Everybody wants the audio in their headphones to sound clear and crisp. But static-filled audio in headphones is more common than you think. Imagine this: You’ve just come back from work, and you decide to relax with some nice music. But as you put on your headphones, you realize the headphones sound muffled. Annoying, right?
There are many things you can do to try to solve the problem including cleaning the jack, fixing/replacing damaged wires, cleaning the earpads, lowering the volume, replacing the speaker, and more.
In this article, we’ll go over the potential reasons why the audio in your headphones sounds muffled, and ways you can fix those problems.
Why Do My Headphones Sound Muffled?
Connectivity issues can arise in both wireless and non-wireless headphones.
In fact, they are very common with wireless or Bluetooth headphones mostly because they involve radio signals instead of wires. There may also be a problem with the codecs. A codec works to compress and decompress media files.
If the codec used by your headphone does not match the one used by your source device, then a lower-level codec may be used. Apart from codecs, Bluetooth connectivity issues can simply arise from low battery levels. With wired headphones, it may be that they are not connected properly, or there may be a loose connection.
Water or Moisture Problems
We all know water doesn’t go very well with electrical appliances, especially if it comes into contact with electrical components. Although many headphones these days are marketed as waterproof, it always helps to check the IP rating to see just how water-resistant they are.
It also helps to make sure whether the headphones are waterproof or water-resistant.
The wires of your headphones are one of their most delicate parts. Over time, these wires can become faulty or damaged. This may be due to improper use or storage of the headphones, excessive pulling, or tension. Sometimes, faulty wires are visible, but this is not so in case of internal damage.
In either case, it is one of the most common causes of distorted sound as these wires are responsible for carrying the signal from the source device to your headphones.
Dirt and Debris
If you regularly use headphones, dirt and debris like lint and earwax can get accumulated over time. If you do not regularly clean your headphones, it may cause blockage. Plus, because the sound has to travel through all the dirt and debris, it ends up sounding muffled.
Your headphone’s ability to withstand the build-up of dirt and debris also depends on their IP rating. Headphones with higher IP ratings will be better able to withstand dirt and debris compared to those with lower ratings.
If you’re someone who likes loud, heavy music, chances are you’re playing it at high volume on your headphones over long periods of time. The only problem is that the speaker inside the headphones has a limited capacity for handling power, and if that gets exceeded, your speaker might be overblown.
Speakers may also get overblown without any obvious cause, but this happens less commonly.
Software Problems in Audio Source
If you’ve ruled out all the above problems, it’s time to entertain the possibility that there may be a software problem in the audio source. You can still make sure of that by using your headphones on another device.
It’s possible to resolve the above mentioned problems without making a dent in your wallet. We’ve compiled some common fixes that you can perform, although it is possible you might need to take your headphones to a specialist if these don’t resolve the problem.
This is simple to resolve. In the case of wired headphones, simply check the port to which the headphones connect. If there is a problem with the port, you can clean the jack in two ways:
- Use isopropyl alcohol.
- Use a paperclip and sticky tape.
In case of a problem with wireless or Bluetooth headphones, you need to make sure your headphones are charged. Once that is ruled out, you may try changing your area. In case of a problem with the codec, unfortunately, you may just have to change the headphones. You can also try resetting your headphones to see if that resolves the issue.
Water or Moisture Problems
If your headphones have come in contact with water, it is very easy to panic but not all is lost. To redeem your headphones, first, try to use a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol and wipe down all areas that came into contact with the water in order to remove any foreign bodies.
Once that is done, you may put the headphones in an airtight container of rice or silica gel for up to 12 hours. Once that is done, try performing an audio test to see whether the issue has been resolved.
You can only fix damaged wires in case they are visible. If the damage is internal, then you are better off not trying to attempt any fixes. In any case, visibly damaged wires can be fixed with mouldable glue. It works to repair cables because it is mouldable, waterproof, and sturdy.
Simply cover the affected area with mouldable glue and leave it to set for at least 30 minutes. After this, leave it at room temperature for 24 hours.
Dirt and Debris
Dirt and debris can clog up the earphones. If this is what’s causing the problem then all you must do is simply clean the headphones, especially the earbuds or earpad area, with isopropyl alcohol. Remember to never submerge in water when cleaning the headphones.
This process is usually not recommended, mostly because it involves buying a new set of headphones and that defeats the purpose of trying to fix your existing one. However, there may be reasons why you’d still want to do that.
Repairing damaged speakers (or rather, replacing them) is easy. All you need to do is buy some good quality headphones, open the covers to reveal the speaker and remove it from all the wires. Now carefully remove the speaker and attach the new speakers to your headphones via a soldering iron. Voila! You can now enjoy clear audio again.
Lower the Volume
It’s easy to get excited about your new headphones and try to blast music to relax. However, if you’re experiencing distorted audio or sound, it may just be that your headphones are underpowered for the volume that you prefer.
