Why Do My Headphones Keep Cutting Out? [Answered]

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If I were to jot down a list of my everyday essentials, then my headphones would probably top the list. After all, they help me zone out of the bustle & tune in to my favorite tunes, podcasts, movies, etc. 

That said, much like any other hardware device, Bluetooth technology can also be susceptible to audio stutters or distortions.

Why Do My Headphones Keep Cutting Out?

This can happen due to the following reasons: 

  • Fraying/short within the cable 
  • Low battery 
  • Interference by other Bluetooth devices 
  • Increased distance from the source 

In this blog, we will discuss each of these issues in detail and tell you how you can fix them! 

Wired Headphones 

Wired headphones take the audio output directly from your device and transfer it into the driver in each earbud.

Since there is a hardware medium involved, you can listen to lossless audio without any latency (insert audiophile cable debates here). However, issues arise when this hardware medium, i.e; the cable, is damaged. 

You will notice lots of audio stutters if the wire is frayed, damaged internally, or has cut through the outer covering. In some cases, the only way to get your wired headphones to function is to hold the cable in a specific position. 

Headphones Keep Cutting Out-damaged earphones audio cable
Frayed wired | Make Life Click

It’s so frustrating. On a side note, it’s worth pointing out that if you’re spending a lot of money on your cans, consider units with replaceable cables, this gives you options down the line if you accidentally walk away from your laptop or slam your cable in a drawer.

By holding the cable in a certain position there is a small chance of messing up the signal. In some cases, the cable may seem fine from the outside but the housing underneath might be damaged. 

Solution

Prevention is always better than a cure. Handling your headphones with care is the first thing you should do to prevent this from happening. 

Avoid putting them in cramped spaces or tugging the wire in spirals. 

Another fragile part is the jack plug at the end of the cable. People often see that the housing connecting the plug to the wire breaks due to excessive bending. So, don’t twist or pull the region where the wire merges with the headphone jack – like when you walk away still connected to your laptop…be there, done that.

In addition, you should never yank your headphones out of your device by the cord. This sounds obvious to me but I have seen family members go through countless cables/earbuds from doing this.

Instead, gently hold the jack housing and plug the wire out when disconnecting your headphones, preventing any damage from accidental access force. 

If you are reading this blog, chances are your wired headphones are already damaged. #sadface

Unfortunately, fixing a headphone cable is quite a tedious process and usually isn’t worth the time spent since they end up losing audio again. 

I’ve done it so many times. Huddled over a soldering iron and solder, stripping the wire, reconnecting broken bits only to have it crap out a week or two later.

OneOdio A10 headphones headband
OneOdio A10 Bluetooth Headphones | Make Life Click

Bluetooth Headphones 

Wireless headphones generally do not have any audio cutout issues since the Bluetooth signal is being transmitted through ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio waves.  

Since there is no wired connection here, most problems happen either due to interference or software incompatibility which can be fixed easily. Let us take a deeper look. 

Crosstalk

Bluetooth is a versatile technology that is used by a wide variety of systems, which is what causes network congestion. It operates on the 2.4GHz ISM band which is also used by many other industrial appliances. 

Owing to the limited bandwidth in your vicinity, other wireless devices will also try to interfere with the same Bluetooth connection that your headphones are using. 

These items include other mobile phones, Bluetooth monitoring systems, baby monitors, induction, fluorescent bulbs, etc. 

It gets pretty crowded in the UHF space.

Solution: Crosstalk can easily be fixed by moving closer to your audio device. If the source is far away, your wireless Bluetooth headphones will have trouble supplying audio via a weaker signal. 

The ideal distance range is within 5-10 meters with no walls/obstacles in between. 

BONUS: Here are 5 excellent hacks to extend the life of your noise-canceling headphones! 

