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.
Having your listening experience rudely interrupted by a sudden static or buzzing sound is both annoying and concerning.
It’s annoying because no one wants to have their favorite song ruined, and it’s concerning because it could point to a deeper issue with your headphones, audio device, or your listening context.
This article explores the different reasons why you may be hearing static and some quick fixes to address the issue.
There are a few potential reasons why you may be hearing static in your headphones. Before diving into some of the solutions, it’s important to first identify what is causing the static. Try asking yourself these questions before diving in:
Is it an issue with my headphones?
Is it an issue with my audio device?
Is it interference?
The most common cause of static in your headphones is structural damage to the headphones themselves. Normal wear and tear as well as mishandling your headphones can inflict this structural damage so it’s important to stay aware of what is being affected.
The wires in your headphones can get disconnected from one another from extended wear and tear, mishandling, or faulty design. Regardless of the reason, internal wire damage does not bode well for your headphones’ performance.
The weakest point in your headphones is where the wiring and the 3.5mm jack meet. Tugging at the wire to unplug your headphones, improper coiling of the cable or flimsy build quality can all contribute to damaging the internal wiring at that connection point. This damage could be the source of the static sound.
Try rotating the section of cable closest to the 3.5mm jack and see if the static goes away. If it does, your wires could have just been temporarily disconnected. If that doesn’t work, you can manually cut into the cable to reconnect the wires by hand.
Headphone speakers, or headphone drivers, are tiny speakers that create and “drive” sound into your ear canal. The headphone driver is actually the most important part of the headphone because it is responsible for generating and communicating sound.
If you are hearing static in your headphones, the headphone drivers could be the culprit. The reason could be anything from dust in your speaker, water damage, or cheap build design.
Try plugging your headphones into a different audio device. If the static persists and the internal wiring is not the issue, you may need to have your headphone drivers replaced, or move on to a new pair of headphones altogether.
Wireless Bluetooth headphones can be subject to interference from other nearby devices which can cause headphones to disconnect. Interference can also result in buzzing or static noises interrupting your intended audio. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to wireless headphones, but interference is definitely something to keep in mind before purchasing.
Check the user instructions for your wireless headphones and make sure you are within the recommended distance for optimal signal strength. Getting closer to your audio device can prevent static and audio cutting in and out.
Also, make sure there are no objects or structures in between your wireless headphones and audio device causing static or signal disruption.
If your headphones don’t seem to generate static when plugged into your computer, but do generate static when plugged into your phone, for example, the issue could be with that particular device. Some common device issues are:
This issue can arise when the interior section of the device’s auxiliary port is obstructed by moisture or dust. The moisture and/or dust causes the static by only allowing a partial connection through to your headphones.
Try cleaning out the device’s auxiliary port. But be careful not to use anything harder than a wooden toothpick when cleaning out your iPhone’s auxiliary port.
If you are experiencing static issues with your headphones and the problem is not with the headphones or the device’s auxiliary port, the issue could be with the device’s audio settings.
Try adjusting the audio settings in the device in question to see which changes result in more or less static.
If you are hearing static whenever you listen to audio on your iPhone, and your headphones are not the issue as well as the cleanliness of your auxiliary port, there may be a software issue with your iPhone.
Try holding down the power button on your iPhone for a soft reset, slide the power off and then turn on again within about a minute. Also, try quitting all of the apps you have open as well to see if the static persists.
Finally, see if your iPhone needs an update, as there may be a bug in the system that is contributing to the static you are hearing.
If your headphones aren’t the issue but you’re still hearing static when plugged into your Mac, follow these steps and see if they address the issue:
If this doesn’t work, you can also enter your Audio MIDI setup in your utilities folder to make sure that your output device is checked as Built-in Output.
If you suspect that your PC is causing the static in your headphones, try fixing or updating corrupted drivers by following these steps:
The unwanted burden of static or buzzing in your headphones is a common issue unfortunately. While I have listed out a few of the potential causes of this static and some solutions to the problem, the best way to get rid of headphone static is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
As with any product that you are investing in, developing good habits around usage and upkeep of that product are essential to maintaining quality and increasing its lifespan. This is especially true of intricate audio devices such as headphones.
If you can only hear the buzzing sound when gaming, we have an article here on how you can fix that.
While this may come off as a bit of a cheeky answer, I assure you it is not. If you are tired of owning headphones that break after a relatively short period of time, you may be ready to invest in some higher quality listening devices.
There are a lot of factors that go into selecting the right pair of headphones for you, but durability and build quality are two essential factors to consider if you’re trying to avoid headphone static.
If you are an audiophile who prefers an accurate and detailed listening experience without sacrificing build quality, take a look at our guide to the Most Durable Headphones of 2021 to find the right pair of headphones that will stand the test of time.
If you are into the portability of earbuds but are worried that they won’t hold up to your handling, check out our guide to the most durable earbuds.
If you make music, cleaning your musical instruments like your guitar’s fretboard is as important as cleaning your headphones regularly. A major part of preventing static and mildew buildup in your headphones and/or audio devices is cleaning these products regularly.
Try carefully cleaning out the auxiliary ports of your audio devices on a monthly basis. If you are using earbuds, see if the ear tips are detachable so they can be cleaned regularly or even replaced with more durable silicone tips. These habits can increase the overall lifespan of your headphones and decrease the likelihood of static being an issue.
We can all get a bit rough with our things when we are in a rush or not paying attention. This is especially true of our wired headphones, where excessive improper coiling can cause long term damage and make static a new reality.
See if your headphones come with a carrying case or detachable cable so you can store them properly when they are not in use.
When pulling your headphones out of an audio device, always pull from the jack, not the cable, so the most vulnerable part of your headphones is not at risk of damage.
Check the IP-rating of your headphones to see if they can withstand exposure to moisture and treat your headphones accordingly.
There are few things more distracting to your listening experience than random static sounds.
Static or buzzing noises are phenomena all too familiar to audiophiles who get a little too rough with their headphones, have purchased a cheap or flawed pair of headphones, or have issues with their device.
While static noise may come out of nowhere, it does not have to be a reality. By examining the root cause or causes of the static, you can begin to address the issue.
The possible solutions listed in this article are a great place to start troubleshooting and proactively fixing the problem, but never underestimate the value of prevention.
By handling your headphones properly and storing them after use, as well as cleaning your headphones and audio ports regularly, you can give your headphones a great chance of living a long and (hopefully) bug-free life.