Headphone Sound Only Coming Out Of One Side? 6 Fixes

No matter what kind of headphones you are using, having issues while listening to your favorite music or TV show can be extremely frustrating. One of the more common problems that people can run into is when there is sound in one ear, but the other one is displaying no sound at all. What causes this problem, and how can you fix it?

When you are using your headphone and sound only appears from one side, there are a few things that could be going wrong. Some of the more common issues can be loose wires, dirt on the headphones, damage through water or wear and tear, or the use of faulty outlets or headphone jacks. To solve these problems, you must troubleshoot these issues. 

As you can see there are a variety of issues that could result in an earbud not working and now we will look at each problem and give you a detailed solution. If none of the above is the cause, review the details in the article to fix one earbud not working 

What To Do When You Can Only Hear Sound In One Ear

When you are noticing that the sound from your headphones is only playing in one ear, there are a number of ways to fix this problem. We will use a troubleshooting approach in this article to make sure you can get to the root of the problem. So, let’s get started – try out each of the steps below, and if the problem persists, move on to the next solution. 

Make Sure The Audio Jack Is Inserted Correctly

One of the first places to look when your headphone is creating this issue is to inspect how you have inserted the headphone jack. In the case of a wired headphone, this is usually the first thing to rule out, as the jack needs to be in place within the device for you to be able to hear correctly from both ears. In most cases, you should hear a click when it is in place. 

In the case that the headphone jack is not in the right place, you may face trouble in listening to audio as it will not be able to reroute audio to both sides of the device. In some cases, one side can even be louder than the other in this case. The best way to take care of this issue is to just unplug the headphone jack, and then plug it into the device again to get sound back.

Clean The Headphones And The Jack

Headphones are something we use all the time, and they often travel with us wherever we go. That is why they are so likely to accumulate dirt over time. The more dirt there is on the headphones, the more likely they are to be unable to function. They will need inspection to see if there is any dirt, ear wax, or dist that has been collected on them over time. 

You can clean the headphone jack using a cotton swab that is very lightly damped. Make sure that the cotton swab is not wet, as that can damage the jack and completely destroy the headphones. Instead, remove all of the excess water before you use them on the hack. Use this to scrub away the dirt, and then use a dry microfiber cloth to remove all of the moisture.

You can carefully remove the dirt on the headphones using a dry brush. Use a gentle motion to dislodge any dirt stuck inside, especially on ear buds. Now, you can use a cotton swab again to clean the surface, and dry using a microfibre cloth. Some headphones also have removable covers for the earpads, so you can wash or replace them as needed. 

Correct Sound Settings

Sometimes, you are looking at the hardware, when the real problem is with the software you are using. If you are using headphones and the sound goes out on one side, an issue you may be experiencing is to do with the sound settings. If the audio balance is not right, you will only hear sound on one side, or you may hear sound louder on one side as well.

To fix this, you need to check the sound settings of your device using a computer or phone device. In the settings you will need to look for something labeled ‘Audio Balance.’ In some cases you may find this under the heading ‘Sound Balance.’ If the settings have not placed the balance in the center of the scale, drag and move the slider to the very center.

Once you have done this, you should save the settings to keep everything in place. Now, you can try using your headphones again. If this was indeed the issue, you have your solution and the headphones should work properly again. However, if the problem is still there, you need to look at another issue known as Mono Sound, which is also a setting. 

In Mono sound, the same sound goes to both sides of the headphones, instead of ‘splitting’ as it does on modern headphones. Sometimes, this can mean that the sound only goes to one side as a result of an error. Luckily, the best way to take care of this problem is to disable Mono sound on your headphones. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Open up Sound Settings on your device.
  2. Look for the option Mono Sound, or in some cases, Mono Audio.
  3. Disable this option, and save settings on the device. 

Related: How To Avoid Headphone Hair: The Ultimate Guide

Look Out For Damage

Damage is another thing to keep an eye out for when you hear sound only coming out from one of your headphones. In that case, there are a couple of ways to resolve this problem. The first way to make sure things are okay is to straighten the headphone wires. If they are tangled up, the sound may not work as well as it should. 

This can be a sign the wiring is under stress or it is faulty and needs replacing. You can also try to twist the wire to see if that brings the sound back. If that does work, and it is permanent, you may have untangled some wire on the inside of the cord. However, if it keeps coming and going, that is another sign that you are dealing with wiring issues. 

Inspect the wire and keep an eye out for cuts along the headphone’s cord. If there are any cuts, you can sometimes catch the problem early by using electrical tape and covering it up. However, this may not be a permanent fix, and you may have to go visit a professional to clean up the wiring and take care of the bigger problem without damaging your headphones.

One of the other things to consider is if there are any signs of damage caused by water. Like any other electronic device, your headphones can be severely damaged by water, and this can cause an effect where you can only hear sound on one side. Water damage can happen because of the rain and sweat, and even a drop can be problematic. 

If you drop your headphones near water, the best thing to do is to drain out the water immediately. Some people recommend using raw rice, while others suggest that you can use other replacements such as oatmeal, silica, and more. Hopefully, this should protect from even more damage occurring, but it cannot repair the damage if it is already done. 

Related: Can You Hear Yourself With Noise Canceling Headphones?

Consider The Device Headphone Slot

In some cases, the issue is rather simple – it is not the headphones or the jack, but the slot that you are inserting it into. It could be possible that there is something lodged inside that is not allowing a connection to form, or the slot needs servicing as it is not functional anymore. In order to rule out the former, you should clean out the slot using a cotton swab.

You can also try connecting the headphones with another device to see if the problem is still there. If this makes the problem go away, that means there is an issue with your device. In this case, try another connection method, or you will have to get servicing done for your device. Go to a professional repair store or you can contact the manufacturer for help. 

Re-Pair Your Headphones (Wireless)

Finally, if you are using wireless headphones, sometimes the issue can be boiled down to a problem with the Bluetooth connection. The simple way to make sure this problem goes away is to unpair your headphones from the device and then pair them again. You can also try and restart the headphones to solve the problem at hand. 


Having sound only emerge from one side of the headphones is tricky as it can be quite an irritating experience. However, we hope that these fixes have solved your problem and you can get back to listening to your favorite audio!

Audiophile Haven

AudiophileHaven is a site dedicated to Hi-Fi audio, and helping others learn more about premium quality sound equipment.

Recent Posts