How to Adjust Audio Balance in Windows 10

How to Adjust Audio Balance in Windows 10

If you’re used to the older versions of Windows, the way to adjust the audio balance was straightforward. You’d open the speaker settings, create the outcome you wanted with the sliders and checks, and then save everything before exiting.

Since you could hit “Enter” to exit automatically, it was not uncommon to make the changes more than once before getting out of the habit of hitting the keyboard.

With Windows 10, Microsoft added more complexity to the steps needed to adjust the audio balance of your speakers.

When changes to the left and right channels are necessary, the following information will help you get the results you want.

How to Adjust Audio Balance in Windows 10

Audio balance controls in Windows 10 are found in the Sound menu underneath the System settings. Users must click on “Device Properties” to access the settings. After choosing the appropriate device, scroll down to the Spatial Sound option, where the left and right balance settings can slide between 0 to 100. Save and exit.

The audio balance control in Windows 10 is buried within several options inside the Settings and Sound control panels.

Although the search box allows you to access it with a couple of clicks, the menu chain is still more extensive today than it was in the past.

You’d want to adjust the balance controls in the Sound menu if your audio playback offers an unbalanced experience in the left and right channels.

It’s often more noticeable when wearing headphones than when using speakers, but it still produces awkwardness that some people might want to fix.

Although some apps allow users to control the audio balance locally, it’s often better to manage these commands through Windows 10.

It also helps to keep the screen up if you plan to restore the original settings after you’re finished with your current activity.

Two methods are available for Windows 10 users to adjust the audio balance. You can go through the Settings area (easiest) or the classic Control Panel (harder) if you’re more familiar with the traditional pathway.

How to Change the Audio Left-Right Audio Balance in Windows 10

If you want to adjust the left or right audio channels for a Windows 10 computer or laptop, here are the steps to follow when using the Settings app.

  1. Open the Settings app in the Windows 10 environment.
  2. Go to the System menu, then select the Sound option.
  3. On the right, you’ll need to select the output device from the dropdown menu underneath “Choose your output device.” If you’re using an app that accesses a different option than what is listed, you’ll need to make the adjustment with your selection to get a result.
  4. Click on the Device properties link above the master volume control.
  5. You’ll be taken to a new page. Scroll down to the Spatial sound category, where you’ll see two balance sliders marked “L” and “R.”
  6. Move them to the appropriate position to achieve the results needed to balance the audio. Once you’re satisfied with the outcome, you can close the Settings app and continue with your tasks.

If you don’t want to use the Settings app, Windows 10 has an alternative pathway through the Sound options to balance your audio.

  1. Right-click on the sound icon found in your taskbar.
  2. A menu option will appear on the computer or laptop screen. Choose “Sounds” from the selections.
  3. When the Sound menu box appears, you’ll need to click on the Playback tab if it doesn’t automatically populate.
  4. Find the audio output device that requires balancing. You’ll see the internal speakers in the list first, followed by items you’ve saved or have plugged in previously. A green check appears next to the active options.
  5. Double-click on the playback device that requires an audio balance adjustment.
  6. A properties box will appear after the right-click. You’ll need to click on the tab that says “Levels.”
  7. You’ll get a primary volume control slider on the screen. After verifying that the number is appropriate for your needs, click on the “Balance” button found on the right side.
  8. A third pop-up window will appear. You’ll be given options to adjust the left and right channel balance. Place the arrows or type in a number between 0-100 in the appropriate box to initiate the changes you want to see.
  9. Click the “OK” button. You can continue clicking “OK” to close the other Control Panel pop-up windows.

What If the Audio Balancing Steps Didn’t Work?

You can fix most audio balancing issues in Windows 10 by adjusting the left and right channels until you feel comfortable with the results.

When there’s a problem with the hardware components of your setup, a simple change to the channel balance might not be enough to correct the situation.

You might have a speaker earpiece that starts wearing out, reducing the output it offers, causing the audio to feel a bit awkward.

It often helps to test the same speakers or headphones on a different computer, laptop, or smartphone to see if the balance problem continues. If it does, that means you have a hardware issue to fix with those items.

If it happens on one computer only, that means you have a settings issue that needs to get fixed.

When the audio balancing steps don’t work as intended, you can try these options to restore your listening experience.

