How to set a lower maximum volume limit on iPhone & iPad

Learn how to set a lower limit as the maximum headphone sound level on your iPhone or iPad to protect your hearing and keep your ears safe.

iPhone AirPods volume at maximum with two ear illustrations on a red background signifying loud and harmful sound levels

Do you or your child have the habit of listening to music or watching videos at full volume through headphones? Doing so can significantly damage the hearing and cause total or partial hearing loss.

To address this, here’s how to reduce your iPhone or iPad’s maximum volume limit to protect your hearing when you’re using AirPods, other Bluetooth headphones, or wired earphones.

Safe and unsafe sound levels

Safe: According to a handy chart from the CDC, repeated exposure to sound levels from up to 69 decibels is fine, and it should not cause hearing damage. This includes normal talking sounds, noise from a running refrigerator, air conditioner sounds, and such.

Pain: Extended exposure to sound levels of around 85 decibels can be discomforting. This includes noise from the washing machine, dishwasher, or city traffic when you’re inside a car.

Unsafe: Finally, a few hours of constant sound levels of 85 decibels or more like that from lawnmowers, shouting, sirens, firecrackers, and such can damage your hearing sooner or later.

Thus, it’s essential to ensure you do not always keep your ears exposed to very loud earphone volumes.

Important: In addition to the sound level, how much time you’re exposed to that particular sound level is also critical. For instance, standing near sirens (~120 decibels) for a few seconds may not cause damage, but it may be injurious if you keep standing there for an hour.

Per Apple:

“If you expose your ears to excessive sound pressure, you can harm those small hair cells in your ears. And if harmed, those hair cells can lose the ability to transmit sound to your brain. As a result, you could experience noise-induced hearing loss. Symptoms can include distorted or muffled sound or difficulty understanding speech.”

“While you can experience noise-induced hearing loss as a result of a one-time exposure to an extremely loud sound — like a gunshot — noise-induced hearing loss can also occur as a result of repeated exposure to loud sounds over time.”

Sound levels pumped by your iPhone

When paired with your iPhone or iPad, the maximum sound output by your AirPods or other good earphones can get very loud, exceeding 100 decibels.

As mentioned, constantly listening to music or videos at such high levels can be catastrophic in the long run. This is especially true for older people and children.

The simplest way to take care of this is by listening to music & media at a reasonable volume.

However, the problem is that we don’t tend to stick to this behavior and often crank up the volume to the maximum. Therefore, to forcefully implement good listening habits, you can dive into sound settings and limit your iPhone’s capability to output maximum sound.

Note: The actual sound level that you experience depends upon a myriad of factors like the music you’re listening to, how it was recorded and encoded, the type of earbuds or headphones you use, their placement in your ears, their built-in volume and EQ controls and so much more.

Reduce the maximum sound limit of your iPhone or iPad

  1. Open the Settings app and tap Sounds & Haptics on iPhone or Sounds on iPad.
  2. Tap Headphone Safety from the top.
  3. Turn on Reduce Loud Sounds.
  4. Set the sound slider to 75 decibels, 80 decibels, 85 decibels, 90 decibels, 95 decibels, or 100 decibels. I would recommend setting it as low as possible.

Reduce Loud Sounds in iPhone Sound Settings

We also recommend turning on Headphone Notifications that will notify you if you exceed the recommended 7-day sound limit. Additionally, you can tap “Learn more” to get more information and see a useful chart showing example sound levels.

Headphone Safety and Hearing Article on iPhone

Do you use a third-party wireless earphone?

Even when you connect a third-party Bluetooth earphone, iOS is smart enough to figure out that it’s a headphone. However, in some cases, especially with earphones from questionable manufacturers, it may not, and thus you can classify the device as a headphone to help tune your experience better.

  1. Connect the wireless earphone in question to your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Open the Settings app and tap Bluetooth.
  3. Tap the blue info button ⓘ next to the connected earphone name.
  4. Tap Device Type and select Headphone.

An iPhone screenshot showing classifying a Bluetooth device as a headphone in Settings

Lock changes to the maximum sound limit on your child’s iPhone or iPad

In addition to reducing the maximum sound limit on your iPhone, you can also follow the above steps on your child’s iPhone. However, if they are older, they may figure out how to turn it off. Therefore, to address this, you can set a decent sound level on their phone (like 75 or 80 decibels) and then prevent altering this setting by enabling Screen Time restrictions.

You can follow the steps below directly on your kid’s iPhone or iPad or manage them from your iPhone if you use Family Sharing. Irrespective of the way you go, make sure the Screen Time passcode (which is different from the device passcode) is set up, and you don’t share it with your child.

  1. Open the Settings app and tap Screen Time.
  2. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  3. Enable Content & Privacy Restrictions from the top if it’s off.
  4. Next, scroll down this screen and tap Reduce Loud Sounds.
  5. Select Don’t Allow.

Don't allow Reduce Loud Sounds to change from iPhone Screen Time settings

From now on, if your child goes to Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Headphone Safety, they will notice that the Reduce Loud Sounds option is grayed out and can’t be turned off. Secondly, the sound limit slider is also grayed out and unchangeable.

Grayed our Reduce Loud Sounds option on iPhone

Note: You can turn on the Screen Time passcode from Settings > Screen Time > Lock Screen Time Settings. If it says Change Screen Time Passcode, that means a passcode for Screen Time is already set. If you don’t remember it, learn how to reset the Screen Time passcode.

Get more information about your hearing in the Health app

The Health app on iPhone and iPad (running iPadOS 17 or later) gives you a lot of useful details about your hearing practices. Here’s how to see them:

  1. Open the Health app.
  2. On iPhone, tap Browse > Hearing. On the iPad, you can select Hearing directly from the left sidebar.
  3. Here, you can see various data like headphone audio levels for the hour, day, week, month, six months, or year. You can also tap Show More Data to see the exposure, daily average, range, and more.

Hearing data in Health app on iPhone

See live headphone sound level

You can see a live meter showing you the current headphone audio level when you’re listening to music, watching videos & TV shows, etc.

  1. Go to iPhone or iPad Settings > Control Center and tap the green plus button for Hearing to add this.
  2. Play something on your iPhone or iPad with AirPods connected to it.
  3. Open the Control Center and tap the Hearing icon. You will see the Headphone Level at the top. It will change if you increase or decrease the volume using the physical volume buttons.

Seeing ok and loud real-time Headphone Level in Control Center on iPhone

Extra info: On older versions of iOS, you could go to Settings > Music > Volume Limit and adjust the Max Volume slider to a lower limit. You could also turn on the EU Volume Limit option, which sets the maximum allowed volume level just below the recommended level for hearing safety in the European Union. These options are no longer available on recent iOS versions.

Max volume and EU Volume Limit in iPhone Music settings

Check out next: Why and how to create an audiogram with your iPhone and AirPods

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