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How to fix the most annoying Bluetooth headphone problems

Major flagships The headphone jack was eliminated by smartphones in 2022 and Bluetooth headphones remain popular. Even though it’s nice that there’s no cord to catch on the doorknob when I’m leaving the house, Bluetooth has its own share of quirks. These are the top issues that you might encounter. how to These should be fixed.

The first step is to narrow down the problem

Before you start pressing buttons and tweaking settings, see whether you can find the source of the problem: It could be your earbuds, sure, but it could also be your phone or even the app you’re using to play music. Pair your headphones with another device and see whether they work better—I find my Android phone can be a bit finicky, so I’ll often test headphones on my wife’s iPhone to see whether something on my phone is the culprit.

Another option is to try wired headphones or connect your Bluetooth headphones with a cable if the headphones support it. If you still have a pair, consider buying another pair. You might be able to pinpoint the root cause of your problem and then focus your efforts on fixing it.

If the Headphones Won’t Pair

If you can’t get your headphones to connect to your phone at all, don’t despair—in my experience, this is usually the easiest to fix (provided the headphones aren’t dead entirely).

  • The manual is available.. When you use headphones for the first time, many go into pairing mode. As a result, most users can easily pair headphones the first time, says Win Cramer, CEO of JLab Audio (makers of WIRED’s favorite budget wirefree buds)—but the second time leaves them scratching their head. So if your headphones aren’t appearing with a new device, you may need to hunt down that manual for instructions on putting them in pairing mode. Most brands require you to hold down the power button for a few seconds, but some earbuds—especially those with touch controls instead of buttons—have their own method.
  • Other devices should be disconnected. If you’ve already connected these headphones to a device—like an iPad—they may not connect to your phone. Some headphones can connect to multiple devices at once, while others can’t. “Turn off the Bluetooth settings of the originally paired device,” says Cramer. “That disconnection will then automatically force the headphones back into pairing mode.”
  • Other headphones should be disconnected. In a similar vein, make sure your phone hasn’t connected to your spouse’s earbuds across the room—if you’ve ever used them before, they’ll automatically connect when turned on and within range. You might even clear out old Bluetooth devices from your phone’s memory—from the Bluetooth settings on iOS, tap the “i” next to a given device and tap This is the end of this device. On AndroidClick the button. Configurations Choose a device paired with a cog and place it next to the other. Unpair (or Do not forget, as it’s labeled on some phones).
  • The battery can be recharged. If your headphones’ battery is low, it may have trouble pairing—and I’ve even found some Bluetooth headphones stay turned on when in the case, meaning they’ll drain down to 0 percent faster than you expect. Even if the headphones say that they are full, try plugging them into a charger and fully charging them before pairing.
  • Verify that the devices you are using are compatible. Bluetooth technology is constantly evolving. Most devices use Bluetooth 5.0 or newer, and while a Bluetooth 5.0–capable phone should be able to connect to most devices you own, certain modern Bluetooth headphones may not connect to very old phones, tablets, or laptops. Check the supported Bluetooth versions on both devices and ensure they’re compatible with each other.

With any luck you will be able start the music in no time.

If your Audio Stutters or Distorts

If you’re able to pair your headphones but something doesn’t sound quite right—maybe the music sounds lower-quality than it should or it cuts in and out—it could be a problem with your wireless connection.

