How To Easily Fix A Pair Of Headphones When The Audio Is Only Coming Out Of One Side – DIY Wire Repair

How do you fix headphones with sound in only one ear? The most common fault on a pair of audio headphones is sound only coming from one ear or side. If you have an expensive pair of earphones, replacing them by buying new ones is not always the best option. For headphones or earbuds that cost $50 dollars and above, most people will choose to fix it themselves.

For many high end headphones, there is probably a warranty that may still be covering them from defects. Before you attempt to cut any wires or disassemble the headphones, contact the manufacturer first… there are links to many headphone companies at the bottom of this page.

fix headphones 05

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There can be many reasons that a pair of headphones only play audio out of one ear. The most common reason for sound to only come out of one side is the wires near the audio jack have gotten bent back and forth so many times that it has caused a short in the wiring. To fix your headphones correctly, you will need a few tools and materials available at your local Radio Shack or similar type of electronic store. With the correct tools and materials, you can fix that pair of broken headphones yourself.

Have an issue with Pairing Wireless Bluetooth Headphones? Read here for How To Reset Bluetooth Headphones.

Headphones Quick Easy Fix: Many times if you twist or bend the wire on the headphones, the sound will work for a very short time. This is a good hint as to where the wire has shorted out. For a super easy quick fix, just apply electrical tape to the wire where it was working when you bent it. Keep bending the wire and when you isolate the shorted part of the wire, add the electrical tape in this area while keeping the wire bent. This will hold the shorted wires together creating a temporary fix to get sound to come out of both ears. Then when you are ready to fix it permanently, read the step by step tutorial below.

Things needed to fix a pair of headphones yourself when sound is only coming out of one ear piece:
1 – Pair of wire strippers
1 – Pair of wire cutters
1 – Roll of masking tape
1 – Roll of electrical tape
1 – Small sheet of fine grit sandpaper (optional)
1 – Solder gun repair kit (optional)
1 – Piece of shrink tubing (optional)

NOTE: The below headphone repair tutorial is to be done at your own risk. Follow the below step by step DIY procedure only as a last resort. This fix and repair procedure will work with headphones, earbuds, earphones, and any other type of audio headset.


Step 1: The first thing to do to fix your headphones yourself is to plug them into an audio source.

Step 2: While audio is playing and you have the headphones on, move your hand up and down the wire and bend it every 1/2 inch to try and isolate where the wires have shorted out.

Step 3: Once you hear sound in BOTH ears, you have found where the wire is not properly connected or has shorted (most commonly it will be right next to the headphone jack).

Step 4: Isolate this area by putting masking tape to the left and right of where the short has been found leaving an inch or so in between the tape.

Step 5: Take the wire cutters and carefully cut the shorted area of the wire out by cutting an inch or so on EACH side of the shorted area of the wire (since you found the faulted spot on the wire where it has shorted out, you are now removing that part of the wire completely by cutting and removing a half inch or so on EACH side of where you found the faulted wire).

Step 6: With a pair of wire strippers, strip back the wire shielding on both sides to expose the wires (there should be 3 different wires, one red, one black or white, and one copper but yours may vary).

Step 7: Once the wire shielding is stripped back, you will then strip the exposed wires to reconnect them.

Step 8: Strip back each wire using the wire strippers. If the wire is super small you may need to use sandpaper to expose the wiring underneath (these are the color wires under the wire covering, the red, black or white, and copper wire, the copper (ground) wire will be straight up copper and has no wire covering so you do not need to strip it).

repair earbud wire

Step 9: Once the wires are stripped and exposed (add the shrink tubing at this step if you are using it) reconnect the wires together (red to red, black to black, etc) using your method of choice. You can splice them together using any splicing method or use a solder gun.

in line wire splice

Step 10: Test the headphones to make sure you are now getting sound from each side.

Step 11: Once everything is working properly, use shrink tubing or electrical tape and wrap it over the repaired area of the wire to further protect it.
Congratulations, you have fixed your headphones yourself!

If you have a high end pair of headphones costing over $50 dollars, there is a good chance your broken headphones are still under warranty. Check online for more info as many headphone makers offer a lifetime warranty on select audio products.

Links to the most popular headphone manufacturers: Beats, Bose, Klipsch, Master & Dynamic, Monster, Philips, Sennheiser, Skullcandy, and Sony.

The wiring on your headphones is fine but the plastic headset has broken? If your headphones plastic headset piece that sits on top of your head has broken or cracked, you can fix this by using a simple 5 minute epoxy glue or Sugru self setting rubber to mend the plastic. There are video tutorials here for this procedure in full.

Do you have an easier way to fix audio issues on a pair of headphones? Please leave a comment below.

ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant
Allen is a Home Maintenance/Appliance tech and the author/creator of this website. He has 30 years of experience troubleshooting and repairing all types of machinery. Contact here

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