iOS 14: How to check headphone volume and ambient noise in real time

Real-time check of the headphone level in dB

I have to say, Apple keeps surprising me with nice, little features that weren't even on the screen when I updated iOS 14. I'm currently looking forward to being able to check how high the volume of the headphones (in my case, the AirPods or AirPods Pro) actually is.

Limit headphone volume automatically

The possibility of automatically leaving the volume of the headphones below a critical value has been around for a long time. Via the menu Settings> Sounds & Haptics> Reduce volume a level can be selected that acts as a maximum value, so to speak. Everything that goes beyond that is automatically reduced in volume by iOS so that the level remains below the selected value.

With the "Reduce Loud Tones" function, the iPhone can adjust the volume during playback so as not to exceed a certain volume level.
The Reduce Loud Sounds feature allows iPhone to adjust the volume during playback to stay below a certain volume level.

For example, if you have the standard setting of 85 dB, which, according to Apple, corresponds to the volume of heavy traffic, then all loud levels above this value are turned down.

As practical as this function is: You have no indication of how close you are to this value and when you would actually have exceeded the maximum level.

Real-time check of the headphone volume in decibels

With iOS 14, Apple has gone a step further and now allows the user with a tool in the control center to keep an eye on the volume of the headphones – or the environment. The level is displayed on a scale and the maximum value for the last few seconds is noted in decibels.

The detail view shows the volume level in decibels (dB).

How to activate this, I'll show you here:

  1. Settings> Control Center
  2. Add Hear control
  3. Open control center
  4. Tap the icon with the ear

The icon with the auricle also shows the level in the control panel. However, the reading is of course somewhat imprecise and the level in dB is missing, so I would recommend tapping it to open the large view.

This is how you set up the real-time hearing test in the control center.
This is how you set up the real-time hearing test in the control center.

Live monitoring checks the volume of the surroundings

In the detailed view of the control you will find the "Live Monitoring" section at the bottom. If you tap on "Off" here, it is activated and the iPhone uses its built-in microphones to determine the sound level of the environment.

Again, this is not a value measured once, but a continuous measurement, the result of which can be read on the sound level scale and on the basis of the decibel value.

The "Live monitoring" function enables the ambient noise to be checked over time.
The "Live Monitoring" function allows you to check the ambient noise level over time.

Measurement results go to Apple Health

I think Apple is actively contributing to such features that users develop a greater awareness of volume and, above all, of sound levels that permanently damage their hearing.

As far as I could see, the measurements are also stored in the health app, so that you can see the volume of the last few days. The app itself also apparently sends out warnings in the form of push notifications if, for example, the playback volume has exceeded a certain value too often in the last seven days.

Volume Tuned Down: Based on your headphone usage over the last seven days, the volume has been turned down to protect your hearing.

The results of the measurements are evaluated in the health app and an assessment of the level is obtained.
The results of the measurements are evaluated in the health app and an assessment of the level is obtained.

Active quieter rotation through iOS 14

Based on the playback volume of the last few days, iOS - if the feature is activated - is also able to actively reduce the volume. According to Apple, this happens when the following limits are exceeded:

  • 75 dB for 127 hours in 7 days
  • 80 dB for 40 hours in 7 days
  • 90 dB for 4 hours in 7 days
  • 100 dB for 24 minutes in 7 days
  • 110 dB for 2 minutes in 7 days
  • 120 dB for 14 seconds in 7 days

I'm sure that a lot of people will get upset here again, who already felt patronized by the iPhone brake for battery optimization, but before there is much shouting: You have to activate the feature yourself. Apple doesn't turn it on by default.

Your favorite iOS 14 features?

Which new features do you particularly like about iOS 14 and which help you in everyday life? I would be happy if you could give me a quick tip on what you noticed particularly positively after the update.

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.