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Have you ever been listening to music on your smartphone and realized halfway through your jam session that one of your earbuds was louder than the other? This can ruin your music- or podcast-listening experience, and it will get you wondering — why is one earbud louder than the other?
Whatever the reason, if you follow a few suggestions in this guide, you can fix the issue.
More often than not, the culprit is a volume imbalance between the left and right ear, which can be very frustrating. You can attribute this to a hardware defect in the earbuds or something as simple as a software problem.
As a longtime sound enthusiast, I’ll share my expert tips on how to solve problems like these. In this article, you can find some of the easiest, most tried, and tested solutions to this issue.
Table of Contents
- Why is One Earbud Louder Than the Other [Best Way to Fix it]
- How to Fix The Problem of One Earphone Being Louder Than The Other?
- 1. Clean the Earbuds
- 2. Test the Earbuds on Another Device
- 3. Check the Earbuds’ Volume and Balance
- 4. Keep the Sweat Out of the Picture
- 5. Mobile Software Issues
- 6. The Bluetooth Connection Is Not Smooth
- 7. Forget the Headphones on Bluetooth, Then Reconnect
- 8. Look for the Mono Audio Slider in the Bluetooth Settings
- 9. Contact an Expert Technician
- What Causes Earbud to Become Unbalanced?
Why is One Earbud Louder Than the Other [Best Way to Fix it]
Although this can seem annoying and difficult to fix by yourself, there are definitely some quick fixes that can help. The first thing you need to do is determine what the cause of the problem is.
You’ll want to ensure the volume settings on your device are balanced. Cleaning the earbuds and headphone jack with rubbing alcohol can also help fix this issue. Do not keep Bluetooth headphones close to metal objects, as this can interfere with the transmission and cause interference in sound quality. If the buds aren’t seated in your ears properly, that too can cause audio loss between them.
How to Fix The Problem of One Earphone Being Louder Than The Other?
Many factors influence the sound quality of your earphones, but it is usually due to a small problem. This section will cover some ways to fix it.
1. Clean the Earbuds
The first step to any fix is cleaning. If there’s a buildup of dust and grime inside the buds, it can cause problems with audio quality. A simple, clean cloth or a q-tip can do the job for you here. Since earbuds go directly into your ears, it is imperative to clean them every once in a while to prevent dirt buildup.
Sometimes, a few drops of isopropyl alcohol can do the trick as well.
If you use headphones, clean the headphone jack slot. Give the slot a few blasts from a compressed air canister (the kind used to clean out keyboards) to clean it out.
2. Test the Earbuds on Another Device
If you’re still having trouble, the next step is to try your earbuds on another device. For example, if you have an iPhone and an Android phone, test them on both (once you make sure each device has the latest version of its operating system).
If one earbud is louder than the other on both devices, then it’s likely that one of your earbuds is faulty. If a different sound issue occurs when plugged into another device, this points toward a software problem.
3. Check the Earbuds’ Volume and Balance
Check the balance or volume of your buds. It could be that they’re set differently. You may have to use your device’s equalizer to adjust the audio levels.
If your device doesn’t have an option for adjusting the balance, try playing with the volume control level of earbuds or playing a song with a lot of basses, and then use its equalizer screen to adjust the levels until you’re happy with the results.
4. Keep the Sweat Out of the Picture
Sweat can damage earbuds by causing corrosion on the wires inside. This corrosion can cause shorts in the wires and even lead to the malfunction of one earbud, ultimately.
If you use your buds during your workouts or any intense physical activity, make sure to get a pair that has a high IPX durability rating that can protect them from sweat and water damage.
Also, try using buds with rubber covers over them or ones designed specifically for use during sports activities like running or biking. These often have an open design, so they stay dry inside.
5. Mobile Software Issues
Check the software version of your phone. If, for example, you’re using an older version of iOS, it might be worth updating to the latest one if you haven’t already. You can do this by going into Settings > General > Software Update on your device and checking if any updates are available for download.
Another solution for this is to restart the device. Restart your phone to refresh the software and fix minor bugs. By restarting your device (which clears out any open apps), you’ll tell it to stop reacting sensitively to those buttons.
6. The Bluetooth Connection Is Not Smooth
Reset your earbuds. Hold and press the power button for 5 seconds until they turn off. Let them sit for 10 seconds, then turn them back on (this will reset all settings).
If this doesn’t fix the problem, try resetting your phone/tablet/computer in case of a glitch when you connected it last time that’s causing issues now. Here’s how:
- Go to Settings
- Select General
- Go to Storage ( iCloud Usage for Apple devices))
- Select Manage Storage
- See what apps are taking up space, then select Clear All Data.
