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One Earbud Not Working: How To FIX! (Explained & Solved!)

Jamey Muller
Updated: December 24, 2022
9 min read

Earbuds should last between 1-2 years depending on the brand, how much they are used and how you treat them. To troubleshoot one earbud not working, fixes range from basic methods to more advanced ones, depending on the issue at hand.

However, it's good to know that small fixes make up the majority of solutions to earbud problems. So let's run through the ways to fix one earbud not working, from tried and tested quick and easy methods; to the more advanced, hands-on approaches.

Check Your Device First

Before trying more advanced methods to fix one earbud not working, it's best to check the connecting device and sort out any pairing problems you may have. 

Firstly we need to rule out the device being at fault. To do this, try connecting another pair of earbuds to the device to see if they are both working. If only one earbud works, then it's most likely your device that's causing the issue, and you'll have to look into fixing it. If you don't have another pair of earbuds, then try connecting them to another digital device and see if the dead earbud now works. 

Additionally, you can try the below methods to try and get your none working earbud to work on your device.

  • Try restarting your device, as this refreshes the device, and can be one of the easiest ways to fix your non-working earbud. By restarting the device any auto updates of the software or firmware. When this is complete and your earbud might start working again
  • Remove any other devices that might automatically connect to your device
  • If your earbud seems to not work when using a certain app, then try another app and see if they work 

Reset The Earbuds

Methods to reset your earbuds will vary depending on the type you have, and you'll be able to access a guide on how to do so by typing the make and model of your earbuds into the search engines. 

Even though other combinations of button pressing may be used, as a general method to reset earbuds, firstly, put them back into the charging case to disconnect them from any devices, close the case and wait 5-10 seconds. Then take them out and press and hold the power button for 10 seconds, or until you see the small status light blink on and off, signaling the reset is complete.

Check Your Wireless Connection

Your Bluetooth connection on your computer or smartphone might be is prone to issues, such as disconnecting, or they aren't in the pairing mode, etc, causing your earbuds to not connect and therefore not have any sound in one ear. 

To unpair the earbuds from your device, locate the Bluetooth option and click on forget this device or remove this device. Then reconnect the device and see if the dud earbud now works. 

If repairing doesn't work, then reboot the device you're using and try again. Also, remember to disable Bluetooth from any devices you aren't using to avoid unwanted connections.

Adjust The Sound Balance 

Hearing sound in only one earbud could result from incorrect audio settings on your device. If the audio settings show the volume is aimed 100% at one earbud, then you'll hear no sound in the other one, and the audio balance will need to be adjusted for both earbuds to work in unison.

Here’s what you can do to address this issue by accessing the sound balance function on your device.

On A Windows Computer 

  1. Type sound into the search bar, select Sound settings, 
  2. Under the Advanced option, select More sound settings
  3. Under Sound, Playback, double-click on your earbuds (your device)
  4. Select More sound settings, under Speakers Properties
  5. Under Headphone Properties, click Levels, and then select Balance
  6. You'll see an “L” and “R” correlating to your left and right earbud. You can adjust the sound levels for each here.

On An Apple Computer 

  1. Locate the Apple logo on the top left of the screen
  2. Open System Preferences 
  3. Click the Sound option
  4. Under Output, click on your earbuds, and locate the Balance option where you can adjust the volume slider between left and right earbuds

On Andriod Devices

  1. Click Settings
  2. Click Accessibility
  3. Click on Hearing enhancements
  4. At the bottom you'll see the option for Connected audio, and you'll find a slider to adjust the volume between left and right earbuds

On Apple Devices

  1. Locate Settings
  2. Click Accessibility
  3. Click on Audio/Visual
  4. Here you can select the Balance slider and adjust the volume between the left and right earbuds

Check The Battery On Each Earbud

Cordless earbuds each have separate battery lives. This means they charge individually and it's not uncommon for one to drain its battery quicker than the other.

For instance, if you've been using one earbud with the other one in the charger, then the charges will become unbalanced. Additionally, one earbud is prone to losing its charge faster, as it performs more functions than the other, such as being the master connection between the earbuds and the device, and the second earbud simply connects to the first one to run its connection. 

In this case, fully charge both earbuds by placing them into their charging case, and to ensure the charging case isn't the issue and has enough power, and to speed the charge up, plug the case into the mains to be charged too. 

Check And Clean The Jack

When you leave your earbuds in environments that are dirty, such as handbags and pockets, small debris are prone to falling into the jack, and this can cause issues such as fuzziness, crackling, or one side not working. 

To help remedy this issue:

  • You can use compressed air by spraying it directly onto the port. This will blow off any small debris on the surface of the jack
  • You can also use a non-fluffy cotton bud and brush all the sides of the jack. Also, lightly place it inside to touch the end areas and then slowly turn it so it brushes the entirety of the jack, which can also help to free any dirt and dust stuck on the jack

Identify Any Cord Problems

If you're using wired earbuds, then you can check the cord to identify any problems, such as pinching or fraying. 

