Why are my headphones not working when I plug them in? [FIX]

You just bought a new pair of headphones, and sure enough…they suddenly stopped working. Here we go again. But you paid a lot of money for those headphones, and you shouldn’t have to throw another pair in the trash.

Luckily for us, the internet is chock-full of solutions for finicky headphones. So, before you panic, let’s look at the reasons your headphones might stop working.

Headphones can stop working when you plug them in for the following reasons:

  • Having a faulty cable
  • Dust and grime blocking the headphone port contacts
  • The headphone jack is connected to the wrong port
  • There is no audio signal coming from the input device
  • Issues with the software settings in the input device
  • Excess exposure to moisture damages the headphones
  • The input device is set to mute or the volume is too low
  • The headphone jack is broken or doesn’t fit properly in the port
  • The headphones are not compatible with your input device and need an adapter
  • The headphone aren’t paired with the input device via Bluetooth

The following are some things that you can do to get your headphones working again:

  1. Restart your device and make sure the volume is turned up and the headphones are plugged in. 
  2. Use a small cleaning brush or a can of compressed air to remove any dirt or dust that may be clogging the headphone jack and earbuds. 
  3. Examine the headphone cable for exposed or damaged wires. Over time, cables can become faulty from being pulled or getting tangled. 
  4. Go into your audio settings and make sure it is not set to mute. Also check for updates and install new software or drivers if new versions are available.
  5. Check that your headphones are compatible with your input device. If they aren’t, you may need an OMTP to CTIA/AHJ adapter.
  6. In case of moisture damage, allow the headphones to dry and see if this fixes the issue. If a component has been permanently damaged by water, it may need to be replaced.
  7. Ensure that the headphone jack fits properly, isn’t broken, and is plugged into the correct port.
  8. For Bluetooth headphones, ensure that they have successfully paired with your computer, smartphone, or any other input device.

If you’re using wired headphones, the best way to ensure that the headphones stay in tip-top shape is proper storage. Check out this video that shows you how to properly wrap up your headphones:

Headphone buttons not working

Headphone buttons that control music and audio commonly stop working due to unnoticed gunk and dirt, damaged headphone jacks, outdated applications, and incompatible devices.

But don’t worry, you can solve these problems.


>Check the buttons and headphone jack for any problem-causing dirt. Little holes and crevices are havens for gunk that you never knew was there.

>Make sure the faulty headphones are compatible with your device. Not all Apple products properly work with Android products, and vice versa. Still not working?

>Uninstall all the apps that play audio (Spotify, Audible, Podcast), restart your phone, and reinstall the apps. Lastly, try rapidly plugging and unplugging your headphones. You might look like you’ve lost your mind, but it just might do the trick.

>There are third-party companies that claim to create Apple to Android headphone converters. Just make sure to research the product before offering up your money.

Headphones louder on one side

Headphones that are playing louder on one side can be caused by disconnected cables, issues with the in-line volume control, bent or blemished jacks, clogged speakers, or altered audio settings.


>Make sure the headphones are fully plugged in. Another thing you should do is check the end of the jack.

>Any bending or blemishes could be the cause of your finicky headphones. A telltale sign of a wonky jack is when the audio comes in and out when you apply pressure on the jack from different angles. 

>Earwax – relax, we all get it – can block your headphone speakers and muffle the audio when it builds up. Grab a toothpick or a Q-tip to get all that gunk out of there. Blue-tack, a sticky adhesive, also does a good job of removing dirt and earwax from earphones and headphones.

>If your headphones have an in-line volume control, it could be that the potentiometer is faulty and isn’t producing a balanced audio output.

>You might need to adjust the settings on your device if the audio is louder on one side of the headphones, for example, the accessibility settings on Android. On your phone, tablet, or computer, open up the general settings and look for the sound or headphones section.

Apple InstructionsAndroid Instructions
1. Go to settings1. Go to settings
2. Accessibility2. Accessibility
3. Audio/Visual3. Hearing
4. Adjust the audio balance slider4. Adjust the Left/Right sound balance

Check out this video for tips on how to clean your headphones safely and effectively: 

Headphones plugged in but the speakers still play

When a pair of headphones is plugged in and still plays through the speakers, it could be caused by a broken pair of headphones, headphones not enabled or set as the default audio device, outdated drivers, or loose-fitting jacks.