These steps should clear out any data stored from apps that aren’t currently being used. For example, Spotify could be causing some interference between devices when listening through headphones or speakers plugged into each other during playback time.
You can also cause interference due to their placement near audio sources such as TVs at home, computer monitors at work, etc.
7. Forget the Headphones on Bluetooth, Then Reconnect
If your headphones are on Bluetooth and the sound does not work, or only one earbud is louder than the other, you should “forget” the device. Here’s how:
- Open the settings
- Go to Bluetooth and tap on the More Info option
- Select the Forget the Device option
- Next, you need to reconnect to Bluetooth by turning on Bluetooth in Settings > Connected devices > Available devices (you may have to turn this off first).
- Select the Connect option
- Ensure that your headphones are charged when trying this reconnection process, so they have sufficient power for pairing.
8. Look for the Mono Audio Slider in the Bluetooth Settings
If your earbuds support mono playing, which is when only one earbud is used for listening, then that can cause audio imbalances in the long run. It need not be a software or hardware issue but rather just a setting that needs to be looked into.
The right-side audio signal could be louder than the left or vice versa. You should check if your earbuds’ left and right sounds are the same.
For Android devices, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings
- Select General
- Select Access
- Scroll down to Hearing
- Look for a slider under Mono Audio
- Slip it into the center if it’s too far to the left or the right, then check the balance again
For iOS devices, follow these steps:
- Go to settings
- If your earbuds are already connected, you’ll see the device’s name at the top. Select it
- Under ‘Double-Tap Airpod’, make sure neither of the buds has been set to off (after mono listening, one could have accidentally forgotten to reset it back to the original setting, causing the imbalance)
9. Contact an Expert Technician
If none of these steps work, it’s probably time to contact an expert technician. In most cases, the issue is fixable and doesn’t require replacing your earbuds altogether.
A professional in the field will be able to fix your earbuds, especially if it is a hardware issue that involves changing its wires or other parts. This is usually not an expensive procedure, especially if the warranty is still valid.
Going to the authorized support store can cost you a little more than a third-party establishment, but the former will guarantee that the parts that go into fixing the device are original, while the latter may not always be able to, depending on the price they are offering. If you do choose to visit a third-party store, make sure to check out their customer reviews.
This process might take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, so don’t expect quick results here.
What Causes Earbud to Become Unbalanced?
Hardware defects can make a massive difference in your earbuds’ sound quality. When the hardware of the device is affected, the most common problem faced is audio imbalance. The audio channel gets distorted because one earbud has a louder sound than the other, or one channel sounds distorted for no reason.
You can use an audio program to test your earbuds. It will tell you whether your earbuds are balanced or not. Since hardware damages are not easy to solve by oneself, taking it to a support store or buying a new pair is the best option.
Another possible cause is when you get software errors while playing music on your device. When an audio program opens, it sets up several processes in your device, such as one for playing music and another for managing volume.
Occasionally, these processes need help working together to keep time and sync with one another. It can cause problems like extra noises, volume dips, and other issues that affect audio quality. Fortunately, updating your device’s operating system can usually fix these issues.
Check our complete guide on “Best Earbuds for iPad” by Audio Reputation
Oftentimes, all it takes is a simple reboot to achieve a balanced sound on both sides. The two main factors contributing to volume differences are hardware defects, such as the malfunction of the hardware circuit, and a software glitch in the operating system.
If the problem is not fixed by any of the easy methods we’ve mentioned above, it might point to a deeper issue the earbuds have. So, if your device is under warranty, you can return them for a replacement or get them fixed by an expert technician.
Hopefully, this article helped you narrow down what is causing your earbuds to sound imbalanced and how to fix it. Feel free to test new things out and experiment. Best of luck!
Hello, my name is James Longman.
I’m a writer and editor at AudioReputation. I disassembled my first portable AM/FM radio when I was only 8. At the age of 11, I burned the circuit board on my old boombox cassette player. I’m not going to explain how but it was reckless and stupid.
Since then, I have become much more careful around radios, boomboxes, and other audio devices (at least, I like to think so) but I have never lost the passion for audio equipment. Throughout 20 years of my professional career, I’ve been working for various audio equipment manufacturers and even started building speakers on my own in my little workshop.
I love the work we do here at AudioReputation. Testing, comparing, and evaluating all kinds of audio devices (speakers, soundbars, headphones, home theater systems, etc.) is something I truly enjoy. I try to be unbiased and give you my honest opinion on every piece of equipment I test. Still, you should take my reviews with a pinch of salt and always be just a little bit skeptical. The fact that I liked some speaker or soundbar doesn’t mean that you are going to love it. If you have the opportunity, you should test it/hear it before buying it.