Headphones Crackling & Popping – What is it and How to Fix it?
by Sam-SoundGear. Last Updated On July 7th, 2022.
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If you have experienced a crackling, popping or static noise coming from your headphones (which is maybe connected to your android phone), we feel your pain. Such frustrating audio quality problems can make a certain pair of headphones, earbuds or in-ear monitors, essentially, unlistenable. There are a variety of issues that cause headphone crackling sound, and I will address some of these here.
So, sit back and relax because you are in the right place.
Now, various headphone-cracking problems can be solved easily. It is important to identify the cause and fix it before more damage is done. If you’re hearing static in your headphones, we have a guide specifically for that.
First before trying out any of these solutions, turn down the volume of your device or PC. Either if the problem stops the issue might be your headphone cannot handle the volume, or if using an amplifier, the amplifier might not have enough power to drive the headphone. You can also try removing the headphone from your device or disconnecting and reconnecting (For wireless headphones) your headphones. If the problem is still there, below are some other possible causes:
Loose or Broken Wires
Auxiliary (AUX) Port Problems
Update your Audio or Sound Card Drivers (For PC)
Spoilt Headphone driver
Loose or Broken Wires
Loose wires are one of the common issues that end up causing crackling in headphones or audio cut out.
A rubber or plastic material that protects the wires inside covers headphone cables. Because they can easily be bent, this makes it easy for the wires to loosen or break after if you are not careful with them. The possible points where a headphone cable might loosen or break are the point where the wires connect with the jack, where they connect with the earbuds or at the points of the inline controls. This jack can either be a 3.5mm or a 1/4″ jack, if you want to know their difference, read about it here.
If the problem is not advanced, you can try and use electrical tape for a quick fix. In other cases, the problem might be severe and beyond repair.
If your headphone cable is in good condition, then you can try other solutions below. Always store your headphones safely to avoid this problem.
Poor EQ Settings
Customizing your EQ settings to your preferences might also cause your headphone to start crackling. If you experience popping or crackling sounds mainly when the music is loud (bass or treble), then your settings might be high for your media player to handle. For a start, you can try lowering the volume and listening if the issue is still there.
If the problem persists then your EQ settings are just fine and you are not listening to your headphones at a high volume.
The following video will show an example of an EQ (SoundSource) causing audio redlining and how to fix it by lowering the software volume and upping the volume on your amplifier.
Auxiliary Port Problems
Also known as a headphone jack, this is one of the common causes of crackling in headphones. To know if an AUX is a problem, try to plug your headphones into different AUX ports. You can also try it in different devices to make sure your device is not the problem.
While you are at it, also make sure the headphone is plugged in fully to avoid a poor connection that might cause crackling.
If the AUX port is the problem, then you can start by cleaning the port using cotton wool and alcohol. First, prepare the cotton wool the size of the of AUX port. Apply a very little amount of rubbing alcohol on the wool and insert it in the port to remove any dust or any material residue inside.
Update your Audio or Sound Card Drivers (PC)
If you are using your headphone with your PC, then the problem might be fixed by updating your sound drivers to the newer versions. To get new sound drivers, you can download them from your PC or soundcard manufacturer.
To make sure your drivers are up-to-date you can schedule an automatic driver update on your PC. This will save you the time you take to update the drivers manually.
Spoilt Headphone Driver
This is the worst case that could cause a crackling or popping sound from your headphone. A spoilt headphone driver could be as a result of various things. It could be physical damage, listening to the headphones at high volumes, poor wiring, or long-term wear.
The chances of having a spoilt headphone driver are minimal except in the case of physical damage e.g., stepping on the headphone. But, if your case is a spoilt driver, then it might be good to think of replacement options. If you are still under a warranty period, you might be entitled to a free replacement.
A hard truth is that headphones which start to crack and pop may be doomed.
If you decide there’s nothing left to do but admit that your headphones have a physical problem that can’t be solved, you should first look up the manufacturer’s warranty. Its completely possible that your headphones fall within the period of time in which the manufacturer will replace or fix your headphones free of charge.
If all else fails, you’ll likely be in the market for a new pair of headphones or earbuds. I know – this is a pretty major kick in the gut. We have a full article on the most durable headphones and another one for durable earbuds but here are a few quick replacement recommendations for super high-quality headphones at a great price.
There are a variety of reasons your headphones might be making a crackling sound (bad wires, bad connection port, bad EQ settings, broken driver). Some are fixable, some aren’t (or aren’t worth the hassle). If you find yourself needing to replace your headphones, check out our list of the best budget audiophile headphones.