How to fix headphones not working in Windows 11

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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  • If your headphones are not working in Windows 11, don't hesitate to check your sound card drivers.
  • 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.
headphones not working windows 11
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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 devices 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, the earphones are 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 vary from dropping them on the floor to damaging the cable connection or submerging them into the water.

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 inconveniences are caused by the OS you’re running on your device, and to that effect, some users have complained about encountering them on their Windows 11 devices.

What issues you may encounter while using 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

Are wired headphones better than Bluetooth ones?

Wired headphones usually offer better sound quality and less latency. In addition, they are easier to set up since all that you need to do is to connect them to the audio port on your PC.

On the other hand, wireless models are more convenient to use, and you don’t have to worry about the cables snagging, plus you can move around the room without removing your headphones.

In most cases, Bluetooth headphones are useful if you don’t want to deal with wires, but in most cases, we’d go with wired models instead.

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

1. Update your audio drivers

  1. Press Windows Key + 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 the playback device is missing, you might have to update your chipset drivers as well.

To completely eliminate the possibility of causing even more issues, a simpler way to deal with this problem is to use specialized software such as DriverFix.

2. Ensure that the headphones are connected properly

  • Bluetooth headphones
  1. Click on the Network and sound icon next to your clock.
  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 sometimes this can be the cause of sound problems on your PC.

When Windows 11 is not detecting wired headphones, you should first make sure that the cable is connected properly to your PC.

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

3. Set the headphones as a default sound output

  1. Right-click on the Sound icon from the taskbar, and select Sound settings.
  2. In the Output section select the Headphones option.
  3. Test if your headphones are working properly, and if they aren’t, follow the next method.

4. Run the sound troubleshooter

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

5. Reset your headphones (Bluetooth)

Resetting your Bluetooth headphones can help if they are not working. Although simple, this method applies to all brands.

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 light indicator flashes blue or red. However, this process may be sometimes different in your case.

When the general solution doesn’t work, we suggest you open any web browser and search for your manufacturer’s user guide for more troubleshooting information.

6. Update your OS

  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.

Do headphones require special drivers in order to work?

Most headphones are plug and play, which means that you just need to connect them to your PC and they should start working automatically.

However, high-end models, USB or Bluetooth headphones, might require special drivers in order to work properly.

Are USB headphones better than 3.5mm audio jack ones?

3.5mm headphones are universal, and they can work with any audio device that has an AUX port.

In order to produce sound, these devices convert audio from digital to analog signal, which can sometimes result in loss of quality.

Wear is also a common problem, which results in noise and other audio-related issues.

On the other hand, USB headphones offer better sound quality, without loss of information. This is achieved thanks to the digital to digital conversion.

We also have to mention that these headphones have their own audio processing system, which results in higher audio quality.

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

In most cases, the issue is related to your configuration or drivers, but sometimes your sound card can be the source of the problem.

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