it was made by Apple. You’re probably thinking, why would Apple let people use another Bluetooth device for Live Listen. Well they actually do.

How to Use Live Listen Without AirPods

Another quick Google search will reveal confusion around the question. Some say it doesn’t work and others say it does. So, which is it? A bit of both, actually.

You see, you can use Live Listen without AirPods—you use Bluetooth—but it’s hit or miss. The Bluetooth headphones you’re using instead of AirPods will determine if it works or not. Some headphones are supported, and others aren’t. It’s hard to pinpoint where the line is. If you want proof, Jeremy Judkins—a YouTuber—uploaded a video showcasing its legitimacy.

With that said, let’s get started:

1. First, you need to enable Live Listen on your iOS device. To do that, start by locating and selecting your Settings application. It’s the gear icon.

2. Scroll down your Settings menu until you come to Control Center. Go ahead and tap on it.

3. Under Control Center’s settings, choose Customize Controls. This will reveal the quick icons currently enabled and disabled on your Control Center.

4. There’s two sections: Include and More Controls. ‘Include’ lists all currently enabled quick icons. To enable Live Listen, locate Hearing under ‘More Controls.’ Tap the addition sign to add it. In doing so, it will move over to ‘Include.’

5. Go back to your Settings’ main menu. This time select Bluetooth.

6. Turn Bluetooth on by moving the slider on the right, to the right. Now your iOS device will search for nearby Bluetooth devices.

7. Turn your Bluetooth headphones on and press the Pairing button. Hold it in until your headphones are listed in the Bluetooth menu.

8. Select the Bluetooth headphones from the menu. They are now paired.

9. Close the Settings application.

10. Reveal your Control Center by swiping down from the top of the screen. You will now notice a new icon has been added—an ear icon. That’s Live Listen. Tap on Live Listen.

11. Turn your Bluetooth headphones on. Because a pairing was made, your iOS should recognize them.

Note: In the event that your iOS device does not recognize them, try a different pair. Aside from that, be sure to give your iOS device a restart and double-check that it’s up to date.

12. Tap on Live Listen to turn it on. If they work, you will see the dots on the right rise and fall, indicating that sound is being picked up.

Bottom Line

Now that the jig is up, you can use an inexpensive pair of Bluetooth headphones for Live Listen. In other words, you don’t have to drop a large sum on a pair of Apple AirPods. Save your wallet a trip to the hospital.

With that said, it could be hit or miss. It doesn’t appear to work for all Bluetooth headphones. The reason why is entirely up in the air. It could depend on the age of the headphones or support, or even the technology. After all, not all Bluetooth headphones are created equally. You could ask to borrow a pair of your friend’s Bluetooth headphones and test different brands.

Brady Klinger-Meyers is an experienced tech writer and marketer who currently writes for Techzillo as well as other popular sites like MakeUseOf. At Techzillo, he focuses on consumer technology in general with his interest being Android OS. Read our Editorial Guidlines and Fact Checking process.


  1. Yeah this didn’t work for me. Its a great shortcut to get to some nice background noise I didn’t know iPhone had.


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