How do I balance left and right headphones on Android?

Listening to audio through headphones connected to an Android device can sometimes lead to an unbalanced or uneven sound between the left and right channels. This means one earbud sounds louder or quieter than the other, which can be distracting and disruptive to the listening experience.

There are a few potential causes that can lead to the headphones having uneven audio when connected to an Android device. Identifying the root cause is the first step to resolving the problem and restoring proper stereo balance.

Causes of Unbalanced Audio

An imbalance in volume or sound quality between the left and right earcups of headphones can occur for a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes is having different sensitivity or loudness levels in each earcup. This can happen if one driver becomes damaged or worn out over time, resulting in it being unable to reproduce sound at the same volume as the other earcup. The drivers in headphone earcups are very delicate and can become misaligned or damaged from drops or extreme wear and tear over time, leading to uneven performance.

According to discussions on Reddit, many users have experienced a noticeable difference in volume between left and right earcups, especially on older headphones. One Redditor reported lower volume in the left earcup on their Bragi headphones, noticing the imbalance immediately after unboxing them (source). This indicates a manufacturing defect or variance between the two drivers. Overall, uneven driver sensitivity is a very common reason for imbalanced audio between left and right channels.

Checking the Balance

The first troubleshooting step when dealing with unbalanced headphone audio is to confirm which side actually has the lower volume. There are a few ways to check the balance between left and right:

  • Play a stereo audio track and compare the volume in each earcup by swapping sides periodically.
  • Use balance testing apps like Balance Test which play tones in each ear to highlight imbalances.
  • Access Android’s built-in balance controls by going to Settings > Accessibility > Audio Balance. Slide the control and listen for differences.

Test a variety of audio sources to determine if the imbalance affects all sounds or just certain apps/music. This confirms which side needs a boost in volume and will guide your troubleshooting approach.

Software Solutions

The easiest way to adjust the left/right balance on your Android headphones is through the built-in accessibility settings. Android 10 and higher include an Audio Balance slider specifically for adjusting headphone balance. To access it:

Open the Settings app. Scroll down and tap Accessibility. Then scroll down to the Audio section and tap Audio Adjustment. You’ll see a slider for Audio Balance that allows you to adjust the left/right levels.

Slide it left or right until you reach your desired balance. The slider allows fine-tuned balancing versus simply having a left/right choice. This makes it easy to compensate for minor imbalances in your specific headphones.

Some manufacturers like Samsung may also have their own audio balancing settings in Sound settings or Accessibility. Check your device’s settings for additional options beyond the standard Android one.

Hardware Solutions

One option to balance the audio between left and right headphones is to use a hardware device that allows adjusting the balance. Many headphones come with an inline remote controller with volume buttons. The volume up/down buttons can be used to raise or lower the volume in one earcup to achieve a balanced stereo image.

Alternatively, using an audio splitter is another hardware solution. An audio splitter converts a single headphone jack into two jacks, allowing each earcup to connect separately. The volume level can then be adjusted independently for each earcup by altering the output volume in the phone’s accessibility settings for the left and right channels. This evens out the sound between ears when one headphone side is weaker.

Examples of affordable headphone splitters that enable per-ear volume adjustment include the TROND 2-to-1 and the MillSO 3.5mm splitter. Using one of these devices along with the balance settings in Android provides a hardware-based approach to balancing headphone audio[1].

App Solutions

There are some audio equalizer and balance apps available on the Google Play Store that can be used to adjust the left-right balance when using headphones with an Android device. Two popular options are V4A (Voice for Android) and Wavelet.

V4A is an advanced audio equalizer and effects app that provides fine-grained controls over the audio output on Android devices. It has a left/right balance adjustment slider under the “Balance” tab that allows you to shift the audio bias towards the left or right earbud as needed. V4A is free on the Play Store with an optional paid version for additional features.

Wavelet is another advanced audio tuning app for Android that can customize the sound signature and also adjust the left/right balance. Under the “Channel Mixer” section, you can tweak the stereo balance by increasing or decreasing the volume levels for the left and right channels independently. Wavelet offers a free version with all key functionality.

