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You’ve just spent a ton of money on new headphones and you’re ready to listen to your favorite tunes. But instead, you feel like you’re underwater. What’s going on?
Several factors can cause your headphones to misbehave, sounding distorted or like underwater. If it’s connected to your PC, maybe the problem is from the operating system. Besides, the sound issue could result from a faulty cable, damaged drivers or faulty sound card, incorrect EQ settings, etc.
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Before talking about why your headphones are misbehaving and producing sounds like underwater, here’s a quick question; what exactly does an underwater speaker sound like?
Naturally, in the ocean, underwater sounds are produced as a result of several factors, such as the movement of aquatic creatures, raindrops, and breaking waves. Another common factor that causes underwater sounds in the ocean is the movements of different water vessels.
Speaking of underwater speakers, however, the sounds generated through them are like those of conventional speakers. In case you don’t know, sounds are a type of wave created by vibrations. Yes, when an object vibrates, it creates sound, which causes pressure waves.
Unfortunately, these pressure waves create more dense or less dense particles in the surrounding medium, such as air and water. That said, sounds will only work when they find any of these mediums to travel.
As previously stated, underwater speakers will work the same way as your regular speakers. The only difference, however, is that they needed to be sealed properly to prevent the electronics from getting wet.
The speakers always produce very strong vibrations underwater, which are usually conducted by the bones located pretty close to our ears. That’s not all; these strong vibrations are usually generated over a full range of audio frequencies, where high-quality underwater sounds are produced.
The bottom line is, good underwater speakers will produce strong underwater sounds. However, when used out in the air, they will most likely produce distorted sound.
Back to the burning question of this post; why do headphones sound like they’re underwater?
As earlier mentioned, one factor is the operating system. Yes, your headphones can sound like they are underwater after you recently installed a new system update. That said, if you have your headphones connected to your PC, the best thing to do is to troubleshoot the hardware to understand where the issue is coming from. If it comes from a recent update, try to rollback/undo the update.
Another reason is a faulty cable. I’m sure you know that headphones have several components. Of all of them, the TRRS cables inside the rubber housing are the weakest.
Headphones cables play an important role in how the devices function. Their primary function is to convey electrical signals from the connection source, such as your computer system, to the speakers.
However, the wires aren’t without their issues. The continuous pulling and lifting of the TRRS cables can, over time, affect the performance of the headphones, making them deliver sounds like they’re underwater.
Furthermore, the TRRS cables don’t necessarily need to be damaged to produce underwater-like sounds. The issue could also arise because of the incorrect plugging of the cable. Yes, you may experience the sound because the TRRS plug is inserted too deep inside the source.
Having blown headphone speakers is another possible reason.
In case you keep experiencing the underwater-like sound from your headphones, maybe the device’s speakers are blown. So, the question is; what causes speakers to become blown? One of the many reasons you can encounter that is when you have an incorrect combination of the amplifier and the speakers.
In case you don’t know, there is a certain component inside your headphones’ house, called a voice coil. It’s the coil of conductive wire that’s connected to the tip of your headphones. Unfortunately, there’s a limit to the amount of power that the voice coil can handle. When you listen to music with your headphones for a longer period, at the highest volume, it could cause the voice coil to get blown, producing distorted sounds.
Incorrect equalization (EQ) settings can be another cause.
I’m sure you know that some low-powered amplifiers come with equalization settings that you can always use to balance hour sound. However, when the EQ is incorrectly set up, it could cause your headphones to produce underwater-like sounds.
For example, when you have the EQ set to a low-pass filter, it could cause the headphone speakers to misbehave. If this happens, the best thing to do is to change the settings and choose the “default” option.
Now, you’ve got a clearer picture of what might cause your headphones to deliver sound that feels like they’re underwater. The next question is, what are the possible ways to fix the issue on your headphones.
Any time you get faced with a situation where your headphones are only producing distorted or muffled sounds, one of the best things you need to do is to troubleshoot the hardware.
On your Windows 10 system, there’s a built-in troubleshooter to check and fix sound-related issues. So, try to troubleshoot the device to understand exactly where the issue is coming from. You can do that by following the straightforward steps below.
- Start by pressing your PC’s Windows key +X. After that, proceed by choosing the Control panel.
- Next, navigate to the top right side of the screen and then change the “view by” option to Large.
- After that, the next thing you need to do is locate and click on troubleshooting. On the left panel of the screen, proceed and click on the “view all” option.
- You’ll find the “playing audio” option, select it to start troubleshooting.
The underwater-like sound coming from your headphones could result from a faulty sound card. In this case, all you need to do is to uninstall the sound card and install a new and updated one. You can do that on your Windows 10 system using the straightforward steps below.
- Press your PC’s Windows key + X
- After that, you’ll see a list, locate and click on Device Manager. From there, search for the Sound driver and uninstall it.
- After the installation process, you’ll need to restart your PC.
- Next, visit the sound Card manufacturer’s website and check for the latest sound driver for Windows 10.
- Install the new driver and you should have your headphones delivering uninterrupted and clear sounds.
If after troubleshooting, you found out that the voice coil is the reason you can hear the underwater-like sound, all you need to do is get the voice coil replaced or fix the damaged speaker. Read the previous section on more information about the voice coil.
As previously mentioned, the TRRS cable is another factor that could cause your headphones to produce muffled or distorted sound. If after checking you find it to be the culprit, all you need to do is replace it with a new one. It’s worth noting that this option is possible if your device has a replaceable cable.
Another thing you can consider doing to fix the issue is to pull your TRRS plus a little bit up to balance the sound.