How to Fix Headphones When Only One Side Works

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You’re having a perfectly fine day. The sun is out and the birds are chirping. You are enjoying a peaceful evening walk and just can’t wait to get home. You get on the train to head home, and to avoid the bustling crowd there, you put on your headphones, ready to tune out. It’s the only way you can survive the commute, and that’s when you realize there’s a problem—your headphone is only playing in one ear.

This problem is a global dilemma. No matter how many headphones you end up buying, a time comes when you can only hear audio from one side, and that can be a bummer.

So what is the possible solution? Is there even a solution that can help resolve this issue or is it all just wishful thinking?

Thankfully, there is a number of ways you can achieve this goal, but it all depends on the type of headphones you use. The repair techniques differ from one pair to another, so you need specific instructions. Don’t worry, though! We’ve got your back. With this blog, you’ll learn how to repair your headphones and ear buds in a jiffy. If you’re wondering, “why can I only hear out of one headphone?” then read ahead to find out the answer and a viable solution too.

So hang on tight and let’s begin!

· Bluetooth Headphones

Having wireless headphones can be such a relief. You don’t have to worry about pesky cords getting entangled, and you can easily use the product with multiple devices. All you need to do is switch on the Bluetooth and connect it to the device.  But this convenience can quickly turn into a hassle when headphones only play in one ear.

You may end up searching, “how to fix headphones?” but this will only work if you know the reason behind the issue. Your headphone may stop working for the following reasons:

  1. Faulty aux socket
  2. Connection issues
  3. Mono sound setting
  4. Jack not inserted all the way through
  5. Jack plugged in before turning headphones off

Now, these are just some of the reasons that may result in faulty headphones. So you need to eliminate the reasons one by one. Start by resetting the Bluetooth headphones. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to employ some other measures.

Go to the settings and make sure that the headphones are not set on mono or phone option. Both these options play audio through one headphone, so disabling these settings may be enough to resolve the issue. If you are using a Beats headset, go to Preferences and then select Balance in the sound section to enable audio for both sides.

If none of the above tips work, there may be some issues with the hardware. You’ll need to open up the set and check inside for any physical damage to the hardware. In that case, you can try to repair the damage yourself. The instructions for repairing ear buds are given in the next section.

· Ear Buds

Since this tends to happen quite often, most of us may have a drawer full of ear buds that have stopped working or have some defects. In this fast paced world, people rarely have time to get the products repaired since it’s often considered easier to just dispose of the damaged goods and buy a new piece.

But now you can have all the answers to determine how to fix headphones. However, before you can do that, you need to identify the main issue with the pair. There are a few possible problems that may be the culprit behind your faulty headphones.  So in order to reach a viable solution, you need to be able to determine the fault.

A few reasons that explain why one ear bud is not working are:

1. Broken Jack

Let’s start off with the broken jack. People who tend to leave their headphones lying around or don’t take care of them are likely to come across this issue. To repair a broken jack, you need to use an X-acto knife and remove the jack and then the plastic surrounding it. Clean the snipped off part and then connect the four wires back.

The copper wire is for GND, which needs to be connected on the ground (ring). The green wire is for the right ear bud, which needs to be connected to the right channel (ring). The red wire is for the left ear bud, which needs to be connected to the left channel (tip). The last wire is blue for the microphone, which needs to be connected on the sleeve.

Use a soldering iron kit as described and use a heat shrinking tube to cover the naked wires, and you are all done.

2. Broken Ear Bud

If the above reason isn’t why one side of your headphones is not working, then the problem resides with the cable. In order to find out where the problem actually exists, you need to check the cable and bend it after every ½ inch. This will help you locate the shorted wire.

It’s important that you connect the headphones to an audio source so that you can hear if the audio comes back. If the problem is in the cable, you’ll be able to hear some sound from the faulty ear bud as soon as you tweak the wire around. The sound may come and go, but it’ll help you locate the main problem and the area where the faulty wire is located.

It’s important that you mark that area, so use some masking tape on either side of the wire to isolate the problem area. Leave at least an inch or two between the two ends so that you have ample space to work.

Cut the selected area of the wire out and make sure you leave an inch or so on each side. This will give you enough margin to repair the wire and join the working wire together again.

Now it’s time to expose the wires on both ends of the remaining wire. Strip away the shielding so that you have clear access to the wire underneath. You may come across three wires— red, black and white. It’s also possible that the wires may vary in your set of the headphones, but that doesn’t make a difference.

In some cases, the wires are small, and you may require sandpaper to expose them. Once you spot the wires, all you need to do is strip the exposed wires and connect them to their partner on the other side. For example, connect the red one to the red wire on the other side and so on. Connect them together and use a solder gun to make sure they are bound together correctly. There are other splicing methods that you can use, but a solder gun is a better option as it does a permanent job.

Now it’s time to check the headphones and make sure that they are working properly. Connect them to an audio source and listen. If you can hear sound from both ear buds, it’s safe to say that you have successfully learned how to fix headphones.

To complete the process, use a shrink tube to wrap up the exposed wires so they don’t pose any threat.

Final Word

With the help of this blog, you now know how to fix headphones when one side of the headphones is not working. Follow the steps correctly and make sure you read the instructions carefully. As long as you follow the directions, it won’t be long before your head phones start working properly. Now that you have an answer to the question, “why can I only hear out of one headphone?” you can take the right measures to resolve the issue once and for all!

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Hi, I'm Red, the Chief Editor of Red Diamond Audio.