Both V4A and Wavelet provide parametric EQ controls to boost or cut specific frequency ranges. This can help compensate for any hardware differences between the earbuds. With a few adjustments in these apps, you can achieve a more balanced stereo image when using Android headphones.

EQ Adjustments

One way to help balance the left and right channels in your headphones is to use an equalizer (EQ) app to adjust the frequencies differently on each side. You can boost the low frequencies on the quieter side to help even out the imbalance. Here are some tips for using EQ to fix unbalanced headphones on Android:

Install an EQ app like Wavelet, Boom EQ, or Equalizer FX that allows you to set the left and right channels independently. Open the app and make sure independent L/R adjustment is enabled.

Play a song and listen closely to determine which side sounds quieter. The low frequencies around 80-200 Hz are good to focus on.

On the quieter side, boost the low frequencies by a few dB. Start small with a 2-3 dB boost and listen to see if it improves the balance. You can keep gradually increasing the boost if needed.

Once the two sides sound more balanced, save the EQ preset. You can now apply it any time you use those headphones to compensate for the imbalance.

It may take some trial and error to find just the right EQ adjustment for your particular headphones. The goal is to boost only the frequencies needed to balance the left and right volume.

Physical Repairs

One way to fix unbalanced headphones is by physically repairing them. Carefully bending the headset rods back into proper alignment can help restore balance. The rods are the metal parts that connect each ear cup to the headband. Over time and use, the rods can get bent out of shape, causing one ear to be closer to the ear than the other. Gently bending the rods by hand to realign them can fix balance issues.

According to headphone repair experts, another physical fix is to replace the earpads on headphones. The earpads are the cushions around the speakers that sit on your ears. If the earpads are worn out or compressed on one side, it can change the distance between the driver and your ear, causing imbalanced sound. Replacing earpads may require finding the correct replacement parts from the manufacturer. Putting on fresh earpads can improve the seal around your ears and restore even alignment.

Buying Advice

When purchasing balanced headphones for Android, it’s important to look for models with matching drivers on the left and right sides. Many audiophile headphones are carefully matched so that the audio reproduction is as accurate as possible. Having identical or very closely matched drivers improves channel balance.

Headphones that specifically advertise strong left/right driver matching include the Sennheiser HD 800 S, Audeze LCD-X, and HIFIMAN Ananda. These all use symmetric left and right driver elements to optimize stereo imaging and balance. Checking product details or reviews can determine if the headphone model you’re considering has matched drivers.

You may also want to look for headphones that come with a balanced cable in the box. This includes models like the Focal Clear and Dan Clark Audio Ether 2. Having a balanced cable readily available makes it easy to achieve proper left/right balance when connecting to Android devices with balanced outputs.

Lastly, opt for high-end audiophile headphones from reputable brands that emphasize audio quality and engineering. These tend to have better driver matching and balance than more mass market consumer models. Stick with well-respected companies like Sennheiser, Audeze, HIFIMAN, Focal, Dan Clark Audio, and others known for audiophile-grade products.


In summary, there are several potential solutions for dealing with unbalanced left and right audio on Android headphones.

The easiest software fix is to adjust the balance in your device’s sound settings or music app EQ. This allows you to tune the balance precisely. However, it doesn’t address any underlying hardware issues.

Hardware solutions like cleaning headphone ports or replacing worn cables can permanently resolve balance problems stemming from debris or damage. Seeking repairs for a broken audio jack or driver unit may be necessary in some cases.

If your headphones aren’t too old, purchasing a headphone balance adapter can restore stereo alignment and enable fine adjustments. These accessories are inexpensive and don’t require permanent modifications.

The best long-term solution is likely buying a fresh pair of quality headphones built to last. Seek out durable materials, removable cables, and robust construction. However, also consider app and EQ solutions to tune the balance on new headphones if needed.

With a range of software, hardware, accessory, and replacement solutions available, you can restore balanced stereo audio from your Android headphones.

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