Do Earbuds Set Off Metal Detectors?

Alex | Last Updated On December 30th, 2021 | This post may contain affiliate links.

Earbuds are very comfortable, and you can wear them for hours without feeling any discomfort. Most people are slowly starting to accept the “no headphone jack” lifestyle brought on by most modern smartphone manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung.

People really like to carry around their TWS wherever they go. A good TWS case is very sturdy, durable and you can easily make room for it in your pockets. Most of the time, people are going to be listening to music or podcasts whenever they are commuting, going shopping, or even boarding a flight, and a good set of earbuds will make this experience much more enjoyable.

However, it can get annoying having to take off your earbuds when going through metal detectors. It disrupts whatever you were listening to, and you have to pop them into the case just to make sure that you won’t trip off the metal detectors.

However, is it actually the case in most scenarios? Will earbuds set off any metal detector? The short answer is: Airpods and most earbuds won’t set off conventional metal detectors, and in most cases, you will not have to take them off. 

So that’s good news. Unfortunately, there will be some situations where you will have to take them off. For example: in airports, you have to run your earbuds through an X-ray otherwise those tiny earbuds could allegedly hijack a passenger plane.

There are also other concerns that you will need to know about. So in the following sections, we are going to address a few of these, starting with:

  • How do earbuds avoid setting off metal detectors?
  • Will the metal detectors affect the earbuds?
  • Will X-rays affect the earbuds?
  • What brand of earbuds are guaranteed to bypass metal detectors?
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How do earbuds avoid setting off metal detectors?

PISA, ITALY - APRIL 6, 2019: Apple Airpods with Apple Watch 4 in the background. They are a best selling item from Apple.

Headphones and earbuds are built using a variety of different materials, and these include a significant amount of metals as well.

If you are not familiar with all the components inside an earbud, there is one component called the “coil” which takes in electrical signals and converts them into sound waves. This coil is made of metal (coils cannot be made of plastic because they work with electrical signals) and, this is one of the parts that could trip off a metal detector.

Along with that, the physical size of these components plays a major role when it comes to concealing the earbuds from metal detectors. Earbuds are not like your typical headphones, the components inside earbuds are very small. So small in fact that they can bypass metal detectors.

The purpose of metal detectors is to detect a certain type of metal. In the case of libraries and stores, the metal detectors are specifically looking for items that can be stolen, while in airports and banks, metal detectors are used to identify any weapons and items of a similar destructive nature. (such as bombs and detonators)

In any of these scenarios, metal detectors are not on the lookout for earbuds. Therefore, it is very easy for earbuds (and some headphones) to pass through a metal detector without setting it off. In other words: your earbuds could easily fly under the radar because of their smaller scale.

Will the metal detectors affect the earbuds in any way?

Airport security check using a metal detector on a passenger.

In my experience, metal detectors were scary at first. These metal detectors emit an electromagnetic field that scans for any unwanted objects. So when I looked up how it works, it sounds very invasive and almost makes me want to put on a tinfoil hat. But when you have to use them every day, whether it’s the shopping mall or the library, you get used to them.

So it’s not dangerous for humans, but what about the earbuds. Sure, they may fly under the radar but do they actually come out unscathed?

To answer that: your earbuds are not affected when passing through a metal detector. You might hear some slight feedback when you are wearing them while passing through metal detectors, but it’s not a major issue. 

Also, most modern earbuds, especially the high-quality ones include built-in filters to overcome this feedback issue. Therefore, you are going to be fine, and you are not going to experience an ear-drum-shattering screech. (even if you use low-quality wired earbuds)

Will X-rays affect the earbuds?

Passengers going trough security check at the airport. Luggage going trough x-ray machine at airport security check.

When you are boarding a flight at the airport, you will have to take off your earbuds since they have to pass through an X-ray. This is done to make sure that you are not hiding a tiny WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction) inside your Tozo earbuds.

X-rays are electromagnetic radiation, and these don’t affect earbuds as much as high-intensity magnetic pulses. Most modern earbuds have implemented safety features with this specific case in mind. So for the most part, your earbuds are going to be fine when going through an X-ray machine.

However, it is the handheld scanner and the airport metal detector that you should be worried about. These have a higher chance of affecting your electronics because they emit strong magnetic pulses. These metal detectors are not like the ones used in libraries and stores; they are out for blood. (metal, to be more precise) So as an extra precaution, I suggest you take off your earbuds and stow them inside the case (or pocket) when you have to go through the airport metal detector.

What brand of earbuds are guaranteed to bypass metal detectors?

So now, we’ve figured out that metal detectors are not so scary and there’s no need to take them off unless you are at the airport. So this begs the question? Will any type of earbud set off a metal detector and what brand/model of earbuds are very well known to avoid this?

Apple AirPods and the Apple Watch are found to be the best at cloaking themselves from metal detectors, along with most high-end models from brands such as Samsung and Sony. These high-end models will be fully capable of flying under the radar without damaging themselves. 

So if you have the chance, it’s best not to skimp out on a good set of earbuds. If you are looking for some recommendations, check out our earbuds section.

If you want to know the difference between in-ear monitors (IEMs) and earbuds, check this article.

Conclusion

People love their earbuds and having to take them off near metal detectors can be a real pain, especially if they are in the middle of a great song/podcast. Most manufacturers have considered this issue and they’ve implemented several features to make sure that earbuds do not set off metal detectors. So if you are wearing a good set of earbuds from a reputable brand you’ve got nothing to worry about.