(Last Updated On: February 3, 2021)

Learn all about the possible problems that can cause your headphones to break and how to fix them.

Having your headphones break on you is probably one of the saddest things that can happen to anyone. Imagine spending hundreds of dollars on a premium headphone, only to have it break after a few months.

Some people would move on and buy a new pair of headphones, but that’s a luxury a lot of us don’t have. You might think repairing your headphones is a viable option, and you’re right! But it’s hard to begin the process especially if you don’t know where to start.

Lucky for you, we made the entire process a lot easier! This in-depth guide will show you some of the more common reasons on why your headphones break. Plus, give you detailed steps and proper solutions to fix them.

Broken headphones (From: Vera Aksionava)
Broken headphones (From: 123rf/Vera Aksionava)

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Are Your Headphones Broken?

The cause of broken headphones can either be physically obvious or not. It’s definitely much easier to spot the problem if you can see it. But issues with your headphones that you can’t see but you can hear can also be fixed as well.

But before that, it’s important that you first confirm where the problem is. You wouldn’t want to try fixing your headphones if they aren’t even broken in the first place, right? There are two ways to check if you have broken headphones and these methods are:

Try different audio sources

Try plugging in your headphones to different audio sources. This is to check if there will be any changes to what you hear. If you notice that the problem doesn’t occur when you switch audio sources, then it’s most likely that the problem lies within the original audio source itself rather than the headphones.

Play better files

In some cases, poor music quality can cause the audio problems you’re experiencing. If you’re listening to a music file labeled as “eMINem – STann.mp3” that you downloaded from Limewire during the early 2000’s, then you shouldn’t expect the best audio quality from it.

Instead, you can try playing some high quality music that you can find on YouTube or Spotify.

Try jazz with some solid bass, classical music, or crazy instrumentals. These usually test all frequencies.

Now, if you’re 100% sure that your headphones are the ones with the issue, then you should check out our list below. It has some of the problems you may be experiencing and the corresponding DIY solutions to fix them.

Always check your headphones’ warranty before proceeding with any DIY repairs. If possible, discuss the issues you’re experiencing with your headphone manufacturer. Then, ask for other solutions such as headphone repair/replacement options.

 

You hear rattling noises and/or distorted sound

This problem is usually associated with damaged/blown out headphone drivers. There are many possible causes for blown out headphone drivers, some of these are:

  • Physical damage: Physical damage to the headphones can cause problems with the sound output. This happens when you drop your headphones, step on them, stuff them inside a backpack filled with heavy books, have your pet chew on them, etc.
  • Playing at max volumes: Loud volumes don’t just put unnecessary stress on your ears and hearing. It also adds pressure to the headphone drivers as well.
  • Too much power from amp: Headphone amps are usually used to bring more power to the headphones. However, using a faulty amp with the wrong settings or supplying more power than what the headphones can handle can blow your drivers out.
  • Dust, hair, or dirt: Like all other electronic devices, you also need to clean your headphones. Your headphone drivers can accumulate dust, hair, or dirt inside. These cause it to produce rattling, buzzing, or scratching sounds.

How to fix blown out headphone drivers

The only way to fix damaged/blown out headphone drivers is to replace them with new ones.

Some headphones may be harder to work with. That means replacing their drivers might need the help of a professional. When in doubt, it’s always best to consult an expert.
  1. Remove any wires and batteries from the headphones (if applicable) in order to minimize the possibility of breaking anything else while working on this DIY solution.
    Removing the wires and batteries from your headphones. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
    Removing the wires and batteries from your headphones. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
  2. Remove the ear pad on one side of the headphones. In most cases, you can usually do this by just using your fingers to pull it out.
    You can use your fingers to remove the ear pad from the headphones. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
    You can use your fingers to remove the ear pad from the headphones. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
  3. Access the blown out headphones driver by removing the screws that hold the speaker in place.
    Unscrew the housing that holds the broken headphone driver. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
    Unscrew the housing that holds the broken headphone driver. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
  4. Pull out the broken speaker by using a tool (such as a small knife or box cutter blade) to cut around the edges in order to release the speaker from the housing.
    Using a small tool, remove the broken headphone driver. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
    Using a small tool, remove the broken headphone driver. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
  5. Use a soldering iron to disconnect the wires from the broken speaker.
    Using the soldering iron to disconnect the wires from the speaker. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
    Using the soldering iron to disconnect the wires from the speaker. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
  6. Replace the broken speaker with the new headphone driver and reconnect the wires to the proper places using the soldering iron.
    Replacing the broken speaker with a new one. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
    Replacing the broken speaker with a new one. (From: Youtube/Techscrew)
  7. Put everything back in place and repeat steps 2 – 7 for the other side of the headphones.

