Why do my headphones keep cutting out?

Guy standing in tall grass and adjusting QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

We’ve all been there. You're in the middle of your favorite song, when all of a sudden, your audio stutters and you're left wondering, "Why do my headphones keep cutting out?"

Sound familiar? It's a common occurrence for Bluetooth® headphones or earbud users. The good news? There’s usually an easy fix. Read on to learn more on why your headphones might be cutting out, and what you can do to fix the problem.


So, what’s going on?

Bluetooth signal can come in and out due to many reasons. If you're experiencing audio troubles or stuttering with your Bluetooth headphones, here are some common causes and possible fixes.

1. Bluetooth range

Bluetooth headphones are typically grouped as class 2 or 3, which describes the maximum distance their signal can reach. But how far does Bluetooth reach, exactly? Most devices have up to 30 feet of connection range before they start to falter. Make sure to check your product's owner's manual to find the exact range and stay within those boundaries. For best results, there should be a direct line of sight between your devices with no obstruction in between.

2. Interference

Physical obstructions such as walls, floors, or metal can interfere with your Bluetooth signal. As a best practice, you should stay in the same room as your device. Even a person standing between your Bluetooth earbuds and device can affect audio quality.

Too many audio signals can interrupt your connection, especially if others are using audio devices nearby. To improve your connection, move at least 30 feet away from other devices using 2.4 GHz frequencies, such as Wi-Fi devices, microwaves, Bluetooth speakers, or cordless telephones. Keep in mind, while streaming media is generally secure, you should exercise caution when using apps with sensitive data, as Bluetooth can potentially be exploited.

Couple laying in hammock listening to QuietComfort Earbuds II without interference

3. Poor Bluetooth connection

A weak Bluetooth connection might be the culprit for audio stutters. To solve this issue, remove or unpair your device from Bluetooth, restart, and then reconnect. You can also try powering your wireless headphones off and back on — sometimes this works to kickstart a bad connection and improve your Bluetooth function. If that doesn't work, you can try using wired headphones with an auxiliary cord to confirm it's not an issue with your device.

4. Outdated Bluetooth version

Check your app to see if your headphones are updated to the latest Bluetooth version. You should at minimum be operating at Bluetooth 4. Bluetooth 5.4 is the most recent version, offering the best audio performance.

5. Low battery

Though Bluetooth itself won’t drain your device battery, low headphone battery levels can result in audio problems and playback issues. It's an easy fix; make sure your devices are charged to at least 30 percent before use.

6. Wi-Fi connection

A poor Wi-Fi or internet connection can cause your audio source to buffer, especially if you’re using a streaming service. Check your connection and reset your router if needed — and be sure to reset the Wi-Fi on your phone or audio device too.

7. App issues

Running too many apps can slow down your phone's power and productivity and can potentially disrupt your Bluetooth connection. When streaming music or audio, only run essential apps, and shut down any unnecessary apps running in the background. You might also have a setting on your phone that limits the apps that can run simultaneously. If so, it's helpful to pop this feature on.

Additionally, your streaming app might be the culprit. You can try listening to music or videos in another app to determine if this is the issue. If the original app is causing the stuttering, make sure you have the latest version installed and try restarting the app.

Woman waiting for train and fixing Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 app issue

8. Old headphones

Older headphone models can sometimes struggle with streaming and the latest Bluetooth updates. Try connecting to your audio with newer headphones to check if the older headphones are the source of audio stutters. If so, and if you've tried all troubleshooting possibilities, it might be time for an upgrade. The extra perk is that new Bluetooth headphones often come with additional features like active noise cancellation and spatial audio.

Keeping the connection

Bluetooth technology is amazing, but it's not perfect. So, when it acts up and interrupts your true crime podcast or your party playlist, it can be frustrating. Just follow these best practices and troubleshooting methods to keep the connection clear and strong for happy listening.