How to Fix Earbuds

Troubleshooting earphones that won't work

Listening to your favorite music with broken earbuds is frustrating, if not impossible. This guide teaches you how to fix broken earbuds.

The troubleshooting steps in this article apply to most earbuds, including earbuds that use Bluetooth to connect to a device.

The Causes of Broken Earbuds

Due to the mechanical nature of earbuds, there are many reasons why your earbuds might not be working. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Debris is stuck in the earbud.
  • A cable failure.
  • A cable jack failure.
  • A failure to properly connect.
Broken earbuds.
Mediaonela / Getty Images

Check the Audio Cable, First

Regardless of the issue you have with your earbuds, ensure the cable is in good repair (if you're not using wireless earbuds). Check for frayed cords, broken or split plastic coating, and other issues.

If this is the issue, repair the cable or purchase new earbuds. If this isn't the issue, you can move forward.

How to Fix Earbuds That Won't Work

When you don't hear any sound coming out of the earbuds, follow these steps to troubleshoot the problem.

  1. Turn on the earbuds' power source. Some earbuds have power sources. If yours does, turn it off and back on, then listen to an audio source.

  2. Turn on the audio source or turn up the volume. Sometimes, things happen, and the volume can be accidentally turned down or off on the device.

  3. Clean the earbuds. There may be debris in the earbuds. A build-up of dirt or other debris inside the earbuds can result in loss of sound. Clean the earbuds gently.

  4. Unplug and reconnect wired earbuds. Just like turning a device off and on solves many tech issues, disconnecting and reconnecting the earbuds might trigger the sound. Check the audio cable jack connection when you reconnect the earbuds. Push the cable jack gently to ensure it's connected to the audio jack. If it isn't, you may not hear audio.

  5. Check the Bluetooth connection with wireless earbuds. If your earbuds use Bluetooth to connect to devices, make sure Bluetooth is turned on.

    If you have Bluetooth earbuds, unpair and re-pair the earbuds to the device.

  6. Connect the earbuds to another audio source. If you hear sound from another audio device, the current device may need to be repaired.

How to Fix Earbuds When One Side Doesn't Work

When only one earbud works, follow these troubleshooting steps.

  1. Unplug and reconnect. This could fix the one-sided sound issue.

  2. Clean the earbud. A build-up of debris can cause a lack of sound.

  3. Reconnect Bluetooth. If the earbuds are wireless, disconnecting and reconnecting Bluetooth resets the sound, which may fix the sound issue.

  4. Check the side balance on the device. Make sure the device doesn't have the side balance setting set to left or right.

How to Fix Crackling Earbuds

If your earbuds crackle, take these steps to troubleshoot the problem.

  1. Unplug and reconnect the earbuds. This might fix the issue that causes the crackling.

  2. Check the audio cable jack connection on wired earbuds. Gently push it to ensure a proper connection between the audio cable and the device.

  3. Clean the device's audio jack. Debris build-up can cause crackling sounds. Blow into the audio jack to remove any dust or debris. You can also use compressed air to blow away debris.

  4. Disconnect and reconnect Bluetooth on wireless earbuds. If you have Bluetooth earbuds, disconnect and reconnect to see if that fixes the crackling issue.

    Moving closer to the device may solve crackling and other sound issues, such as sound that comes and goes.

  5. Change the EQ settings. If your device has EQ settings, ensure the bass or treble isn't set too high. Sometimes, this can cause crackling when the sound is maxed out, primarily if the earbuds aren't meant for that level of output.

    In terms of audio output, reducing the volume of the audio may clear up the crackling. Your earbuds may not be meant to handle the level of sound you're attempting to play.

If Your Earbuds Still Don't Work

If none of the above solutions fix the earbud issue, and your earbuds aren't Bluetooth, the device's audio jack may need to be repaired. Although you can fix it yourself, it isn't recommended.

Reach out to the company who made the earbuds to see if the earbuds are under warranty and what you must do for a repair.