By default, your PC plays audio in stereo using both speakers. However, if one of your speakers isn’t working properly, or you’re using a headset with a headset, you may not hear some sounds if they try to play on the “missing” speaker.
Fortunately, Windows allows you to change your audio from stereo to mono, which will play all sounds through a single speaker. You can also use mono as the default setting for better accessibility if you hear more clearly with one ear.
What is mono audio?
Mono is short for “monophonic,” where “mono” means one and “phonic” means sound. When audio is played through only one channel, it is called mono audio. It’s not about the number of instruments on a recording, but about the channels through which those sounds are transmitted.
Most consumer electronics, including your computer and phone, are set to use stereo. Unless you manually change the setting to play mono audio, you will hear everything in stereo. If, for some reason, one of those audio channels is not transmitting audio, it can result in a poor listening experience.
Most of the time, the best solution is to buy some affordable PC speakers and get stereo audio back. However, you can also fix the problem by enabling mono audio in Windows.
How to enable or disable mono audio through Windows settings
Enabling or disabling mono audio is not too complicated in Windows. Start by pressing win + me to launch the Settings app. Select Sound from the right panel. Look for an option called audio monkey and activate the button to its right.
If some sounds weren’t playing before, try playing the same audio again and see if they play now.
If you want to go back to using stereo, you can simply toggle this button off again and you’re good to go.
How to enable or disable mono audio through accessibility settings
Going through the Accessibility Settings accomplishes the same goal as going through the normal Settings route, so it’s just a different way of accomplishing the same thing.
Press win + me to launch the Settings app. Select Accessibility in the left sidebar and select Audio from the right panel. Look for the option called audio monkey and activate the button next to it.
Check your speakers by playing audio to verify that it works. If you want to turn it off, just click the switch to turn it off again.
If you don’t want to enable mono audio for the entire operating system, you can simply use the setting in your media player. This will ensure that any media you play outside of that specific media player will still play in stereo.
While many media players allow you to play audio in mono, we’ll use VLC as an example here.
Start by playing a video or audio file in VLC. Select the Audio option from the top ribbon and select stereo mode. Select infectious mononucleosis of the list.
You should now be able to hear audio in mono mode. When you want to go back to stereo, go to Audio > Stereo mode again and select Stereo.
Use Mono Audio to listen to audio through a single channel
Hopefully you will be able to hear all sounds after switching to Mono audio. Listening to audio through a single channel is generally not as pleasant as two channels, but it does help while you fix your audio device.
Once you have your new audio device, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with all of the audio settings in Windows to make the best use of your new device. For example, did you know that Windows offers several built-in sound enhancements to improve audio quality?