How to fix macOS audio balance bug

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Taking advantage of the year-end deals, I got my hands on a pair of Pixel A-Series heads. As soon as they arrived, I easily connected them to my phone and MacBook Air. But one day, as I joined a professional call, I noticed that the sound was only coming out of one bud.

I immediately assumed that Google’s new affordable headphones were the culprit. After all, there has been connectivity problem reports. But I was wrong. It’s not a Pixel Buds issue, it’s a macOS issue.

The users were report this bug for years. Apple has updated its operating system several times, but the problem keeps resurfacing.

How to tell you are the victim of a macOS audio balance bug

To start with, remember that (unfortunately) we live in a world where it’s quite normal for Bluetooth speakers, headphones, and earphones to panic every now and then. So, before you jump to any hasty conclusions, it’s best to follow all the classic troubleshooting techniques: turn your machine’s wireless connection off and on, and disconnect and reconnect your gadget. If that doesn’t work, try restarting your computer and checking for a firmware update for your audio accessory.

[Related: MacOS Big Sur has an annoying Do Not Disturb bug. Here’s how to fix it.]

Along with other issues, we also suggest that you check for a new macOS fix, and you can do that if you feel lucky. But there are reports of this problem that date back to Catalina’s days in 2017– that is, there are two full versions of macOS. Given that precedent, we believe that if Apple hasn’t fixed this issue yet, it’s unlikely that it will do so with a small fix.

If none of the troubleshooting methods work, you will need to run some basic diagnostics. To find out exactly where the problem is, try connecting your audio gadget to another device, like your smartphone or tablet. If the problem persists, you will know that the problem is not with your Mac computer. But if your headphones or earphones are working properly, you will need to focus your attention on your machine.

To rule out the possibility that your computer just doesn’t work well with audio equipment, try pairing it with another set of wireless speakers. If you still only hear on one side, you’ve found a macOS audio balance bug.

How to fix macOS audio balance bug

The solution to this insanely annoying problem is surprisingly simple: just open Settings and go to Ring. There, under the Go out tab, you will see a slider right next to Balance. You’ve probably never touched this option before, but don’t be surprised if you see that the slider is all the way to the right or to the left – that’s what the bug does. Just move the cursor to the center and your problem should be resolved.

At least momentarily.

[Related: What to do when your OS becomes obsolete—and how to save money in the process]

Some users reported using this fix only for the problem to surface later. Some even said it happens to them constantly and having to correct this setting over and over again is really exhausting. If the bug does not go away, know that there is an application for it: it is called Balance lock, and its sole purpose is to lock your macOS machine’s audio balance in place. Download this free tool from the App Store, install it, and you are good to go.

Hopefully, there will come a time when we no longer need an extra tool for our machines to do what they were supposed to do on their own. Until then, it’s good to have a solution.


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