Why is One Earbud Louder Than The Other?

Norvan Martin
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If you have ever used your earbuds and noticed that one side is louder than the other, you know how frustrating it can be. Maybe you try restarting the device, adjusting the audio jack, unplugging it, or twisting it around, but nothing works.

So, have you ever asked why one of your earbuds is louder than the other? If you encounter this dilemma while listening to audio or music using your earbuds, remember many things can cause this problem, but you can fix it without much effort.

One earbud louder than the other may be due to several issues such as one earbud incorrectly inserted, a dirty earbud, audio signal issues, an earbud filled with moisture, device settings issues, and audio mixing issues.

Let’s get into more detail about these issues. 

1. Earbud Improperly Inserted

Issue: For an earbud to provide a balanced sound, you need to insert the jack all the way in. When you’re trying to multitask or are in a rush, the jack can go in halfway without you knowing.Earbud Improperly Inserted

It happens. If you try listening to your favorite music after this, you are likely to encounter this issue.

The delicate nature of earbud jacks is another essential thing to consider. The slightest scratch or bend can interfere with the connection, causing one side to be louder than the other. In this case, you may find it very hard to properly insert the jack no matter what you do.

Fix – Insert The Earbud Properly

Choose a stereo source specifically designed to play stereo outputs. Besides, be sure you are using stereo earbuds. Mono earbuds can’t help here.

If you are using stereo earbuds and the problem persists, consider whether the devices are entirely plugged into the socket.

Many people get poor-quality audio due to this, but it is the easiest to fix. Once the device is plugged in all the way, you can expect the best quality.

2. Dirty Earbud or Earbud Jack

Issue: Dirt fragments are another common enemy of balanced earbud sounds. If you have plugged the device correctly and can’t see any visible damage, it might be messy.

Dirty Earbud or Earbud Jack

Even fingerprints can deposit some dirt on the metal tip, causing improper connection.

However, there are other significant ways the device can get dirty. For example, earbuds are in close contact with your ear. So, ear wax and dirt along the outer ear can fill the speaker grid.

Fix: Ensure Earbuds are Clean and Dry

Another reason your earbuds can be imbalanced is if it is full of dirt and wax. Use cotton buds or a cotton tip applicator to clean it properly.

Also, use a small amount of alcohol to avoid damaging the electric circuit. 

You can also take this time to inspect the earbuds for any damages. Keep in mind that the way you clean your earbuds should also depend on whether you are using foam or silicone earbuds

If your earbuds are not water-resistant and you suspect that they are wet, give them a shake. Dry them as soon as possible using a soft, dry cloth. Finally, clean the speaker bug using a cotton tip applicator. You can place it in rice for a while to absorb the excess moisture. 

3. Audio Signal Issues

Issue: It could be that your earbud is in the best working condition, but it is losing the audio signal for other reasons.

If you have a long audio cable, you need to think about whether it’s the cause. This is the principle behind this: the longer your cable, the further the audio signals have to travel.

Remember, signals experience some degree of resistance as they travel through cables. The signals experience higher resistance in a longer cable, resulting in weaker audio in one or all the earbuds. Moreover, the signal can experience interference as well. 

You can also experience the same problem whenever you’re playing your videos or music from a portable device with a line remote.

As long as the line remote remains connected to the music player, you are highly prone to getting poor sound quality due to connection interference.

Wireless audio devices are at a higher risk of experiencing several connectivity issues arising from external interference. When your wireless earbuds disconnect from your audio source through Bluetooth, one ear can become louder than the other.

The same can happen when you pair your devices in a place where other compatible devices competing for the same bandwidth exist.

Fix: Eliminate audio signal Issues

 If your cable is exceptionally long, replace it with a short one. This will reduce the signal resistance.

At the same time, if you’re utilizing a portable player that features a line remote, plug the earbuds directly into the player. It would be best if you also disconnected the line remotely.

If your earbuds are wireless, disconnect other devices that might be competing with them for bandwidth.

4. Moisture on Earbuds

This is one of the reasons your earbuds must always remain dry. If your earbuds get wet, you may damage their electrical circuit. Some people who use their earbuds while working out, jogging, or exercising experience this type of damage most frequently.

This doesn’t mean you can use earbuds when engaging in these activities. If you choose water-resistant earbuds, you are good to go. They have appropriate IP ratings like IP6 and IP7.

