One Side Not Working On JBL Headphones? (Check These 4 Things)

JBL makes a lot of great headphone models with a number of attractive qualities.

Sound playing in only one ear, however, is not one of those attractive qualities, but it is a commonly reported problem by many users of JBL headphones.

So that’s why, in this article, we’re going to give you some potential fixes to this exact problem.


Fix #1: Check For Water Damage

There are a startling number of ways you could have accidentally exposed your JBL headphones to water, or it could have occurred even before you purchased them.

To try and determine if this is the case, you should listen for a telltale “crackling” sound in your headphones while playing some sample audio.

Crackling sounds can indicate a number of different problems, but water damage is the most common culprit for this sound.

  • If you suspect your headphones may have sustained water damage, unplug/disconnect them immediately.
  • You should then set them aside in a manner that will facilitate drying.
    1. One method for this is to wrap them in clean, dry, lint-free fabric.
    2. The other is to place them in a container with a lid and fill the container with dry white rice, then secure the lid on top.
  • Whichever way you go, they should then be left alone for a good while; the longer the better. We recommend at least 24 hours, but make it 48 or more if you want to be extra sure.

It’s also worth noting that if you suspect water damage, but are certain that you are not responsible, you might want to contact the customer service department from wherever you purchased them.

This is because, if the damage occurred before your purchase, you should be entitled to a refund or replacement.

Otherwise, just leave your headphones alone in their drying environment for a good long while; with any luck, they might work just fine when you take them back out.

Please also read our article about the durability of JB headphones.

Fix #2: Try Different Headphones

If you’re having issues, it might be time to play “musical chairs” with your devices.

For this section, you’re going to need an extra set of headphones (earbuds or whatever you have lying around will be fine, as long as you know they work). You’ll also need an extra media-playing device.

If you’re trying to use your headphones on your computer, grab your phone or vice versa; it doesn’t really matter what extra device you grab as long as it can play media with headphones.

Going forward, we’ll refer to the JBL headphones you’re troubleshooting as “Headset 1” and the extra pair as “Headset 2.”

We’ll also refer to the device you’re trying to use the headphones with as “Device 1” and the extra device as “Device 2.”

  1. Connect headset 2 to device 2 and listen to something; this is just to make sure that the extra devices both work.
  2. If there’s something wrong with either of them, do not proceed with further tests, as you need extra devices you know are functional, or the tests won’t yield useful data.
  3. Now, assuming everything is in order, unplug or disconnect headset 1 from device 1.
  4. Next, plug in/connect headset 2 to device 1 and play something as a test. Record the results as “Headset 2 functional/non-functional with device 1.”
  5. Plug in/connect headset 1 to device 2 and play something as a test. Record the results as “Headset 1 functional/non-functional with device 2.”
  6. Now for the results: the aim here is to determine which is at fault, the headphones or the device.
    • If headset 2 worked fine with device 1, then the problem is with your JBL headphones (headset 1).
    • However, if headset 2 had the same problem when used with device 1, but headset 1 worked fine with device 2, then the problem is actually with your media device, not your headphones.

If you’ve determined that the issue is with your media device, proceed to fix #3, which looks for a solution in the device’s settings.

However, if you’ve determined that the issue is true with your headphones, you need to conduct a further assessment for damage.

Fix #3: Check the Settings

You might be surprised just how many supposed headphone failures actually turn out to be a quirk of your device settings that merely needed some adjustment.

To figure out if that’s true for you, you’re going to need to dig into your device’s settings.

What you’re looking for, in particular, is the “audio balance” setting, which most devices have.

However, while the functionality of this setting is the same for basically any device, the menu pathways you must navigate to find it are not.

For that reason, we’re going to go over the steps to reach this setting below, for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android operating systems.

So find the subsection below for your device in question, and then skip to the end of this section for what to actually do once you’ve found the setting.

Windows OS

  • Click on the windows icon in your taskbar, then click on the ‘Settings’ gear icon.
  • Click on ‘Sound’ in the list that appears.
  • A list of sound settings will appear; find the ‘Advanced’ section.
  • Under ‘Advanced,’ click ‘More Sound Settings’
  • A new window called ‘Sound’ should appear; click on the ‘Playback’ tab in this window.
  • Double-click on your audio output device; in this case, the JBL headphones you’re troubleshooting.
  • Yet another sub-window should appear; in it, click the ‘Levels’ tab.
  • Under this tab, click the ‘Balance’ button.
  • You are now at the desired setting; proceed to the end of this section.


  • Click on the Apple icon in the top-left corner.
  • Select ‘System Preferences’ in the drop-down menu that appears.
  • A window will open up with many icons; find the speaker icon labeled ‘Sound’ and click on it.
  • This will open a new window; click on the ‘Output’ tab.
  • You should see a list of audio devices; find your JBL headphones and click on the entry for them.
  • Once you’ve done so, among the options that will appear underneath this menu should be a balance slider; that’s what you’re after.
  • You are now at the desired setting; proceed to the end of this section.

Android OS

  • Open the ‘Settings’ app.
  • Tap on ‘Accessibility’ in the list that appears.
  • Find the ‘Audio Adjustment’ option under the ‘Audio’ section and tap on it.
  • You are now at the desired setting; proceed to the end of this section.


  • Open the ‘Settings’ app.
  • Tap on ‘Accessibility’
  • Find an option for ‘Audio/Visual’ and tap on it.
  • Find the ‘Balance’ slider.
  • You are now at the desired setting; proceed to the end of this section.

Okay, if you followed the instructions for your device, you should now be looking at a balance slider; this part works more or less the same for any device.

All you need to do now is make sure that the balance slider is set to output equal sound for both the left and right ear.

If one side is set to play significantly louder than the other, or if the other is muted altogether, this could, in fact, be the source of your problem.

Fix #4: Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again?

It’s the most basic tip in the troubleshooting book.

  1. Start by turning off your headphones, if they’re powered.
  2. Then, unplug them; if they’re wireless, disconnect them.
  3. Wait 10 seconds, then turn them back on and replug/reconnect them.

If that didn’t work, there’s still one more thing you need to try turning off and on again: the device you’re using them on.

  1. So shut down your computer, smartphone, or whatever device you’re using the headphones with.
  2. Wait 10 seconds, then boot it back up.

In general, you should reboot your devices fairly regularly. Turning the device off and on again refreshes the operating system and often fixes a multitude of glitches on the device.

If none of the fixes in this article have worked for you, we recommend you take your headphones to your nearest tech store, as there may be an internal fault that a technician needs to look at. 


Headphones Only Work in One Ear: Common Causes and Easy Fixes

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