You don’t hear any sound on your Bluetooth headphones

Headphones connected but no sound
Headphones connected but no sound

Sometimes you’d successfully connect your Bluetooth headphones, but hear no sound playing. In this case, there are a few possible causes for this problem:

  • Audio source settings – No matter what type of device you’re using, there are specific audio source settings that can affect the sound quality and volume output of the headphones. If this is the problem, then troubleshooting these settings could be easy.
  • Required updates – An outdated audio driver or mobile phone can cause several issues to its performance.

How to fix bluetooth headphones with no sound

Before proceeding with any more changes or troubleshooting, it’s best to do a quick reset of your Bluetooth headphones first.

Some headphone models may require more elaborate steps to reset. If you have that kind of model, then you should check out our article on how to reset your Bluetooth headphones.
  1. Press the power button of the headphones for a few seconds.
  2. Wait until the LED indicators signal that the device is turned off.
  3. Boot the headphones back up by pressing the power button again.

If resetting your headphones doesn’t fix the problem, try looking at your audio player device. Check out our article that will provide you with the proper troubleshooting steps for doing this.

There’s a delay when you use your Bluetooth headphones

Girl watching movie with headphones (From: Pexels)
Girl watching movie with headphones (From: Pexels)

This audio desync problem is a lot more noticeable when you’re watching movies or videos. Plus, it is more common in wireless headphones due to a thing called audio latency.

Audio latency, in this context, is when there is a delay or off-sync between the sound source and your headphones.

It’s possible that this problem can be caused by:

  • Wrong audio codecs – Audio codecs are pieces of software or algorithms that compresses/encodes your music data in a format for transmission – and for optimum sound quality, it’s best to make use of AptX, AptX HD, or APtX LL codecs. A mismatch or usage of the wrong audio codecs can result in various sound output problems.
  • Bluetooth version mismatch – As an example, if your audio source only supports Bluetooth 4.1 while your headphones are equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, then this may result in a latency problem.

How to fix sound delay in bluetooth headphones

  1. Pick the right audio codec that supports both your headphones and audio player device.
  2. Make sure that the headphones’ Bluetooth audio profile and that of the source are matching.
  3. Try the easy fixes based on the device used found in our article that teaches you how to fix sound delay in Bluetooth headphones.

You hear static in wireless headphones

Hearing static in headphones
Hearing static in headphones

Hearing static when using wireless headphones is one of the more common issues. Most people try to twist the headphone plug to solve this. But this clearly isn’t the best solution out there.

Some of the possible causes for this issue are:

  • Audio settings – This problem usually occurs when your drivers get corrupted, you go through a system update, or make any other unnecessary sound enhancements with the audio settings of your device.
  • Connection issues – Various connection issues can cause you to hear static in your headphones. For wireless headphones, moving too far away from the device or having physical interference between you and your audio device can cause issues. Additionally, dirty aux ports and loose wire connections are prevalent problems for wired headphones.
  • Damaged headphone speakers – Damage to the headphones can cause problems with the audio output. This happens when you mishandle your headphones (dropping it on the floor, stepping on it, accidentally sitting on it, etc.).

How to fix static in wireless headphones

For this, it’s best to check for physical issues first, before doing any settings changes. Here are a few tips to do this:

  1. Clean the headphones and jack.
  2. Go away from interferences like WiFi modems, microwave ovens, and/or fluorescent lighting. And make sure there’s no barrier between the headphones and the device.

If these won’t work, it’s time to go for software settings adjustments on your audio player device. This works for PC and MAC and can get rid of static on your headphones.

Only one side or ear is working

Girl disappointed in headphones while listening (From: FreePik)
Girl disappointed in headphones while listening (From: FreePik)

You connect your headphones to your phone and watch a movie, only to realize that the audio is only coming out from one side. There are a couple of possible causes to this problem and these are:

  • Wrong phone or PC settings – The audio balancing on your PC or phone may not be set properly.
  • Damaged headphone wire – This refers to frayed wires, short circuits, and/or manufacturing faulty wiring.

How to fix headphones that only work in one ear

It’s important that you rule out the possibility that the issue is actually coming from the phone or computer, rather than the headphones themselves. Here are some solutions you can try out:

  • Try using a different pair of headphones with the audio device.
  • Restart your audio player device.
  • Check if the settings are correct.
  • Make sure that the headphone jack is clean and free from any debris.

