How To Fix: One Earbud Not Working

Is your left or right earbud not working? This article presents the reasons why and what you can do to fix it!

There is nothing more annoying that sitting down comfortably to watch or listen to something only to realise one earbud has gone silent.

Even worse is being mid conversation, video or zoom call and half your sound drops out.

This article will explain why this might happen and what you can do to fix it.

Possible reasons your earbud is not working

  • Problems with the earbud cord
  • Problems with the Jack
  • Sound Settings
  • Damaged wires
  • Faulty sockets
  • Dirty earbuds
  • Bluetooth connectivity issues
  • Water damage
  • Half-point issue

Before trying any of the troubleshooting tips, there are a couple of easy fixes you can try first.

Try a different set of earbuds

The problem may be nothing to do with your earbuds. The problem may be your device. So, before you do anything else, try another set of earbuds and see if they are working properly.

Restart your device

Have you updated your device recently? This could be affecting your audio functions. Try restarting your device and see if this solves the problem.

Restart your earbuds

If you are using wireless earbuds, pop them back into their charging case and try again. If you are using wired earbuds, unplug them and plug them back in.

Sometimes the simplest fixes can be the most effective, but if none of the above have worked try the other fixes below.

Check the cord

If your earbuds are wired and you tend to wrap the cord around your device, you could have damaged the cord. To see if this is the issue, connect your earbuds and play music through them.

As the music plays, straighten out the earbud cord.

If the problem resolves itself at certain points, then these areas may be worn out. Wrap some tape around these areas or go out and buy yourself a new set of earbuds.

Faulty Jack or Jack not inserted properly

If you have wired earbuds, maybe the jack is faulty. Check this by trying your earbuds with another device. Your jack may not be inserted correctly or may need a clean. Take it out, give it a wipe with a clean cloth or cotton bud and try again. If you want to try to fix your faulty jack at home, check out this video for a step-by-step guide.

Check the device audio settings

Your audio may be set to the mono option. To check this, head over to the Accessibility settings on your device. Then choose the Audio/Visual option. You should see the Mono Audio setting. If the switch is to the right and green, it is on. Switch this off by tapping on it. These instructions are more closely aligned with an iPhone, but a similar process applies to Android devices as well.

This video shows the process step-by step.

It could also be that your Balance settings are wrong. You will find these in the same place as the Ono Audio settings described above. Simply adjust the button to the left or right to achieve a perfect balance of sound in both earbuds.

Check the device audio settings

Check for damaged wires

The wires could be damaged at the base of the cord where they enter the earbuds as in the picture below.

Check for damaged wires

If this is the case check out this video for a step-by-step guide on how to fix the issue. If it is not obvious that the cord is damaged, try fiddling with the base of the cord where it enters your earbuds while listening to music. If you notice a difference in sound, then the problem could be a damaged wire where the jack enters the port.

If you think the problem is damaged wires, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the part that is damaged. If it is along the cord, then follow the instructions for checking if your cord is damaged. If it is at the base, follow the instructions above to check this.
  2. Mark both ends of the damaged wire with electrical tape.
  3. Take a pair of wire cutters and remove the outer layer of the cord, exposing the wires. Make sure not to cut the wires!
  4. Once you have done this you should be able to see if any wires have been cut or are damaged.
  5. You will need to solder any broken wires together. You could also splice them together using tape.

Check out this video for a step-by-step guide on how to solder your wires back together.

If you don’t have a soldering iron and don’t want to purchase one, then you can try this method.

Check for Faulty sockets in your phone or device

Trying another set of earbuds with your device is a good start. If these don’t work as well then you could have a faulty or dirty socket.

To clean the socket, follow these instructions:

  1. Take a cotton swab.
  2. Dip the cotton bud into rubbing alcohol or water making sure there is not too much excess liquid.
  3. Insert the cotton bud into the socket and give the socket a clean.

4.  Now try your earbuds again and see if they work.

Clean your Earbuds

After several months of use, your earbuds would have attracted some dirt and grime. This can cause problems.

To clean your earbuds you can use an earbud cleaning kit. You can buy one here. This will allow you to hoover out any grime from your earbuds.

You can also try using a cotton swab with a little rubbing alcohol and then dab the earbuds’ holes with it. This will loosen any dirt and grime. Then take a toothpick to get any tiny particles of dirt out of the holes. Make sure you complete this process gently and carefully so as not to damage the mesh covering.

Clean your airpods

Your earbuds may have a removable cover. If this is the case, you can take these off and clean them with lukewarm water. 

If you are having issues with the microphone on your airpods, you want to follow the cleaning instructions above. If your airpods microphone is not working, then these “AirPods Mic Not Working? Try These 6 Tips – 2022 tips will help.

Check for Water Damage

Headphones are exposed to sweat or rain on a daily basis so it is possible yours could have some water damage. The first step is to place your earbuds in a bowl of uncooked rice. This will help absorb any moisture.

Half Point Issue

This issue occurs when transmission gets interrupted and results in the sound from your headphones cutting out.

If you are using wireless Bluetooth earbuds, then you may want to reset them or check your Bluetooth settings. If you are using a Bluetooth transmitter, then unplug it and plug it back in.

If you are using a pair of wired earbuds, then unplug them and plug them back in. This should resolve the issue. If it doesn’t then try the other steps above.

What to do if these fixes don’t work?

Unfortunately, if none of these fixes work then it may be time to buy a new set of earbuds or headphones. You could also try to get them serviced by the manufacturer if they are under warranty.

Tips to take care of your earbuds

The best way to make sure that your earbuds or headphones last, is to take good care of them. Follow these tips for taking good care of your earbuds:

  1. Always put your ear gear in their carrier case to protect them.
  2. Do not tangle or wrap the wires too tightly.
  3. Clean your earbuds regularly – invest in a cleaning kit.
  4. Keep your headphones away from water.
  5. Don’t keep your earbuds on charge all the time.
  6. Unplug or disconnect them from your device when you are not using them.
  7. Always use compatible and genuine chargers, wires and accessories.
  8. Clean the jack port of your device regularly.
  9. Keep them out of reach from children and pets!

I hope that these tips have helped you resolve the problem with your headphones. If not, it may be time to seek out a professional tech geek, take them back to the manufacturers or buy a new set.

If you are in the market for new earbuds for your iPhone, then read about the TOP 12 Best Earbuds for iPhone Calls 2022.

Photo of author

Paul Goral

I am the founder of North Creek Music and I have a master’s degree in Engineering Acoustics. Sound is my passion. I wanted to start this blog and share my passion with others.

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