Headphones can range in price from a few dollars to a hundred dollars or more for a good quality pair; however, no one wants to spend good money on a pair of headphones only to lose sound in one side from a bad connection. In most cases it is the connection within the moulded jacket at the base of the headphones that incurs damage. A quick check is to simply wiggle the jack to detect a crackling sound, which will determine whether the jack is in need of replacement. The focus in this article will be on replacing the jack, which will likely be the source of your problems.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- wire strippers
- wire cutters
- replacement jack (1/8'')
- razor blade
- solder iron
- AA battery
Cut off the jack with the wire cutters, or you can use the razor blade if you do not have a wire cutter handy. Cut as closely to the moulded plastic or metal jacket as possible to prevent loss in length of your wire.
Split the wires apart with the razor blade while preparing to strip back the insulation on the headphone cord and replacement jack; typically 1/8 - 1/4'' is enough for most replacement jacks. The wires are very delicate and thin so be careful not to cut through the wires or you may lose desired length as you will have to recut them.
Strip the insulation from two of the three wires which will be showing. Again, expose 1/4'' of the wire of each of the covered wires. The uninsulated wire is the ground for the unit, usually a copper wire.
Place the plastic cover, or sleeve, over the wires. This will help to prevent forgetting to put it back in place.
Test the headphone channels by touching the exposed wire to the tip of the battery which will cause a 'popping' sound in the active side of the head phone; however, be careful not to apply this very long as it can damage the earphone's speakers. The tip of the jack is always on the left side.
Solder the appropriate wires together - left channel to left side and right channel to right side. The soldering application can be made easier by applying a very small amount of solder to each wire coating them, thereby pre-preparing each wire. Then, when soldering you simply reheat the already coated wire melting the solder of the two wires together. This process is known as 'tinning.'
Slide the plastic cover, or jacket, back into place over the newly soldered wires.
Tips and warnings
- The individual wires within the plastic sleeves are extremely thin, almost brittle - you should be prepared to handle with serious care.
- A key distinction of a good solder job is the solder will be shiny; non-shiny solder is the sign of a 'cold' connection which will generate poor results.
- Fingernail clippers are a plausible replacement for wire cutters since the wires are very thin.
- The base of the new connection can still be very weak, especially if solder is not properly applied; be certain to apply enough solder for a solid connection and bridge.
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