If the problem is with the headphones, note that there are different fixes for each problem.

Check out our article on how to fix headphones that only work in one ear for further instructions.

Your headphone jack or plug is bent

A bent headphone plug (From AZDIYGuy.com)
A bent headphone plug (From AZDIYGuy.com)

Headphone jacks and plugs are often used interchangeably. However, these are actually two different things. Headphone jacks are the sockets where you insert the headphone plugs to receive audio signals.

A bent headphone jack may cause several issues such as static sounds, low volume, and stereo mode problems. This usually happens when physical damage is applied to the jack or plug while connected.

How to fix a bent headphone plug

  1. Using two thin pliers, use one to hold the tip of the plug and the other for the ring or middle section of the headphone plug.
  2. Gently bend the plug back to its original shape using a firm grip and steady force.
  3. Check the plug against a ruler to see if the plug has straightened. If not, keep applying the same force until you reach the desired result.
Headphone plugs are one of the most fragile and important parts of the headphones. Please note that excessive force or mishandling with this process can actually worsen the problem if not done correctly. When in doubt, seek the help of a professional.

If straightening your headphone plug didn’t work to fix the problem, you should try replacing the plug instead.

Your headphone jack is loose

Close up look on headphone jack (From Commons.Wikimedia.org)
Close up look on headphone jack (From Commons.Wikimedia.org)

A ‘loose’ headphone jack is when the headphones get disconnected from the audio source it’s plugged into with any sort of simple movement. It’s like you have to find the ‘sweet spot’ in order to keep the connection of your headphones. Walking around with your phone or simply moving your wire is probably out of the question.

Here are some of the possible causes of this problem:

  • Dust or debris and corrosion – This is the most common reason as to why headphone jacks tend to get loose. Dirt and debris can easily accumulate inside the headphone jack, which then prevents the headphone plug from being fully plugged in.
  • Size differences – Some headphone models come in different plug sizes. Additionally, there are some cases wherein factory defects as well as the usual wear and tear can cause unnoticeable headphone plug size changes.
  • Phone case getting in the way – In very rare cases, your phone case might be obstructing the headphone jack in a way that prevents the plug from going in fully.

How to fix a loose headphone jack

The steps below will show you how to clean the inside of your headphone jack since dust and debris build-up is the most common reason for this problem.
  1. Flatten out a paperclip and wrap one edge of it with double-sided tape.
  2. Carefully insert the sticky end into the headphone jack while twisting the paperclip in order to get the debris to stick to the tape.
  3. Feel free to keep repeating step 2 with new tape until you see that there is no dust or debris sticking to the tape anymore.
  4. Clean the headphone jack with a Q-tip lightly soaked in alcohol.

If these steps don’t fix the problem, check out our article for more info on how to fix a loose headphone jack.

You hear echo in headphones

Representation of echo in headphones
Representation of echo in headphones

An echo is a delayed repetition of sound that occurs when a sound travels from a source, and bounces back to the same source. This is annoying and embarrassing to deal with, especially if you have frequent calls and the person on the other end of the call can hear an echo throughout the entire conversation.

Below are some of the possible causes for this particular problem:

  • Loud speaker volumes – Your microphone might be absorbing sound from the speaker (either from the headphone speakers or the built-in device speakers). This happens when the volume is loud enough that the mic picks up on the same audio it plays on the speakers.
  • Mic positioning – If you’re using a standalone mic or boom mic, it might be placed in a spot where it absorbs unwanted noise. It’s also important to understand that different mics have different polar patterns (unidirectional, bidirectional, or omnidirectional), and that the best one to go with is unidirectional if possible.
  • Software settings – PC and MAC have pre-installed sound-enhancing or sound-correcting features that can sometimes cause artificial echoes.

How to remove echo in headphones

The steps below will show you how to remove the ‘Listen to this device’ feature on PC. This is one of the more common reasons why people experience echo in their headphones.
  1. Open the Control Panel and click on Sound.
  2. On the Sound window, click on the Recording tab and click on your primary input device (symbolized by a green checkmark).
  3. Once the primary input device is selected, click the Properties button found on the lower right.
  4. On the Microphone Properties window, click on the Listen tab and make sure that the checkbox next to ‘Listen to this device’ is unchecked.

If you want further details on how or why this works and other ways to remove the echo in your headphones, check out our detailed article on how to fix the echo in headphones.

