What to do if your iPhone sound isn’t working or sounds muffled

By , Mar 9, 2016

iOS Volume Not Working Tips and Tricks

Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch all have a built-in speaker system that allows you to hear sounds when you play videos, music, or take phone calls. Although some devices have more speakers than others, that’s not to say that you will never have a problem with any of them.

Speakers may malfunction, or user error may lead to problems with the device’s settings that make sound inaudible. In this tutorial, we’ll give you some troubleshooting tips to follow if you can’t hear the sound coming out of your iOS device.

Some reasons you can’t hear your iOS device & how to fix

There are a myriad of reasons why you might be experiencing issues hearing your iPhone, whether it’s related to ringtones, videos and music, or it sounds muffled. We’ll try to cover a few main aspects of why this happens, and then we’ll give you some tips on how to troubleshoot.

Some of the reasons you might be experiencing sound issues are:

Your iPhone may be stuck in silent mode

Problem: If your iPhone is in silent mode, then you might not be able to hear your ringtones and other notification sounds when people are trying to get in touch with you.

Fix: You can put your iPhone back into ringer mode by using the ringer/silent switch on the side of your iPhone. Some iPad models also have this same switch, so this tip could also very well relate to iPad users.

Your device’s ringer volume could be all the way down

Problem: If your ringtones, text tones, and other sounds aren’t sounding when you get a notification, but your videos and music are playing at a normal volume, then this means your ringer volume is turned all the way down and your media volume is turned up. These are two separate settings in iOS

Fix: To adjust your ringer volume, simply adjust the volume with the volume buttons while no media is playing, or instead, go to Settings > Sounds and drag the ringer and alerts volume slider to the desired level.

Your device’s media volume could be all the way down

Problem: If you can’t seem to hear music and videos, but your ringtone is loud and clear, then that’s because your ringer volume is turned up, but your device’s separate media volume level may be turned all the way down.

Fix: You can adjust your device’s media volume separately from the ringer volume by dragging the volume slider in Control Center.

Dust may be obstructing your device’s speaker

Problem: If you use your iOS device(s) in a dirty environment, check the speaker for obstructions like dirt and grime. These things can easily get into the speaker grille of your device and muffle sounds. One of the key indicators of a problem like this is when your device’s sounds sounds distorted or muffled rather than clear and you don’t have a case on.

Fix: Cleaning out your device’s speaker grille can be a tedious task, but Apple recommends that you should always use a soft-bristled brush. Personally, I have good luck being extremely careful and using a toothpick. Not only is it nice and small and can get into the Lightning port and speaker grille easily, but it is effective at removing obstructions. If you choose to disobey Apple’s recommendation like I do, you do so at your own risk however.

Your case may be obstructing your device’s speaker

Problem: Some protective cases that you use with your iPhone may be obstructing the noise and giving it the effect of playing sound under water since the sound waves have nowhere to go. Some highly-protective cases are known for causing muffling because you trade off your user experience for protection, but never rule out that your case could be the problem.

Fix: To see if your case is causing the problem, remove it and try to listen to the sound again. If it still sounds muffled or distorted, then the dust idea above may be your culprit rather than the case itself. If it’s the case, you either need to find a new brand, go without a case, or go deal with the problem.

Your Bluetooth headset may be connected

Problem: If you occasionally use a Bluetooth headset with your iPhone, then your iPhone is set to automatically connect to it when it’s in range. When it connects, iOS automatically uses AirPlay mirroring to direct all sound to the Bluetooth headset.

In this scenario, what can happen is if you leave home without your Bluetooth headset, your sound might work great when you’re out and about, but when you come back home, sound might start to route to the Bluetooth headset instead of through your iPhone, giving you the illusion that there’s no sound because the iPhone is routing sound to the Bluetooth headset that you’re not using instead.

Fix: You can either turn Bluetooth off when you’re not using the Bluetooth headset, or you can turn off the AirPlay connection between your iPhone and the Bluetooth headset. Since I use an Apple Watch, turning off Bluetooth isn’t really an option for me. Instead, I just open Control Center, tap on the AirPlay button, and choose the iPhone speaker instead of the Bluetooth headset, and this makes the sound work right on my iPhone again.

Other possible fixes for sound issues

If any of the above issues didn’t relate to you, then there are some other things you can do to try and fix your sound woes. Among those are:

Turn your device off and on again

If it’s a software glitch, which can happen from time to time, you might be able to fix it by simply turning your device off and on again. Typically, a hard reset is the best, which can be done by pressing and holding the power and Home button for 10 seconds until the iPhone reboots.

