How to Fix Earbuds

Troubleshooting earphones that won't work

White earbuds lying on top of an iPhone on a table

Sebastian Leesch / Getty Images

Trying to listen to your favorite music with broken earbuds is frustrating, if not impossible. The good news is, this guide will teach you how to fix broken earbuds once and for all.

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

  • Debris stuck in the earbud
  • Cable failure
  • Cable jack failure
  • Failure to properly connect

Check the Audio Cable, First

Regardless of the issue you're having with your earbuds, first 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, you'll need to 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

Are you not able to hear sound coming out of your earbuds? Follow these steps to troubleshoot.

  1. Ensure the earbuds' power source is on. Some earbuds have power sources. If yours does, turn it off and back on, then try listening again.

  2. Ensure the audio source is on or turned up. Sometimes, things happen and we accidentally turn the volume down or off on our devices.

  3. Check your earbuds for debris. A build-up of dirt or other debris inside your earbuds can result in loss of sound. Clean them gently.

  4. If your earbuds are wired, unplug and reconnect your earbuds. Just like turning a device off and on solves many tech issues, unplugging and reconnecting your earbuds may trigger the sound. Be sure to 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. If your earbuds are wireless, check the Bluetooth connection. If your earbuds use Bluetooth to connect to your devices, make sure your Bluetooth is turned on.

    If you use Bluetooth earbuds, you can also try unpairing and repairing your earbuds to your device.

  6. Connect your earbuds to another audio source. If you can hear sound from another audio device, your current device is probably in need of repair.

How to Fix Earbuds When One Side Doesn't Work

Is only one of your earbuds working? Follow these troubleshooting steps.

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

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

  3. Disconnect and reconnect Bluetooth. If your earbuds are wireless, this will reset the sound, which may fix the sound issue.

  4. Check the side balance on your device. Check to make sure the device you're using doesn't have the side balance setting set to left or right.

How to Fix Crackling Earbuds

Are your earbuds crackling? If so, take these steps to troubleshoot the problem.

  1. Unplug and reconnect your earbuds. This may fix whatever issue is causing the crackling.

  2. If you're using wired earbuds, check the audio cable jack connection. Gently push it to ensure the audio cable is fully connected to the device.

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

  4. If you're using wireless earbuds, disconnect and reconnect Bluetooth. If you're using Bluetooth earbuds, try disconnecting and reconnecting to see if that fixes the crackling issue.

    Are you in close range to your device? If not, move closer. This may solve crackling or other sound issues, such as sound that comes and goes.

  5. Change your 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, especially if the earbuds aren't meant for that level of output.

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

If Your Earbuds Still Don't Work

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

You can always reach out to the company who made your earbuds to see if you're under warranty and what you must do for a repair.