One Earbud Louder Than the Other? Here Are 11 Ways to Fix It

Trying to listen to your music when you discover that one earbud is louder than the other can be extremely annoying. You maybe have tried everything, only to ask: Why is one earbud louder than the other? Whether the left earbud is louder than the right earbud, or the right earbud is louder than the left earbud, we can help you fix the issue.

There are several reasons why this may be the case. We’ll walk you through several of the reasons why one of your earbuds might be quieter or louder than the other.

why is one earbud louder than the other

What Causes One Earbud to Be Louder Than the Other?

There are several reasons that your earbuds might not sound the same. If you start hearing that one earbud is louder than the other or one earbud is quieter than the other, then here are some possible reasons.

A Buildup of Dirt and Earwax

One reason for an audio imbalance may be due to the buildup in the earbud of earwax, dirt, or debris. These things can get into the earphone mesh and disrupt the volume flow. This makes one earbud sound louder than the other.

Moisture Buildup

Another common cause of quieter audio in one earbud is moisture. If you’ve been in a humid or rainy area and all of a sudden, your earbud starts being quieter, this is likely the cause. The same can happen if you’ve been working out with your earphones and sweat blocks the sound from getting out.

Connectivity Issues

One problem may be with the connectivity of your device, especially if you are using Bluetooth connections. There may be interference with how the wireless earbuds connect to your audio device.

Broken Wire

Physically connected earbuds and headphones may have sound quality and volume issues if one of the wires is broken or frayed.

Low Battery

If you use battery-powered earbuds, ensure your batteries are fully charged. Sometimes a low battery can cause one earbud to sound louder than the other.

How to Fix the Problem of One Earphone Being Louder Than the Other

It is extremely annoying when you want to sit back, relax and listen to your favorite music, only to discover that one earbud is louder than the other. Who wants to listen to this music where one side sounds fine, and the other sounds tinny and quiet?

Maybe you have tried ensuring the volume is all the way up, but this only worsens the problem, and you are stuck on what to do next. Thankfully, this article will cover a series of steps that you can do to see if the problem is you. your earbuds. or something else entirely.

Check Your Audio Settings for Audio Balance

The first thing you can try if you hear sound louder out of one earbud than the other is to make sure your audio setting, such as Balance, is not set to make one side louder than another.

This setting is designed for people who need to hear their content out of one ear or the other. At times, the setting can be made to play out of one earbud and not both, leaving you with a weak-sounding earbud. Thankfully, there is a quick and easy way to correct this in the settings of your device:

To check this on iPhone, go into the following menus from the Settings app:

  1. General
  2. Accessibility
  3. Audio/visual

From there you should see a sub-menu labeled “Balance” with a slider labeled ‘left’ and ‘right’ and a button in the middle. Make sure that that button is in the middle for a balanced sound between each left and right earbud.

iPhone Audio Balance Setting

To check the sound levels on an Android phone, go into the following menus:

  1. Settings
  2. Device
  3. Accessibility
  4. Under the Hearing header, tap Sound Balance

Here you should find a slider similar to the one detailed above; this will help to make sure that your earbuds are well-balanced.

How to check sound levels in Android devices depending on the OS version.

Cleaning Out Ear Wax From Your Ear

One of the most common problems with one earbud being too loud is earwax. Whether earwax is in your ear or the earbud, this buildup leads to quieter sound and is the most common reason people look for an answer to this question.

Woman holding cotton swab and cleaning ear
Woman holding cotton swab and cleaning ear.

When it comes to listening to your favorite music, the first thing that you need to check is to make sure that the problem is not a result of user error in the form of excessive ear wax building up in your ear canal.

Earwax is made by our bodies to trap dust and dirt from getting into our ear canal and damaging the eardrum. Normally, the earwax falls out on its own. but occasionally, earwax can build up in the ear canal.

An excess of ear wax build-up can cause all sounds to become quiet in one ear.

Expert Tip: To check this issue, first switch earbuds to the opposite ears. This is so that you can check to see if you still experience this problem in the same ear or if it is the same earbud as before. If the problem is in the same ear, you know you have a build-up of earwax in your ear.

For the issue of ear wax being built up in the ear canal, using some type of removal tool should do the trick. There are many types available on the market.

