How to make a headphone cable

Written by arthur ramsay
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How to make a headphone cable
A male 1/8 inch TRS connector. (jack ingresso audio image by Andrea Riva from Fotolia.com)

Headphone cables consist of three separate wires. One carries the signal for the left headphone driver, the second has the signal for the right headphone driver, and the third wire connects to ground. Making headphone cables can help you learn how to use a soldering iron, since there aren't any components sensitive to damage with the heat of a soldering iron. Headphone cables can be made extremely long, over 100 feet, without significant loss in quality because of the signal they carry.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Two conductor shielded cable
  • Wire stripper
  • Female TRS connector, 1/8 inch
  • Male TRS connector, 1/8 inch
  • Solder
  • Soldering iron
  • Electrical tape

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Split the two conductor cable at both ends, exposing both interior conductors and the shielding wire.

  2. 2

    Strip the conductors, leaving about 1/2 inch of bare copper.

  3. 3

    Examine the TRS connectors (often called jacks). Each wire in your shielded cable will connect one of the three metal contacts protruding out of the backs of one jack to its twin on the other jack.

  4. 4

    Identify which contact each wire should connect to. For example, the longest contact on the female jack should connect to uncolored or bare wire (called the shield or ground wire). The shield wire then connects to the longest contact on the male.

  5. 5

    Take the female jack and wrap each wire of the shielded cable around its respective contact. Do the same for the male jack.

  6. 6

    Test the cable by plugging headphones into one end and connecting the other end to an audio source. If the cable doesn't work, double-check your connections.

  1. 1

    Plug in the soldering iron. Once heated, hold the iron in your dominant hand and the solder in the other.

  2. 2

    Place the tip of the iron on one of the contacts, just underneath where you wrapped the wire. Add solder from above. The solder will melt and form a shiny coating once you remove the iron. Do the same for each contact.

  3. 3

    Wrap electrical tape around the ends of each jack, covering the contacts..

Tips and warnings

  • 1/4-inch TRS connectors are nearly identical to 1/8-inch connectors, just bigger.

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