AirPods Max Only Playing in One Ear? Try These 17 Fixes

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AirPods Max Only Playing in One Ear

One of the most common issues that people encounter when using their Apple AirPods Max is the audio erroneously only playing in one ear of the headphones. This can be frustrating to users who are trying to make a phone call or listen to music.

This guide will help walk you through many common troubleshooting methods that have been proven to solve issues with the audio only playing through one ear when using your Apple AirPods Max.

This guide will also provide detailed breakdowns of many of the issues that you could potentially experience when using your AirPods Max.

Why Are My AirPod Max Only Playing In One Ear?

There are a few different reasons that you might be encountering issues with the audio only playing in one ear when using your Apple AirPod Max.

These common causes for this problem have been listed below and described in detail so that you can properly identify your issue.

There are also detailed troubleshooting methods relevant to the listed issues so you resolve your problem quickly and easily.

1. Audio Balance Is Adjusted To Only One Ear

Your listening device likely has settings that allow you to edit the listening environment and functionality. In some instances, these settings could have gotten changed around inadvertently. This could cause the audio settings to be directed to send all audio signals through only one side of your AirPods Max.

This can be frustrating but luckily it is an easy fix. If you are using an iPhone with your AirPods Max, then you will find that you have several audio enhancement options available to you.

The next part of this guide will walk you through how to adjust the audio balance on your iPhone along with other helpful audio enhancements that you might not have been aware were available to you.

Keep in mind that the audio adjustment methods and enhancements detailed below apply to both the 2nd and 3rd Generation AirPods models as well as the AirPods Max.

Your settings will be carried over between your Apple mobile devices such as other phones or tablets that you might have registered to your account. These settings will not, however, transfer to a Mac. You will have to manually alter these settings on your Mac computer using the method described later in this guide.

The steps below break down the ways that you can edit your iPhone’s audio settings when using them with your AirPods Max. Utilizing these settings you can often fix any audio issues that you might be currently experiencing while using your AirPods Max.

Fix – Setup Your Headphone Accommodations

The first thing that you should do if you are experiencing issues with the audio only playing on one side of your AirPods Max, is to make sure that your headphone accommodations are set up properly.

To do this, you must first make sure that you are using the latest version of the iOS software for your phone. If you have not updated your phone recently, you must do so before trying to edit the audio settings on your device. Using outdated software with this method can cause functionality errors.

1. Once you have verified that you are using the latest version of the iOS software for your iPhone, navigate to the Settings menu.

2. Where the settings menu is located on your phone can vary, as it can be moved or hidden on the home screen. The Settings menu is indicated by a large gear icon.

3. If you have accidentally removed the Settings menu from your home page, you can find it by swiping all the way right on your phone to access it from your app library.

4. Once you have located the Settings menu, open it up and click on the Accessibility tab.

5. In the Accessibility tab, you will see the Audio/Visual tab. Tap into the Audio/Visual menu and there you will finally see the Headphone Accommodations tab.

In the Headphone Accommodations menu, you will find settings that allow you to customize how your headphones interact with various incoming calls and audio.

You will have the option to choose from utilizing a custom setup, using audiogram data from the iPhone’s Health application, and also the option to manually adjust your settings. These different options will be discussed in detail below.

Fix 2 – Using A Custom Audio Setup On Your iPhone

In the Headphone Accommodations menu, one of the options that you will have to consider is the Custom Audio Setup feature offered by your iPhone.

Using this feature will require you to listen to some audio samples and approve the ones that sound the best to you, after which your iPhone will automatically apply the audio settings changes needed to reflect your selections.

This can be a great way to automatically resolve any problems you are currently experiencing with your AirPods Max only playing audio out of one ear. The Custom Audio setup will automatically optimize your sound so that it plays out of both ears.

1. To use the Custom Audio setup feature, you must first ensure that your audio settings are set to default.

2. This means navigation from the Settings menu to the Music tab where you will find the EQ settings menu for your device.

3. When you have reached the EQ settings menu in the Music tab, make sure that you set the EQ to Off.

4. After you have done this, navigate back to the Settings menu and find the Accessibility tab. In the Accessibility tab, you will find the Audio/Visual menu.

5. Enter into the Audio/Visual menu and adjust your Balance slider to the default setting, which is dead center.

After you have completed these two prerequisite tasks, you can begin the Custom Audio setup process.

1. First, connect your AirPods Max to your iPhone, then use the method listed above to navigate to the Headphone Accommodations menu.

2. Once you have reached the Headphone Accommodations menu, tap the Custom Audio Setup tab.

This will lead to onscreen prompts instructing you on how to complete the process.

3. Follow these instructions, which will include listening to audio samples, and then tap Use Custom Settings to apply your changes.

