Live Listen on iPhone
Live Listen on iPhone

Live Listen is a feature introduced by Apple that essentially turns your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch into a remote microphone. This technology sends sound directly from your device to your AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Powerbeats Pro, or even Made for iPhone hearing aids. It’s a handy tool for situations where hearing is a challenge, such as in a noisy environment or when trying to hear someone speaking from across the room​​​​. So if you’re in a situation where you need to amplify sounds and conversations around you, Live Listen is the app you want to use.

How Live Listen Works

The feature works by utilizing the built-in microphone on your iOS device. When you enable Live Listen, it amplifies and reinforces sound levels, allowing you to hear more clearly. Simply place your iPhone in front of the sound source, and it will transmit the audio directly to your AirPods or compatible hearing aids​​​​.

Using Live Listen in Everyday Scenarios

Imagine you’re in a crowded cafe, and you want to have a conversation without the background noise. With Live Listen, you can place your iPhone closer to the person speaking, and their voice will be transmitted directly to your ears, making it easier to hear them over the ambient noise.

Compatibility and Accessibility

Initially, Live Listen was designed for users with Made for iPhone hearing aids. However, Apple expanded its accessibility by making it compatible with AirPods and other Beats products. This feature is a part of Apple’s broader commitment to accessibility and inclusive design​​.

Setting Up Live Listen

Setting up Live Listen is straightforward:

  1. Update iOS: Make sure you’re running an updated version of iOS
  2. Access Control Center: Swipe down from the top right corner of your iPhone screen to open Control Center.
  3. Locate Hearing Controls: Look for the Hearing icon, which resembles an ear, in the Control Center. If you don’t see it, you can add it by going to Settings>Control Center>Customize Controls and tapping the green plus sign next to Hearing.
  4. Enable Live Listen: Tap the Hearing icon to expand its controls. You’ll see a button labeled “Live Listen.” Tap this button to activate Live Listen.
  5. Position Your iPhone: Place your iPhone near the person or sound source you want to hear better.
  6. Adjust Volume: If necessary, adjust the volume on your iPhone to amplify the sounds being picked up by the microphone.

Live Listen for Enhanced Sound Quality

Besides its utility in noisy environments, Live Listen can also be used to enhance the quality of sound from your TV or other audio sources. Place your device near the sound source, and enjoy a clearer, more direct audio feed.

Safety and Privacy Considerations

While Live Listen is a powerful tool, it’s essential to use it responsibly. Respect others’ privacy and only use Live Listen to assist with hearing in appropriate situations.

Battery Usage and Limitations

Using Live Listen can consume more battery life on your iPhone and AirPods since it leverages the device’s microphone continuously. Also, remember that Live Listen is not a replacement for professional hearing aids and should only be used as an assistive tool.

Creative Uses of Live Listen

Some people have found creative ways to use Live Listen, like monitoring a baby’s room or listening to a lecture more clearly. The potential uses are numerous, limited only by your needs and imagination.

Can I Use Live Listen on iPhone Without Airpods? 

While it’s primarily designed to be used with AirPods or Made for iPhone hearing aids, you can actually use Live Listen without any external audio accessories – like Bluetooth Headphones. This is particularly useful in situations where you want to focus on specific sounds or conversations, even in noisy environments.

The audio quality and delay may vary depending on the device. To use Live Listen without AirPods, ensure your iPhone is running iOS 14.0 or later and you’re connecting to a Bluetooth capable device. Delay will be a concern so make sure your device can process audio quickly.


Live Listen on the iPhone is a testament to how technology can make everyday life more accessible and enjoyable. Whether you’re using it to follow conversations in noisy environments or to enhance your listening experience, Live Listen is a feature that adds significant value to the already versatile iPhone.

With or without AirPods, you can still use Live Listen to to enjoy clearer conversations and focus on specific sounds, even in noisy environments.


  1. Can I use Live Listen with any headphones? Live Listen is compatible with AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, Powerbeats Pro, and Made for iPhone hearing aids.
  2. Does Live Listen work in all environments? Live Listen is designed to help in various environments, but its effectiveness can vary depending on the level of background noise and distance from the sound source.
  3. Is Live Listen a substitute for hearing aids? No, Live Listen is an assistive feature but not a replacement for professionally prescribed hearing aids.
  4. How far can Live Listen transmit sound? The range of Live Listen depends on the Bluetooth range of your device, typically around 30 feet.
  5. Can Live Listen be used for recording conversations? No, Live Listen is meant for real-time audio transmission and does not record audio. Always respect privacy and use it responsibly.
  6. Does the position of my iPhone matter in terms of using Live Listen? Live Listen is designed to capture sounds from a specific direction. To optimize its performance, position your iPhone in a way that the microphone is pointed towards the sound source.
  7. Does Live Listen cause any delay? Live Listen may introduce a slight delay in the audio transmission. This is due to the processing time required to amplify and transmit the sounds.
Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

Shoot me a message at if you want to see a topic discussed or have a correction on something I’ve written.

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