For other earbuds, you need to be extra cautious. In case you suspect the device is moist, act first to protect the electrical circuit. 

5. Audio File Issues

Issue: There are different types of audio files, for example, MP3 and MP4. If you are trying to listen to a file that has been recorded or transcoded, you may have a bad experience due to the low quality. In this case, the volume can never balance or increase despite your best efforts.

Fix: Choose a Suitable Audio File

Troubleshoot to find out whether you are experiencing mixing issues. To do this, use a different device to play the file.

If the problem persists, you are likely listening to music at 8D. On the other hand, the problem might be with your audio source or the device if that solves the problem.

6. Switching Device Outputs

Audio devices have stereo and mono outputs. As the name suggests, mono is designed to use a single channel to produce sound. On the other hand, stereo uses at least two.

Let’s say you want to hear different sounds from your right and left speakers and don’t know what to do. You can avoid the dilemma by playing a stereo source and using stereo earbuds. Of course, this only works if you have these devices.

If you have a mono device, you will only hear the audio from the left or right earbud.

7. Device Setting Issues

Issue: Earbuds can also be louder in one ear than the other due to inappropriate smartphone or computer settings. 

Sometimes, the media player’s settings can cause this common problem. 

Fix: Balance the Device’s Settings

Before you start fixing an imbalanced earbud issue:

  1. Test the audio.
  2. Be sure the volumes are level.
  3. If this doesn’t solve the issue, check whether the problem is originating from the earbud settings.

Troubleshoot by connecting the earbuds to another smartphone or computer. If you are on an iPhone, you can access Settings by navigating to the General tab, Accessibility, and Hearing. Check the channel balance in the middle.

On an Android smartphone, check the settings by navigating to Home and then to Headphone Settings. 

You can access the same feature from the Google Assistant app by clicking More, Settings, and then Headphones.

iphone audio settings

Let’s look at the quick fixes for iOS and Android users:

iOS Users

  1. Tap Settings
  2. General
  3. Accessibility
  4. Scroll down to the hearing section
  5. Ensure the balance for the left and right buds is in the middle

Android Users

  1. Go to headphone settings
  2. Adjust the volume

You can also access this on a Mac or PC. Go to the audio settings. If you have a third-party sound card, bypass it by disconnecting the connection and connecting it to the motherboard sound card.

8. Audio Mixing Issues

Audio mixing issues can complicate things for you if you’re listening to the wrong type of file. Professional DJs, music producers, and sound engineers want to hear all the details in their audio.

In some cases, one side of their earbuds is louder and suitable for producing beats. The quieter one is best at producing the vocals.

As an audiophile, you don’t need all these. So, if your earbuds are not balanced, you need to consider whether you are listening to audio at 8D.

9. Earbud Defects

If everything else is okay, your earbud must be experiencing some defects. Check if there are signs of factory defects. In some cases, you might not notice any visible issues.

So, you might need to seek an expert’s help to determine whether your earbud defects are the cause of the problem.

10. Ear Problems

Issue: Hearing issues can also cause one earbud to sound louder than the other. Sometimes, you can troubleshoot to find out whether this is the case. If you want to know whether you have hearing problems conclusively see your ear specialist.

You should take this seriously if you believe your sound system, including the earbud, is in good working order.

Fix: Protect Your Ears’ Health

Are you sure you are using the right files and the sound system has no defects? You might be having hearing issues. One of the ways to check your ears is to switch to a different pair of earbuds. If the imbalance continues, go to an Otolaryngologist or an ENT specialist to check your ears.

If your ears have earwax, the expert can professionally clean them using special tools. They can also address any other issue and prescribe the right medical solutions.

Other Fixes 

Buy Products Covered With Longer Warranty

If your earbud comes with factory settings, check the store or manufacturer’s warranty. If it qualifies for a return, go back to the store for a better one. 

If you are unsure about the product’s warranty, contact the retailer or the manufacturer.

As we have said, when one of your earbuds is louder than another, you can troubleshoot successfully and fix it. You have nothing to worry about.

Don’t think about throwing away the earbuds yet. Instead, follow these tips to fix it:


If one of your earbuds is louder than the other, troubleshoot to find out the cause. You can do that by connecting it to another media device or replacing the device or cables. Once you find the problem, you can use the above methods to fix it at your convenience.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin