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If you’re only hearing audio through one of your AirPods, you might have to work through some troubleshooting to fix them. A lot of things can cause this issue, including charging problems, Bluetooth issues, software bugs, and incorrect settings. Here are some possible solutions.
The most obvious cause is also one of the easiest to fix. Make sure that both the charging case and the AirPods themselves are charged. To do this plug the AirPods case into a Lightning power connector, and then place the malfunctioning AirPod into the case. Wait thirty seconds or more and then open the charging case near your iPhone or iPad. Check to see that the case and AirPods have appeared on the device, and then check to ensure it says they’re charging. If this has worked then you can place the AirPods in your ears and start playing audio to ensure they’re working.
The classic calling card of anyone that’s worked an IT help desk. “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” The method to do this differs between models, with newer iPads and iPhones requiring you to hold Power and Volume Down until a “Slide to Power Off” slider appears. Older models usually work by only holding the power button. You’ll have to check the method for your particular device. Once this is done then attempt to pair your AirPods again and see if they’re working.
If your AirPods still aren’t working then next consider doing a full reset. Place the AirPods in the charging case, keep the lid open, and then press and hold the setup button on the backside of the case for 15 seconds. This will cause the status light on the case to flash amber and then white. Once this has been completed the AirPods should be ready to pair again; open the case lid and place it near your iPhone or iPad and follow the onscreen instructions.
Open up the Settings app and navigate to the Accessibility page. Click on Audio/Visual and then locate the “Balance” slider. Ensure that this slider is in the middle. If it’s too far to the right or left, audio will play predominantly out of that AirPod instead of out of both sides evenly. Once this is done place your AirPods back in your ears and check to see if the problem has been fixed. You should ensure that you’re listening to audio you know to be stereo to ensure that you’re not solely listening to audio with only left or right content.
Inspect your AirPod. Are there any visible obstructions in the microphone and speaker mesh? Cleaning your AirPods might fix the issue. To do this use a soft cloth for the exterior, and dry cotton swabs for the speaker grilles. Avoid using water or any sharp abrasive objects.
If all of the above has failed then considering contacting Apple for technical support, or finding support in person at one of their stores’ Genius Bars. Apple Support can be contacted here, and they’re available through both call and text.