How to Share Audio on AirPods: Step-by-Step Guide for New Users

Friends Sharing Audio on AirPods
Friends Sharing Audio on AirPods

How you can connect two pairs of AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones to the same device to share audio.

Sharing audio with friends using only one device can be inconvenient. You’d have to share one AirPod or annoy everyone around you with the volume turned up high.

The good news is, Apple has a very nifty Audio Sharing feature that allows you to connect two compatible headphones to one iOS device.

However, this feature has a few technical requirements that’s easy to get lost in.

Only compatible devices must be used and a few settings must be changed in order to use Apple’s Audio Sharing feature. Fortunately, this article will guide you through all that and more. Read on to find out how!

What Earbuds and Devices Support Audio Sharing?

Audio sharing is a feature developed by Apple for iOS 13 back in 2019. It lets you connect two different pairs of wireless headphones to the same iOS device so that you can both listen to the same audio. And this is much more convenient than sharing one pair of headphones or using a splitter!

However, there are a limited number of devices that support audio sharing. You will need to have a compatible Apple device and two pairs of compatible headphones.

So, which devices and headphones are compatible?

Compatible Apple devices

Audio sharing is only available on iOS and iPadOS devices. If you use a Mac or VR headset, you’re out of luck with this feature. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no way to share audio on a Mac. So, keep reading to find out how to share audio on a Mac.

But that’s not the only requirement for audio sharing. Your device must also be running iOS 13.1 or iPadOS 13.1 or later.

That said, the devices compatible with audio sharing are:

  • iPhone 8 and later
  • iPad Pro (2nd generation) and later (10.5-inch, 11-inch, and 12.9-inch)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation) and later
  • iPad mini (5th generation) and later
  • iPad (5th generation) and later
  • iPod touch (7th generation)

Compatible headphones

Even if you have the right device for audio sharing, both you and your friend need to have compatible headphones for audio sharing.

Audio sharing isn’t limited to only AirPods. But that doesn’t mean every pair of Bluetooth headphones can use audio sharing.

For headphones to be compatible, they need to use a W1 or H1 processing chip.

In this regard, the headphones compatible with audio sharing are:

  • AirPods Max
  • AirPods Pro (1st generation) and later
  • AirPods (1st generation) and later
  • Powerbeats
  • Solo Pro
  • Powerbeats Pro
  • Powerbeats3 Wireless
  • Beats Solo3 Wireless
  • Beats Studio3 Wireless
  • BeatsX
  • Beats Flex
  • Beats Fit Pro

How to Share Audio on AirPods

As you can see, audio sharing is a great feature to have access to. But how do you actually use it? Here’s what you do:

How to share audio on AirPods using iPhone/iPad

There are two ways to use audio sharing on an iPhone or iPad. First, you can connect your friend’s AirPods or Beats to your device and add your AirPods. Alternatively, you can connect your device to your friend’s device so that both devices play the same audio.

We’ll explain the differences between these methods below.

Your AirPods will need to be connected to your own device in either situation.

When your friend’s AirPods are inside the case

If you want to connect your friend’s AirPods or Beats to your device, this is the method you’ll be using.

This method might not work for headphones that don’t have a charging case, though you can try manually putting them in pairing mode.

Using this method is more convenient when you’re watching a video or playing a game, as you’ll be sharing audio from the device showing what you’re watching. Plus, this means there will be less audio lag, which isn’t as important when listening to music.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Make sure your AirPods or Beats are connected and in your ears. You don’t have to play audio, but this lets your device know they’re in use. In addition, this will prevent it from simply replacing your earbuds with your friend’s.

    Wearing AirPods properly
    Wearing AirPods properly
  2. Your friend should put their AirPods back in their case and bring it close to your device. They should then open the lid of the charging case.

    AirPods Share Audio feature pop up (Youtube/LoFi Alpaca)
    AirPods Share Audio feature pop up (Youtube/LoFi Alpaca)
  3. On your device, a window should pop up. Select Temporarily Share Audio.

    Temporarily Share Audio on iOS (Youtube/LoFi Alpaca)
    Temporarily Share Audio on iOS (Youtube/LoFi Alpaca)
  4. This selection should then prompt your friend to press and hold the pairing button on their AirPods. Doing this will connect them to your device.

