How to repair stereo headphones

Written by kevin krause
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The most common problem with a well-used pair of headphones is a faulty connection somewhere along the cord. If you have to jiggle your wire to get your headphones to work, or if movement causes sound to cut in and out, this is where your problem lies. You don't need to invest in a new pair of headphones, though. You can repair the cord at home.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Wire cutters
  • Electrical tape
  • 1/8-inch connector
  • Soldering iron
  • Rosin-core solder

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  1. 1

    Locate the faulty connection along your cord. Plug in your headphones and play sound through them as you jiggle the cord at various points to locate what part of the cord is cutting in and out.

  2. 2

    Cut the cord using wire cutters an inch or so past where the fault in the cord is. If this is at the connector, cut the entire connector piece off. If it is near the headphones, cut off enough to eliminate the faulty section and still allow the cord to be reconnected.

  3. 3

    Strip the end of the cut cord. There are three wires in the cord: the left channel, the right channel and the ground. The left and right normally are coloured, and the ground is bare.

  4. 4

    To repair a poor connection where the cord meets the headphones, match the wires with the correct leads coming from the earpieces and twist them together. Wrap the wires with electrical tape.

  5. 5

    To repair a bad connection at the connector jack, acquire a new 1/8-inch connector and attach the cord's inner wires to the appropriate points on the connector. Connect the left channel wire to the tip, the right channel wire to the ring, and the ground wire to the sleeve. Solder all the wires in place.

  6. 6

    Connect the headphones to a sound source and test for proper function. Jiggle the cord at the new connection to make sure it is secure and does not cut in and out.

Tips and warnings

  • The two most common areas for a faulty connection are at the connector and where the cord meets the headphones.
  • You may be able to reuse your old 1/8-inch connector if the problem is a bad cord and not a bad connection in the connector. Cut out the bad section of cord and reattach the old connector, wrapping it in electrical tape.
  • You may need to do some trial and error testing to locate which coated wire is the left channel and which is right.
  • Always work in a well-ventilated area when using a soldering iron. The fumes produced are toxic.

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