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Do Your Earbuds Sound Muffled?

Why you aren’t getting the best sound and how to fix it

Are your earbuds starting to sound a little bit muffled? Maybe even staticky? If this is the case, there may be a few things happening inside those tiny little buds. Wireless earbuds can be finicky when they haven’t been taken care of. Earbuds like the ones found here or here generally have no issues, but if your earbuds are brand new and sound muffled, you may have a different issue altogether that requires a bit of restoration.

There are different factors that may cause this unwanted noise. But before you throw out your earbuds and spend your hard earned money on new ones, you might want to find out exactly what is causing this muffled sound.

Here are a few reasons your earbuds may sound muffled:

Your environment

If you wear wireless earbuds everywhere, you may notice a change in sound quality when you enter areas with denser populations.

For example, if you live in the suburbs and take public transit to work in the city, you might notice the quality begin to change when you get off the bus or subway. Your earbuds start to sound muffled, and in more serious cases, the sound may even drop off completely.

Wireless earbuds use Bluetooth to connect to your device and when you’re around other devices, you are all fighting for the same connection, causing a weaker signal and affecting your audio quality.

Volume settings

Do you usually listen to your favorite tunes on full blast? If you do, not only are you hurting your ears, you might be causing permanent damage to your earbuds. Listening to music at full volume may distort the sound and result in muffled audio.

To be safe, try keeping your volume no higher than 60%. Some earbuds even have a warning that will alert you when your volume is getting dangerously loud. You want to keep your volume below the threshold of pain and comfortable for listening, even for hours on end.

Earwax in earbuds

If you take your earbuds out and look closely, you may find some dirt, debris, and even earwax. Built up earwax that collects in your earbuds could be distorting the sound. Not only does it block the sound from coming through clearly, but it could be causing damage to the mechanics inside your earbuds if pushed in deep enough.

Cleaning your earbuds regularly could not only improve the sound quality, but it could prolong the life of your buds. There are many different ways to clean your earbuds, but the most effective and easy way is to wipe them clean with an alcohol wipe, then use some kind of pointed edge (like a toothpick), to clean out the rest of the earwax. Just make sure to hold your earbuds in an angle that won’t allow the earwax to fall back into the earbud. Try holding it upside down, so the dirt and wax will fall out when you clean them.

Your wires are ruined

If you are using earbuds with a cord and you notice the sound starting to sound muffled, your cord may be tangled, or the wires are frayed. To avoid this from happening, be cautious about where your wire is running through and if it gets caught in anything.

Normal wear and tear could also cause your wires to fray. In this case, you can always repair your frayed wires with tape. Keep in mind, this only works as a temporary fix for small frays. If your entire cord is frayed, then you might have to face the music and buy a new pair of headphones. Perhaps it is time for something cordless


If your earbuds sound muffled from the moment you get them, you may be out of luck. Just like how some cars are “lemons”, meaning it is the one car out of the batch that just happens to be defective, you may have the “lemon” of earbuds. Some people think you need to “break them in”, but that’s not true at all. Your earbuds should sound their best when you first purchase them.

If you find that your earbuds are defective, try returning them as soon as you notice. The longer you wait, the less of a chance you have to refund your purchase. More expensive earbuds may come with a warranty, and if this is the case, you could easily return them for a new pair.

They don’t sit properly in your ear

Are your earbuds comfortable? Are your earbuds sitting properly in your ears? If your earbuds are too small or the wrong shape, it could affect the way you are hearing things. If you have to keep readjusting or even push them further in to keep them in place, you might be ruining your earbuds and creating a muffled sound when you use them. This is not how earbuds are supposed to fit.

There are different types of earbuds that work well for any lifestyle, you just need to find the right style for you.

So, how can you prevent your earbuds from sounding muffled?

Keeping all of the above in mind, there are a few tips and tricks to making sure you get the best listening experience out of your earbuds, whether they are wireless or not.

  • Be aware when you are entering a space with multiple users
  • Listen to your device at only 60% of the volume
  • Keep your earbuds clean and free of wax
  • If using wired earbuds, keep wires untangled
  • Keep frayed wires under control by repairing them
  • Return a defective earbud as soon as possible
  • Get the right type of earbuds that for you

If your earbuds sound muffled, there are many ways to combat this issue. You can use household items to clean your earbuds and take care of them. But if you think your earbuds are at the end of their life, you can simply throw them out and get a new pair. But try to find something with better quality that suits your lifestyle and level of activity.

October 7, 2020


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