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Setting up powerful devices in Windows can be a confusing affair. Drivers can conflict with each other, Windows can misinterpret one strong output type as another, and you may need to jump into sound settings to precisely figure out what’s going on. The moment your headphones are not working on Windows 10 and 11, it is the ideal opportunity to fix some problems. Obviously everything works in a positive way, you should have the option to connect a sound device and make it work, however, assuming that doesn’t happen, this wizard is here to dive in and save you.
Causes of headphone problems
Headphone technical problems are as varied as the number of models available. Sometimes a damaged headphone cable or Bluetooth connectivity problems cause a headphone jack to not work. Noise-canceling headphones, such as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless headphones and Microsoft Surface headphones, sometimes have a difficult time syncing audio and video. It’s often frustrating to turn the noise canceling feature on or off as intended. Still, there are many simple reasons why headphones don’t work, and they cover all types of headphones.
How to fix headphones that don’t work
There are a variety of technical problems that headphones can experience and solutions vary depending on the cause. To find out why your headphones aren’t working, run through this series of checks first, and then try the suggested tips to fix broken headphones.
Turn on the headphones. Many hearing aids and earphones have a built-in battery and will not work if you connect these devices to a headset or audio jack without turning them on.
Turn off the headphones and turn them on again. This classic tech tip works with faulty computers and can also work with non-working headsets.
If your headphones aren’t working the way they’re supposed to, turn them off and on again after plugging in, then see if this solves the problem.
Charge the headphones. Some headphones, especially those with enhanced features like noise cancellation and built-in LED lights, rely on an external power source or a battery. If you haven’t used your headphones in a while, the battery may have run out and you need to recharge it.
Check USB power requirements. Some headphones can be connected to a device via USB. However, if that USB connection is required to power the headphones in addition to receiving audio, its performance can suffer when connected to a disconnected laptop or device with low power.
Check USB compatibility. While some headphones can be connected to an audio source via USB, not all devices are compatible with USB headphones. Most computers should be able to connect to a USB headset, but some game consoles, such as the Xbox One, do not work with a USB headset.
If a device does not support USB headsets, there is little you can do. You may want to swap them out for headphones that use Bluetooth or a traditional audio jack.
Turn on Bluetooth on the headphones. If you are using a set of wireless headphones, you may need to turn on the Bluetooth switch for it to connect to your paired devices.
Turn up the volume. If you can’t hear anything on your headphones, you may have accidentally lowered the volume or muted the headphones.
First, turn up the volume through the headphones’ built-in volume buttons (if they have these buttons). Then check the volume on your paired device.
Successfully pair the Bluetooth headset with the device. New headphones do not send audio to your devices directly. First, you need to pair the headphones with your smartphone, PC, or other source.
Re-pair the headset with your phone or computer. Unpair your headphones, and then pair the headphones with your phone or computer again. Sometimes adding the earbuds back to your device after removing them can fix connectivity issues.
Disconnect unused devices from the headphones.. One way to avoid conflict is to unpair everything you are not wearing. You can usually do this within the associated headphone app, such as the Bose Connect app for Bose headphones and earphones, or follow the steps above on a PC or Mac.
Check the audio output. Even if you’ve connected your headphones correctly, your device could be sending the audio somewhere else, for example to a Bluetooth speaker or Apple TV.
Remove the wired connection. A wired connection can often override a Bluetooth connection. If you charge your headphones with your computer or laptop, that can block audio streaming wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet.
Check for damage by bending the cable. A common cause of headphone problems is a damaged audio cable. To check if the cable is damaged, put on the headphones, play the audio from your preferred source, and gently bend the cable at two-centimeter intervals from one end to the other.
If you hear static briefly or the audio source coming in, then the cable has been damaged at that point and needs to be replaced.
Try a different app. If you’re listening to audio from a specific app but don’t hear any sound, the app may be the problem. Exiting the application and reopening it could also correct any errors you have experienced.
Check the audio connector. The headphone jack on your laptop, tablet or smartphone may be broken. To see if you have a broken audio jack, try various tricks like cleaning the audio jack or using different headphones or earphones.
Check the headphones on another device. If possible, use your headphones with a different audio source to see if they work.
Try other headphones or earphones on the same device while running the same app. As in the previous tip, doing this can identify where the problem is. If you encounter the same problem, the problem may be with the app or device you are connecting to and not the headphones.
Update the firmware of the headphones. Many modern headphones require firmware updates to correct bugs and function properly. You can often download and install these updates over the air using the official smartphone app. Many brands also provide update files on their official website that you can download and transfer using a USB cable.
Update the operating system of the computer or device. Installing the latest operating system update on your device can improve compatibility with a wide range of accessories, including headsets.
Restart the computer, smartphone or tablet. A reboot can fix a number of technical problems, including those associated with a headset malfunction.
Turn off Bluetooth on unused devices. If you have paired your Bluetooth headphones with multiple devices, the headphones may connect to one of these other devices instead of the one you want. To remedy this, turn off Bluetooth on all your other devices until your headphones connect to your preferred one.
Check for driver updates. Updating drivers is a great troubleshooting step when any device has some kind of problem or generates an error.
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