Using Q-tips

Some use Q-tips to get at ear wax that is located at the outer part of the ear and inside the ear canal.

These can be cheap and disposable, or you can find reusable ones. The problem with all of these Q-tip style cleaning methods is that doctors do not like shoving something that large that far into the ear canal.

This can, at best, push the earwax further back, exacerbating the problem even more. At worst, if shoved too far back, then the eardrum could be ruptured, causing hearing loss.

Using a spray nozzle/Syringe bulb

ear wax remover system
Ear wax remover system.

Another kind of removal tool that is popular is a spray nozzle ear wax remover. These systems use water attached to a small tube inserted into the ear canal. The warm water is used to flush out the wax.

We recommend having a friend or partner help with this by balancing a bowl on your shoulder to catch the water as it sprays out. This will keep the water from going everywhere.

The downside is that this procedure can make a person feel dizzy if done with cold water. Furthermore, some may not feel comfortable doing this for the first time without a doctor present.

In any case, to remove an abundance of ear wax. it would be advised to see your doctor before you try and do anything too drastic. This can help to let you know if your problem really is a build-up of earwax or something much more serious.

Other earwax removal tools

There are many other earwax removal tools on the market including:

Cleaning the Earbuds

Another reason that one earbud might be louder than the other is due to a build-up of dirt and earwax inside the mesh of the earbud. You can fix this by cleaning the earbud itself and removing any earwax buildup on the mesh where the speaker is located.

An easy way to clean the earbud is to:

  1. Take a paper towel and lightly spray it with a general-purpose cleaner.
  2. Next, take a Q-tip and use it to absorb the general-purpose cleaner.
  3. Use the Q-tip to wipe the mesh of the earbud gently.
  4. Now take a dry paper towel and Q-tip and dry the components.

This can be a way to resolve the problem of excess earwax on the earbuds.

Ensuring the Earbuds Are Seated Properly in the Ear

Young man wearing black earbuds
Young man wearing black earbuds.

There are many earbuds that some would consider odd to listen to when it comes to sitting them in their ears due to their shape and size. Earbuds that are designed to be like the Apple AirPods or the Samsung Galaxy Buds can be shaped for the ears of different people making each fit subjective, at best

Then there is the “Pro” variant of most earbuds that offer small rubber tips that go into the ear to cancel some noise. These are ideal when you need some amount of noise cancelation but do not or cannot carry around bulky noise-canceling headphones.

All this means that it can be difficult to get the fit just right. You first could have headphones that struggle to fit on their own. Maybe you don’t like the way they hang in the ear or how they sit on it.

This can make them seem annoying to most listeners, then there is the matter of the noise­canceling variations. If you have tips that are too big or too small, this can affect where they sit and can make it seem like the sound is off to the listener.

Therefore, making sure they fit properly is paramount. Especially if this is the first time you are listening to them, or if you are working in an unusual position, then you should make sure that they are installed properly into the ear.

Expert Tip: This means reading any product manuals that come with your earbuds. or looking up demonstrations online on how they are properly inserted into the ear. Making sure that the earbuds fit your ear properly is one way to fix when one earbud is louder than the other.

Fixing Issues With the Audio Cable or Audio Jack

Sometimes issues with volume in one ear or another could be due to a faulty audio cable or audio jack.

Ensure the Cable Is Fully Plugged In

If you use wired headphones, ensure the audio cable is fully plugged into the audio jack. Sometimes a slightly loose cable means sound doesn’t come through one side of the earphones, or it sounds quieter. Giving the audio cable a push into the audio jack will ensure good connection.

Clean Out the Audio Jack

Use a Q-tip to clean out the audio jack if you still have issues. Use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or another safe cleaning liquid to clean out the audio jack quickly.

Check for Broken Cables

Broken or frayed cables could result in sound not coming from one side of the earphones. Make sure that all cables are in working order.

The Earbuds Still Do Not Work. Now What?

So you have made sure that your ears are clean. You cleaned the earbuds with a q tip and a paper towel. You read the manuals and watch videos online to ensure they are seated properly in your ear. Yet you find that one earbud is still louder than the other. Now, what do you do?

This is where we explore the technology of each device and how it affects the volume of the music you hear.

