You are listening to your favorite beats on your headphones and realize the volume on one side is louder than the other. Strange, but something very common with headphones.
So, how do you fix headphones with one earbud louder than the other?
- See if your phone is on mute or not
- Adjust the volume
- Take out the headphone and re-insert it
- Untangle the wires
- Restart the phone
Steps to fix headphones with one earbud louder than the other
If you have done the above and you are still facing a problem with uneven volume in your headphones, then you can try the below-mentioned steps.
1. Clean the earbuds
The first step to fixing your headphones is to clean them. Take some lukewarm water in a bowl and dip cotton swabs in it. Remove excess water from the cotton and clean your earbuds. This should remove any loose dirt or other substances that might be blocking them.
Alternatively, you can also use an alcohol-based liquid on the cotton swab to clean the headphones. However, do note that such liquids can result in the headphones’ paint coming off. So, do it carefully. Do not in any circumstance dip your headphones in any sort of liquid as this can permanently damage them.
If there is ear wax on your headphones, you can first dry dust them. To do this, use a soft brush like a hairbrush or a paintbrush to wipe the ear wax off the headphone. Once this is done, you can follow the steps mentioned above to clean the headphones.
2. Adjust the sound balance setting
Another reason for unbalanced volume in your headphones could be the sound balance setting. If the balance is not in the center, then this can result in one side being louder than the other. To check your sound balance, click on the Settings tab of your mobile phone and then head over to the volume or sound controls.
There you should see an option for Audio Balance, sometimes under the Accessibility option in Settings. See if the balance is in the center or not. If not drag it and move it towards the center. Once you do this, plug in your headphones and see if the problem has gone away or not. Moving the balance completely towards the defective can give you an indication if that side is damaged or not.
3. Check the wires for any damage
One of the major causes of headphone issues is often the wires. Most of us fold the wires in an improper manner and this leads to electrical shortage and other issues. If your headphone wires are tangled, first untangle them. Once you are done, carefully inspect the wire for any cracks or tears.
To fix cracks in the wire, you can use electrical tape to cover the affected section. Tightly wrap the tape around the damaged part, straighten the wire and see if this solution works. If it does, then you have to ensure that the tape stays on the wire for as long as you intend to use the headphone.
Wires often short out resulting in sound problems. To identify if this is the cause, slowly start bending the headphone wire one small section at a time. See if the sound changes. Keep moving along the wire and as soon as you see a chance, mark the section. Sometimes, just slowly twisting it a couple of times fixes the issue. However, if the wire inside is damaged then you might not be able to salvage the issue.
4. Clean the headphone jack slot
Prolonged usage and exposure to dirt and dust affect your device’s performance. The slot where your headphone jack is inserted is prone to dirt accumulation. Remove your headphone from the jack and then with a torch to see if there is any dirt inside the slot. If you see some, take a cotton swab and then roll it into a thin shape.
Dip this into an alcohol-based liquid or lukewarm water, squeeze excess water out of it and then attempt the clean the inside of the headphone jack. After this, take a dry cotton swab and dry the headphone slot. Any liquid left behind can permanently damage your device. Try not to blow air into the slot as it might push the dirt further inside.
5. Check the mesh for any blockages
To protect headphones, manufacturers often install a thin mesh on them. However, the mesh can also get dirty due to ear wax and dust. Inspect the headphone to see if it’s clean or not. If you find dirt particles on them, do not blow air on them. This will push the dirt further inside.
Take a mild-powered vacuum cleaner and a hose with a narrow opening to suck the dirt out of the mesh. If the vacuum is powerful then it might damage the headphone. Once you are done vacuuming then wipe off the mesh with a cotton swab dipped in lukewarm water or an alcohol-based cleaner.
A few headphones models come with removable covers. If you have these then it might be a good idea to take them out and clean them with lukewarm water. If you have been provided with additional covers, then replace the existing ones with the new ones. If the covers are dirty they could be blocking some audio output.
6. Test your phone/device with another pair of headphones
It’s easy to blame your headphones when they don’t work but there could. be a possibility that there is a problem with the device connected to them. Just to make sure that your headphones are faulty or not, try to use a different set of headphones with your device.
If the same problem persists, then there is an issue with your device or some sound settings. You can use the solutions provided here to sort it out. And if the headphones work fine then you know for sure that there is something wrong with them.