This will successfully have set up a custom audio environment for your AirPods Max to use when paired with your iPhone. This will also force the resolution of any settings that could have potentially been causing your AirPods Max to only play out of one ear.

 

 

If you currently have an audiogram uploaded into your iPhone’s Health application, then you could use that to tailor your listening experience optimally. An audiogram is essentially a test of how loud sounds must be for the user to hear them.

The iPhone Health application can use this information in tandem with the Custom Audio Setup to create a listening environment that is optimal based on the users listening tests.

To create an audiogram for upload to the Health application on your iPhone, you will need to use some form of a third-party application. There are many different free audiogram websites out there that are compatible with uploading to the Health app.

A quick Google search will find you many recommendations but Mimi Hearing Test and Streaks are two of the most popular programs.

Once you have created your audiogram, you will need to upload it into the Health application manually. You can do this only if you are running iOS 15 or later.

1. To begin the upload process, navigate from the Settings menu to the Accessibility menu.

2. In the Accessibility menu, you will see the Audio/Visual tab, where you can find the Headphone Accommodations menu.

3. In this menu, you will see the option to use the Custom Audio Setup described in the method above.

4. Choose to access this feature and you will have the option to Add Audiogram.

When adding an audiogram you will have the option to upload it as a photo or saved file. You can also add the audiogram settings manually by adjusting them to the proper values.

This will have successfully uploaded your audiogram for use with the Custom Audio Setup feature.

This will force any settings that you may have currently enabled that are causing your AirPods Max to only play out of one ear to be immediately resolved.

Fix 4 – Manually Adjust The Audio Settings

If you only wish to check that your audio issues are not being caused by the Balance slider, you should attempt to adjust the audio settings manually.

1. To do this, navigate to the Headphone Audio menu from the iPhone Settings menu. There you will find many options regarding your audio settings.

You can also adjust the balance of the audio settings between the right and left sides of your AirPods Max.

1. To do this, use the method listed in the steps above to navigate to the Audio/Visual menu.

2. Once you have reached the Audio/Visual menu from the Settings, you will be able to adjust the Balance slider to your liking.

This is an easy way to fix any balance issues that could be causing your AirPods Max to only play out of one ear.

Fix 5 – How To Adjust Audio Settings On Mac

The process of adjusting your audio settings for use with your AirPods Max is fairly simple.

1. First, navigate to the Apple menu by clicking the Apple logo at the top of your screen.

2. Once the menu has opened, click on the System Preferences tab.

3. Once there, click on the Sound menu and into the Output menu.

In the output menu, you will have the option to adjust the Balance slider.

This will allow you to resolve any issues that might be causing your AirPods Max to play audio out of only one side.

2. You Are Experiencing An Issue With your AirPods Max

Several different issues could potentially cause problems with your AirPods Max, including issues with the audio only playing out of one side.

The list below has compiled some of the most common troubleshooting methods that have been proven to resolve audio-related issues with the AirPods Max.

Fix – Put Them In The Case For 30 Seconds

Sometimes all your AirPods Max needs to resolve any internal errors that could be causing audio issues to be put into the case for a few seconds.

Putting your AirPods Max into their case for 30 seconds or more can help your headphones consolidate any hardware or run-time errors that could be causing your problem.

Fix 2 – Charge Them Fully

To better identify the root of your issue and potentially solve it, you should let your AirPods Max charge fully before attempting to use them again after encountering audio issues.

This will give your AirPods a chance to resolve any errors on their own and also help you better identify the root of the audio issue.

Fix 3 – Restart AirPods Max

If you are experiencing audio issues with your AirPods Max, you should consider restarting them to encourage the resolution of any internal errors.

To restart your AirPods Max, you should first ensure that the device is charged for a few minutes before doing so.

Once you have done this, press and hold the noise control button and the Digital Crown on the device until the LED indicator flashes red.

Once the red LED indicator has flashed, your AirPods Max will have been successfully restarted. This can help force the resolution of any current audio issues that you might be experiencing.

Fix 4 – Factory Reset AirPods Max

Sometimes hardware files related to your AirPods Max could potentially become damaged or corrupted, which could lead to frequent audio issues.

If you are experiencing persistent problems with your AirPods Max, you should consider doing a factory reset on your device.

A factory reset will clear any potentially corrupted files from your device and replace them with new ones.

This can often help resolve errors that users frequently experience while using their AirPods Max, including the audio only playing out of one ear.

To factory reset your AirPods Max, you simply hold down both the noise control button and Digital Crown on your device for 15 seconds. Once you have done this, a red LED will flash on the device followed by a white LED to indicate that your device has been factory reset.

Keep in mind that you will need to pair up your AirPods Max with any devices that it was previously paired with before the factor reset.

