When I Plug In My Headphones There Is No Sound

Jed Smith Profile image

Written By:

Updated June 27, 2022

Have you experienced headset issues recently that have you wondering how to troubleshoot, “When I plug in my headset, there is no sound”? Even the best headphones can sometimes have issues even if they seem to be connected correctly to your PC or Mac desktop or laptop. Thankfully, wired headphones are pretty easy to troubleshoot, and most of the time, fixing the issue won’t require a repair or replacement.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • When troubleshooting headphone playback issues, the first step should always be to try your headphones on a device you know is working first before looking into software issues.
  • Out-of-date audio drivers are one of the most common culprits of headphone issues on Windows devices.
  • Make sure headphones are enabled in sound settings before trying any more complicated software troubleshooting. Sometimes just restarting your device can solve audio issues.

While you’re learning how to troubleshoot wired headphone problems, you might want to look into whether a headphone amplifier is a good choice for you. If you’re having issues with a Bluetooth headset, you may want to read up on why your Bluetooth headset is beeping or not connecting.

How To Fix Wired Headphones That Have No Sound

If you do not hear any sound in your headphones and seem to be plugged into your PC or Mac desktop or laptop correctly, there are a few possible causes and solutions to the problem, depending on your audio source.

Most consumer-grade wired headphones have a 3.5mm or minijack connection designed to connect to a 3.5mm input on a variety of devices, both analog and digital, particularly desktop and laptop Windows and Mac computers. We’ll go over how to troubleshoot the issue in Windows, but you can also apply the same general steps of checking your sound settings and drivers for problems to MacOS.

Insider Tip

If you’re finding navigating Windows’ sound settings confusing, you may want to try running its automatic troubleshooting option by right-clicking the volume icon.

Try Another Device First

Before you start troubleshooting your device, the first thing you should try is connecting your headset to another sound source that you know works. If your headphones seem to work fine with that device, you’ll know the issue is with the device you’re not getting sound out of, not the headphones themselves.

Alternatively, if the sound is there but tinny or too soft, it may be the headphone driver size. And, if you’re using open-back headphones, you may not have them on correctly.

On A Windows Laptop Or Desktop

Check That Headphones Are Enabled and Set to Default Device

STEP 1

In the notification area on the bottom right corner of Windows, right-click the speaker icon, and click on “Sound Settings.”

STEP 2

In the “Choose where to play sound” list, click on the arrow by your headphones, and on the screen that opens up, click “set as default sound device” in the dropdown, then click “Use as default for audio.”

STEP 3

Play something to see if you’re getting sound now. If not, move on to step 4.

STEP 4

Go back to the Sound Settings window, scroll down, and click “More sound settings” to open the classic sound settings window.

STEP 5

Right-click on an empty space under the “playback” tab and see if “Show disabled devices” is checked. If not, click on it.

STEP 6

Find your headphones on the disabled device list, right-click, and click “Enable.”

STEP 7

Right-click again and select “Set as Default Device.” Test your headphones again. If they’re still not working, it’s time to check on your sound drivers.

Update or Reinstall Sound Drivers

If there’s no hardware issue, you should hear a familiar “ding” sound from Windows when you plug in your headphones. If you hear that, but you’re not getting sound into your headphones, there may be a software or driver issue.

STEP 1

Right-click the Start menu and select “Device Manager,” then “Sound, video, and game controllers.”

STEP 2

Select your audio driver. Most of the time, this will be “Realtek High Definition Audio.”

STEP 3

Right-click the driver and select “Update Driver,” then “Search automatically for updated driver software.”

STEP 4

If your driver needs updating, wait a minute for Windows to download and install it. If your driver is up to date, “driver is up to date” will appear on the driver window so that you can rule it out.

STEP 5

Try disabling and re-enabling the device. If that doesn’t work, as a last measure, right-click the driver window and select “Properties,” then the “Driver” tab, and select “Roll Back Driver.”

Warning

Dirt or debris in a device’s 3.5mm audio jack can cause poor audio quality, stereo balance issues, or even result in no audio output. Make sure it’s clean and that your cable is connected correctly if software troubleshooting doesn’t get results.

F.A.Q.S

What do I do if my laptop has no sound?

If your PC or Mac laptop isn’t playing back audio, there could be a number of different issues, including drivers, software, or firmware, all of which have various troubleshooting steps. If you’re trying to play audio through headphones or speakers, however, you should first try connecting the headphones or speakers to another device so you can rule them out as the issue.


What if it’s not a driver or software issue causing my headphones not to work?

If you’ve tested your headphones on another device and they work, you may want to check for dirt or debris in the audio jack on your problem device. A poor connection can cause uneven balance, poor audio quality, or no audio at all to come out of your headphones.


What do I do if my device is stuck in “headphone mode?”

If you do not hear sound from your laptop or another device through its built-in speakers even though your headphones aren’t plugged in, you may be stuck in “headphone mode.” To fix this, all you usually have to do is connect and disconnect your headphones again. If that doesn’t work, restarting your device usually will.


STAT: The 3.5mm audio jack became the standard in the professional and consumer audio markets in the mid-1950s. (source)