Few things are more frustrating than when sound is only coming through one side of your headset, headphones, or earbuds. Not only is it annoying that you can’t listen to your music or podcast properly, but you’re likely annoyed you’ll have to pay for a brand new set. Hopefully, your product is still under warranty and you can send it back for repairs. However, if not, you have some options. Today, I’ll share how to fix earphones when one side is silent.
In this article, you can expect to learn some diagnostic and repair tips to fix your headphones or earbuds and get the sound back in balance.
Make Sure the Problem is Actually Your Earphones
Don’t jump to conclusions. The problem might actually be coming from your audio source, like your laptop or phone, rather than your listening equipment. There could be a temporary malfunction with the device or something that has changed with the audio settings.
To test this, find another pair of earphones around the house and try using them instead. If these work as they should, you know that the problem is with the headphones. If the other earphones play only in one ear as well, it’s likely a problem with the audio settings on your device.
To fix the settings on your device, follow the steps below:
- Try restarting the device. If the issue started immediately after a software update, this may resolve it. If after trying this you find that there is still sound coming through only sound earpiece or earbud, take a look at the audio settings on your device.
- Go to your device’s audio settings. Make sure the mono option is turned off.
- Also, ensure that there are balanced voice levels on both of the earbuds.
- Go to your device’s Sounds icon, then Levels, then Balance to check this. It’s important that the voice levels are the same on each earbud or side of your headset.
If after running tests, you’re still having issues, try cleaning the headphone jack on your device. You’d be surprised by how much dirt and lint can end up in the jack. This can cause problems with audio output. Making sure that your device is off and unplugged, use a brush toothpick to very gently remove the dirt.
If none of these steps resolves the problem, there is probably a problem with your earbuds or earphones.
Before Repairing, Check the Warranty
The first thing you should before making any repairs is to check the warranty on your personal listening equipment. Be aware that trying to make repairs to the equipment yourself may impact the warranty. If the warranty is valid, attempting repairs will likely void it altogether.
If you still have a valid warranty, contact the manufacturer. They will tell you how you can have your earbuds or earphones replaced or repaired. If your warranty is no longer valid, you can try to repair your earbuds or earphones yourself.
Potential Problem: The wire is disconnected or damaged where it connects to the jack.
If you’re not gentle when pulling the jack out of your listening equipment, you may have damaged the wires where the cord connects to the jack. The side that is damaged might not be able to play sound anymore.
You can try to fix the silent side of the earphones by going through the following steps:
- After making sure everything is completely off, unplugged, and disconnected, find a wirecutter or knife. Use the wirecutter or knife to cut through the plastic protective base around the earphone jack.
- Find the part with the broken wire and use the wirecutter or knife to cut it off.
- Take off the plastic cord around one end of the cord.
- Use a lighter or match to quickly burn off the insulation of the wire.
- Use soldering to connect the wires to the earphone jack.
- Cover this section with the newly joined wires.
Potential Problem: A Wire Has Shorted
A shorted wire commonly causes sound to only come through one earbud or earpiece. Wires short when your earphones get tangled up or wrapped around things. A tell-tale sign of a shorted wire is if sound plays through both sides when the wire is bent a specific way. To solve this problem, you will have to remove the damaged part of the cord.
Let’s go over some steps for how to fix a shorted wire and replace it.
- With the earbuds or headphones connected to your sound source (device), play a file with audio. As you listen, try bending the cord until you find the area where bending it causes sound to come through both earbuds.
- Unplug the cord from the device.
- Remove the part of the wire that is damaged.
- Look at the remaining parts of the cord. Cut through both the tips of the plastic of the cord. This will expose the wires inside.
- Organize the ground wires (copper), colored wire, and insulation wires (white wires) by color. If you are repairing the left side, you will find that the colored wire is green or blue. If the right-hand side is what you are repairing, it will be red.
- Cut the white wires (insulation wires). Also, gather the copper wires together by twisting them.
- Use a lighter or match to quickly burn off the enamel that is on the tips of the colored wires. Twist together the colored wires and use electrical tape to secure them.
- Use the same procedure to gather the ground wires, and wrap them with electrical tape. It’s important that the ground wires and colored wires do not touch each other.
- Secure the recently linked section with electrical tape.
Finding that sound is only coming through one side of your headphones or through one earbud is a common problem. If your warranty is no longer valid, try some of the diagnostic and repair tips I have gone over here.
Getting a new pair is a costly nuisance. It’s much more cost-effective if you can fix the silent side of your earphones yourself. The worst case scenario is that you end up buying a new pair after all.