Fix 5 – Wait A Few Hours

Sometimes simply waiting around for a while before trying to use your AirPods Max after encountering an error will resolve the issue. This is especially true if the issue you are experiencing is caused by a temporary bug or glitch.

Giving your device some time after encountering an error can save you the headache of troubleshooting if the issue resolves itself.

Fix 6 – Schedule an Appointment At Genius Bar

If you believe that your AirPods Max has been damaged or has faulty software or hardware issues, then you should consider making an appointment at an Apple Genius Bar.

At the Apple Genius Bar, you can have your issue investigated by a group of highly trained tech professionals that are well versed in the inner workings of your AirPods Max.

This is often a great solution for those who are experiencing issues with their headphones that may stem from damage or faulty hardware.

Fix 7 – Replace Your AirPods Max

Unfortunately, there are some instances where your AirPods Max may have incurred some type of damage and needs to be replaced (view on Amazon).

If this is the case, check and make sure that your item is not in warranty before taking it to be repaired or replaced. If your device is in warranty, you could save some money on your replacement.

3. You Have A Bluetooth Connection Issue

If you are experiencing Bluetooth connection issues then you are likely to experience problems while using your AirPods Max. Your AirPods Max depends on a Bluetooth connection to communicate with your iPhone.

If for some reason this signal is not communicating properly, it will cause audio issues like the sound only playing out of one side of your AirPods Max.

Fix – Restart Bluetooth Connection

If you believe that you are experiencing Bluetooth connectivity errors, the first thing that you should do is restart your Bluetooth connection.

You can do this by turning the Bluetooth functionality on and off on your phone. This can help encourage the resolution of any connection errors that you could be experiencing.

Fix 2 – Forget AirPods Max Device and Reconnect

If restarting the Bluetooth connection did not help resolve your issue, consider forgetting the AirPods Max device from your Bluetooth and then adding it again.

This can help to encourage the resolution of any potential connection issues that were causing your AirPods Max to only play out of one ear.

Fix 3 – Make Sure AirPods Max Are Within Bluetooth Range

While the distance that your AirPods Max can utilize a Bluetooth connection is quite large, it is not infinite. If you have gone out of the acceptable range of your iPhone, you could experience audio issues. Make sure that you are keeping the right proximity to your device to ensure that you do not experience connection issues.

4. There Is An Issue With Your iPhone Or Mac

You could be experiencing issues with the device you are using with your AirPods Max. Issues with your Mac or iPhone could cause audio errors like the sound only coming out of one side.

Fix – Restart Your iPhone/Mac

Most times all you need to do to fix your issues with your iPhone or Mac is restart the device. Restarting your devices gives them a chance to end any erroneous functions that might be causing them to not work correctly with your AirPods Max.

If you find that you are experiencing frequent audio issues, restarting your iPhone or Mac can help the problems resolve on their own

Fix 2 – Restart The App You Are Playing Music From

You could also consider restarting the application that you are playing music from if you are experiencing audio issues. This can help end any erroneous functions that the application might have been executing and resolve your error.

Fix 3 – Reset Network Settings

You could need to reset your network settings on your phone to get your AirPods Max to properly communicate with the application you are using to listen to music. You can reset your network settings on your iPhone by finding the network settings menu.

5. Your iPhone/Mac is out of Date

The most common cause of issues and general functionality errors is out-of-date software on your devices.

Your iPhone and Mac rely on the most recent version of their software to function properly. These updates contain bug fixes and many quality-of-life optimizations for your device.

If you find that you are experiencing frequent issues with your devices while using your AirPods Max, you could need an update. Your devices will automatically notify you of any updates available when it is connected to a valid internet connection.

The user will have to manually download the update and install it for it to be applied. This is a key step of the update process that many look over, so keep this in mind.

6. Your AirPods Max Are Out Of Date

Your AirPods Max depends on periodic software updates to function optimally. If you have fallen behind on updates, you may notice that your device is no longer functioning correctly among other various errors in functionality and performance.

These types of errors are commonly caused by bugs and glitches. If you have not updated your AirPods firmware in a while, you will experience these bugs and errors more frequently.

Updates provide patches and performance optimization, so you must stay adamant about keeping your AirPods Max up-to-date.

Final Thoughts

This guide has provided you will all the information you need to identify and troubleshoot any issues that you might have with your AirPods Max, including issues regarding the audio playing out of one side. Use this guide to solve your issue and get your headphones working as they were intended.

Briley is a freelance writer and has been writing for over 10 years. The former journalist now content writer currently writes for Techzillo and focuses on consumer tech in general. His main interests include video games and consumer technology. He also writes for websites such as Lifewire, and Digital Trends. Read our Editorial Guidlines and Fact Checking process.

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