Headphones not working on Windows 11? 10 solutions to try

If you’re having trouble using headphones on your Windows 11 computer, the recommendations in this tutorial will solve the problem. Before anything else, make sure your computer isn’t muted. Press the volume button to unmute your PC and increase the audio output volume.

Wired headphones or earphones will not work properly if they have a loose connection. Make sure your headphone cable is properly connected to the headphone jack or USB port. In addition, remove any dirt, dust, or foreign matter in the audio jack. Other factors responsible for headphone failure in Windows include outdated sound drivers, incorrect volume settings, audio enhancement issues, etc. Now let’s move on to the solutions.

1. Make your headphones your primary playback device

Windows should automatically route audio to your headphones when you connect them to your computer. If audio continues to play through the built-in speakers or other devices, make your headphones the primary output device.

  1. Go to SettingsSystem and select Sound
  1. Expand the “Choose where to play sound” drop-down menu and make your headphones the primary output device.

2. Turn on your headphones in Windows

Your headphones may not produce sound output if they are turned off as an output device. Check your PC settings and make sure the headphones are turned on for audio output.

Enable Headphones in Windows 11 Settings

  1. Open the Settings app, select System in the sidebar and select Sound
  1. Scroll to the ‘Advanced’ section and select All sound devices
  1. If your headphones aren’t in the output device list, they won’t work in Windows and other apps. Select your headphones to change the audio output settings.
  1. Check the “Audio” row and select the Allow to set Windows to recognize your headphones as an output device.

Enable Headphones in Control Panel

  1. Open the Control Panel and select Hardware and Sound
  1. Select Sound
  1. Go to the Play tab, right click on your headphones and select Switch
  1. Select Okay to save the change and close the window.

Play audio or watch videos in an app and check if your headphones are now working.

3. Turn audio enhancements on or off

Windows automatically adds special sound effects to your headphones to enhance audio output. It’s a brilliant feature, but it affects the performance of some headphone models. Turn off audio enhancement and check if that makes your headphones work again.

Enabling audio enhancement worked the magic for some Windows 11 users† If “Audio Enhancements” is disabled on your PC, enable it and check if that resolves the issue.

  1. Go to SettingsSystemSoundChoose where to play sound and select the problematic headset.
  1. Scroll to the ‘Audio Enhancements’ section and select the Standard Effects Device knob.
  1. Select Out to disable all audio enhancements applied to your headphones.

4. Enable mono audio

Mono audio is a Windows feature that combines the audio output of your headphones into a single channel. Mono audio improves the sound quality of your headphones and makes it easier to hear.

Turn on mono audio if your headphones are making crackling noises or no sound at all.

Go to SettingsSystemSound and switch on mono audio

5. Adjust the volume settings in the app

Sometimes the app(s) that play audio may be the problem, not your headphones. Some media players (eg iTunes and VLC) have built-in volume controls that are independent of your PC’s output volume. Check your app’s volume control or settings and make sure the audio output isn’t muted or set to the lowest level.

We also recommend that you test your headphones on multiple apps. If your headphones don’t work on a specific app, close the app, reopen it and try again. Updating the app may also fix the problem.

6. Run the audio troubleshooter

The Windows audio troubleshooter can diagnose and fix problems with your headphones. Connect the headphones to your computer and follow the steps below.

  1. go to SettingsSystem and select Resolving problems
  1. Select Other troubleshooters
  1. Click on the Run next to “Play audio.”
  1. Select your headphones from the list of audio devices and select Next one continue.

The troubleshooter will check for possible problems and recommend possible solutions. For example, on our test computer, the troubleshooter recommended turning off audio enhancement.

7. Restart Windows Audio Services

“Windows Audio” and “Windows Audio End Point Builder” are system services that power audio devices on Windows computers. Your headphones will not work if one or both services are not responding or are turned off.

Restarting both services can resolve wired and wireless headset issues in Windows.

  1. press the Windows keyRtype services.msc in the Run box and select Okay
  1. Locate Windows audioright click on the service and select Restarting
  1. Select Yes at the confirmation prompt.
  1. Do the same for the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder. Right click on the service and Restarting
  1. Select Yes at the confirmation prompt.

Close the Windows Services window, play an audio or video file and check if your headphones are now working correctly.

8. Remove headphones as a recording device

Some headphone models will not work in Windows 11 when used as a recording device. Some Windows 11 users have made their headphones work by disabling them as a recording device.

Remark: Windows records audio through your PC’s built-in microphone (or an external microphone) when you turn off your headphones’ recording feature.

  1. Go to SettingsSystemSound and select More sound settings
  1. Go to the “Recording” tab, right click on your headphones and select Turn of
  1. Select Okay to save the change.

9. Uninstall or Update Audio Drivers

Headphones will not work properly if your computer’s audio drivers are bugged or outdated. Connect your computer to the Internet and update the audio driver to the latest version.

  1. Right click on the Home menu (or press Windows keyX) and select Device Manager in the Quick access menu.
  1. Fold the . from Sound, video and game controllers category, right click on the headphone driver and select Update driver
  1. Select Automatic driver search

Windows searches the Internet and your computer for new versions of your headphone driver. Close the window and uninstall the driver (see step #4) if the Device Manager says it’s up to date. Windows will automatically reinstall a fresh copy of the sound driver when you restart your PC.

  1. Right click on the driver and select the Remove device choice.
  1. Select remove and restart your computer when Device Manager removes the driver from your computer.

We also recommend that you visit your headphone manufacturer’s website to check if there is a driver update for your headphone model.

10. Update Windows

Windows Updates sometimes contain new versions of audio drivers. So updating your PC’s operating system and installing build releases can improve the sound quality and performance of your headphones.

Go to SettingsWindows Update and select Download and install everything

Fix your headphones

High-quality Bluetooth headphones, headsets, and earphones can fail due to outdated firmware. Hardware-related damage can be another reason why your headphones are not working. Update your headphones firmwarereset it to factory defaults or contact the manufacturer for support if the problem persists.

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