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Why Are My Headphones So Quiet?

Are you asking yourself, “Why are my headphones so quiet?” That’s like asking, “How long is a piece of string?” From the end to the middle multiplied by two is the answer. Understanding why your headphones are not working properly is a much more complicated affair than string length-based analogies.

There’s nothing worse than playing Metallica through your headphones only to encounter a dull murmur like Coldplay. Assuming you haven’t gone deaf at a second’s notice, there’s something wrong with your headphones. Are they broken, or is it a technical issue? Let’s find out…

My Headphones are so Quiet. Why?

When your headphones are quiet for no apparent reason, you either have technical issues, or they are broken. If they’re broken, you will have to bite the bullet and buy a new set of headphones. If you have technical issues, you will have to narrow down the problem with some troubleshooting.

So, why are my headphones so quiet? Here are some of the most common reasons for quiet headphones.

Audio File Problems

Audio File Problems

If you’re listening to a song through your headphones and it’s quiet, it might just be a problem with audio files. Quickly try another song because it might just be the encoded levels are low on the song you are currently listening to. If it’s just the one song with very low levels, your headphones are probably okay.

File types such as MP3s and WAVs are the most common audio files. But if they were encoded incorrectly from the beginning, the volume will be low no matter what you do. It’s not your headphones. But if the same problem persists for every audio file or YouTube video, we need to do more troubleshooting.

Cleaning out Your Ears

We didn’t want to get yucky this soon, but that’s the way life is. It’s full of yuckiness. The reason your headphones are quiet could be that your ears need a good clean. The technical term is “earwax blockage.”

Don’t get all defensive; it’s impossible to take out your eyes and spin them around to view the inner workings of your ears. But I suppose we do have mirrors for that.

A very common issue…

Especially if you are an earbud user, because earbuds are constantly pressing against the inner ear, they can create earwax buildup. Use a cloth with warm water and gently dab into your ears to remove possible earwax buildup.

Be careful because nothing good comes from prodding your inner ear too aggressively. Do not use cotton buds because sometimes they can do more harm than good.

Unclean Headphones (earbuds)

If you use earbuds, all kinds of issues can make your headphone volume seem too quiet. Take out your earbuds and look into them. Do you see any wax buildup or any other blockages? A crusty collection can build up, causing loads of problems with your volume levels. Give your earbuds a good cleaning.

Wireless Headphones Connection Issues

If you use wireless headphones, there are a few technical issues that can cause low volume. Bluetooth-enabled headsets and headphones are now commonplace, but connectivity issues arise with these types of devices.

Ever sit there listening to Spotify when all of a sudden the music stops playing through your headphones? The connection can easily drop out or freeze. And it does regularly with some cheaper wireless headphone models. If this happens regularly, it might be time to get some newer, better-quality headphones.

Alternatively, it could simply be a ‘pairing’ issue. If so, you can disconnect your Bluetooth connection, reconnect, and re-pair again.

Socket and Plug Problems

This one might seem a little too simplistic, but it could be a problem with your socket or plug. This can only happen with wired headphones, of course, but you’d be surprised how often this is the issue. Make sure your headphones are fully plugged into your device. If not, the sound quality will be affected in numerous ways.

Mobile Device or Computer Settings

Are you getting sound only in one ear of your headphones? It could be a setting issue with your mobile phone, laptop, or PC. Check the audio settings on your device to ensure the balance option is set to the middle.

The balance setting on your device might be set to either the right or left ear alone. Make sure you check the device volume settings as well.

How Can I Fix my Quiet Headphones?

How Can I Fix my Quiet Headphones?

“Why are my headphones so quiet?” I hear you ask. Well, if you have not found the answer by troubleshooting the above issues, you might need to run some other checks. And if you have found the root cause of the issue, it’s time to solve some problems. Here are a few ways to fix headphone volume problems.

Checking Your Hardware

Performing a hardware check is the first thing you should do. It’s the first step in trial and error troubleshooting. You need to rule out hardware issues such as broken parts, factory defects, and other problems.

  • Ensure your headphones are plugged in properly. Disconnect and reconnect your headphones a few times and listen for the click when plugging in.
  • Make sure you clean the jack connector on your headphones. Dust can gather on your headphone jack, so make sure it’s clean.
  • If you use earbuds, make sure the buds are clean. Earwax buildup can block the volume. Clean the inside of your earbuds with a toothbrush or some alcohol wipes, or even with cotton buds.
  • Check your wires and connectors for any damage. If your headphones are older, it’s very common for worn-out wires and connectors to be a major issue. If so, you will have to replace the wires or the headphones.

Checking Playback Settings on Devices

This could be quite a complicated subject that would take a step-by-step guide on its own merits. Checking the playback and audio settings on your device is essential. Most volume problems come from wrongly configured playback settings. However, each device type and model has differing settings.

So here is a rundown of the most common devices and how to access audio and playback settings to fix your headphone volume issues.

Apple iPhone Device Audio Settings

The iPhone was a revolution for smartphone technology. If you need to adjust the volume settings on your iPhone, you can simply press ‘volume up’ or ‘volume down’ on the side of your phone. You could also call Siri and ask her how you can increase or decrease the volume setting on your iPhone.

If this doesn’t work, you need to delve into your iPhone audio balance settings by doing the following.

  • Choose Settings > General > Accessibility.
  • Go to the ‘Hearing Section’ and check the balance is set to the middle.

