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.
Smartphones and modern headphones have been equipped with multiple intelligent systems to create a more intuitive listening experience. Not so long ago, we had a problem with the phone playing music on its speaker whenever we snatched off the headphone jack; it is quite annoying and sometimes distracting. Shortly after that, smartphones were designed to auto-pause the music whenever we yank off the headphone jack.
These auto-pausing features are no doubt a welcome addition. However, in some situations, they can glitch out automatically pausing music when it shouldn’t have been.
If you’ve already experienced this, you might be wondering why this keeps happening
There are a lot of reasons why your headphones will keep pausing music on their own. In most instances, it’s a hardware issue with the headphone jack or the Bluetooth headphones where the jack is not properly aligned or has dust/debris blocking the headphone jack. There could also be a host of other problems such as software bugs, automation features, etc.
So in the following sections, I’ll cover more related topics such as:
So I hope your headphones have been paused since we need to focus and get down to it.
The first reason we are going to talk about is the headphone control panel. Most users who had the same issue with headphones pausing automatically found out that the reason was a faulty control panel.
In most wired and wireless headphones, the control panel is built-in to the headphone ear cups themselves, and in wired gaming headsets you will mostly find an inline controller within the cable. (Closer to the headset.)
The control panel includes the pause button (along with other playback controls). So if you find that your device automatically pauses during music, try pressing the pause button several times to see if the audio doesn’t cut out; the physical buttons might be stuck.
If the problem persists, there might be damage to the internal components of the controller. In that case, I recommend getting it checked out, or if you anything is blocking, you can try to take it apart and see if there’s anything blocking the buttons.
Also, you can try pressing the volume buttons if you have the same issue with the volume increasing/decreasing automatically.
As I mentioned previously, iOS and Android devices have a feature to auto-pause music or video whenever you disconnect the headphone jack from the phone.
It happens when the soundcard inside your phone detects (or, in this case: stops detecting) the headphone jack. Most often, this happens when the soundcard has a faulty headphone port; hence, it won’t be able to detect the headphone jack or TRS connector properly.
The soundcard looks for a voltage change/line level in the headphone jack, which creates the same problem as the auto-pause feature.
You can diagnose this issue by using different headphones on the same phone/tablet. If the issue keeps popping up, despite using various wired headphones, you will have to clean out the headphone receptacle (port) or get it repaired.
If you are still using an older iPhone with a headphone jack (iPhone 6/iPhone 6s), this video of a headphone jack replacement will be of some use.
The Smart Pause feature is another auto-pause feature found primarily in Android devices, specifically in Samsung galaxy phones and tablets.
In this feature, the android device uses the front selfie camera to detect your face whenever you are watching a video on your phone. It is used to make it easier for users to pause video without having to tap or press a button every time.
Although it is very cool, it is a gimmicky feature; not everybody uses it, and it eats up a lot of battery.
So if you are using an android device, this feature might be enabled by default, and you might be using it without you ever knowing. This feature might be buggy sometimes, so I recommend disabling it. Here’s how:
Apple has a handy gesture mode called “backtap,” in which you can tap the glass back of your iPhone to perform certain functions. This feature is present in the iPhone 8 and newer devices.
Users can customize the backtap function to perform certain functions, such as moving to the home screen and pausing music.
So if you find your iPhone automatically pausing music whenever it’s in your hand, it might be registering as a backtap. So make sure to check this feature, disable it, and see if the audio plays on continuously.
Let’s face it: sometimes, the operating systems for smartphones (including both iOS and Android, but mostly Android) can cause issues with your device.
Although it is rare in some situations, a new update might interfere with the soundcard or a third-party app that is managing audio (such as Spotify, Netflix, or YouTube). It will also keep pausing your music or video automatically.
The most viable solution is to be patient and wait for a fix or patch update. Usually, if it’s a very common problem, and occurs in most devices, they will fix it asap. Otherwise, you might have to report the bugs yourself.
If you can’t wait for a fix from Google or Apple, you can uninstall updates and revert to an older version. However, it’s not recommended since it voids your warranty. Also, you might have to plug in your com,puter, download firmware files manually, backup applications manager and do a whole lot of waiting.
This is very common in the Spotify app. I’ve had this happen to me several times while I was streaming music through mobile data or using my Galaxy watch to play music. The Spotify app can be a little sluggish at times, and in most cases, it’s due to connection problems.
So if these keep happening while you are watching a video online or listening to music, you can go to settings and try to reconnect to your Wi-Fi connection. After that, wait a few seconds and resume your audio/video.
