10+ Reasons Why You Hear Static In Your Headphones

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Static in your headphones can be the most annoying when listening to music.

What’s even more frustrating is that you often can’t immediately diagnose the issue, it’s just there, and it might not want to go away!

Luckily it’s usually one of a few culprits causing the problem. Whether you’re permanently stuck with a static noise in your headphones or intermittent, follow our guide and find out what’s causing it.

What Is Static?

Static can refer to many different noises; some would regard it as a hissing sound, others more of electrical interference.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll cover all of these and talk about static in the sense of any unwanted noise in your headphones.

Several static causes can stem from hardware issues through to interference from wireless appliances. 

What Are The Common Causes Of Static In Headphones?

Before diagnosing the static issue in your headphones, it’s worthwhile considering if this could be caused by a physical defect, which can be common on wired headphones (particularly as the wire itself can be yanked, pushed, and pulled a lot over its lifespan).

Let’s break down some common static issues on wired versus wireless headphones.

Why Is There Static In My Wired Headphones?

Chances are one of the components in your headphones, or listening device may be damaged.

Sadly because you are tethered to something, the chances of causing damage are significantly higher than if you wear a wireless pair of headphones.

1. Faulty Lead

The first thing you’ll want to check is the lead coming out of your headphones. This is the part that gets the roughest treatment by far.

You might have damaged the lead by coiling it too tight, or it could have been bent too much and damaged some of the inner components.

Your headphone lead will have a lifespan, and any static noises could be down to it reaching the end of its life!

Many modern headphones will have a detachable lead, meaning that replacing them isn’t too big of a job, but if your lead is attached to the headphones permanently, it could be a trickier job.

We don’t recommend being rough but try moving the lead around gently and seeing if this causes more or less static. If there is any change, there’s a high probability it’s the lead at fault.

If you are able to, try replacing the lead and see if this improves the issue.

2. Faulty Port

It may be that the device you are using to listen to music is at fault. For example, if you’re listening on a PC, you’re probably using an aux socket to plug your headphones into.

If this has become damaged, it could result in a nasty static sound. Many PCs will have a secondary port that you can try (often in a different location to the primary one, such as at the rear of your tower).

Try using a different one and see if this rectifies the static problem.

If you’re on an iPhone, you may be able to book a repair or get a free service if you’ve taken out AppleCare+.

3. Damaged Headphone Speaker

Another culprit of static in headphones is a damaged headphone speaker. Much like your headphone lead, these have a lifespan; it may have taken a knock at some point, so it could be time for a repair.

Wherever possible, keep your headphones in a protective case to avoid any bumps to the speakers, as it won’t take much to cause a problem.

Is the static only in one ear? Then likely, it’s that speaker that has sustained the damage. If so, it’s time to book a repair.

Why Is There Static In My Wireless Headphones?

There are pros and cons to using wireless and wired headphones. If you have a wireless set, you’re less likely to cause physical damage if you are careful with your headphones and keep them in a case.

The downside is that wireless technology opens up much more potential for static interference! 

For more on static issues in wireless headphones, check out our guide here

1. Proximity To Other Wireless Devices

We’ve all heard that odd ‘galloping’ noise caused by mobile phones being too close to electrical gear.

This can be the same with any wireless device. If you’re hearing odd and unpleasant static noises, look around and see if anything is interfering with your headphones.

Look out for wireless routers, Bluetooth adapters, and other mobile phones.

2. Faulty Adapter

If your headphones require an adapter to work wirelessly, consider whether the adapter needs replacing.

Many wireless headphones connect via Bluetooth, but it’s not uncommon to find some devices, such as older PCs, requiring a Bluetooth adapter to connect to an external device.

If you can, test your adapter against a separate one and see if this improves the problem. If it does, then the original adapter may be at fault.

Related: Can Wireless Headphones Work Without Bluetooth?

3. Faulty Power Supply

If you’re listening to music on a PC or Mac, then as unlikely as it may seem, your power supply might be the problem.

If you have a second power supply available, try comparing the two. If you use a laptop or MacBook, try unplugging the power supply and running off batteries. You may notice the static noise stopping.

Other Causes Of Static In Wireless Headphones

You might find your headphones are in perfect working order and not receiving any interference from another wireless unit.

Here are some other options to try if you’re still experiencing static:

1. Dirt In Your Port

This is most common on mobile phones that are regularly carried in pockets where dust and fluff can find their way into the headphone port.

If you can shine a torch into the port, you might notice it’s bunged up, which can cause a bad connection between your headphone adapter and the phone itself.

You can clean the port, but be careful and avoid doing it with a sharp or pointed object.

Take your time and test the headphones regularly to see if it has improved. Too much poking and prodding might damage the sensitive electronics inside.

2. Your Volume Is Too High

Most modern music is mastered to a professional standard, so this will usually play without issue. However, if you are listening to a particularly quiet track, you might be tempted to crank the volume as loud as possible.

This can result in a nasty hissing sound, which stems from the quiet track being overcompensated by too much volume in the headphones.

Of course, you need to keep your hearing health in mind even if you’re listening on buds like AirPods, so try turning it down first and seeing if you can listen at a low volume. 

3. Try Streaming On Mobile Data

You might not want to use up your data, but it could be the solution to static in your headphones.

If you’re on an overloaded WiFi network, common in shared households, this can sometimes cause a nasty static sound.

Try switching to mobile data if you’re streaming music and see if this improves the situation. Even if you don’t want to use your data, it’s worth checking, and then, at the very least, you know the culprit!

4. Update Your Apps

If you don’t have your apps set up to update automatically, then you may be on an older version of the app itself.

Try updating the app and see if this rectifies the problem. It can often be that outdated software causes unwanted static noise. 

5. Perform A Rest Of Your Devices

Last but not least, if you can’t find a fix for your static issues, try resetting your devices.

This goes for your headphones and your mobile phone, PC, Mac, or Laptop. Often a reset will sort out the static issue altogether.

For help on this, check out our guides below:

How To Test My Headphones With Static Issues

As I’ve mentioned, diagnosing the static problem on your headphones can be a real pain as it’s not always immediately clear what it could be.

There are a few things to consider when trying to discover the problem and how you can test for this.

If you use wireless headphones, try connecting to another device and see if the static issue persists. If it does, then it’s likely the headphones that are the problem.

If it doesn’t, your device or adapter could be at fault. Try connecting another set of headphones to your listening device and see how this compares to the original pair.

If the static persists, you know your device or adapter is likely at fault.