Headphones not working in Windows 11? Fix it with ease

Vlad Turiceanu
by Vlad Turiceanu
Passionate about technology, Windows, and everything that has a power button, he spent most of his time developing new skills and learning more about the tech world. Coming from a solid background in PC... Read more
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  • Even if the latest Microsoft OS is improved, you may encounter times when headphones are not working on Windows 11.
  • Making sure that the cable is connected properly and resetting your peripherals might help you.
  • The system troubleshooter will support you to scan and fix some of the related problems too.
  • Updating the audio drivers is the most efficient way to make your headphones work on the latest OS.
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For a full-on PC experience no matter if you’re playing games, watching videos, or simply want to blast your music without bothering the neighbors, headphones are an important element.

As not all headphones are perfect, you are bound to find some issues while using them, with a variety of levels of complexity.

In some cases, it might be just a headphones connection problem, or in others, it could be that one of the earphones is not working at all.

That being said, generally speaking, headphones issues can be split into two categories:

  • Physical damage
  • Software-related issues

Physical damage to your headphones can be varied, from dropping them on the floor to damaging the cable connection, to submerging them into the water when not compatible.

To avoid issues relating to water, it is recommended that you invest in a good set of sweat and waterproof headphones.

There are situations in which the issue is caused by the OS you’re running on your device, and to that effect, a number of users have complained about encountering problems on their Windows 11 devices.

No matter what the actual issue is, experiencing problems with your headphones never feels good.

The most common physical reasons for encoutering issues with headphones

  • Damaging the cable

One of the most common signs of using your headphones wrong is not taking care of the cable. This can cause distorted audio, buzzing, or crackling noise, which will result in a bad audio experience.

  • Over-using the sound volume

Drivers can sometimes fail, no matter if we’re talking about wireless in-ears or other types of headphones. This issue may occur due to a driver setup that doesn’t have a long life by design.

  • Not respecting the Ingress Protection Code (IP Rating)

Some users misunderstand the IP ratings of their headphones. The Ingress Protection rating tells you if your device is resistant to different kinds of interactions.

IP rating chart showing the details of this type of grading

As you can see from the graphic presented above, the IP rating will be formed out of two digits:

  • The first digit stands for protection from solids, like dust, where we note the following aspects:
    • 0 means no protection
    • 6 means total protection
    • X typically means that the producer didn’t test for protection against solids
  • The second digit refers to the protection against liquids, where we considere these:
    • 0 represents, again, no protection
    • 8 means an excellent protection

What can I do if headphones are not working in Windows 11?

1. Ensure that the headphones are connected properly

No matter if you’re experiencing issues while using a set of headphones that work with Bluetooth, USB + audio cable, or simply an audio cable, the first step into troubleshooting this problem is to check if the connection is correct.

  • Bluetooth headphones
  1. Click on the network, sound, and power tool next to your Windows 11 clock. (yeah, we thought the grouping is weird as well)
  2. Activate the Bluetooth option.
  3. If already activated, right-click the Bluetooth icon and choose Go to Settings.
  4. Check the Audio section to see if your device is appearing in the list.
  5. If it does and is still not working, click the three dotted lines and choose Remove device.
  6. Next, click on the Add device button.
  7. Choose Bluetooth.
  8. After ensuring that your headphones are in pairing mode, your device should appear in the list.
  9. Click on it to start the pairing process.
  • Wired headphones

Some users forget to check the cable connections, and this represents a fundamental error, as it might be the source of your headphones problem.

If your headphones are not working on Windows 11, you should first make sure that the cable is connected optimally to your PC.

If this doesn’t do the trick, you should also consider restarting both your headset and PC. This will ensure that you will be able to notice if any signal changes appear when you plug in the cable.

2. Set the headphones as a default sound output

  1. Right-click on the Sound icon from the taskbar, and select Sound settings.
  2. Choose Sound.
  3. Tick the Headphones option.
  4. Test if your headphones are working properly. and if they are not, follow the next method.

3. Run the sound troubleshooter

  1. Press Win + X and choose Settings from the pop-up that appears.
  2. Select System, then click on Troubleshoot.
  3. Select Other troubleshooters.Other troubleshooters
  4. Search for Playing Audio, then click on the Run button.

If the solution hasn’t proven to be useful, try the next methods we covered.

4. Reset your headphones (Bluetooth)

Resetting your headphones would help if the problem is related to random bugs on the device. In general terms, this action is similar to related devices.

If your Bluetooth headphones are not being detected at all, you’ll have to locate the power button, then press and hold it until the Bluetooth headset’s light indicator flashes blue or red. However, this process may be sometimes different in your case.

If the general solution doesn’t work, we suggest you open any web browser and search for your manufacturer’s name complete user guides for the respective headset.

5. Update your audio drivers

Drivers are some of the most essential software components of our OS. Thus, keeping them permanently updated is mandatory for not getting into trouble.

  1. Press Win + X and choose Device manager from the pop-up.
  2. Expand Audio inputs and outputs, then right-click on your headphones, and select Update driver.
  3. Click on Search automatically for drivers.

With this option, Windows will search on your PC for the best available driver and install it on the computer.

If you want the eliminate the possibility of causing even more issues, a simpler way to deal with this issue is to use a specialized driver updater software.

5. Update your Windows 11 OS

As the headphones issue could be caused by your OS not having the latest updates, it is recommended that you start this process to eliminate this possibility.

  1. Click the search icon found in your Windows taskbar.
  2. Type Update. and choose the Check for updates option from the list.
  3. Once the Settings app opens, simply click the blue Check for updates button.
  4. Wait for the process to complete and the update to be installed.
  5. After the installation is completed, restart your computer to apply the changes.

As you can see, there are plenty of solutions you can choose from if your headphones aren’t working on your Windows 11 device. Since these are the best available options, our article should definitely prove helpful.

For extra and complete information about the latest Windows 11 build, we recommend checking a full review.

Because your opinion is important to us, do not hesitate to share it in the section below. Also, subscribe to our newsletter to get the most interesting Windows 11 related subjects.

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