AirPods Only Playing in One Ear – How To Fix
AirPods have quickly become one of the most popular headphones in the world thanks to their reliable, simple, and convenient design. However, just like any other headphones out there, AirPods can have some issues.
One common issue AirPods users report having is that their audio is only playing in one ear. This can, of course, be very annoying — especially when you consider the cost of these wireless headphones.
Hearing audio in just one ear is possibly worse than not hearing it at all. It sounds silly, but if you’ve experienced it you know what we’re talking about. It can be very disorienting, especially if you are into video games.
Fortunately, though, there are steps you can take to help resolve this issue and return your AirPods to working order. This article is here to help you fix your AirPods only playing in one ear.
Let’s get started.
How to Fix AirPods Only Playing in One Ear
There are many reasons why your AirPods might play in just one of your ears, and, depending on the cause of the issue, the solution will be different.
It can be caused by software issues, Bluetooth connection issues, or even a battery problem. In any case, we’ll take a look at a few of the most common causes and how you can fix them.
The solutions lie ahead, so follow them closely.
Check if Your AirPods Are Charged
The first thing you should check is if your AirPods are charged properly. One of them might be low on battery which might cause it to shut off.
To check if your AirPods are charged, simply place them into the charging case, open the case’s lid, and hold it near your iPhone or iPad. This will show you the battery percentage for your AirPods. Alternatively, you can go to the Bluetooth settings for your AirPods on any Apple device and check the battery there.
If this is your issue, the fix is incredibly simple and can be done immediately. Simply place the AirPods in their case and charge them with the Lightning cable.
Once they are charged, try playing something with them and see if that fixed the issue. If the problem persists and you only have sound in one ear, try the next solution.
Clean Your AirPods
In some cases, the issue may simply be that your AirPods aren’t clean. Make sure both AirPods are cleaned thoroughly. It sounds silly, but if they are full of ear wax, they won’t work. Either the volume will be lower or they will completely stop working.
Use a cotton bud, q-tip, a moist cleaning wipe, or gently clean it with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Scrub until they are shining like new again. Don’t use water because you might damage or ruin them. If you must use a liquid to clean your Airpods use a minimal amount of alcohol because this is quick-drying. Just be careful not to use too much otherwise, you risk damaging major internal components.
Lastly, you should clean the charging case too! Using a Q-tip, clean the charging case where the malfunctioning AirPod makes its connection. If the AirPod isn’t getting a good charge there won’t be any sound coming from it. Clean the port and charge it for a bit.
Now, put them back on and test them. Is there sound in both of your ears? If not, move on to the next solution.
Reconnect Your AirPods
Often, AirPod issues are the result of a poor Bluetooth connection. As a result, the solution might simply be to reconnect your AirPods to your smartphone.
This one might have occurred to you already, but it’s still worth a shot. Disconnecting your AirPods and connecting them again is one of those simple solutions (like turning something off and on again) that works most of the time. Here is how you can do it on your iPhone:
- Open Settings on your iPhone.
- Select Bluetooth.
- Tap on the “i” button near your AirPods.
- Click on Disconnect and confirm in the pop-up.
Reconnect the AirPods to your phone once more by going back to the Bluetooth settings and tapping your Airpods. Are they both working now? If not, there are other solutions.
Turn Bluetooth off
Bluetooth issues on your device might be causing the AirPods to misbehave. You can disable Bluetooth from the Bluetooth settings. Though there is an option to disconnect Bluetooth devices in the Control Center, this won’t actually disable Bluetooth.
Once you’ve turned Bluetooth off completely, wait for a minute or so and then turn Bluetooth back on. Once again, check if both of your AirPods are working. Move on to the next step if not.
Lookup Your Stereo Balance
Within your smartphone, there is a setting for stereo balance. Stereo balance is the distribution of sound between each of your headphones. The left and right headphones need to be balanced to work, otherwise, you run into issues – like possibly having one headphone that stops working.
Here’s how to check it on the iPhone:
- Open the Settings on your phone.
- Move to the Accessibility tab.
- Scroll down to Audio/Visual and tap it.
- Look at the letters L and R. Move the slider straight in the middle, which will give you a perfect 50-50 balance.
- Turn off the Mono Audio option if it’s enabled.
Here is how to check the stereo balance on Mac:
- Open System Preferences.
- Choose Sound and click on Output.
- Choose your AirPods on this menu.
- Put the slider exactly in the center between left and right if it isn’t already.
If this doesn’t solve your issue, then it’s time to try one last step.
Check Your Device
Maybe your device is to blame, and not the AirPods. To see if this is the case, connect to another pair of Bluetooth headphones and see if you encounter the same problem. If you do, then the fault lies in your device, not the AirPods.
In this scenario, you’ll need to reset the settings of your device. Here’s how to do it on your iPhone:
- Go to Settings.
- Select the General tab.
- Scroll down to Reset
- Select Reset All Settings.
Your device will be reset to default settings, but don’t worry, your data won’t be lost. Connect to your AirPods again and see if they both work. If not, then it’s time to seek out the professionals.
Update Your OS
If you’ve ever read one of our many articles you’ve likely seen this recommendations before. That’s because many of our technical woes are caused by outdated software. This is also true for the Bluetooth connectivity function that your Airpods rely on to work properly.
Although software issues typically affect both Airpods, it’s worth trying an update. Here’s how to update your apple device:
Update Software on iOS
- Open Settings on your iPhone and tap on General.
- Tap on Software Update.
- If one is available tap Download and Install.
Update Software on a Mac
- Tap on the Apple icon in the upper left-hand corner of your Mac.
- Tap Software Update.
- Follow the steps to update macOS.
When the updates have successfully completed connect your Airpods to check if this has resolved your issue.
Contact Apple Support
The final resort is to contact Apple directly. Go to their official website, and look at the AirPods section. Find the Audio Quality tab and look for solutions there. From there, you can call them or contact them online.
If none of the other options worked for you, Apple will, hopefully, be able to walk you through your issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some more answers to your questions about Airpods.
What do I do if one of my AirPods is missing?
If only one of the tiny buds is missing you can attempt to use Find My iPhone to locate it. For this to work you’ll need to be within range of the AirPod and have had it connected to your iPhone. Tap on your AirPods in Find My iPhone and tap ‘Play Sound.’ It will be really quiet so you’ll need to listen closely.
If your AirPod is a lost cause; you can purchase a replacement AirPod from Apple.
Will my AirPods work with only one AirPod?
Yes. If you’ve lost one, or one simply isn’t working, you can still use the ear buds. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to pair them to a new device without both pods in the case.
But, if you’re already paired, you should be fine with only one AirPod for a while.
How do I know if my Airpods are still covered under warranty?
To check your Airpods warranty coverage visit this Apple website. You will need the serial number that is located on each Airpod, but it is incredibly small and difficult to see. A simpler option to finding your Airpods’ serial number is by going to the Bluetooth settings on a connected device (make sure that your Airpods are in your ear and connected).
Tap on the ‘i’ icon to the right of your Airpods’ name to expose the serial number. Go back to the website we’ve linked above and input your serial number.
AirPods have become incredibly popular thanks to their ease of use, reliability, and simplicity. While AirPods are generally a great product, they can have problems just like any other pair of headphones. Issues such as audio playing in only one ear are very common and very frustrating.
Hopefully, one of the solutions provided in this article worked for you. Having experienced this issue before, we know how unnerving it can be. Tell us what you think about this issue and the solutions. Were they helpful? We are looking forward to reading your comments!
If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out some of our other great pieces, such as How to Automatically Switch Your AirPods Between Devices.