You don’t know you sound bad on a FaceTime or Zoom call until someone points it out. If you’re chatting with a particularly polite bunch, you might never know, and your hilarious stories or inspiring speeches will fall on deaf and strained ears. If you’re an Apple user, and you want to make sure your voice sounds as good as it can on your video calls, there’s a secret setting that can help.
The hidden option is a new addition to the Apple ecosystem, which launched with last year’s release of iOS 15iPadOS 15, and macOS 12. It’s one part of two new mic settings that help control the sounds that make it to the other end of your video and audio calls. Although Apple highlighted these features during its software announcements in 2021, the options are tucked away, and only appear in the first place when you’re engaged in a call, so they can be difficult to find.
Whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, the first thing you need to do is start a video call (or, at least, start to start a video call.) While these options appear when you’re in the middle of a call, you might want to change the settings before anyone actually starts talking. For example, you only need to open the FaceTime app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to find these options, rather than waiting until you’re already chatting with someone.
Whether you follow that step, or you’re engaged in a call, you can find the options in Control Center. If you’ve done things right, you should see a “Mic Mode” option in the top right. Choose it, and you’ll see three options:
- Standard: your default mic mode
- Voice Isolation: uses machine learning to block out all ambient noises and focus solely on your voice
- Wide Spectrum: brings in all sounds in the room, ideal for situations where your contacts should hear everything going on around you (such as music lessons)
If you’re interested in boosting the quality and clarity of your voice on a call, choose Voice Isolation. Even if you’re in a noisy environment, this mode should help those on the call hear what you have to say. If your environment is already quiet, all the better: you should come through crystal clear.
You should have access to these tools whether you take your calls through FaceTime, or a third-party app like Zoom, Teams, or Facebook Messenger. In addition, this feature works with audio calls in those apps, but not standard phone calls. If you ring someone up with a regular call, you won’t see these options appear in Control Center, while a FaceTime audio call will allow you to use Voice Isolation for better sound.
Unfortunately, these features aren’t available on all Apple devices. In addition to being exclusive to iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS 12 Monterey, they require specific hardware to run. On iOS and iPadOS, these features need at least an A12 Bionic chip. That means you need to have:
- iPhone XR, XS, XS Max or newer
- iPad (fifth generation) or newer
- iPad Air (third generation) or newer
- iPad (eighth generation) or newer
On the Mac side of things, your device needs to be from 2018 or later. I’m not sure why my late 2016 MacBook Pro can’t handle Voice Isolation mode, but apparently Apple’s machine learning is too intense for my computer.