Whether you are using wireless headphones or wired, anything going wrong with them can be extremely frustrating. Imagine listening to your favorite tunes, talking to your friends/family over a video call, or playing the latest video game, and suddenly you lose audio in one side of the headphones! Frustrating right?
So, how do you fix one earbud not working on your headphone?
Well, to fix the issue of one earbud not working, there are several solutions. One side headphone not working is a common problem that most of us face and here is a list of possible issues.
- Wiring is loose or cut
- Earbuds are dirty
- Water damage
- Problem with the sound settings
- Faulty sockets
- Faulty jacks
As you can see there are a variety of issues that could result in one earbud not working and now we will look at each problem and give you a detailed solution.
Simple Fix To One Headphone not working Right/Left
Mentioned below is a list of possible problems with their resolutions. It is recommended that you go through them one by one to see if the resolution helps fix your problem. If it doesn’t move on to the next one.
1. Jack not inserted properly
If you are using a wired headphone then the first thing you do in this troubleshooting process is to check if the headphone jack has been inserted properly or not. When you insert the headphone jack into the headphone slot on the device you are using, there should a slight click once it is inserted completely.
If the jack hasn’t gone into the slot in the proper manner, then you might face issues with one earbud not working. Therefore, disconnect your headphone from the device and once again insert the jack properly. See if the problem got fixed or not.
While you are at it, inspect your jack to see if it is dirty. As a precaution, take a cotton swab, dip it in water, and then squeeze out excess water from it. Clean the headphone jack with the cotton swab to remove any dirt or dust from it. Once done, take a dry cloth and remove all moisture from the jack. Reconnect it and check the performance.
2. Check your sound balance in device settings
Improper audio balance settings can also result in one side earbud not working. To confirm if this is the issue or not, go into the Settings of your mobile or computer. There you will be able to see an option for Sound or Audio. Click on those and find the section for Audio Balance or Sound Balance.
The setting for the Balance should be in the center. If you see that it isn’t aligned correctly, then drag the slider and move it to the center position. Apply the settings once you are done. Reconnect your headphones and check to see if the problem has been resolved or not. You could also restart your device once you make changes to the settings. This sometimes helps. Also, you should check out can i use iphone headphones as a mic on pc?
3. Mono sound setting
Mono sound is a setting in which the same sound is sent to both sides of the headphones. Sometimes, without us knowing, we listen to mono tracks and the sound only plays on one side of the headphone. This could be a problem you could be facing. On your device, go to Settings and looks for Sound or Audio settings.
There you will see an option for Mono Sound or Mono Audio. Make sure you disable it and then recheck the audio on your headphones. In some devices, the option for Mono Audio could be under Ease of Access options. Do remember to check it there as well.
4. Dirty Earbuds
After prolonged usage, it is quite possible that your earbuds have been dirty and have got clogged. Closely inspect the defective side to see any dirt, dust, or ear wax accumulation. In case you find it dirty, follow the next steps.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a narrow opening to suck the dirt out of the earbuds. After vacuuming, wipe off the earbud with a cotton swab dipped in lukewarm water or an alcohol-based cleaner. If you use headphones with removable covers then it might be a good idea to take them out and clean them with lukewarm water.
If your headphones don’t have a mesh then you can 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 substance that might be blocking 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.
5. Inspect the wires for damage
The first thing you need to do is to straighten out the headphone wires. Tangled wires aren’t good for durability and lead to performance issues. Once you straighten it out see if it help solve your problem. If it didn’t then twist a small section of the wire from one end to another.
Keep your headphones connected to the device and play some audio. While twisting, sometimes tangled internal wires are set free and the problems go away. Closely check every portion of your headphone wires to see if there is any damage to them. Tangled wires or ones that are cut often result in some issue.
If you do find a cut in the wire, use electrical tape to cover it. Wrap the entire affected section tightly with the wire and then check to see if the problem went away. If it did, then make sure that the wire never comes off from the headphones.
6. Problem with the device headphone slot
When you face the issue of one side earbud not working, there could be a possibility that the device has a problem and not the headphone. To confirm, use another pair of headphones on the device to see if the problem persists. If it does, then it means that you need to get the device audio slot serviced.
