Sound from a computer or a phone can be mono, or stereo. Stereo sound is the superior listening experience whereby sound comes from multiple channels and is generally reproduced through two speakers. Mono on the other hand only has one channel, or it combines all channels into one channel. If you need to keep one ear free while you listen to music and work, it’s a good idea to enable mono audio. That way, you will get decent sound if you’re only listening from one ear bud on your earphones.
Enable Mono audio
Enabling mono audio on Windows 10 is really easy. The only hard part is finding where the setting is.
Open the Settings app and go to the Ease of Access group of settings. Look for and select the Audio tab. There’s a switch called ‘Turn on mono audio’. Turn it on, and mono audio will be enabled.
Mono audio will apply to all audio devices you’ve connected to your system. This includes the built-in speakers on your laptop, Bluetooth headphones and speakers, and wired headphones. The difference will be more obvious when you’re using headphones.
The good thing about this feature is that it works for all audio devices that you connect to your system so you don’t have to enable it for each one, individually. The bad thing about it is that it’s enabled for all your audio devices and you may only need it for a specific device like your headphones in which case, you’re going to be enabling/disabling the switch pretty often.
If you’re wondering why you need to enable mono to listen to music from just one ear bud, it has to do with how sound comes from your headphones. If you listen to music in stereo and take one ear bud out, you may not get all the audio that’s in a file. Some of it might be too quiet or it might be completely silent. This is most notable with movies where the dialog and the movie’s sound effects are on different channels. When Mono audio is enabled, that problem goes away.
If you enable mono from Ease of access and it doesn’t work, check if you’ve installed any sound applications on your system. Often, laptop manufacturers will install sound utilities for the speakers on your device and the app may override the system’s settings. If that’s the case, you might have to uninstall the app. If you don’t want to uninstall the app, check if it has a setting that can enable mono audio.