You can look for pinches on the cord at different points, and when you identify them, press on them and notice if the sound in your dead earbud suddenly reappears. If there are clear, visible bends on the cord, then adjust the cord at the damaged site, and if your earbud starts to work then you can straighten it out and tape this up. 

Another issue with cords is fraying. Cables are prone to becoming unraveled in weakened areas such as the point nearest to the plug, which is prone to damaged insulation and showing signs of fraying. In this case, there are various methods you can use to fix this such as using pliers and shrink tubes, or cable savers.

Solder Broken Components 

If you've concluded that one earbud isn't working, it's most likely due to a shortage in the wiring.

This is where you'll want to check for damage within the earbud.

  1. Open the two halves of the plastic housing with a flat screwdriver or similar tool by putting it in the middle gap and gently pushing down
  2. Once inside the earbud, you should see two wires that are soldered to the earbud board. If any of these wires have come loose, then this is most likely the culprit, and they need to be soldered back onto the board
  3. You can now solder the wire back onto the circuit and fix the issue at hand. After doing so, leave the earbuds out to dry for 2-3 minutes
  4. Then, clip your earbuds back together. You might need to glue the plastic housing back together if they don't clip back in 

Check For Liquid Damage

If you've damaged the earbuds with a liquid, you can quickly take matters into your own hands to fix them if you know how. This process needs to be carried out quickly after the accident occurs, as the electrical circuits that are inside earbuds are sensitive to moisture, and to avoid damage any corrosive liquid needs to be cleared off of them as soon as possible. 

You'll need some distilled water and rice for this method to work.  

  1. Firstly, if your earbuds are live, turn them off and disconnect them from your device ASAP.
  2. Remove any rubber tips and place them aside to dry
  3. Newer earbuds often lack screws. You can use a flat screwdriver and gently pry them apart to get to the working components. (be sure you can do this under your warranty)
  4. Use some distilled water, which works well to clean your earbuds as it won't corrode the internals, and fill this into a small container. Then put the headphones inside and shuffle them to clean off any lingering liquid or water.
  5. Remove the earbuds, blow off any water, or dry them with a hair dryer pointed at a longer distance
  6. Place them in a dry place for 48 hours. You can also try and put the earbuds into a sealed bag filled with uncooked rice. which will induce or sustain a state of dryness, drawing residual moisture from the internal components

Research Your Specific Earbuds 

Earbuds (especially wireless ones) are a fairly new phenomenon and are being updated all the time. They are generally not designed for a specific device, so naturally, when pairing different brands together, issues can arise. There are many instances of known issues for a brand pairing.

So, if the methods outlined in this post don't work for you, it's good practice to research your particular issue, such as how to deal with pairing issues when pairing Redmi earbuds with a Samsung phone, for example, as there may be a known way around it that doesn't fit into the generally known methods. 

Prevent Your Earbud From Experiencing Future Issues

If both earbuds are now working fine, then there are some preventive measures you can take to combat the issue happening again.

  1. Always put your earbuds back into their case housing after use. This fights things like putting them in your pocket, collecting dust, and then into the washing machine, which will most likely permanently damage them due to water damage
  2. Keep a distance from moisture and water. Even if you buy earbuds with a high waterproof rating, they are still electrical and if it's unnecessary, don't do it. If they get sweaty, dry them off before putting them back in their case
  3. Use the official charger/cable for the earbuds only (the one you got with your device). Cheap, slow third-party chargers are prone to issues, such as getting overly warm; or making odd noises due to electronic faults, which can disrupt the functionality of electrical equipment 
  4.  Not all ports and cables are made with the same wattage. If you have earbuds that officially use a 20W USB-C charger, this means they are good for that load. If you try and pair them with a 100W cable and connect to another power supply, then although this might work, they aren't designed for this load, and as a result, your earbuds might malfunction 

Purchase Advice For New Earbuds

If you can't seem to fix your non-working earbud and decide to purchase new ones, then here's a list of things to look out for before you do. 

  • It's good practice to check online reviews before you purchase your earbuds
  • As earbuds are prone to issues, purchase a pair of earbuds with a lengthy warranty
  • Earbuds are prone to falling out of ears, so check their durability rating and waterproof rating
  • Research the battery life of the earbuds before you buy
  • Purchase a tried and tested cleaning kit for your earbuds

Summary

If your earbud isn't working then there are many tried and tested methods to resolve this issue. It's important to remember that your earbuds might have specific settings, pairing, resetting, and usage methods, so it's good practice to research your specific brand and model number, which can help to solve this issue at hand. If you've tried many tested methods and still can't solve the issue, then, unfortunately, you're most likely going to need to buy a new pair of earbuds.

Written by
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.
Have any questions? Write us a message.
Jamey Muller
I'm the head-writer @ Knowledge Eager (or, in plain English, I'm the guy writing the majority of the content here). Addicted to the stock market, football, sushi and tacos.