I have a laptop with Windows 7 and I have headphones for a couple of months, and only recently they started to play only the music, while the voices are there, but just very faint. I tried to connect them to another computer (PC, windows XP) and they worked fine, which made me think the problem isn't with the headphones but with the laptop.

I've searched online and found a few solutions, none of the seemed to work. Such as: plugging in and out my jack until you can hear better, checking the headphones on other computers.

Other relevant info:

  • The headphones come with a mic
  • if I right click the sound icon -> sound devices. Then I dont see any 'headphones', not even if I tell it to show disabled devices. All I see is a 'speakers' icon, yet it's there even if the headphones are disconnected, and is always active.

So if anyone has any idea I'd appreciate it :) Thanks!

  • Sounds like the jack has a problem and is only giving you one of the two (left hand or right hand) channels. You said you tried the headphones with another device. What happened? Did you try with a device that has stereo output?
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 13, 2013 at 19:00
  • I tried them on my PC and they worked fine Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 6:41
  • 1
    Have you tried different headphones with your laptop? Make sure the balance is set to center, what you describe sounds like one of the two stereo channels being lost, this could be because you've set the balance to be 100% left or right.
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 13:45
  • I did, but the same thing happens. How do I make sure my balance is to the center? Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 17:48
  • So, the same thing happens with different headphones? There is a balance slider somewhere in the sound settings.
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 17:51

7 Answers 7


I figured it out! On my part the voices weren't working, but the background music played fine. While reading this blog, I played around with the balance volumes on speakers while letting a video play. The Balance Volumes that were centered were the only thing not making the voices work!! Thanks a lot.

This is what I did: 1. Go to sound icon and right click. 2. Click on playback devices. 3. Click on the speakers and then properties. 4.Go to the levels tab and click balance 5. Set the left (L) one on 80 and the right (R) one on 50

That's all I did and now my earphones are working fine on my laptop. Hope that helps. ~ (I have a windows 7 laptop)

  • 8
    This makes absolutely no sense, but it worked for me. Bigger question is everything was fine and it just turned bad recently I had no problems with vocals until this week.
    – neuronet
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 16:26
  • A similar effect is what makes kareoke work but.... I don't understand how it worked in your case if you were already in stereo...
    – Dave
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 19:08
  • It worked for me too with a new windows 10 pc!! Thanks!!
    – have fun
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 20:20
  • Worked for me as well with my old speakers (I thought they broke)! I have no idea why but thanks a lot!
    – szx
    Commented Jul 7, 2019 at 11:02
  • 1
    Windows 10 21H2 with new Sennheiser 160 USB - same problem. With some experimentation I note that when the left/right balance is within 5 of each other there is no sound output for stereo sounds. Setting the bias slightly right/left solved this, but I've absolutely no idea why. Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 10:16
  1. Sounds like your trying to push 5.1 out of 2 speakers and only getting the L/R or the rears. YouTube sounds fine I'm guessing but those movies you downloaded have 5.1 sound? Make sure your not set to 5.1 in the speaker config: Sound/Speakers/configure: stereo

  2. Sound card is burnt out.

Get a USB audio adapter.

  • configure is greyed out for me
    – neuronet
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 14:57
  • 'Speakers' is set as the default and 'config' is still greyed out?
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 15:58
  • Good catch: nope it is headphones I don't have the option of configuring (note original question is with headphones, and I think a lot of us are having this problem with headphones not speakers). I don't have speakers on this computer.
    – neuronet
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 16:15
  • @neuronet - Are you using headphones with 3 rings and a tip? Pull it out slightly. Bad sound quality of 3.5mm headphone with mic on laptop
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 16:39
  • 1
    Husband had this problem, turned out his speakers were now set to 5.1 instead of stereo after an update. Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 18:35

I had the same problem as you describe and the solution was to set one of the Balance values to 0 (see other answer from terdon about how to access the balance setting), rather than setting them both to the middle.


It sounds like you have set the balance be only on one side. Go to the control panel => sound:

enter image description here

Click on "Properties" and then go to the "Levels" tab:

enter image description here

Click on "Balance" and set it to the middle:

enter image description here

  • I dont have 'Headphones' in the playback' section, only 'Speakers'. Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 20:16
  • @TheEmeritus well, is the balance set correctly there?
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 20:44
  • Yes, the balance is set correctly. Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 16:03
  • I tried to change some settings and stuff, and the result is that now the sound works without headphones as it worked before, i.e. it works bad anyway, with or without headphones. I was already thinking the jack may be damaged, but if without headphones it sounds the same then maybe I need to reinstall some drivers? or is there another possible setting to change that might affect this? Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 16:09
  • @TheEmeritus sorry, don't really know. That was the only idea I had (I don't use Windows).
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 16:11

I took out my earbuds and plugged them back in (after fiddling with every audio setting I could find for an hour). Worked for me, but I'm unsure why, but, yeah.

  • While this answer has a good intention it's not really specific. What settings did you change? Did you test those settings before detaching and reattaching the earbuds?
    – Seth
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 11:25
  • Welcome to Super User. The site's purpose is a knowledge base of solutions, so answers are intended to be definitive, actionable solutions. Fiddling with random settings isn't really a reproducible solution.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 17:45

I ran into this recently with a headset and 6.35mm to 3.5mm adapter, so I might as well post a technical answer.

The problem is that the ground wire is not connected, so instead of current going from signals to ground, it goes from left to right signal. This way you hear only the difference of left and right channels, but not the signal that is common for both. Usually speech is mixed to center, so it gets filtered out first.

This sometimes happens with headsets with microphones, because they have four contacts in the plug instead of three for stereo. The ground contact in the headphone jack should be located so that it connects always to the ground and short the microphone to ground, but some jacks have it in a location where it goes to the middle connector that is microphone. For stereo plug it would work, because the ground contact extends over the are where mic contact would be.

The solution is a better adapter, or an extension cable that has contacts in better location.

Adjusting channel balance kind of works, because that way the sounds at center are played at different volumes at left and right, and you hear them as channel difference but it doesn't sound that good. Half pulling the plug kind of works, because that way you get ground and left channel connected to the signal contacts. That doesn't sound that good either. Unplugging and plugging sometimes works if the connector in jack moves even a bit.


I found out an solution. I have 2 pcs and a phone, i managed to do the "half-way in and halfway out" method on one of my pcs, the method is basically that you only pull it out a little.

But on my phone and the other pc I had to get creative. I messed around in sound settings and changed the balance to only be audible in the left ear, which in turn fixed it! I could still hear on the right side, so I am unsure what the cause is.

I'd imagine that it distributes the audio and stuff to more channels than there actually are, and that if you basically eliminate those you will get a better sound.

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