Split open earphones

How to Fix Headphones When Only One Side Works

Can you imagine trying to listen to your favorite music or watching a movie with a pair of headphones where only one side works? That’s probably one of the more annoying things that could happen to anyone and it happens more often than we’d like it to.

What makes it worse is that you are inconvenienced and unable to enjoy the full immersive experience of hearing from both ears. While trying to troubleshoot the problem seems like the only choice you have, doing so might prove to be quite difficult as you don’t exactly know where to start.

That’s why we’ve made this quick guide that will give you instructions on how to fix your headphones as well as how to rule out other factors that might cause the same problem such as your device settings. You’ll find solutions on how to fix the issue of how only one side of headphones work on computer. So make sure to continue reading in order to find out more.

Rule Out Other Problems

Before you even think about making any changes or fixes to your headphones, you must first be absolutely sure that there aren’t any other problems causing this issue. To stay on the safe side, do the following before you make any major changes to your headphones.

Try to restart the device

This is one of the easier fixes that you can do since all you have to do is restart your audio player device. This is especially effective if you noticed that the issue with your headphones occurred after a software update.

If you’re still experiencing headphone audio coming out of one ear, then you should try the next quick fix.

Use a different pair of headphones

Get a pair of headphones that you know works fine and connect it to the audio player device that you’re using. If you find that it’s also playing audio from one ear, then you may still need to further tweak some device settings.

However, if the new pair of headphones you connected works properly, then you can be sure that the initial pair of headphones are at fault and need to be fixed. 

Fixes For When Headphones Only Work in One Ear

Before trying any one of these fixes, it’s important for you to first diagnose the exact problem of your headphones. There are many reasons as to why your headphones may start playing audio only on one side, so be sure to know the exact reason first so that you can avoid any unnecessary damage and wasted time. 

Change your device’s settings

There’s a possibility that the reason why your headphones are playing audio from only one side is because of your phone or PC audio settings. One of the main things to look out for is to make sure that the “mono” sound option is turned off.

It also helps to check the audio balancing of each side of your headphones and change them to the appropriate levels so that you can properly hear audio coming out from both ends. 

If you’re on a Windows 10 computer and want to check the audio balancing of your headphones, simply do the following.

  1. Press Windows key + S and type “sound” in the search box.
  2. Click on Sound Settings.
  3. On the Sound window, click on Device properties which can be found under Output.
  4. Adjust the audio balancing sliders accordingly.

For damaged wires near the headphone jack

Headphone jack (From: pixabay.com).

This often happens due to constantly yanking out your headphone jack from the audio port of your device by pulling on the cord rather than the plastic part of the jack itself. Overtime, this can damage the wires near the headphone jack and cause audio to play on only one side.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Use a sharp knife or cutting tool to cut through the plastic protection around the headphone jack and a small section of the cord near it.
  2. Find the part of the wires that’s been damaged and cut it off.
  1. Remove the plastic protection around the newly cut part of the cord in order to expose the clean wires.
  1. Use a lighter to burn off the wire’s insulation.
  1. With a soldering iron, solder the ends of the wires to the headphone jack with the appropriate positions.
  2. Cover the newly exposed section of wire.

For shorted wires

This usually happens when you often leave your headphone wires tangled or have them unnecessarily stretched out during use. The shorted wires can be one of the reasons why your headset is only playing sound on one side.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Connect your headphones to your phone or PC and play some audio.
  2. Bend the cord every half inch until you can finally hear sound coming out from both sides. This will determine the location of the short.
  3. Once you’ve found the short, remove the damaged portion of the wire.
  4. On the remaining sections of the wire, cut out the plastic protection in order to expose the clean wires.
  5. Separate the wires so it can be easier to work with both ends.
  6. Cut the insulation wires (white).
  7. Twist the copper wires together (ground).
  8. Use a match or lighter to burn off the enamel found at the tip of the colored wires. Then, twist the colored wires together while securing them in place with electrical tape.
  9. Secure the ground wires with electrical tape in order to make sure that the ground wires do NOT touch the colored wires.
  10. Wrap the entire exposed section of the cord with electrical tape.


We hope that with this guide, you’ll have fixed the issue of your headset only playing audio on one side. Fixing your headphones not only saves you on money from buying a new pair, it also helps lessen your overall electronic wastes.

Just be sure to rule out any device problems before actually tinkering with the hardware of your headset because this usually voids any warranty that it may have. If you do want to continue with repairs, just ensure that you know the exact problem before moving forward.

However, if all else fails and you still can’t fix your headphones, then it might just be time to purchase a new set. Learn good practices such as not excessively tugging on the cord and storing your headphones properly and you’ll extend the life of your headset.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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