Headphones are available in many styles, from wired headsets to wireless Bluetooth models. You can find basic functionality as well as advanced noise cancellation and digital assistant integration.
No matter what brand of headphones you have, sometimes headphones will stop working. There are several easy ways to get your headphones working again.
This article covers troubleshooting all types of headphones including standard and wireless.
Problems with your Headphones
There are many headphone problems. Sometimes, a broken headphone cable or Bluetooth connectivity issues can cause a jack to not work. Some noise-canceling headphones such as the Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones I and the Microsoft Surface Headphones can sometimes have trouble syncing audio and video. It can be frustrating to switch the noise-cancellation function on or off as you intended.
There are simple reasons headphones don’t work that can be applied to all types of headphones.
How to fix headphones that aren’t working
Headphones can have a number of technical problems. The solutions will vary depending on what the problem is. This series of checks will help you determine why your headphones don’t work. Next, try these fixes for broken headphones.
- Turn on your headphones. Many headphones and earphones have a built in battery. They won’t turn on if they are plugged into an audio jack or headphone jack without powering it on.
The power switch for headphones is typically located on one side of one earpiece or one of their flat surfaces.
- Switch the headphones on and off. This tech tip works well with glitchy computers and can be used with headphones that don’t work.
Try switching your headphones off and on again, plugging them in. If they don’t work as expected, you can try turning them off and back on again.
- Charge your headphones. Some headphones, particularly those with advanced features like noise cancellation or built-in LED light, require an external power source. The battery might have been depleted and may need to be refilled if you haven’t used the headphones for a while.
You can charge most headphones by connecting to a micro USB port located on the earpiece.
- View the USB power requirements. Some headphones can be connected to a device via . If the USB connection is needed to power the headphones, or to receive audio, performance can be affected if it is connected to an unplugged laptop, or to a device with low-wattage.
- Verify USB compatibility. Some headphones can be connected to an audio source via USB. However, not all devices are compatible with USB headphones. While most computers can connect to a USB headset, some consoles like the Xbox One don’t support them.
There is not much you can do if a device does not support USB headphones. You may want to swap them for headphones with Bluetooth or a traditional audio connector.
- Turn Bluetooth on your headphones. You may need to turn on Bluetooth if you have a wireless headset set.
- Increase the volume You might have accidentally muted or turned down the volume on your headphones if you are unable to hear any sound.
Turn up the volume using the built-in volume buttons on the headphones (if they have them). Next, check the volume of your paired device.
- Pair the Bluetooth headphones successfully with the device. The new headphones won’t transmit audio directly to your device right out of the box. You first need to pair your headphones with your smartphone, computer, or other source.
Bluetooth pairing instructions vary depending on the brand and model of your headphones. You can find specific pairing instructions on the manufacturer’s site or in the manual.
- Pair the headphones with the computer or phone. Take out the headphones’ pair and then repair the headphones to your phone. Sometimes, you can repair connectivity problems by re-adding the headphones to your phone after taking them out.
Select System Preferences Bluetooth to remove Bluetooth pairings from a Mac. Open the Action Center and choose All Settings > Devices the name of your headphones Yes.
- Disconnect any unused devices from your headphones. Unpair any device that you aren’t using to avoid conflicts. This can be done within the Bose Connect app or on a Mac or PC.
- Check the audio output. Even if your headphones have been connected successfully, the device may be sending audio to another device, such as a Bluetooth speaker, Apple TV, or other Bluetooth devices.
The app that produces the audio usually displays the name of the active output. Spotify displays the name of the active audio output as green text at the bottom of each app.
- Disconnect the wired connection Sometimes a wired connection will override a Bluetooth one. You can block audio streaming wirelessly from your tablet or smartphone by charging your headphones with your laptop or computer.
- Bend the cable to check for damage. Damaged audio cables are a common reason for headphone problems. You can check the damage by putting on headphones and listening to audio from your preferred source. Then, gently bend the cable at a two-centimeter distance from each end.
If the sound of static or an audio source is heard briefly, the cable may have been damaged and should be replaced.
To check for damaged cables, only do gentle bends. It should be bent like a coin. It can be damaged if it is bent too sharply to touch itself.
- Use a different app. The problem could be that you are listening to audio but not hearing any sound. You can also try closing the app and reopening it to fix bugs.
- Check your audio jack. Your smartphone, tablet or laptop may have a broken headphone jack. You can try a few things to determine if your audio jack is broken.
- Test the headphones with another device. To test if your headphones work, try using a different audio source.
- Use different headphones or earphones with the same app. This will help you pinpoint the problem, similar to the previous advice. If you experience the same problem, it could be the app or device that you are connecting to.
- Change the headphone’s firmware. Modern headphones need firmware upgrades to work properly and fix bugs. These updates can be downloaded and installed wirelessly via the official smartphone app. You can also download updates files from many brands’ official websites.
- Install the latest operating system on your computer or device. The latest OS update can make your device more compatible with many accessories, including headphones.
- Restart your computer, smartphone or tablet. A restart is able to fix many tech issues, such as malfunctioning headphones.
- Turn off Bluetooth for unused devices. Bluetooth headphones that have been paired with multiple devices may not be connecting to the device you desire. This can be fixed by turning off Bluetooth on all other devices, until the headphones are connected to the one you want.
After disabling Bluetooth on other devices, your headphones may need to be turned off and then on again.
- Check for driver updates. Updating drivers can be a very useful step in troubleshooting any device that is experiencing a problem or is reporting an error.