OneOdio Monitor 80 Headphones on a mans head right side view
OneOdio Monitor 80 Wired Headphones | Make Life Click

Water & Interference Issues

Cross-body interference is a phenomenon where Bluetooth headphones fail to deliver lossless audio due to bodily obstruction. This is because Bluetooth signals cannot travel through water, whereas our body is made up of 70% water. 

So, if you wear an earbud in your left ear & keep your phone in your right pocket, you might experience jitters in audio. 

Especially if the headphones have a weak signal.

Another case of interference is Wi-Fi routers, which also work on the same 2.4-2.5 GHz band as Bluetooth headphones. Since another signal now also attempts to run around the same network, your headphones are not able to receive data. 

Solution: Change your location if this happens too often or keep your phone such that there is no physical barrier between your mobile and your headphone. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS ONE?
OneOdio Bluetooth Headphones Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Wireless Over Ear with 40 Hour Playtime Hi-Fi Sound ANC Deep Bass CVC 8.0 Call, Quick Charge for Travel Airplane Office TV Mobile Phone
OneOdio A10 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones

Distant Audio Source

Bluetooth works with the conjunction of a low-sensitivity receiver and a transmitter. If the distance between the audio source and the receiver is too large, the receiver might fail to comprehend the audio signals, thus resulting in audio cutouts. 

Bluetooth devices are bifurcated into three categories, sorted by their connection range. These are:

  • Class 1: 40-100 meters (130-330 ft)
  • Class 2: 15-30 meters (50-100 ft)
  • Class 3: 5-10 meters (16-33 ft)

Class 3: is really where you sit in the space of headphones.

Solution: Bluetooth headphones fall into the second/third category depending on the price and Bluetooth version. The closer your Bluetooth headset is to the audio source, the better it will sound.

Device Incompatibility 

Audio cutouts might also happen due to software and hardware incompatibility within devices. 

  • Mis-matching Bluetooth versions: A headphone that supports Bluetooth 4.0/5.0 should theoretically be compatible with Bluetooth 2.0-based devices, but can often lag due to poor/outdated software. The clock speeds of such two devices will also be different, meaning there will be a constant time lag between audio delivery. To fix this, make sure both of your devices are on their latest firmware. 
  • Audio codecs: When sending audio over a network, it must be first compressed and encoded using an audio codec. Both of your devices should support the same codec language if you do not want any audio cutouts. You may contact your manufacturer in case of such a problem, or buy a newer generation product that is compatible with the latest tech. 
Top view of the KZ-T10 in the carry case
KZ-T10 Headphones | Make Life Click

Low Battery Level

Low battery level is one of the most common causes of audio cutouts. Nowadays, most headphones offer at least 6-7 hours of battery on a single charge, and also give you a notification via a beep/ LED notification/ in-ear notification to charge them. 

My Bose has up to 24 hours which is brilliant for long flights etc.

If your battery levels are low and you still try to pair the device, you will notice that the audio output is significantly weaker. When using any wireless earphone, make sure both of the earpieces are charged fully. 

If the battery is fully charged and this issue still persists, you can ‘soft reset’ your headphones by pressing the power button for 15 seconds and pairing them with your mobile device. 

In some cases, you might need to ‘forget’ the device, which can be done from your Bluetooth settings followed by re-connecting. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS ONE?
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FIFINE H8 Studio Monitor Headphones

So, summing it up

Your headphones can either be cutting out audio due to kinks or internal damage in the wire.

In the case of Bluetooth headphones, the problem might occur if you are in an area that is crowded with similar Bluetooth devices which can interfere with your bandwidth. 

Try to change your location or keep your headphones closer to the device they are paired with. Make sure to not keep them cramped in tight places and charge them at regular intervals. 

If the problem still persists, get your phone checked for any faulting in the audio jack or consider upgrading to an advanced headphone that is compatible with the latest codec. 

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

 

A passion for writing and ongoing research projects gives Catherine an incredibly broad knowledge of all things. She has authored an incredible number of articles and can be found in the wilderness when not attached to technology or listening to podcasts.

This post was last updated on 2022-12-11 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.


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