Restore to the latest version of iOS

It could be that something in the iOS software itself has become corrupted and installing a fresh updated copy of iOS could solve the problem by putting all your settings back in check.

Connect a headset and see if sound works

If you can’t hear anything with the built-in speakers after trying all of the above steps, but are able to hear sounds via the headset when a headset is connected, whether by way of the 3.5mm headphone jack or the Bluetooth connection, there could be a problem with your built-in speaker(s).

If you believe an issue is tied to the built-in speakers, then you will most likely have to visit an Apple Store to have your speaker serviced. If the device is under warranty, it should be replaced for free. Otherwise, you may be facing a bench and labor charge.


Speaker issues can occur without warning, but being armed with the knowledge to handle them can help you to troubleshoot these kinds of issues.

Have you ever experienced sound issues on your iOS devices? If so, share what caused them and what fixed them below!

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • MrDDify

    Just curious but your device might be already turned on so shouldn’t it be: Turn your device off and on again. Instead of: Turn your device on and off again

    • If it’s on already, why would you turn it on and off again? It would need to be turned off before you could turn it back on if it were on. 😛

  • i have this sound issue related to bluetooth, its glitchy, happens recently and occasionally, if i play music over the car via bluetooth and turn off the car the music stops, sound stop also.. from speakers or headphone, the sound get glitchy if i try to manipulate the sound settings .. its give me the error-ry glitchy sound if u know what i mean, i couldn’t fix it and I’m sure there’s others like me out there who find the solution by restarting the iPhone over and over, BTW i don’t use the bluetooth anymore because of this reason, i just hope the police don’t catch me talking while driving for this stupid reason :/

    • the hood

      Have you tried to change ‘audio source’ setting before you turn off ignition, or on occasion do you turn ignition completely off or to its ‘accessories’ setting? Lastly an auto electrician may diagnose a fault for what it’s worth.

  • Sam

    Been having this issue for quite some time. Almost want to take it to my local T-Mobile store and exchange the phone. No amount of software updates have fixed it either. Phone is iPhone 6S 128GB.

    Here’s what mine does: I place a call, either within my motorcycle helmet (Sena Bluetooth to Siri, who I can hear and can hear me fine) or just with my handset, and once it tries to make the call, no ring sound, no audio, but the other party gets the call and answers. I see the call timer start, so I know I’m connected. They can’t hear me and I can’t hear them. Only fix I’ve found so far is rebooting my phone (annoying). This happens 3-5 times a week. Getting fed up with my phone not knowing how to be a phone…

    • HammerOfTruth

      You’re going to have to back up your phone and erase it and set it up as new and then test it for like a day. If the issue still happens then make a Genius Bar appointment at the closest Apple Store and they will swap it. If you don’t have one near you, call Applecare and they can ship you a new phone. T-Mobile usually doesn’t replace iPhones and if they do, it might be a refurbished one.

      • Great answer. Going to T-Mobile directly wouldn’t do anything because they will tell you to talk to Apple. And Apple will tell you to restore (and set up as new = not from backup) and test if the problem persists.

      • the hood

        Apple replace phones with refurbished.

      • Scott Curry

        Or repair. Instead of replacing my entire device, they fixed the touchscreen for $100+

      • the hood

        you’d think and hope so. people still believe the ‘replacement’ phone they receive from apple is brand new when it is not. further, no repairs to the touchscreen on their watches too difficult it seems, instead they make you pay for another one albeit with a slight deduction. the great customer service experience, what a joke!

      • Sam

        I was afraid that would be the case. As much a hassle it can be to backup and restore everything (for some reason apps never restore correctly for me), I kind of knew I was going to have to do that. As for a replacement phone being refurbished I really don’t mind as I’ll be getting whatever phone comes out this fall due to the Simple Choice plan I have with T-Mobile. The only reason I said I’d take it to T-Mobile is because my phone is “leased” through that plan.

  • Fanboy 

    Sometimes if my sound is muffled I activate Siri really quick and fixes the volume levels

    • Sam

      Sometimes I can get it to work again by playing music in my helmet then trying the call again. That works about a quarter of the time.

  • Rigs101

    When I make or receive a call my ear speaker doesn’t work I can only talk on speaker phone I replaced the speaker twice already and I restored and my phone still doesn’t work. Anyone else have this problem?

    • Justine Norton

      I have!!! It’s a hardware issue.. I had to take it to apple and they replaced my phone but now it’s doing it again

  • hOmE

    Just encounterred this problem this morning.. not sure I followed your guide, but it turned back to normal.