The headphone pads are worn-out and uncomfortable to use

Headphones with deformed pads (From: PublicDomainPictures.net)
Headphones with deformed pads (From: PublicDomainPictures.net)

Worn-out headphone pads can go from a simple inconvenience to an unbearable and uncomfortable nuisance, especially when experienced for long periods of time. For some headphone models, the first problem that most users encounter is the worn-out headphone pads.

You should find the time to replace your headphone pads or when it starts to crack, rot, smell, and distort in shape.

How to replace headphone pads

  1. Prepare your workspace and all the necessary tools you need.
  2. Carefully remove the old headphone cushions.
    The technique required for removing headphone pads may vary depending on the headphone model and/or whether the headphones have removable or non-removable pads.
  3. Install the new replacement headphone cushions.

See our ultimate guide on headphone pad replacement for more detailed instructions.

Your headphones’ headband is broken

Most people think that there’s nothing to do other than buy a new pair of headphones when their headband breaks. In most cases, this is the go-to solution. But there are actually some DIY fixes you can try if you’re just not ready to say goodbye to your current headphones.

How to fix broken headphone band

Fix it with tape

  1. Prepare the materials needed for the repair. You’ll just need some scissors/cutters and some strong tape (duct tape and electrical tape should work).
    Preparing the materials needed for the tape repair. (From: Youtube/Cian Xan Teoh)
    Preparing the materials needed for the tape repair. (From: Youtube/Cian Xan Teoh)
  2. Tightly wrap the broken area of the headphone band with a good amount of tape, then cut the tape using the scissors/cutters once you’ve reached a sufficient length. You could also opt for tape that matches the headphone color in order to make the repair less visible.
    Wrapping tape around the broken headband area of the headphones. (From: Youtube/Cian Xan Teoh)
    Wrapping tape around the broken headband area of the headphones. (From: Youtube/Cian Xan Teoh)

Use cable ties

  1. Prepare the materials needed for this repair. You’ll just need some scissors/cutters and a bunch of zip/cable ties.
    A pack of cable ties and a razor for cutting. (From: Youtube/Lowery02)
    A pack of cable ties and a razor for cutting. (From: Youtube/Lowery02)
  2. Apply a few cable ties to the broken or snapped piece of the headphone headband. Although this might feel like a compromise to the look and feel of the headphones, it still provides a more tough and heavy-duty repair solution than regular tape.
    Using cable ties to secure the broken headphone band. (From: Youtube/Lowery02)
    Using cable ties to secure the broken headphone band. (From: Youtube/Lowery02)

Replace the entire band

  1. Carefully dismantle the entire headphone band and remove it from the rest of the headphones. You can choose to keep the foam piece for added comfort if you like.
    Dismantling the broken headband pieces. (From: Youtube/GaBIT)
    Dismantling the broken headband pieces. (From: Youtube/GaBIT)
  2. Take a piece of 25mm/1-inch Aluminum flat bar then measure it so that the length can fit the dimensions of your head. Additionally, you should also take note the areas of where the hinges will be in order to properly connect the rest of the headphones.
    Make sure to do a lot of measurements so that you get the best fit possible! This DIY headband is a lot less flexible, which means the length should be just right for you to feel comfortable.
    Measuring the length and dimensions on the aluminum flat bar. (From: Youtube/GaBIT)
    Measuring the length and dimensions on the aluminum flat bar. (From: Youtube/GaBIT)
  3. Cut hinges into the headband where you’ll be placing the drivers and foam piece.
    Cutting hinges on the new headband. (From: Youtube/ GaBIT)
    Cutting hinges on the new headband. (From: Youtube/
    GaBIT)
  4. Bend the headband into the shape that is most suitable for your head.
    Bending the aluminum flat bar to fit the shape of your head. (From: Youtube/GaBIT)
    Bending the aluminum flat bar to fit the shape of your head. (From: Youtube/GaBIT)
  5. Assemble the rest of the headphones.
    Assembling the rest of the headphones. (From: Youtube/GaBIT)
    Assembling the rest of the headphones. (From: Youtube/GaBIT)

Conclusion

Not every one of us can easily say goodbye to a good pair of headphones. So knowing how to repair simple issues is a great skill to learn.

With this guide, you should now be able to determine the root cause of your headphones breaking down. As well as the solutions needed to solve this, regardless if the problem is physically obvious or not.

And, if all else fails, this might be the sign to get a new pair of headphones. Don’t worry if you really don’t want to let go of them. We’ve come up with a guide on what to do with broken headphones just for you!

Were you able to find what you need in this guide? Did we miss any other possible cause that can break your headphones? Do you need further help on repairing your headphones? Please feel free to let us know in the comments down below. We’ll be glad to help you out!