    Turning on pairing mode on second AirPods (Youtube/LoFi Alpaca)
    Turning on pairing mode on second AirPods (Youtube/LoFi Alpaca)
  5. You can then press Done on the pop-up window. And that should now share your audio.

    Finalize AirPods' Share Audio (Youtube/LoFi Alpaca)
    Finalize AirPods’ Share Audio (Youtube/LoFi Alpaca)

When AirPods are in use

If your friend doesn’t have their case with them or doesn’t want to have to reconnect their headphones to their own device when you finish audio sharing, go for this method.

For this, you’re not sharing audio to the AirPods directly but to another iOS device.

Additionally, it works for Beats headphones without a charging case and without having to manually put them in pairing mode.

Follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your AirPods or Beats are connected and in your ears.
  2. Tap the Audio Output icon (a triangle in front of three circles) on your lock screen, the Control Center, or the Now Playing notification.

    iOS Control Center (Youtube/ Apple Support)
    iOS Control Center (Youtube/ Apple Support)
  3. Under the Headphones section, tap on Share Audio beneath the name of your headphones.

    Sharing Audio via Control Center (Youtube/ Apple Support)
    Sharing Audio via Control Center (Youtube/ Apple Support)
  4. Place your device close to your friend’s device. They should get a pop-up on their device asking them to start listening. Then, they should choose Join. After that, the audio from your device should begin streaming to theirs.

    Sharing audio to another iOS device (Youtube/ Apple Support)
    Sharing audio to another iOS device (Youtube/ Apple Support)

How to share audio on AirPods using Mac

As mentioned above, Mac doesn’t currently support the audio-sharing feature available on iOS. However, there is still a way to connect two pairs of AirPods to the same Mac and share audio.

Audio MIDI Setup is the inbuilt application on your Mac that lets you manage the connected audio and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) devices. That said, the app will let you control which devices you use for audio input and output.

Conversely, this differs from the audio-sharing feature on iOS devices because it is a more manual approach. Since it isn’t a feature that Apple sets up, you will have to set up everything by yourself in the settings. However, it is compatible with any kind of Bluetooth headphones, not just AirPods and Beats.

Here’s how to share audio between two pairs of Bluetooth headphones on Mac:

  1. Make sure that you pair both pairs of headphones with your Mac.
  2. On your Mac, open the Finder. Select the Applications section from the sidebar, and open the Utilities folder.

    Utilities option on Mac
    Utilities option on Mac
  3. Launch the Audio MIDI Setup app from this folder. If you can’t find the app, you can search for it using Spotlight.

    Mac's Audio MIDI Setup
    Mac’s Audio MIDI Setup
  4. In the bottom left of the Audio MIDI Setup window, click the plus (+) icon. Choose to Create Multi-Output Device from the drop-down menu.

    Connect Multi-Output Device
    Connect Multi-Output Device
  5. Click on the new Multi-Output Device from the menu to select it, then right-click and choose Use This Device for Sound Output from the drop-down menu.

    Select 'Use This Device For Sound Output'
    Select ‘Use This Device For Sound Output’
  6. Select both pairs of headphones from the list of devices on the right of the window by clicking on the checkbox in the Use column.

    Click use on the devices you'd like to share audio with
    Click use on the devices you’d like to share audio with
  7. You can double-click on the ‘Multi-Output Device’ text on the left section of the window to change the name of your setup.

    Rename current setup
    Rename current setup
  8. Your Multi-Output Device setup is complete, and you can now exit the Audio MIDI Setup app. Launch System Preferences and open the Sound panel. Then, choose the Output tab and select the Multi-Output Device you just created.

    Output Tab on Sound
    Output Tab on Sound
For more information on this method, check out our article on how to use two pairs of headphones on PC or Mac.

How to share audio on AirPods using Apple TV

Sharing audio for your Apple TV is a great way to keep the volume down when watching with friends. Be warned, though, that sharing audio will disable Spacial Audio and head tracking for the duration.

This feature is only available on Apple TV 4K, not Apple TV HD. Additionally, both pairs of headphones must be compatible with audio sharing.

Here’s how you can share audio on Apple TV:

  1. Make sure you first connect your headphones to the TV.
  2. Press and hold the Home button on the Siri Remote to open the Control Center.

