Why do my headphones sound muffled? How to fix?
Here's an article to answer your question "Why do my headphones sound muffled?" and some tips on how you can fix it.
Let me know if this sounds familiar: you’ve got the entire day to yourself and decide to spend it playing video games. You put on your most comfortable gaming headset, boot up your computer and get to “work”. Hours pass by, and when you are finally taking off your heavy headphones, you notice a slight dent at the top of your head.
Fortunately, there is no need to worry. Wearing tight headphones does not dent your head (or your skull). It’s just a temporary case of bad headphone hair
That said, a permanent dent in your head is cause for concern. So if this headphone dent has been there for quite some time now, or if you are feeling any aches or pains, there could be an underlying medical condition.
So, here’s what we’re going to delve deeper into on this subject:
So keep calm and don’t get rid of those tight headphones just yet; we may have some solutions.
As I’ve mentioned before, you might feel (or see) a slight dent in your head whenever you are wearing headphones for quite a long time (Typically for an extended period of three or four hours).
The main reason for this is because of the headband that rests directly on the top of your head. The weight of these bulky headphones presses down on your hair while the earcups press in around the sides of your head.
That dent in your head caused by wearing headphones is only temporary, and it will go away once you take off the headphones. Similar to people who are wearing glasses for long periods. (Speaking of which, here are some tips on how to wear headphones with glasses comfortably.)
However, if the headphones dent doesn’t go away after a couple of hours (or if you’ve noticed having a clear dent even before you’ve used headphones), it could be an actual dent in your heat. Therefore, you might need to seek immediate medical attention.
If you feel like the headphones are clamped on too tightly, or if you have headaches (or other pains) on the top of your head (on top of having an actual dent in your head), you might be suffering from an unknown medical condition.
Here are some well-known medical conditions that can occur or be the reason for the dent in your head.
Congenital skull indentation (Also referred to as Craniosynostosis) develops in newborns while developing in the mother’s womb. Newborns have fibrous joints called sutures that move the bones in the skull to make room for brain growth.
During complications during the birthing process, these joints (or sutures) close off prematurely and turn into bone; hence, the brain grows in another direction and produces dents in the sides or top of the head.
Paget’s disease of the bone is a condition that hinders the body’s normal recycling process of replacing old bone tissue. It is another underlying condition where the growth process occurs prematurely, resulting in bone tissues that are weak and deformed.
Paget’s disease usually occurs in the spine, legs, pelvis, and skull. It is more common among older people 50 or more years of age, and the available treatments include Bisphosphonates (drugs used to improve bone density) or surgery (as a last resort).
Gorham’s Disease (Also known as Gorham vanishing bone disease or phantom bone disease) is a rare skeletal condition that occurs in the body. Its direct cause is unknown, but like many other conditions mentioned here, it directly affects the bones and can produce dents in the skull. (Along with deformities in the collarbone, jaw, and pelvis.)
Gorham’s disease results in bone loss (and sometimes unusual growth of blood vessels), and symptoms include pain, swelling, and deformation; hence, it is another condition that could cause a dented look in the skull.
Bone destructive cancer is another cause that can create a dent in your head, even though it’s not an underlying condition.
Bone cancer is a rare form of cancer, and it usually doesn’t affect the skull area, but when it does, it can eat up bone mass, causing deformities and skull irregularities.
Physical trauma that could cause a severe blow to the top of your head (such as falling down a flight of stairs or getting in a car accident) can also cause multiple skull depressions. Severe head injuries, specifically due to blunt force trauma, can cause fractures in the skull, resulting in bone pointing inwards (towards the brain) This can be lethal, especially if the fractures bone could puncture the brain.
All things considered, these medical conditions are not something that’s going to go away with time. Hopefully, that slight impression (or dent) you feel on your head after wearing headphones isn’t a symptom of any of the above conditions.
With that said, if you happen to feel any sharp pain at the top of your head or if the impression doesn’t go away after a few hours, I highly recommend seeking medical attention.
There are several methods by which you can make sure that wearing headphones will not cause a dent or become too uncomfortable; here’s how.
Even though most modern headphones already come with enough padding on the underside of the headband, you can always improve the fit with some extra padding.
There are optional accessories you can buy to improve the padding, these usually have softer cushions with a wider surface area (so the headband rests comfortably without digging too deep into your head).
You can make DIY headband cushions or purchase pre-built ones. (Such as these headband covers by TXesign)
This method might not be ideal, but some people have made it work, especially those who get bad headphone hair when the headphone band rests atop their head.
When wearing them at the back of the head/neck the headphone band doesn’t dig into the top of your head any more; hence it will be more comfortable.
However, one reason that I’ve never been able to make it work (at the back of my head) is because of the lack of stability. I’ve found out that the headphones start putting all the weight on my ears (which is even more uncomfortable) or they fall out because of the swivel mechanism.
Fortunately, this method is more stable with tight headphones so results may vary depending on the model and the shape and size of your head.
Wearing a comfortable cap or beanie underneath your headphones can also help take some of the pressure off. These can add distance between your head and the headphone band and keep things comfy yet tight.
However, there are some issues with wearing a beanie or cap. For starters, they might cover your ears and muffle the sound from the drivers. Apart from that, it might get hot, and you might have difficulty trying to scratch your head.
With a new pair of Bluetooth headphones, you know it is not love at first sight. You need to break them in for a week or so until your ears get used to them and the headband adjusts organically. (Gamers with large heads know what I’m talking about.)
However, if you want to speed up this process, you can decrease the clamping force intentionally by keeping the headband stretched for an entire day or two. You can do this by clamping the headphones on an object that’s slightly wider than your head. (Most people use a handful of books to get a perfect size)
Also, if you have a smaller head and ears (that usually fit most earbuds), you can do this the other way around and increase the clamping force by squeezing them in and making sure the headband doesn’t stretch out. Usually, by tightening them with rope.
Usually, I don’t recommend these methods because the headphones adjust naturally over time, and interfering with the natural process could affect the relationship you have with your headphones.
If you notice a small dent in your hair (possibly caused by the headband resting on your head), you can easily get rid of the dent. Just apply hair styling products (such as hair gel) or a little bit of water (ideally using a water spray bottle) to loosen up the strands and get rid of the smushed-up look.
Even if you are someone who wears headphones for hours on end, there is no way that your ears are going to change shape or deform in any way just by wearing headphones. So as long as you wear headphones with the ear pads comfortably sitting on either side of your head, you will be fine.
Apart from creating a dent in your head, the other issue many headphone users worry about is hair loss. Simply put, headphones won’t cause hair loss as long you don’t pull your hair back too tightly while wearing them. (For more information, check out our article about headphones and hair loss.)
Well, you can never be sure until you try them on. However, there are ways in which you can spot a pair of comfortable headsets/headphones that minimize headset dent when you are shopping online. First off, I recommend checking for any extra padding on the underside of the headband, apart from that, if the earcups have a decent swivel mechanism, the earcups can rotate (and even lie flat), and have thick padding on the earcups, large enough to cover the ears (for over-ear headphones) you are good to go.
Also, if you want more tips, check out our ultimate headphone buying guide.
As a final thought, I can safely conclude that headphones cannot really dent your head. Most of the time, what you are seeing is hair that’s been pressed down during prolonged use of headphones. It is not a serious problem and it will go away after a few hours.
That being said, if you feel any pain or notice a more permanent dent, I highly suggest getting it checked out.