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How to Fix Headphones Where One Side is Quieter than the Other?

If you’re an avid music listener, figuring out how to fix headphones where one side is quieter than the other has been a lifelong struggle. However, your quest is almost at an end, my disciple. There is light at the end of the tunnel. And if not, you will have to buy new headphones like the rest of us.

But what’s the problem with your headphone volume? Is it a technical problem, a manufacturing malfunction, or have you broken them in your sleep? These are all viable reasons. So, let’s find out why one side is working and one side isn’t.

Why is my Headphone Volume Only Working on One Side?

Why is my Headphone Volume Only Working on One Side

There is nothing more frustrating than when your headphone volume is louder in one ear than the other. It’s the sort of thing that can send a sane person to a mental asylum. It can destroy the listening experience to the point of meltdown.

Throwing yet another pair of headphones into the trash is the standard response, but let’s not be too hasty. Let’s find the root cause of the issue before we plunge more plastic into the ocean. Therefore I recommend that you go through the following steps to find the issue…

Swapping Earbud Sides

You know the problem could be you, right? If you are wearing earbuds, it might be sensible to switch the buds from left to right or vice versa. It could be that you have a hearing problem with one ear.

Wax buildup is commonplace for those who wear headphones regularly. This is one reason why the volume could be lower in one ear is quieter than the other. If you still have an earbud problem, then the issue is with your headphones, not you.

Checking for Dusty and Dirty Headphones

Dirty headphones could be the reason why the volume is quieter on one side of the headphones. If your headphones have mesh protection, dust can easily get inside and is difficult to see or shift. Dust can disrupt the flow of sound waves. Before you throw them away, look to see if you can clean inside the mesh. That might help.

Checking for Shorted Wires

In the quest to find out how to fix headphones, consider that it could be a manufacturing problem, and there is an issue with electronics. A shorted wire is a common malfunction that can happen to headphones, new or used. If you bought the product this way, you can probably get a refund depending on the policy. But in all likelihood, you did it.

We listen to our music in all manner of strange and contorted positions. And it’s also commonplace to sleep with our headphones on. In all these instances, the wires are forced to twist and conform to all manner of positions. This can lead to shorted wires. It’s the most common complaint in regards to faulty headphone volume.

How to Fix Headphones Where One Side is Quieter than the Other – Finding Solutions

Finding Solutions

Now we have researched the possible issues that affect the volume of your headphones; it’s time to find some solutions to the aforementioned problems. So, here are a few simple fixes that could sort your problem in a matter of minutes and could save you from buying more headphones.

Changing your Headphone and Media Settings

If the volume on one side of your headphones is louder than the other, you could connect them to a media player to check the balance. Or check directly via your headphone device. There is a chance that the balance volume in your media player settings is predominantly set to one ear.

Go to the settings on your media player, and ensure that the balance controller is set to the middle directly between L and R. You can also check the volume lever. Manually toggle the volume up and down.

For Android users, you can simply go to your headphone settings to adjust the volume. Alternatively, Apple users can use this route: General>Accessibility>Move Down to Hearing Section>Ensure Balance is Centered.

Cleaning your Headphones

It never hurts to keep your electronic products clean. We would suggest that you clean your headphones right away. It doesn’t take long, and it could save you dollars in the long term. Safely clean and remove any grime or dust buildup that could be affecting the sound. If you have headphones with a mesh cover, lightly blow to remove dust particles.

Taping Shorted Wires

We wouldn’t usually suggest that you play around with wires, but this is for headphones, not a tripwire bomb from WWII. You can gently tweak the affected wire until you hear full sound return.

Once you have found the sweet spot, try and hold it securely in place while applying electrical tape to solidify its position. That might just do the trick. It’s an old-school fix but very effective.

Finding the Best Headphones to Purchase

Finding the Best Headphones to Purchase

If all those solutions do not work and you still have volume issues with one ear, you will have to bite the bullet and buy some new ones. Here are some of the best headphones and earbuds in the marketplace, as recommended by myself and other industry experts.

Looking for Great Headphones or Earbuds?

We have the reviews that can help you find what you need. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones Under $200, the Best JBL Wireless Headphones, the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds, the Best Skullcandy Earbuds, the Best AptX Bluetooth Headphones, and the Best Earbuds under $100 on the market in 2023.

You might also enjoy our comprehensive reviews of the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $100, the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Earbuds for Running, the Best Lightweight Headphones, the Best Headphones for Rock Metal Music, and the Best Headphones for Cycling you can buy.

And don’t miss our handy guides on How to Fix Sound Delay in Bluetooth HeadphonesHow to Use Two or More Headphones On PC or Mac, and How to Fix a Loose Headphone Jack for more helpful information.

How to Fix Headphones Where One Side is Quieter than the Other – Final Thoughts

It can take some serious troubleshooting. We need to find out whether it’s a product and manufacturing issue or an issue with your hearing. The high probability is that you have somehow shorted a wire without realizing it. Or it could be a problem with your media or headphone settings.

If the problem persists after following our suggested tips and quick fixes, you will have to buy some new headphones. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, I’m afraid.

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

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