Also, you might have been running on mobile data this whole time, so don’t forget to check that up.
If you screencast videos and audio to other devices (such as TVs, speakers, and headphones), the settings for the switch might get saved in your applications (such as Spotify remembering which device was previously used to playback music).
Therefore, when you open up the app or have these secondary devices switched on and within range, your smartphone or PC might try to communicate with those devices and transfer playback permission to these devices, resulting in audio (or video) pausing automatically.
So try switching out or disconnecting these secondary devices before playing music. In my experience, I’ve found Spotify trying to connect to my smartwatch, TWS earbuds, smartphone, and PC at the same time can cause this issue.
If you’ve been using your wired headphones for quite a while, you might have already faced this problem before. The headphone TRS jack (despite being built out of metal) can have a loose connection or “get bent” very easily. This goes double for the headphone port/receptacle in your phone/tablet.
Unfortunately, if you’ve always been an avid “wired headphones” user, you could be facing issues where the headphone jack won’t get fully inserted into the port or won’t stay on tightly after you’ve plugged it in. Also, you might have issues where the stereo system (left and right channels) and the microphone are not working properly.
If this is you, I recommend checking which components are faulty. It could be either the headphone jack on your headphones or the soundcard module that includes the headphone port in your phone/tablet.
Apart from automatically pausing music, if your headphones give out crackling or popping noises, it’s probably due to a damaged headphone jack on your headphones. Therefore, you will have to change this worn-out jack either by yourself or through a repair shop. However, it’s not easy since you have to solder very fine (thin and narrow, not good-looking) connections.
Here’s a video explaining all the details of replacing a headphone jack with headphones.
If you’ve tried plugging in good headphones with a perfect jack, and still the issue keeps popping up, it could be due to a worn-out receptacle in your smartphone. In which case, you will have to replace that module by yourself or with the help of a repair shop.
Apart from wearing out, the headphone port on your phone might get clogged up with dust, dirt, or lint. As a result, the headphone jack might not go inside all the way, and it might also trigger the pause signal by shorting out the connections in the TRS jack.
So if you suspect a dirty headphone port in your device, I recommend cleaning it out. For starters, you can use a can of compressed air to blow into the headphone jack and dislodge any dust or debris stuck inside. Don’t use hair dryers or vacuum cleaners to blow out/suck in the dirt.
Other than that, you can use a cotton swab (with most of the cotton removed) to catch dirt, clean it out using some rubbing alcohol, and dry it out.
If you aren’t using AirPods with your iPhones or other Bluetooth headphones with a dedicated app, figuring out how much battery life is remaining on your wireless audio device can be difficult.
Most third-party headphones will keep disconnecting to warn you about the battery. Also, the audio cue on some Bluetooth headphones and TWS earbuds is not that noticeable. So don’t forget to cover all your bases and check for the battery charge on your devices.
Also, if you have music cutting in and out, constant static, and auto-pausing, then your wireless headphones or headset might be having connection problems with your input device.
Most often, this is because of too much distance between the headphones and the Bluetooth transmitting device (smartphone or tablet).
However, if you keep having connection issues even close together, it could be some kind of interference or hardware damage in the Bluetooth modules. (Of either device.)
To find out which device is the culprit, try forgetting the headphones from your smartphone/input device and try pairing them again. If that doesn’t seem to solve the problem, check again using a different set of Bluetooth headphones/smartphone to pinpoint exactly if it’s the headphones or the smartphone at fault. (After which, you can get it repaired.)
Also, one of the most common problems (and in some cases, the most overlooked) reasons why headphones automatically pause music can be dust/liquid damage on the internals of the headphones and earbuds.
Most devices do not have an official IP rating. Therefore, it is very easy to get dust or dirt inside them, and before you know it, the control panel of your earbuds is drenched in sweat and shorting out the circuits inside.
Apart from water damage, earbuds can also get dust from the speaker grilles, especially when you have a lot of earwax buildup inside your ears.
So if you find out that either Earbud catches the dirt or gather ear wax, you might have to clean them regularly and take regular breaks while listening to music.
Having your music or wireless headphones audio cut out while you’re in the zone exercising (or stacking up kills) can be annoying. And, when headphones automatically pause music, it can be difficult to pinpoint the actual cause of the reason.
Thankfully, if you follow this list (and consider all the possibilities I’ve outlined above) you might be able to figure out what’s causing your music to pause automatically without disassembling your headphones or smartphone. Now if you want to know if your alarm will go off with headphones in, you can check it out here.