Sometimes, dust accumulation leads to issues. Disconnect your headphones from the slot and then 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 lukewarm water, squeeze out excess water and clean the inside of the jack. Then, take a dry cotton swab and dry the headphone slot. Any liquid left behind can permanently damage your device.
7. Check for signs of water damage
All our electronic devices are prone to water damage even if they claim to be waterproof or water-resistant. Headphones are exposed to sweat, rain, and precipitation so it’s likely such a thing could have damaged the earbud on one side.
If the damage was done very recently, then without doing anything put your headphones inside a container of raw rice. Rice has the ability to suck out moisture and do the same with your headphones. Keep them in the rice for a couple of hours and then see if they work or not.
In case, you don’t have rice at home then what do you do? There are some replacements to rice such as dry oatmeal, synthetic desiccant packets, couscous pearls, etc.
8. Re-pairing wireless headphones
Diagnosing Bluetooth speakers requires a different set of troubleshooting steps. If you face the issue of one side earbud not working on a wireless headphone then the first thing you need to do is to unpair them. Now keep the power button on your headphone pressed for a few seconds till the power indicator flashes blue or red.
This usually helps the factory reset the headphones. After you restart the headphones, pair them with your device once again. This should help fix your problem.
9. Half point issue
A half-point issue happens when the audio gets stuck during transmission. If you are using a wireless headphone that comes with a wireless jack, then first take it out from the device. While the audio is still playing, reinsert the jack into the audio slot. If the audio plays in both earbuds then it was a half-point issue that is now rectified.
10. Resetting your device
Connect another pair of headphones into your device and if the problem persists, then there is a problem with the device and not the headphones. Follow steps 2, 3, 6, and 9 for resolution. Even after doing this, if the problem doesn’t go away then you might need to reset your device/restore it to factory settings.
Take a data backup and reset your device. Sometimes, software glitches or viruses can cause issues with connected accessories. Resetting your device can help fix these problems.
How to repair damaged wires at home?
In step 4, we explained how you could inspect your wired headphones for any wire damage. If you do find it, then here are some steps you can follow to repair them at home.
- Identify the part that seems damaged
- Mark both ends of the damaged portion with a marker or tape
- Take a pair of wire cutters and slowly make an incision to remove the outer covering. Be careful not to cut the entire wire
- Once the inside wires are exposed, you need to find the section that is shorted out or cut
- Usually, there are red, black/white and copper wires inside
- If you find any wire that appears to have been cut, you will need to reconnect them
- Take a solder gun to fix the break. You can also use also splice them together
- Once you have fixed the broken wire, reconnect your headphones to check if the problem is resolved
- When you are satisfied, you will now need to place to outer covering on the wire and tape is tightly
What to do if nothing works?
Well, if you have tried all the troubleshooting steps mentioned above and still failed to rectify your headphone issue then there are only a few other options left.
- Get your headphones serviced (check if they are under warranty)
- Buy new headphone
If your headphones have gone kaput, then there is no option but to get them replaced. It is quite painful especially if you purchase expensive ones. So, next time when you go in for a new set of headphones, buy a good pair from a trusted manufacturer.
Tips to take care of your earbuds
Hopefully, the steps listed above helped resolve the issue of one side earbud not working properly. To ensure that you don’t face such problems in the future, it is essential to take care of your wired or wireless headphones.
Here are some measures you can follow to keep your headphones safe and away from damage.
- Keep your headphones/earphones in a clean cover or box when not in use
- If you use wired headphones, always keep the wires untangled
- Don’t fold the wires too tightly
- Periodically, clean the earbuds, mesh, and any covers to remove dust and earwax
- Remove the headphones from the device when not in use
- Keep your headphone away from water or precipitation
- Don’t overcharge your headphones
- Always use genuine chargers, wires, and accessories
- Don’t throw them around too much
- Clean the device audio slot and your headphone jack periodically
Wired or wireless headphones, all are prone to malfunction and damage due to daily use. When you face issues, don’t panic. Follow all the steps mentioned in the order that is written here. Sometimes, the issue could be with a device setting, loose jack, or tangled wires. Using simple methods, you should be able to resolve the problem of one side earbud not working.
Throwing away faulty headphones always seems to be the easy way out. But it can cost you a lot of money if you keep discarding them every time your headphones go bad. Fixing them yourself is always more economical, saves you the hassle of buying new ones or getting them repaired.