7. Swap the sides
Well, this is a very obvious troubleshooting step but you also need to ensure that the problem isn’t with you! All you have to do is to swap the sides. Put the defective side into a different side of your ear and then play some music. If the problem still persists on the other side of the headphone, then for sure there is a problem with the headphones.
8. Restart your device
One of the most popular tech troubleshooting steps is always to restart your device. A lot of the tech issues seem to go away once the device is rebooted so it is recommended that you do the same. Unplug your headphones and then restart your device. Connect the headphones once the system is booted and check the audio again.
9. Reset your phone/device
This is probably the last resort and should only be done once every other step has failed. And if for some reason you don’t want to switch to a new pair of headphones. Resetting a device can be a painstaking process but it does fix problems at times.
Once you are done with the reset, check the sound settings and plug in your headphones to see if it worked. Resetting devices can fix existing software issues. If it didn’t, then there is nothing much you can do to fix them.
10. Check for signs of water damage
Most of our headphones are not waterproof and even the smallest amount of precipitation can spoil them. Closely inspect the defective side of the headphone to see if there are signs of water damage. Headphones are often exposed to sweat, rain, water spillage, etc and this will result in a defect.
It is great if you manage to spot water damage. Even if you don’t, you can try this trick. Take the headphones and insert them into a container full of rice. Make sure that the entire device is inside the rice. Keep it this way for a couple of hours. If there is any kind of liquid or moisture inside the headphones, the rice will absorb them.
Take out the headphones after some time and then dust them off carefully to remove any rice husk. Clean the headphone jack with a dry cloth and insert it into the device to check if they work or not.
Fixing headphone issues on a computer
If you are using your headphones on a computer then the troubleshooting steps are a little different from the Settings mentioned above.
For Mac users, you first need to navigate to System Preferences. Once you are there, you can replicate the following steps.
- In System Preferences, click on the Sound option
- Check all settings in the Sound Effects tab. See if something looks out of place. Fix any irregularities you find
- Navigate to the output tab and see if the audio balance is in the center. If it isn’t, adjust it
- You will see Output Volume under the Balance controls. This needs to be close to the maximum level
- Restart the Mac once and see if the problem was resolved or not
Windows users can follow the below steps to troubleshoot the headphone issue.
- Navigate to your Start Menu or My Computer and click on Control Panel
- You will see an option for Hardware & Sound. Alternatively, you can search for ‘Sound’ in the search bar
- Once the Sound window opens, click on the Playback tab. If your headphones are connected, they should appear there
- Right-click on the headphone name and click on Properties
- Then click on the Levels tab, click on Balance and make sure it is in the center
- Restart the system and check your headphones
What to do if you are not able to fix your headphone issue?
Well, then there are really two things you can do.
1. Check your headphone warranty
If you paid a hefty price for your headphones, then it is understandable that you want to fix them. Take out the warranty card that came with the product and check the warranty information. However, do remember that the manufacturers will only tend to problems arising out of manufacturing defects.
If it is indeed a manufacturing issue, then you should get a free product replacement. At least you don’t have to worry about losing your money now!
2. Buy new headphones
You won’t like this but if there is no solution to salvaging your headphones then you will need to purchase a pair of new ones. Sometimes with time and usage, products can go bad. So maybe, your headphones have done their time, and it’s time to retire them now.
What causes headphones to become unbalanced?
There is not one issue that leads to defective headphones. It could be a variety of reasons and most of them have been covered in the points above. Issues can range from hardware defects, cleanliness problems to software problems. In devices that have multiple audio jacks, sometimes headphones are inserted into the wrong jack.
For example, if you insert the headphones into a mono audio jack then this could result in audio issues. It can be fixed by But most of us use devices with a single audio jack so this problem isn’t very common.
If you use a computer system employing special sound effects, you might want to check if some setting is hampering the flow of audio into the headphones.
Good audio is essential if you are a music lover or gamer or use your headphones a lot. And unbalanced audio hampers the experience in a really irritating way.
Hopefully, out of all the steps that you have gone through, you find one that helps you fix your headphone issue. Irrespective of the device you are using to connect the headphones to, these troubleshooting steps will work. Use them easily on Windows, Android, iOS, etc devices.
And if the above-mentioned solutions helped sort out the headphone problem then we are glad you are back to enjoying your uninterrupted music! Also, make sure to check out our guide on using apple headphones as mic on pc.