If the music no longer distorts after lowering the volume, it’s probably best if you kept it that way. But if you still have issues even with low volume, try out other solutions listed in the article.
Try a Different Port
Oftentimes, desktop PCs don’t have good audio quality on the front headphone jack, which is why many people use digital-to-analog converters or DACs instead. You may try connecting your headphones to the port behind your desktop PC instead and see if the audio quality changes.
In case you are using a laptop, you won’t have another port at your disposal but what you can do is connect the headphones with the USB dongle that came with your phone and connect it to the USB port on your laptop. You may also switch to Bluetooth headphones in case the problem persists.
Check Source Files
This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it’s important, nonetheless. Make sure the music file you have is from a trusted source and has good quality audio. Music from sources such as Amazon is trusted and will have better audio quality than those downloaded from YouTube videos.
Windows 10 Solutions
Despite the many amazing features that Windows 10 offers, there have been many reports of people experiencing audio issues since upgrading to Windows 10. This leaves them unable to enjoy any media or entertainment on their PC.
If you find that your headphones are working fine on all devices except for those running on Windows 10, following are the ways you can fix it
One feature of Windows 10 is allowing the user to adjust the audio using audio enhancements. While this could be a great feature, practically, it may cause some problems. These audio enhancements can alter various traits, such as the loudness, of the computer’s audio. This may end up doing more harm than good.
Changes in audio enhancements can cause muffled sounds because they control different traits of the computer’s audio such as loudness and intensity of the frequencies.
To disable any unnecessary audio enhancements, do the following:
- In the taskbar, right-click on the speaker icon
- Click “Open sound settings”
- Click “Device properties”
- Click on the tab “Enhancements”
- Finally, click “Disable all sound enhancements”
- Audio Drivers
Ever wonder how the operating system of your computer communicates with audio devices such as sound cards, speakers, headphones, microphones, etc.? Well, that’s where the audio drivers come in. They help facilitate communication between the OS and audio devices. However, if the audio drivers on your computer are out of date, you may be missing out on important updates and critical bug fixes. To check for audio driver updates on your Windows 10, do the following:
- Right-click on the Start button
- Click “Settings”
- Click “Updates & Security”
- Click “Check for updates” and Windows will automatically do the rest for you!
- Convert to 24-bit audio format
It may be that Windows’ default format for processing audio may be the culprit behind audio distortions. If so, changing the format to 24-bit may resolve the issue. The 24-bit format is more suitable for handling newer audio formats and provides greater processing space for delivering audio.
To change the default format to 24-bit, follow these instructions:
- In the taskbar, right-click on the speaker icon
- Click on “Open sound settings”
- Click on “Device properties”
- Click on “Additional Device properties”
- Click on the “Advanced” tab
- In the drop-down menu, click on the 24-bit option
- Disable Phone Calls
Assuming the hardware side is in good shape, it’s time to look at your audio settings. It’s possible that your device is sending audio using the less-than-ideal telephonic path when your earphones are really being used as a stereo headset. This is a common issue in Windows 10. To fix this problem, follow the instructions below:
- In the taskbar, right-click on the sound icon
- Click on “Sounds”
- Click on the option with the green checkmark
It may show two options in case you are using headphones with a built-in microphone: one for the headphones, and one designed for phone calls. If you listen to music via the one designed for phone calls, you will have less than stellar audio quality. In that case, you can do either of the following:
- Disable the communications headset option by right-clicking on it and selecting “Disable”
- Select a different entry and click on “Set Default”
- Disconnect Other Bluetooth Devices
Disconnect Bluetooth Devices
Many users report that having the PC connected to more than one Bluetooth device at a time can cause distortion in audio. In case your PC is connected to more than one Bluetooth device simultaneously, you might want to consider disconnecting to all but the one that you need and is currently in use. You’ll find that your audio sounds clearer and less distorted.
If, after following the above instructions, the problem persists, then it may be better to run Windows’ trouble-shooter. This way, it can detect and resolve the issue on its own.
If you would like to run the trouble-shooter, follow the below steps:
- Right-click the Start button
- Click on “Settings”
- Click on “Update & Security”
- On the left, click on “Troubleshoot”
- Click on “Playing audio”
- Click “Run the trouble-shooter”
- Follow the prompts and you’re done
So, here you are. In this article, we discussed the potential reasons why your headphones sound muffled and how to fix those issues.
Many of these fixes aren’t the best, but they’ll at least enable you to get by while you look for a more long-term, practical alternative. Since there are so many different phones and PCs available, these are by no means the only sources of distortion; any number of hardware problems, software faults, or driver quirks could result in the same problem. But if you’re lucky, following these instructions will at least enable you to identify the source of why your headphones sound muffled so you can concentrate on the problem.