>Plug the headphones into another device to verify they are not defective.

>Go into your device’s settings and set your headphones as the default audio source. 

> When was the last time you updated your drivers? If you’re like me, probably not as often as you should. Check to see if there are any software or driver updates available for your device.

>As always with headphone problems, restart your device and make sure that all cords are completely plugged in.

Sometimes it’s as easy as that. Phew – problem solved!

Headphones quiet all of a sudden

Headphones that suddenly become quiet are usually a result of dust or gunk in the speakers, Bluetooth connectivity issues, moisture muffling the audio, disconnected or faulty cable, thick phone cases preventing secure connections, or using applications with a separate volume bar (such as Spotify).


Use a toothpick or small brush to remove any gunk from the speakers. If you are using over-the-ear headphones, carefully remove the netting to gain access to the speaker.

>Take your headphones and give them a shake to remove any lodged water, and then allow them to dry out. Be mindful not to do any more damage.

>If you are using Bluetooth headphones, go into the settings of your device, ‘forget’ the Bluetooth headphones, and reconnect. 

>Make sure the phone’s case is not preventing the jack from completely plugging in; you want to hear a pop! to ensure a secure connection. 

>Check the volume bar in the application you are using. Often, applications have a separate volume bar from the computer.

>Ensure that the cable does not have any damage or is not disconnected. This may be preventing the audio signal from reaching the speakers, thus causing the headphones to suddenly stop working.

Headphones turning up on their own

The reason your headphones are turning up on their own could be a jammed volume button, incompatible devices, outdated drivers, or problems with the software.


>Take a look at the volume control buttons and try using a cleaning brush or blowing air to dislodge any grime.

>Press firmly onto each button and roll the controls through your fingers. Sometimes all it takes is to manually pop the button back into place. Be careful not to squeeze too hard – we’ve got enough issues as it is. 

>Plug in your headphones to a device made by another manufacturer to test its compatibility. 

>If all else fails, check your connected device for software and driver updates, then restart the device.

There are products that claim to be converters for Apple and Android headphones, but do your research before purchasing one.

Headphones quiet on one side

When your headphones are quiet on one side, it is usually caused by clogged speakers, faulty cable, altered audio settings, bent or blemished jacks, or bulky smartphone cases preventing a proper connection.


>Swap the left and the right headphone to verify it’s a technological issue. It might just be time for an ear cleaning! Check that the headphone speakers don’t need cleaning as well – use a toothpick or a brush. 

>Headphone jacks can be ultra-sensitive, and any marks or bending can cause one side of your headphones to be quieter than the other. Play around with the jack and cord to see if you can find the sweet spot. 

Does removing your phone case fix the issue? Sometimes our headphones take the blame for a phone case issue. 

>Clean out earwax, dust, and other dirt that easily build up in the mesh by pressing in a reusable adhesive such as blue-tack.

>Check that the cable is not damaged on the side that is quiet. Pulling or tangling of the cable on one side may cause the headphones to be quiet on the affected side.

>Go into settings to make sure the audio is balanced to your liking. For Android users, you can follow the instructions from the video below:


Headphones that aren’t working are usually caused by blocked speakers, finicky wires, jammed buttons, outdated drivers, incompatible devices, or problems with the input device’s settings. 

Let’s recap all the tactics to get your headphones working again.

  1. Check the headphones for dirt and wax.
  2. Completely plug the headphones in (remove the phone case).
  3. Update your connected device’s software.
  4. Adjust the audio settings.
  5. Check for exposed wires and bent jacks.
  6. Rapidly connect and disconnect headphones.
  7. Restart the device.
  8. Clean any jammed buttons.
  9. Check compatibility between headphones and connecting devices.

The best defense against headphones that stop working is proper care and storage. Keeping your headphones in a safe and tidy space will save you time and money. 

Lastly, keep tabs on the latest software for your computer to ensure your devices and headphones work as smoothly as possible.

Eustace G.
Eustace G.https://techusersguide.com
Eustace is a technology enthusiast and avid gamer who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts, solve problems, and make informed decisions.


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