Advanced Audio Balancing Option for Windows 10How to Access the Audio Balancing Feature
Switch from Stereo to MonoAlthough stereo is a great option, some Windows 10 computers don’t handle the separate channels well. Switching to mono creates an automatic balance, especially if you have speakers in multiple rooms. Go to the Settings app, choose “Ease of Access,” and then click “Audio” on the left. Move the slider to “On” under the “Turn on mono audio” setting.
Reinstall Your Audio DriversAudio drivers sometimes malfunction in the Windows 10 environment. If you end up with an incompatible or older version, the audio balance can be affected. You’ll need to right-click on the start button, choose “Device Manager,” and then expand the “Audio Inputs and Outputs” option.
Right-click on the audio device that requires fixing. Click the Uninstall Device option from the menu that appears. Go to the website for your speaker, motherboard, or computer manufacturer to find the latest driver. After downloading and installing it, you’ll need to perform a system reboot.
Use the Windows 10 TroubleshooterMicrosoft offers a remarkably effective troubleshooter that can often self-repair audio issues. Open the Settings app from the gear icon, choose “Update and Security,” and then select the Troubleshooter from the left pane. From there, click on the button that says “Run the Troubleshooter” under the Playing Audio Section.   Follow the steps outlined on your screen, then give the computer a restart to see if the changes help.

What Issues Can Cause an Audio Imbalance to Occur?

Although changes to your audio balance are often unexpected and frustrating, you can often avoid issues by understanding when or how this problem develops. Here are the most common reasons why the changes occur without your permission. 

1. Operating System Upgrades

Whenever Windows 10 updates with new security enhancements or feature changes, there is a small risk that your default settings will change.

Although it is uncommon, the audio settings can become unbalanced, especially if you’ve manually changed them in the past.

If you’ve recently had the automatic updater install files and an audio balance issue occurred, try to make the manual changes to your settings.

When that adjustment doesn’t work, it might be necessary to revert to the previous version until a fix gets discovered.

2. Audio Enhancement Problems

Some Windows 10 PCs come built with specific audio enhancements that are meant to make your devices sound better when transmitting audio.

Although they do an excellent job of providing an improved listening experience, they can sometimes change the balance settings for connected devices.

You might notice the balance problems occur when you’re using one set of speakers or headphones.

In that situation, you know that the settings for that product require some changes in Windows 10.

If everything is unbalanced, the PC might need to have the drivers uninstalled and reinstalled to correct the issue.

You can also disable the special enhancements like room correction, surround sound, and bass boost to correct the balance. Here are the steps to follow to see if this fix works.

  • Right-click on the speaker symbol in the bottom right corner of your taskbar.
  • Select “Playback Devices” from the menu that appears.
  • Choose the audio device that isn’t working as expected, then click on the “Properties” button.
  • In the Enhancements section, check the box next to “Disable All Enhancements.”
  • Click on Apply. Then you’ll need to tap the “OK” button to save the changes.

3. Faulty Equipment

Although electronics are relatively reliable today, they can still experience wire disconnects, soldering issues, and broken boards.

Speakers can blow out. If you have this situation to correct, you can repair the problem or replace the item.

Even internal speakers with a computer can malfunction. You’ll want to verify that it is an equipment issue before paying for a direct replacement. The inspection and potential repair could be free if you have an active warranty.

A Final Thought on Adjusting the Audio Balance on Windows 10 PCs

Audio balance issues on a Windows 10 PC are correctible through the Settings app or the Control Panel. Even if the software says that an equal output occurs, users can make manual changes to reflect personal needs and a customized experience.

I’ve discovered that some headphones manufacturers lock their audio channels to prevent volume level adjustments. Windows 10 does the same thing by default on some systems.

The good news is that you can unlock this feature to adjust your left-right volume balance. I don’t recommend that anyone follow the steps below unless they’ve tried everything else first and have experience working with computer settings.

  • Launch your Windows PC function by pressing the R and Windows keys together.
  • Type “regedit” in the dialog box. Hit the “Enter” button.
  • Navigate to this path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Bluetooth\Audio\AVRCP/CT
  • Double-click on the value with the name “DisableAbsoluteVolume.”
  • Change its value data to “1.”
  • Click the “OK” button to save the change and restart the computer.

These instructions work for all speakers and headphones, including wired, wireless, and Bluetooth options.


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