(Last Updated On: July 24, 2020)

Unbalanced headphones have a number of causes, but are also easy enough to fix with a few simple, easy-to-learn tweaks.

Have you ever used your headphones and noticed that one side is louder than the other? You’ve tried adjusting the audio jack, unplugging it or twisting it around with no such luck.

This can be especially frustrating when one side delivers a full spectrum of quality melodies while the other is slightly muted or completely quiet. You might be thinking about ditching your headphones for a new pair, but don’t throw them out just yet.

The good news? Balancing your headphones’ sound is often a simple fix away, regardless of whether you’re using a PC or an Android. Check out this simple guide to learn how to restore balance to your uneven headphones.

What causes headphones to be unbalanced?

Often, the issue lies with one of your audio channels, where the signal is transported from the audio source to the speakers. The signal is split between the left and right channel of the headphones, which usually results in the same amount of sound for both speakers.

However, when there is a deficit in the flow of this signal, this gives the impression that your headphones are unbalanced.

Unbalanced headphones should not be confused with unbalanced audio cables that are part of an audio system being assembled together. These depend on the signal level and signal type to bring the best quality for audio production. Check out our guide to unbalanced vs. balanced audio here.

Most headphones work by using either mono or stereo audio channels. Mono means ‘one’, with the signal being sent using only one channel. Stereo, on the other hand, uses two different channels with respective sounds sent to the left and right channels.

When one channel is over- or under-utilized, sounds are split between the channels and this gives the impression that your music is unbalanced.

Unbalanced audio channels can be due to the following reasons:

  • Unbalanced audio channels can commonly occur from altered equalizer (EQ) settings. When more current is directed to one speaker over another, frequencies are compromised and the effect is a seemingly unbalanced audio experience.
  • Computers have specialized sound effects that are programmed to alter the perception of music coming from the sound card. These are found in the Control Panel and emphasise either a mono or stereo sound effect.
  • Connecting your headphones to the wrong output can cause unbalanced channels and sound. Nowadays, this issue is less common as most commercial audio devices are adaptive and can detect input devices.

If you’re curious as to whether your headphones are in sync with your device’s channels, use this helpful left / right stereo test to check their sound balance.

How to Fix Unbalanced Headphones on a PC

On a PC, you can check how your audio channels are used via the ‘Sound’ section of the Control Panel. A few simple tweaks here can drastically change the way that your headphones produce sound.

Check that your speakers are balanced equally

A difference in the sound of your headphones may be as a result of an incorrect ‘Left’ / ‘Right’ balance. That is, either the left or right headphone is louder than the other. To check and solve this, do the following:

  1. Open the ‘Control Panel’.
    Open the ‘Control Panel’.
    Open the ‘Control Panel’.
  2. Search for ‘Sound’ and select it.
    Search for ‘Sound’ and select it.
    Search for ‘Sound’ and select it.
  3. Right-click on your headphones, select ‘Properties’.
    Right-click on your headphones, select ‘Properties’.
    Right-click on your headphones, select ‘Properties’.
  4. Click on the ‘Levels’ tab.
    Click on the ‘Levels’ tab.
    Click on the ‘Levels’ tab.
  5. Click the ‘Balance’ button to the right of your device.
    Click the ‘Balance’ button to the right of your device.
    Click the ‘Balance’ button to the right of your device.
  6. Restore the balance so that it is equal, or, adjust the balance until your speakers sound the same.

This simple fix is highly effective in altering the left / right balance of most headphones. However, it often goes unchanged because it’s a little difficult to find.

Disable any special sound effects that might be affecting playback

As mentioned earlier, Windows PCs come with unique sound-enhancing features. These features affect headphone playback, so these could be causing your altered sound perception.

To solve this, you can disable all the sound effects to simply restore audio to normal.

  1. Open the ‘Control Panel’.
  2. Search for ‘Sound’ and select it.
  3. Right-click on your headphones, select ‘Properties’.
  4. Click on the ‘Enhancements’ tab.
    Click on the ‘Enhancements’ tab.
    Click on the ‘Enhancements’ tab.
  5. Click the ‘checkbox’ labelled ‘Disable all sound effects’.
    Click the ‘checkbox’ labelled ‘Disable all sound effects’.
    Click the ‘checkbox’ labelled ‘Disable all sound effects’.

Disabling all sound effects removes different playback sounds, enabling mono audio to keep channels equal. This removes a ‘3D’ sound effect, but can quickly restore the balance to your headphone audio by assigning sound to both channels equally.

Check that your headphones aren’t plugged into a ‘mono’ jack

Unbalanced headphones can occur from using the wrong jack. If you only hear from the left headphone speaker, you might be using an audio device with mono output capability or a ‘mono’ jack. To solve this, try the following:

Ensure that the headphones are plugged into a headphone port.

A headphone port will be labeled ‘headphones’, or there will be a headphone icon on the device. This means that your headphones will get stereo sound and will sound the same in both ears.

Make sure not to plug your headphones into an ‘earphone’ jack.

Headphones should be plugged in a headphone jack as plugging it in an earphone jack will only create sound in the left headphone.

If you’re more interested in learning about headphone jacks in detail, check out our great Headphonesty guide on Headphone Jack and Plugs.

How to balance sound in headphones on an Android device

If one earphone is louder than the other in your Android device, your Accessibility settings might be to blame. These are similar to the sound features on Windows devices, assigning audio via mono or stereo channels for enhanced listening.

To check whether these settings have been enabled or not, try the following:

Adjust headphone balance or enable ‘Mono Audio’

  1. Head to ‘Settings’.
    Head to ‘Settings’.
    Head to ‘Settings’.
  2. Select ‘Accessibility’.
    Select ‘Accessibility’.
    Select ‘Accessibility’.
  3. There, you should find a slider to shift speaker balance either left or right.
  4. If this doesn’t work, you can also check the ‘Mono Audio’ feature. This will return sound via both channels equally, removing a stereo effect but enabling equal playback.
    You can also check the ‘Mono Audio’ feature.
    You can also check the ‘Mono Audio’ feature.
Mono Audio cancels stereo output to ensure that the same sound is directed towards both speakers. The result is both speakers will now exactly sound the same.

Changing your accessibility settings on your Android phone can balance the audio of your headphones by adjusting the ‘Left’ / ‘Right’ volume balance or enabling Mono Audio.

Conclusion

By now, you’ve restored the sound to your headphones and are listening to your music, audiobooks or movies with a fully-balanced, out-of-this-world audio experience.

Or, you’ve learned about the intricacies of channel playback and understood how both PCs and Android devices have certain built-in features that alter the way that playback happens. Either way, we hope you’re able to enjoy your balanced headphones without worrying about having to buy a new pair.

Are your headphones now balanced? Did you manage to find the problem that was causing your playback to sound distorted? Were the changes you made minor or major? Please comment down below!