How To Fix Headphones When Only One Side Works

In today’s busy lifestyle patterns, many people rely on earbuds to escape from the outside world’s hustle and bustle. If accessing sound from your device through a set of earbuds or headphones is a part of your daily lifestyle, you must be aware of how frequently they tend to lose sound only on one side. 

It is one of the most frustrating frequent occurrences to receive sound from only one side of your earbuds. No matter how well kept, maintained, and clean your earphones are, every set eventually loses sound on one side. Resultantly, we all have drawers full of faulty earbuds that we replace instead of repairing them.

Generally, replacing earbuds seems like an easier task than repairing them. This is because manufacturers often deny repairing them, and it is a hassle for some people to fix the wiring themselves. Majorly because it is a time-consuming task. Therefore, people prefer buying a new pair every time their existing earbuds malfunction. 

Some earbuds are quite expensive, though, and replacing them every single time is not feasible or practical. Therefore, if you’re facing any of the following problems, this guide will help you fix them.

  • Only one of my earbuds working
  • Headphones play only in one ear or only one ear not working
  • Headphones one side not working
  • Right earphone not working
  • Left earphone not working
  • Headphones work only in one ear
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Reasons Why One of Both Earbuds Stop Working

Several reasons factor into the malfunctioning of earbuds. Most of them are dependent on the type of earbuds you’re using and their company and the model. However, there are some general reasons why an average pair of earbuds malfunction.

If you’re facing issues with your earbuds, refer to the following list and rule out improbabilities to find the problem. Once you’ve figured out the problem, you can start fixing it and getting your earbuds to work correctly.

  • Jack is not plugged in properly
  • Wireless earbuds not connected properly
  • Imbalanced sound control 
  • Broken wiring
  • Broken earbud
  • Dirty jack or earbud

Fixing Problems Not Related to Hardware

From the above list, it is clear that not all issues pertain to wiring and faulty parts. Most problems can be fixed simply by a quick look through your earphone’s settings and the device you’re streaming sound from. Let us dive into them to get your earbuds functioning correctly.

Improperly Plugged Jack

This is a common problem faced by wired earbuds users. This problem primarily occurs when you’re not using earphones made by the same manufacturer as your device. This is because the earbuds’ jack is not designed according to your device’s aux socket, making them insert improperly at times.

To fix this simple problem, firstly, unplug your earphone jack. Blow in the aux socket to get rid of dust that might have accumulated. Try inserting the jack once again, but do it slowly this time. If it looks well fitted, turn on a sound source, and see if both earbuds work properly. 

If there is no problem in the wiring of your earphone, chances are this trick will be of aid every time you ask the question, “why is only one of my earbuds working.”

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Connection Issues

Using wireless earbuds is wonderful. They eliminate the issue of dangling and tangled wires, making your musical experience smooth. All you have to do is turn on the Bluetooth on your device, and you’re good to go. 

Though, many-a-times it so happens that your wireless earbuds will not connect properly to the device you’re playing audio from. This could happen either due to connection disturbances, the device, and earbuds being too far away.  

These connection problems can make either one or both earbuds stop working. To solve this problem, simply move closer to your device, and disconnect your earbuds manually. Reboot your earbuds, if that option is available, while you reboot your device’s Bluetooth system. Reconnect the earbuds to your device, and voila! Problem solved.

Faulty Side Balance Control

Every device and multimedia player has a side balance control in their audio settings. These settings control the way the outgoing sound is divided between the two earbuds. This set comes in handy if you only want to use one earbud but not lose sound quality.

This setting can, however, make it seem like one of your earbuds is not working. Head onto the side balance setting of either your phone or your multimedia player or both. Check if the sound is imbalanced and tipped to one side. If that is the case, make the sliding controller come in the middle. This will fix the side balance. 

It is possible to fix audio to be set onto one earbud and overlooking to change the setting later. Restoring the side balance will make both your earbuds work quickly. However, there’s a bonus trick involved. 

The bonus trick is for situations when one of your earbuds has much sound than the other. If you do not want to fix the wiring, there’s still a way to make your earbuds work properly. Just shift the side balance towards the earbud with less sound, which will magnify the sound on the faulty side. This creates an illusion of balanced and properly working earphones.

Dirty Jack or Earbud

Earbuds spend a lot of time staying inserted inside your ear canal. This creates a coating of ear wax to settle on the speaker, making it greasy. This makes audio sound muffled. If your earbuds are too dirty, it will seem like there’s no sound coming out of them at all.

Take a Q-Tip, remove the silicon buds covering the speaker, and clean it thoroughly. An extremely dirty earbud might need the holes on the speaker to be reformed by a thin needle. Once your earbuds are clean, they’ll sound much better and clearer. 

