The Ultimate Guide To Fixing Your Own Headphones

Headphones break, it’s a sad fact of life whether they’re wired headphones or wireless, sooner or later, you pop in the headphone plug and no sound comes out or terrible sound comes out.

The good news is that you can often find out where the problem lies in a pair of ordinary headphones and with a little effort, it can be fixed without needing a new pair of headphones.

So, let’s take a look at how you can identify what’s wrong with your headphones and how you put it right.


Make Sure The Headphones Are Really Broken First (inc. Investigating The Headphone Jack)

Before you reach for the electrical tape and start rattling the headphone jack in frustration it’s time to check that your headphones are actually broken.

To do this:

  • Try more than one audio source, it’s possible that it’s not your headphones at fault but the device that you’re using them with. if they work fine with the new device? This issue is not your headphones and no repair is needed.
  • Increase the quality of the audio files you’re playing – the lower the bit rate, the worse that your headphones will sound, you can upgrade wire, cables, solder, screw, replace, etc. but it won’t change a terrible sound from a 20-year-old MP3.

And then, if the problem is the headphones before you attempt a repair from our in-depth guide, we strongly suggest that you check your warranty and see if you can simply return them for a repair.


What To Do About Broken Headphones with Distortion/Rattling Noises?

OK, if your headphones are making rattling noises or the sound is super distorted – the odds are good that you’ve blown your headphone driver(s).

You can do this by dropping the headphones, playing at maximum volume all the time, plugging into an amp with too much power or getting dust/hair/dirt trapped in the headphone pads.

If you want to fix headphones with blown drivers then you must replace them – this is sometimes easier said than done, if you feel the job is too hard – go to a service center for your headphone brand and get them to take a look.

The process:

  1. Remove any wires from your headphones and make sure you have no batteries connected.
  2. Then carefully remove an ear pad from the side (use your fingers to pull it off)
  3. Remove each screw that keeps the speaker in place
  4. Remove the speaker (use a knife), you simply cut around the broken speaker
  5. Now, get a soldering iron and remove the two ground wires
  6. Replace the driver with a new headphone driver for your headphones
  7. Reconnect the wires, put the speaker back in place, put the ear pad back and test

How To Fix Bluetooth Headphones With No Sound And Other Issues

You may find the issue is simply down to the audio source settings or a failure to update the audio source drivers. So, check these before trying to deal with any issues with the headphones.

Next, it’s time to reset the Bluetooth drivers, use this process to do this:

  • Hold the power button on your headphones for 10 seconds to reset them
  • Turn off the connected device
  • Turn the device back on
  • Then reboot the headphones

If you’re having latency issues with your headphones, this will express as a delay in the sound, you may need to update the audio codecs on your device or check to see if your version of Bluetooth is the same as that on the device and amend them accordingly.

Other issues with a Bluetooth headphone will probably involve a trip to an authorized dealer to see if they can connect or repair the device.


How To Fix Static In Wireless Headphones

Static in wireless headphones is super common and it’s usually easy to fix – the main reasons for these problems are:

  • Problems with the audio settings – your headphone drivers may be corrupted, you can reinstall these drivers easily
  • Problems with connection with the audio source – if you’re too far away from the device, the sound doesn’t travel as well as it would through wires or there may be a loose ground wire in the headphone itself, bare wires, in particular, can cause static

The best thing to do about this is clean the wireless headphones and the audio jack on the device and then check that there are no sources of interference around such microwaves, modems, etc.

You can also check your software settings on the audio player itself.


How To Fix Headphones With Only One Ear Working (No Soldering Iron Required)

Just before you try to repair this problem – check your phone or computer and make sure that the audio is set up correctly, you may accidentally have shifted the balance control.

If not, the odds are good that you might need to repair any frayed wires, get a new jack plug or unbend a bent jack plug.

You can unbend a bent jack plug easily using a pair of pliers, just be gentle and firm, don’t make sudden movements and if that fails, just replace the jack plug completely (use a wire stripper to make this easy).

If the headphone jack is loose, you might find that you need to clean out the audio jack it’s plugged into (use a q-tip soaked in alcohol).


How To Deal With Echo, Broken Pads or Headphone Band

There are three potential causes of echo in headphones:

  1. The volumes on speakers are too loud (turn them down)
  2. The mic is too close to a source which causes feedback (move the mic)
  3. The software on your computer is introducing echo (check the settings, on a PC make sure “Listen to this Device” is not active in control panel)

If your headphone pads are worn out or uncomfortable then you just need to replace them.

This really is as simple as following the manufacturer’s instructions to remove the old ones and put new ones on. Check their website for details or get instructions when you buy the new pads.

If you have a broken headphone band, the easiest way to fix a headphone band is to use tape, just tightly wrap it in duct tape until it’s solid again.

If you need to attach your headphone cable because a broken or snapped piece came away, you can use cable ties to secure it.

You could also buy a new headphone band and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to replace it – this can be a bit fiddly, so be patient while you do it.


Final Thoughts On Fixing Your Own Headphones

You don’t need to throw broken headphones away. The first thing you should always do is see if you can fix them yourself.

Sure, not every pair of broken headphones is salvageable but that shouldn’t stop you from at least running through our guide and seeing what you can do to prevent them from ending up in landfills.

They estimate that over 53 million tons of e-waste is generated each year, and only 17% of it is ever recycled. So, try not to add to that problem if you don’t have to and save money in the process!

If you’ve found this article valuable you may also appreciate our guide on how long headphones should last, our guide to recycling headphones, and our list of the best studio headphones out there.

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