How To Fix Earbuds That Work On One Side: Full Guide

Is your left headphone not working? Have you ever experienced a moment where you listen to music or podcast, then suddenly your headphones broke and loses sound from the left headphone? Is it frustrating that you keep buying new headphones every month as a replacement for your damaged headphones?

Well, worry no more, because, in this article, we will teach you some tips and tweaks that you can do to avoid such problems and fix your damaged headphones.

But before we tackle the solutions to this certain problem, we must first know the cause of losing sound from the left headphone.

one earbud not working

1. Damaged audio jack or cable

This is the most common reason for losing sound on the left headphone. A damaged cable or 3.5mm audio jack hinders the sound coming from the source to the drivers of the headphones, due to damage in the connection of the wires inside the cable.

Most of these cables are made with copper wires, and if these wires break, electricity cannot flow through the wires, resulting in loss of sound output to the left headphone, or even both.

2. Grounded audio port

This issue involves the sound source or audio player and not the headphone. When we say that the audio port is grounded, some electric components of the audio player touch the metal components of the audio port, making it grounded.

This problem is very dangerous to your headphones, as it can give permanent damage to either the audio jack or the driver of the headphone.

3. Burned or damaged driver

This issue can be the result of the previous reason we just tackled. Grounded audio ports can burn or damage the sound driver of your headphones, as the port is overly charged by electric components of the audio player, frying the drivers inside the headphones.

Another cause is over amp or listening to high volumes at all times, as this stresses the driver as time goes by. This can also burn the driver as the electricity supplied by the audio player at high volumes is greater compared to listening at 60%-80% volume.

4. Damaged or grounded mic (only applicable to headphones with mics)

A grounded mic on a headphone also affects the driver as it can also burn or oversupply electricity on the driver. Wires connected to the mic are also prone to breaking and damage, so be careful.

Causes of Losing Sound From the Left Headphone
Causes of Losing Sound From the Left Headphone.

How can we avoid these problems?

We always say that prevention is better than cure, so these are the steps you can follow to avoid damaging your headphones.

1. Buy high-quality headphones

There are three types of headphones we can find in the market: normal headphones, Hi-Fi headphones, and studio headphones. Let’s differentiate the three:

Normal Headphones

A headphone on top of a wooden table
A headphone on top of a wooden table.

These are the headphones we generally see in the market. They are mass-produced, branded, pre-tuned headphones designed for everyone. You can buy one at any price range, but the higher quality headphones sit at around $20 to $150.

Be cautious though in buying these headphones, as some famous manufacturers tend to increase the price a bit due to their branding, but provide low-quality sound and components for their headphones.

Hi-Fi Headphones

A Hi-Fi Headphone with a Mouse and Keyboard on a White Background
A Hi-Fi Headphone with a Mouse and Keyboard on a White Background.

Hi-Fi headphones, short for High-Fidelity headphones, are headphones that are also mass-produced but are mostly intended for audiophiles. When we say audiophiles, these are people who take delight in the sound structure of a song, rather than just listening to it casually like normal people.

And because audiophiles tend to search endlessly on the perfect sound signatures for their ears, Hi-Fi headphones are mostly customized and upgraded throughout the time of usage, making them more durable than normal headphones.

Because by customizing and upgrading, you can replace the damaged components without really replacing the whole headphones, an option we cannot make on normal headphones.

The prices of these headphones are almost the same as normal headphones, except that, some of the Hi-Fi headphones provide better quality compared with normal headphones without increasing the price.

Studio Headphones

Microphone and headphones in a music studio
Microphone and headphones in a music studio.

Lastly, this type of headphones is used professionally on sound recording, music production, sound engineering, and sound monitoring. The price range for this type of headphones is usually expensive at $300 and above. Almost all studio headphones are of the best quality when it comes to sound production and durability.

Now, what type of headphones should you choose? We cannot choose Studio headphones since it is not practical unless you’re doing sound production work. The best way to go is to buy Hi-Fi headphones since most of them are not branded, but sounds very well, and is way more durable than normal headphones.