    Apple TV Control Center (Youtube/MA Tech)
    Apple TV Control Center (Youtube/MA Tech)
  3. Select the AirPlay button.

    Swipe down to
    AirPlay on Apple TV (Youtube/MA Tech)
  4. Swipe down to Headphones, and select the first pair of headphones you want to use for audio sharing.

    Selecting first headphones (Youtube/MA Tech)
    Selecting first headphones (Youtube/MA Tech)
  5. Select Share Audio.

    Sharing audio on Apple TV (Youtube/MA Tech)
    Sharing audio on Apple TV (Youtube/MA Tech)
  6. If the headphones you want to use are already paired to an Apple device, then a notification should appear on that device to let you pair the headphones. If not, bring the second set of headphones close to the TV. And, if they are AirPods, ensure they are in their case with the lid open.

    AirPods inside the charging case
    AirPods inside the charging case
  7. If you want the TV to remember the second pair of headphones, choose Connect to This Apple TV. Otherwise, choose Temporarily Share Audio.

    Confirming the sharing (Youtube/MA Tech)
    Confirming the sharing (Youtube/MA Tech)
For more information on this subject, check out our article on how to connect AirPods to Apple TV.

How to Manage Shared Audio on AirPods

Now that you have both sets of AirPods or headphones connected, you’ll want to know how to use them to control playback and volume. Here’s how to manage shared audio:

How to control music

You can control music when sharing audio as usual. Just open the streaming app you use and press play! No matter which method you used to share audio, your device will control what is playing.

However, your friend can’t control playback without having physical access to your device.

How to control volume

When you share audio, both pairs of headphones will automatically play at the same volume. However, you can adjust the volume of each set of headphones individually. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Control Center of your device and navigate to the AirPlay section.

    AirPlay section on iOS Control Center
    AirPlay section on iOS Control Center
  2. Below the Now Playing section, the names of the connected headphones should be next to a corresponding volume slider. You can drag these sliders to control the volume of the individual headphones.

    Volume sliders on both AirPods
    Volume sliders on both AirPods
  3. Above the individual sliders, there is a master volume slider that will affect the audio of both pairs of headphones. You can adjust it to your preference.

    Master volume slider
    Master volume slider

How to stop sharing audio

Once you finish sharing audio, you’ll want to remove your friend’s headphones from your device. Here’s how to stop sharing audio:

  1. Go to the AirPlay section of the Control Panel.
  2. Deselect the check mark next to your friend’s headphones. Doing this will make them disconnect.

    Disconnecting the second AirPods
    Disconnecting the second AirPods

What to Do When AirPods Can’t Share Audio

Even if you’ve done everything described above perfectly, a few glitches and bugs might still impact your experience.

You might be experiencing noticeable audio lag or glitches, dropped sound, or even a failure to share audio entirely. Here are a few solutions to these problems:

  • Restart your iPhone or iPad: Restarting your iPhone or iPad can often fix connection problems. Restarting your device will clear out its RAM, which can also remove whatever is causing the glitch. You can restart your iPhone by pressing volume up, then volume down, then holding the side button until the Apple logo appears.
    If you are using an iPad, restart it by pressing and holding the top button until the slider appears, then dragging the slider. However, if your iPad has no home button, simply press and hold either volume button and the top button until the slider appears, then drag the slider.
  • Reset your earbuds: Resetting your earbuds will restart their connection to your device. And doing this can fix whatever glitch was causing the problem. You can check out our article on how to reset AirPods for more instructions.
  • Update iOS or iPadOS: Software updates are often released to fix glitches and bugs, so updating your device could solve your problem. You can update your device by going to Settings > General > Software Update and tapping on Automatic Updates. Next, turn on Download iOS Updates, then Install iOS Updates. After that, your device will automatically update.
  • Update AirPods firmware: Much like software updates for your device, AirPods updates are also often released to fix glitches. Therefore, updating your AirPods could fix the issue. You can check out our article on how to update AirPods Pro for more instructions.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to share audio with your AirPods, you should easily be able to listen to music or watch a video with your friends!

Did you find our tutorial useful? Which method do you think is easiest? Make sure to tell us in the comments below!

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