Android Device Playback Settings

The most common tablets and portable devices in this day and age have an Android operating system. It’s important to remember that Android devices can be very different and diverse from each other. And this means that some settings features have different labels and names, so please bear that in mind.

The first thing you can do is adjust the ‘volume up’ and ‘volume down’ buttons which should be on the side of your Android device. If this doesn’t fix your headphone volume issue, you will need to look at your device settings. Here is a simple guide on how to access audio and playback settings on Android to fix your headphone issues.

  • Navigate to Settings > Sound & Vibration.
  • From this setting, you can adjust the volume of your audio, notifications, calls, and so forth.

Checking your MAC Audio Settings

Adjusting audio and playback settings on a MAC is a bit more complicated than on an iPhone or Android. That’s because we are talking about a real computer that has way more settings than a phone or tablet. But don’t let that scare you away. It’s much simpler than you think.

The first step in checking the volume and audio controls on your MAC would be to follow these tips.

  • Access the Apple Menu on your MAC.
  • Click on ‘System Preferences.’
  • Choose the ‘Sound’ tab.
  • Go to the ‘Output’ tab, and select your headphone type from the list.
  • Adjust the MAC volume bar and ensure your balance is in the center.

Note: If you cannot see your headphone type on the device list, it means they are not connected to your MAC. This could be where your quiet headphone issues come from. Keep connecting and disconnecting your headphones from your device until you see them appear on the list.

Restarting your sound controller…

If the sound problems between your headphones and MAC persist, you might have to go another route. Follow these steps to restart the sound controller on your MAC.

  • Navigate to ‘Applications,’ then choose the ‘Utilities’ tab.
  • You then need to double-click on ‘Activity Monitor.’
  • Type in ‘coreaudiod’ into the search bar to access the ‘Core Audio Controller.’
  • You can then restart the Core Audio Controller by clicking on ‘coreaudiod’ and closing it.

Checking Windows Playback Devices

If you’re running a PC or laptop with Windows 10 or another version, checking your playback and audio settings is simple enough. Here is the quickest route to access your sound settings on Windows operating systems.

  • Go to the taskbar and right-click on the ‘Sound’ icon.
  • Click on the ‘Open Volume Mixer’ option.
  • Adjust your volume and balance with the sliders.

To access the master volume settings for your headphones on Windows, follow these tips.

  • Press the ‘Windows’ key + S together.
  • Type ‘sound’ into the search bar that appears.
  • Click on the ‘Sound Settings’ option.
  • Adjust the master volume from there.
  • If you need to fix your audio balancing, click on ‘Device Properties’
  • Alter the balance slider accordingly from there.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Ever think that the sound issue could be linked to your health? If your headphones are not broken, and the setting changes don’t work, it could be you. It’s not something you want to hear, but facing reality is essential. And it’s much more important than some headphone volume issues.

If you have been listening to loud music in your headphones for many years, the problem could be your hearing. Everything deteriorates over time. Go and get your ears checked at your nearest health center.

Highly Recommended Headphones

If you still don’t know why your headphones are quiet, you might need to buy a new pair. It might be the only sensible strategy. If changing the settings doesn’t work, and your ears are fine, your headphones are probably broken. Here are some of the most highly recommended headphones to replace your current ones.

CROWN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones – High-end Bluetooth headphones.

Sony ZX Series Wired On-Ear headphones – Top-notch wired headphones from a top-notch brand.

Beats Solo 3 Wireless On-ear Headphones – Bluetooth headphones with long listening time.

Amazon Basics In-Ear Wired Earbuds – One of the best and most affordable earbuds.

Beats Flex Wireless Earbuds – The most exciting wireless earbuds you can buy.

Bose Soundlink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones – These Bose headphones are a masterful wireless product.

Soundcore by Anker Life Hybrid Noise Canceling Headphones – These hybrid headphones offer a multitude of options and come with Bluetooth connectivity.

Need More Great Headphones or Headphone Advice?

We can help you find what you want. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Headphones Under $200, the Best Lightweight Headphones, the Best Ear Hook Headphones, the Best Headphones with Volume Control, and the Best Headphones Under $100 you can buy in 2021.

You might also enjoy our comprehensive reviews of the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Headphones Under $20, the Most Comfortable Headphones, and the Best Headphones for Music currently on the market.

And don’t miss our detailed guides on How to Fix a Loose Headphone JackHow to Disable a Headphone Jack for PC and PhonesHow to Use Two or More Headphones On PC or MacHow to Fix Sound Delay in Bluetooth HeadphonesWhy do I Hear Static in my Headphones, and How to Wear Headphones with Glasses for more helpful tips.

Why are my headphones so quiet? – Final Thoughts

The two main answers are your headphones are broken, or your audio, sound, or playback settings are not configured correctly. Altering your sound settings differs from device to device. It’s much easier to figure out with an iPhone or Android. But it can get a bit more complicated with a MAC or a PC with a Windows operating system.

But either way, we have you covered. If they are broken, buy some more. If all else fails, go and get your hearing checked at the clinic.

Happy listening, folks!

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About Jennifer Bell

Jennifer is a freelance writer from Montana. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and English, as well as an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Games and Simulation Design.

Her passions include guitar, bass, ukulele, and piano, as well as a range of classical instruments she has been playing since at school. She also enjoys reading fantasy and sci-fi novels, yoga, eating well, and spending time with her two cats, Rocky and Jasper.

Jennifer enjoys writing articles on all types of musical instruments and is always extending her understanding and appreciation of music. She also writes science fiction and fantasy short stories for various websites and hopes to get her first book published in the very near future.

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