The jack of your wired earbuds can also get dirty and covered in dirt. Layering over the jack will interfere with its connection to the aux socket. 

To clean the jack, run a dry tissue paper over it. You can blow on it and blow inside the aux socket to remove dust that might have accumulated in it. 

In case there is no wiring issue, checking for all the problems explained above and fixing the problem with your set will make both your earphone work equally and adequately. 

Fix Headphones When Only One Side Works - Android Headsets

Fixing Wiring and Hardware

If none of those mentioned above fixes helped answer your question, “why is only one of my earbuds working,” the problem may exist in the wiring of your earbuds. 

Wiring issues can be found in two places – the jack or the wired cable.  

Only in the case of truly wireless earbuds can the only wiring issues be in pertinence to the earbud. Other wireless earbuds can also have issues in the wired band connecting the two earbuds.

If wiring is the cause of the issue, the first step is to find where the wire has disconnected. To do so, bend the cable every 1/2 inch, and check for misshaped bending. This will make the shortened or broken wires poke out, letting you know exactly where the problem is. In case you cannot locate broken wire in the cable, the issue probably lies within the faulty jack. 

Fixing Broken Cable

Once you have followed the method mentioned above of finding the point where the cable has broken, you can begin fixing it. Another way to find the shortened wire is by plugging into a sound source and then bending the wire. Wherever the sound starts to stream on both ends is the place where the wire is broken.

Step 1 – Marking

The crucial first step is to mark where the wire is broken because if you lose the location, you’ll have to bend the cable all over again. Put masking tape on both sides of the broken point and leave at least an inch and a half on both ends. Leaving space is crucial, as it gives you room to work on the wires.

Step 2 – Identifying Different Wires

Slice the area between the masking tape to escape the wires underneath. Separate the three kinds of wires that will be running through the cable. Most probably, both sides will have two wires, one of which will be white. This is the insulation wire. 

If you’re working on the right side, the other wire will probably be red. If you’re working on the left side, the other wire would probably be green or blue. However, the color doesn’t matter as much.

The third set of wires would be copper wires, which would be exposed. These are ground wires. 

Step 3 – Fix the wires

Cut the white-colored insulation cable while twisting the copper wires together. The twisting ensures that they are kept together. Join them together with the help of electrical tape.

Use a small heat source to burn the colored wire’s enamel and join the exposed wires by twisting them together. Seal the enamel with the help of electrical tape. Make sure that ground wires and the colored wires do not touch each other.

Seal everything together with electrical tape.

Fixing Faulty Jack

If you are in the habit of unplugging your wired earphones by yanking the cable and not the plastic part over the jack, you’ve probably disconnected or damaged a wire near the jack. Do not worry, though, since this problem can be fixed by following some simple steps.

The first step is to slice through the plastic made protective base over and around the jack. This plastic fixes the jack to the cable and protects the area where the wire is fixed to the jack. 

Now, you must find where the wire is broken. After doing so, cut that part of the wiring off. Now, clean the snipped area and connect all the wires. Match the colors of the wires to the rings of the jack and solder them in the right place. Secure the wires, and glue back the plastic, and you’re good to go. 

How to Prevent Earbuds from Getting Faulty

Now that you know how to fix your earbuds let’s look into some ways to prevent going through this trouble again. Some straightforward pointers will help you prolong your earbuds’ life.

Keeping Wired Earbuds Untangled

The primary reason why earbuds get faulty is tangling. Cables are easy to tangle, and these cables will break when continuous tension is put on them regardless of their flexibility.

Either get an earphone management clip that will help you keep the cable straight, or perform a simple 8-knot to keep your cables healthy.

Keep them Clean

Hygiene is crucial, and this rule applies to your earbuds as well. Be sure to regularly clean your earbuds. This will help with the sound clarity and prevent you from inserting old ear wax into your ears again and again.

Use Them Gently

Earbuds are delicate accessories that are very easily damaged. Harsh usage is one reason why no matter how expensive earbuds you buy, they always get faulty. 

Plug and unplug wired earphones properly by only pressing on and pulling at the plastic covering over the jack. Do not drop your earbuds from a height or even drown them in water. Make sure that your wireless earbuds stay in place and are not constantly dropping. 

Summing Up

Earbuds are an important mobile and computer accessory in most of our day to day life. They are also absolutely delicate. This is why many people go through too many earbuds in their life. 

Replacing damaged earbuds is not always an option, especially if you like investing in a high-end one. Therefore, some elementary tests should be run before you start to fret about the cruelty of the situation.   

On the other hand, by developing some effortless healthy habits, you can prolong your earbuds’ life so that the frequency of your asking the question “why is only one of my earbuds working” reduces significantly. 

Maintain your earbuds properly so that you can use them for a long time.

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