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My brand new JBL Bluetooth headset only plays sound in mono.

Resetting Bluetooth in an attempt to fix it doesn't help - all Bluetooth services go off and the headset is no longer in the list of sound devices. I have to do a full computer reset to get Bluetooth working again.

This is on Ubuntu 16.04.

What else can I try?

3 Answers 3

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By accident I found that if I remove the headphones from the Bluetooth device list before shutting down the computer and then add them again after it is turned on it gives me both profiles and I can select the stereo profile and it works fine.

If I don't remove the headphones before shutting down then I have to remove them and then reboot. Not the best solution but it does work.

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Bluetooth devices need to support so-called profiles, which basically describe what the device can do. If, for example, you want to use a Bluetooth keyboard, it needs to be compatible with the Human Interface Device or HID profile.

For headsets and other audio devices, there are multiple relevant profiles: The Headset Profile (HSP) and/or the Hands Free Profile (HFP) are used when you want to use the device in two directions, so to speak - speaker output and microphone input. With HSP or HFP, the available bandwidth gets split between the speaker and the microphone, so the quality of the audio output will be lower. Maybe that's what you mean by "mono".

If on the other hand you use the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), the whole bandwidth is used for the audio output. Because of that, the quality of the audio output will be better as with HSP/HFP, but you won't be able to use the microphone.

You'll need to look into which profiles are supported by your specific device. A device can support multiple profiles, but only one at a time. For example, my headset supports HSP/HFP as well as A2DP. You can select which profile you want to use in the audio settings, but you can only use one profile at a time.

You also might want to look into which other Bluetooth devices are connected to your machine. Typically, you can only use one device per profile at a time. So if you are, for example, using a Bluetooth speaker with A2DP, you can't use Bluetooth headphones with AD2P at the same time.

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  • its not a game head set no mic and mono means not stero this is the only device connected your reply is way off the question asked the device works there is no other profile that can be selected and it only gives mono poor quality sound.
    – David
    Oct 7, 2020 at 10:49
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    I found this answer insightful, for me it explained a bit of the background that helped me understand how bluetooth headsets work. But indeed, it wasn't a direct answer for me either (I had the same issue) until I got thinking about the "Typically, you can only use one device per profile at a time." This is not just about the connected devices, I also had devices in the past that are disconnected. I removed those devices. Mar 8 at 0:28
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when trying the answer above re remove device, i found that on mint xfce on a dell laptop, if i remove the device (a tozo t10) then immediately set it up again, the option for hsp/hfp shows up just as @Zanna and @David described after the reboot, with no reboot required.

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