Also, they are customizable and upgradable, so we can change the parts that are damaged, replace them with original parts or upgrades, and it will be good as new or even better than before you first bought it.

Some of them also have this detachable cable feature, in which we can disconnect the cable from the headphones, prolonging the life of both the cable and the headphones.

And lastly, since the most common issue of losing sound from one of the headphones is damage on the cables and audio jack, Hi-Fi headphones address this issue by using braided cables, which are sturdier, durable, and stretchable. You cannot break their wire by pulling, intentionally or unintentionally.

2. Invest in protective cases or headphone bags

Now you have already bought your headphone. The next thing to do is to protect it from dirt, moisture, and accidental drops. You need to have a carrying case. There are two types of carrying cases for headphones: the protective hard case, and headphone bags.

Protective hard cases resemble a briefcase but are thicker depending on how big your headphone is. Most of the time it has a metal or plastic outer shell, and an inner soft foam, which is pre-cut to the shape of your headphones. Some of the cases provide dust, water, and shock resistance to further protect your headphones.

Headphone bags, on the other hand, resembles a satchel or a pouch bag. Made usually with cloth or leather, it protects your headphones from dust and water.

Whatever type of carrying cases you use, it is very important since it prolongs the life of your headphones, and protects it, especially when not in use.

3. Always clean your headphones

This tip is the most basic, yet the most important tip we can share with you on how to avoid damages leading to the malfunction of your headphones. Always make sure that your headphones are clean. Cleaning procedures are often indicated on the user manual of your headphones, so you can check them there and follow the steps carefully as you clean your headphones.

Cleaning headphones with wet wipes
Cleaning headphones with wet wipes. (Image credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer on Flickr CC BY 2.0)

What if your headphone already loses sound on one side or both? What can we do to fix it?

1. Try to identify the problem

The first thing to do is try to locate the cause of the damage. You can go back to the first part of the article for reference to possible causes of malfunctioning headphones. Once you identified the problem, go with the next step.

2. Repair…

2.a. For normal headphones…

The disadvantage of having a normal headphone is that it cannot be upgraded since the manufacturers restrict us from doing so. It is better to take your broken headphones back to their customer service centers to have them replaced or repaired. Still, you can try customizing it, but again it is not advisable.

2.b. For Hi-Fi or Studio headphones…

Since these two headphones are almost similar in build and quality, you can both customize, replace, or upgrade the broken parts of the headphone. There are some cable replacements and audio jacks available online.

So if ever the problem of the headphones, not producing sound from the left ear, is traced to be in the cable or the jack, have it replaced and properly soldered.

You can also mod the cable of the headphones by making them detachable so that you can always replace the cable and jack once the headphone malfunctions, as long as the drivers inside the headphones are still fine.

3. Mod, Upgrades, and Customization

As I said previously just now, you can make detachable cables for your headphones, so that when the wires in the cable break, you can have them replaced easily. You can also rewire the cable if you don’t want it to be replaced.

Again, the most common cause for losing sound from the left headphone is broken cable wire. So, mods and upgrades for the cables and audio jack is a good option to repair and prolong the life of your headphones.

Additional tips on how to fix a headphone that is losing sound on one side.


We can’t avoid the damages that may come to our headphones over time. Everything has its wear and tear. But as technology progresses fast, ways to fix and protect our gadgets such as our headphones sprout everywhere.

We can always prevent the damage by buying high-quality headphones, protecting our headphones by placing them inside a carrying case, maintaining them at good quality, and using them with care.

Once damaged, we can always check the included user manual of the headphones for fixes. We can also have it repaired at their respective customer service centers. Or we can apply fixes by replacing the damaged parts with part upgrades and customizations.

Always protect your headphones by maintaining them in good condition, and repair and upgrade them to prevent losing sound from the left headphone.

Do you have any questions? Please feel free to comment down below and we will answer them gladly. Thank you!

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About Jayden Buckley

Hi, my name is Jayden and I am author/editor for PlayTheTunes. I remember the first time I hopped on the drums, I was hooked. Music has played an enormous part of my life, and I'm honored I get to share my experiences with you!