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How Do I Connect Headphones to My PC?

Updated February 21, 2017

Headphone use not only improves your enjoyment of music and videos on your computer, but it also shields others nearby from being exposed to your choices in media content. Since most computers only accept mini-phono plug type headphone jacks, some headphones---particularly higher-quality headphones---may not work without the use of an adaptor.

Plug your headphone jack into either the front case port for a headphone connection (you'll see a small pictograph of a pair of headphones) or into the green "Speaker Out" port in the back of a desktop computer, if you don't have a headphone adaptor jack on your computer. If the headphone jack fits, skip to Step 4. If you need to take any further steps, your headphone jack plug will either be too loose (plug too small--see Step 2) or won't enter the port (plug too large--see Step 3).

Use a phone jack adaptor head that increases the size of your headphone jack if your current jack is too small for your PC port. Most headphone adaptor kits come with a variety of adaptor plug sizes. Plug the headphone jack plug into the back of the adaptor plug that fits your PC port. Plug the adaptor jack into the PC port.

Employ a phone jack adaptor head that decreases the size of your headphone jack if your current jack is too large for your PC port. Plug the bigger jack into the back of the smaller adaptor and then plug this adaptor into the PC.

Test your headphones with a recording. You should hear sound coming through the headphone muffs, not out of your computer speakers. Most headphone jacks automatically cut off signal to external speakers when a headphone connection is made.

Wiggle or rotate the adaptor jack (at the headphone cable and the PC) if you still hear sound through the speakers and the headphones, or out of the speakers and not out of the headphones at all. An imperfect connection at the adaptor will make the sound go in and out in the headphones. Reset the adaptor connection until the signal is good.

Plug the headphones into one of your external speaker boxes (if they feature a headphone jack) if you still hear sound coming through the headphones and out of the speakers at the same time. This headphone connection will usually cut out the speaker signal

Check any in-line volume switch that may be present on the headphone cable line. Turn up the volume at this thumb-switch if it is turned down too low.

Tip

If you need to lengthen your headphone cable line, use a headphone or AV extension cable. Extension cables are available in various lengths. When purchasing adaptors, always buy high-quality components that have gold-tipped connectors. Gold conducts electronic signals better than other metals like nickel or chrome.

Warning

Prolonged use of headphones at high volumes can cause permanent hearing damage, especially in young people. This damage can happen within a year of regular exposure. If you find yourself turning your headphones up to drown out other sounds, invest in a pair of sound-cancelling headphones. You'll be able to hear your music better--without turning the volume up to dangerous levels.

Things You'll Need

  • Headphones
  • Headphone AV adaptor jacks
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About the Author

A writer and entrepreneur for over 40 years, J.E. Myers has a broad and eclectic range of expertise in personal computer maintenance and design, home improvement and design, and visual and performing arts. Myers is a self-taught computer expert and owned a computer sales and service company for five years. She currently serves as Director of Elections for McLean County, Illinois government.