  • Check your source. Before you jump to troubleshooting Bluetooth, make sure that static isn’t inherent in the source of your music—maybe you’re listening to a low-bitrate MP3 from your Napster days, or maybe your streaming service has defaulted to a very low-quality setting. Check another pair of headphones—which you should have already done earlier!—and see whether it’s really Bluetooth’s fault. Cramer also suggests that you check your Wi-Fi signal and cell signal. If your internet connection can’t keep up with Spotify, it’ll cut in and out through no fault of your headphones.
  • Replace the headphones. As with all troubleshooting, the “turn it off and turn it on again” mantra should be your first line of defense. Before you continue, unpair your headphones and turn off the phone.
  • Place the headphones near your device. If you’re listening to music on an iPad that’s sitting across the room, you might be too far away—or have too many obstructions in its path. “While most Bluetooth headphones can be apart by 33 feet to 100 feet, it must be noted that this is in plain sight and without a bunch of other Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signals also crowding the airwaves,” explains Cramer. To test if the Bluetooth headphones are working, get closer and away from any signal-generating electronic.
  • Properly pair individual buds. If you have “true wireless” or “wirefree” earbuds, many let you listen on just one earbud at a time—but you need to do it a certain way. If you pair both earbuds and just pop one in your pocket, you’ll cause a bad connection between the two, and you may experience stuttering. You can refer to the manual for the correct procedure when listening with a single earbud.
  • Other devices should be disconnected. I’ve found, on some phones, that Bluetooth audio will distort if my phone is connected to other Bluetooth devices at the same time, like a smartwatch or other set of headphones that isn’t active. To test if the problem disappears, disconnect other devices and turn them off.
  • You should update the firmware. I know, I know, you hear this all the time—“Maybe you just need a software update!”—but it’s really worth a shot. Downloading the official app, and then updating my firmware solved the audio problem with my Bose SoundSport Wireless a few years back. Check to see if your headphones have a companion app.
  • All audio processing should be turned off. If you have a companion app, disable any extra functions. You should turn off any noise cancelling, equalizers, or other processing that could lead to distortions. If you have your own processing on your phone (like Samsung’s Adapt Sound features), turn those off too.
  • Set your Bluetooth audio codec. In the Bluetooth settings for your device, tap the “i” or the Configurations You can check the options by placing a cog near your headphones. HD Audio, or similar codecs may be available on some headphones. You can toggle the switch to adjust whether audio quality is improved.
  • Delegate handsfree Windows mode. Similarly, if you’re trying to connect to a PC, your headphones may have two entries in Windows’ sound settings—one for stereo music, one for phone calls. To select the right-hand speaker, click the icon. Select your audio source from the option. You can also disable this behavior completely by visiting Control Panel > Hardware Sound > Geräte und PrintersClick the right-click button to activate your headphones. Property. The Services Tab, Uncheck Voice and Hands-Free Telephone.)

One Earbud Will Do the Music:

The rise in true wireless earbuds or wire-free headphones has created a new trend: While you can pair them properly, only one earbud hears the music.

  • Make sure to reconnect the earbuds.. With true wireless headphones, the first pair will connect to your phone. The earbuds then will link to each other. “Reboot your earbuds by putting them into the case, closing the door (if one exists), and waiting 10 seconds before trying again,” says Cramer. “By powering down and back on your earbuds, it gives them the opportunity to “find” each other once again and reclaim the parent-child relationship between the left and right earbuds.”
  • Repair the earbuds. As I mentioned above, true wireless models often have specific pairing methods for single-bud listening, and it’s possible you accidentally paired the secondary bud on its own. Re-paint the earbuds and try again. Some earbuds may have a fail-safe hard reset mode if you still can’t get them paired, Cramer says, so check the manual to see what it recommends in this scenario.

With any luck, you’ll be able to get your Bluetooth headphones working again using one of these troubleshooting tips. If all else fails, though, look through your headphones’ manual and see whether there’s a way to reset them entirely—or, barring that, you can reset your device’s Bluetooth settings from scratch.

For iOS, go to Configurations > Allgemein > Reset > Reset Network SettingsYou can also delete all saved Bluetooth or Wi-Fi device data by pressing the “Delete” button. To AndroidGo to Configurations and search for “Apps” or “Apps & Notifications,” tap Show all To see all of your apps in one place, tap on the triangle at the bottom. Show system appS. Scroll down Bluetooth to tap StorageClear its cache and data. These are slightly more nuclear options that’ll require you to re-pair all your devices, but if nothing else works, they’re worth a shot. Otherwise, the problem may lie with your phone or earbuds, fixable only by the manufacturer—or by buying a phone with a damn headphone jack.

Reece Rogers also contributed to reporting.

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