Only One Side Of Headphones Work On Computer (Common Causes And Quick Fixes)

If your headphone is playing only on one side, first check the audio setting on your computer. Ensure the mono option is turned off and the voice levels are balanced on both sides of the headphones. To do this, click on the computer’s sound icon, go to levels, and select balance. If the settings are ok, there could be disconnected wire near the jack, short wire, or faulty wiring within the defective earbud.

However, if you are using wireless headphones and only one side is working, you need to reset it first.  If, after resetting, the issue is not resolved, the mechanical trigger of the jack port could be stuck halfway. This is commonly known as the halfway point issue. Another thing that can cause the problem is displaced or broken internal wires within the hardware. 

So, instead of buying a new pair of headsets, it is cheaper to diagnose and fix the problem. In most cases, it will take you few minutes and require some basic tools available at your nearest electronics shops. 

Here we show you ways to diagnose the common causes of defective headphones and quick fixes. 

What Causes Only One Headphone Side To Play?

What Causes Only One Headphone Side To Play

PC Settings

Before attempting to repair your headphones, you need to check the audio settings on your PC. Go to audio properties and ensure the mono option is off. If it is not, turn it off and plug in the earphones. Also, the voice levels should be balanced for both sides. Click on the computer’s sound icon, go to levels and select balance. 

If the issue is not resolved after the settings are in order, you need to rule out the possibility that it is the computer causing the problem.  Check what you need to do below:

Temporary Computer Malfunction

Sometimes, your pair of headphones is playing on one side because your PC is malfunctioning. Here is how you can diagnose the issue:

Connect Another Pair Of Headphones To Your PC

Find a pair of perfectly working headphones and connect to your PC. If they are working well, then truly, it is your pair of headphones that has issues. In this case, diagnose other problems by following the guidelines for wireless and wired headphones later in the article.

However, if the functioning headset also doesn’t play on one side; you need to work on your PC by doing the following:

Restart The Computer

Restarting your device is a simple fix that can resolve the issue.  This works especially if the headset starts to misbehave right after you do a software update on your PC. 

After restarting your device, connect the headphones and check if it plays on both sides. If you still experience the issue, clean the headset jack of your computer.

Clean The Headset Jack

Your computer headset jack can easily trap lint and dirt. As such, it could affect the quality of audio output as the connection between the jack and the headphone port could become loose. This is especially if the headset is working fine with other audio devices such as phones. 

Loosen the dirt using a pointed toothpick. Once the dirt comes off, take the brush side of the toothpick to clear it out. 

If your headphones could still not play on one side after doing the above, it is time to take some aggressive diagnosis. 

N/B: If your headphone still cannot work properly after doing the above, check its guarantee. If the warranty still covers it, contact your customer service for guidance. They might replace or request that you drop it for repair, all for free.

However, for out of warranty headset, proceed with the fixes below:

Only One Side Of Wired Headphones Work On The Computer

Only One Side Of Wired Headphones Work On The Computer

Here is what could be the cause and how to resolve it:

Wire Near The Jack Is Disconnected Or Damaged

Sometimes when you are in a hurry, you can accidentally yank the headphone jack from your computer or mobile phone. Or disconnect by tugging at the cord rather than pulling the headset from the plastic base. This can easily bend the earphone plug. 

As such, the habit can damage or disconnect the wires near the jack. Soon you might start noticing the headphones playing only on one side when connected to a computer. To fix the problem, do the following:

How To Fix Disconnected Or Damaged Wires Near The Jack

1. Cut through the plastic protective base of the jack using a cutter or a knife. 

2. Slice through the cord near the jack to identify any broken wire

3. Once you locate the weak point, cut it off. You will have two pieces. One of the jack side and the other on the headset side.

4. On the end of the headset side, remove the cord around it.

5. Burn off the wires’ insulation using a lighter or a match

6. Soldier the wires back to the jack. If you are stuck, watch the video below by Bong Maker. 

7. Finally, cover the joined section.

Shorted Wires

If you keep your headphones tanged or wrap them improperly, it might result in a shorted wire. A shorted wire could be the reason one side of your headset is not working. 

To locate and fix the issue, follow the steps below:

How To Fix Headphones With Short Wires  

1. Plug the headset into your computer or any other audio device

2. Play the audio and put your headphones on. Now, move your hand along the headset cord while bending it after every ½ an inch. Do this until you hear sound coming from both sides. This is the point where the wires are shorted. 

3. Mark the point where the sound came out well when you bent using a masking tape. Then, unplug the headset from the audio source.

4. Cut off the damaged portion using a wire cutter or a knife. You will have two sections; one on the side of the jack and the other on the earbuds.

5. Strip off the plastic cover of the cord from the tip of both ends using a wire stripper (you can carefully use a knife or a cutter). This way, you expose the wires; one copper, one red, and one white or black)

6. Separate the wires and strip the colored ones one by one on both ends

 7. Twist the two ends of the copper wires together. 

8. Strip the colored wires either using sandpaper or burning off using a lighter or a match

9. Once the colored wires are exposed, reconnect the cables together by twisting them from both ends, i.e., red to red and black/white to black/white. 

10. Wrap an electrical tape around the joining section of each wire to prevent the wires from touching each other.

11. Plug in the repaired headphones and play an audio 

12. If your headset is now working well, wrap the linked section with electrical tape so that the inside wires are not visible. This replaces the plastic cord that was initially used to protect the cables.

Thumps up, you fixed your headphones all by yourself!

Broken Or Loose Wires Within The Defective Earbud

If you cannot hear the audio from the two sides after locating the shorted wires, it is time to check the earbud. Sometimes the side that is not functioning has faulty wiring. To identify and fix do the following:

How To Fix Broken Or Loose Wires Within A Defective Earbud

1. Use a small flat-blade screwdriver to open the earbud casing of the side that is not working. (nail clipper’s lever can do the job too)

2. Carefully push the cord up through the upper housing of the earbud.  This exposes the internal parts and shoves the front case. 

3. Fix any loose or broken wires through soldiering. Give it time to cool, and then test the headphones. If working, close it up, and you are good to go!

Only One Side Of Wireless Headphones Work On A Computer

Here is how to resolve the issue:

Factory Reset

Sometimes all it takes to fix connectivity issues with wireless headphones is doing a factory reset. 

How To Reset Wireless Headphones

1. Press your headgear’s power button

2. Hold it down until blue or red light flushes out.

3. Connect the headphones again with your computer and test them.

Half Point Issue

Half point issue occurs when the mechanical trigger of the jack port is stuck halfway, causing malfunctioning of headphone speakers. First, plug in the aux cable jack and check if the device is working well. If it works well, but one side plays when you switch to wireless mode, your headset might be experiencing a half-point issue.

Do The Following:

1. Insert then plug out the aux cable from the jack port

2. Keep repeating the above process as it unstuck the mechanical trigger 

3. Test the headphones to check if they are now working well.

Broken Internal Wires

Broken or displaced wires in the hardware could make your wireless headset not play on one side.

Here Is How To Fix It:

1. Open the headset to remove the casing

2. Identify the broken wires and fix them using a soldering iron

3. Close it back, ensuring all internal components are in place

4. Connect your device to your computer to test it.


We hope you were able to fix your pair of headphones following the simple fixes above. If not, then it is high time to invest in a new headset. It might pain getting rid of your old ones, but you cannot sacrifice audio quality.