Connectivity Issues

Connectivity Issues

One problem may be with Bluetooth connection issues. Check to make sure that your device is properly connected, and that it registers at a full enough charge to function properly.

Battery Issues

A low battery on Bluetooth headphones can cause issues with volume.

To check the battery levels on iPhone:

  1. First, make sure the earbuds are connected to the phone, then simply click the lock button to have the lock screen come up.
  2. Swipe left.
  3. Next to the visual indicator of the battery life of the phone is the battery life of your earbuds. If it is in the green, you should be good to go.

For Android users:

  1. Make sure that the earbuds are connected in the Settings app.
  2. Click on “Connected devices.”
  3. Then, click the word “Bluetooth” (Not the switch next to it).
  4. You should then see a list of the connected devices and their battery life.

Bluetooth Range

For both Android and iOS, you may want to check the distance from the device that you are listening to. Bluetooth 5.0 has a range about four times greater than 4.2, meaning that the range you use on your device may be causing this problem.

Expert Tip: Another way to test the earbuds is by connecting them to another device. If you find the same problem on another device, then the earbuds will be the most likely problem.

Wire Issues

If you are using earbuds or connected devices with a physical wire and headphone jack, there are a few things you can do. Poor connections due to frayed, broken, or improperly connected wires can lead to audio signal issues which affect audio volumes.

One would be to check the wire itself for any fraying or breakage, as this could cause one earbud to be louder than the other. If the wire is frayed, applying some electrical tape can be a temporary solution, as you should work to get a replacement as soon as you can.

If the wire is broken, then you need to replace it right away since it can be dangerous to use the earbuds with exposed wires while they are trying to use an electrical circuit.

Another thing you can do is to check the connection at the headphone jack itself. Sometimes the connector is not seated properly, and moving it back and forth can help to find the proper connecting point for the earbuds.

If All Else Fails, Do a Factory Reset

If you still can’t figure out why one earbud is quieter than the other, try doing a factory reset. Refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual to figure out how to reset earbuds.

If your device is still under warranty, you can also try reaching out to the manufacturer to get a new device.

How to Tell if One Headphone Is Louder Than the Other

You are listening to your favorite playlist, and suddenly, something feels off. You seem to hear one headphone sounding louder than the other… First of all, we encourage you to test briefly your own hearing – does sound seem in a different volume if you cover one ear and then the other and this can have multiple reasons. Assuming all is well, its time to check the equipment.

How Do You Tell if One Headphone Is Louder Than the Other


  • Switch the sides of the headphone and see if you can hear a significant difference. If they are not wireless, twist the wire slightly in different directions. Sometimes the problem lies in the wiring itself.
  • Place headphones on a leveled surface, start upping the sound volume steadily until you reach max, and check what you hear and the vibrations coming out.

Why Is the Left Ear Quieter Than the Right One?

Designated to different functions, the left and right ears respond differently from their surroundings. The left is more inclined toward music, sounds or the creative side of an individual. The right is more into logic, the rational spectrum of an individual. This is why you feel and hear differently.

Being exposed in fields where you utilize the function of your right ear, you can significantly observe that your left ear is not functioning just like your right one and vice versa. Moreover, factors such as the constant usage of earphones building up of earwax can greatly affect hearing.

Above all, our ears are not created equal thus, it is pretty normal having the left ear quieter than the right.


Regarding earbuds, it can be annoying to hear your favorite music only working about half the time. Thankfully there are a few simple steps to help you make sure that they work well.

Firstly, it is checking to ensure that you can hear properly by ensuring your ear canal is clear. The next step is to ensure your earbuds are clean and properly seated inside your ear.

If all this still does not solve the problem, then your next best bet is to look at the technology you are using by making sure that your earbuds are properly connected to the device. You can also go into the settings menu and find the Balance Sound setting that will help you ensure that your earbuds are properly sourcing your sound.

With these steps in mind, you will be listening to your favorite music through both earbuds in no time.

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About Maggie Holding

Hello! My name is Maggie and I am a proud Editor/Author for PlayTheTunes. Coming From South Carolina, USA, my whole life I've sang and played the guitar and flute! I love music with a passion, and am ecstatic to help others in their own music journey!