The improvements in the quality of digital audio mean that we are unlikely to put up with any audio from our devices that is less than brilliant. Unfortunately, our devices are relatively delicate and can become damaged easily if we don’t treat them with care. A fuzzy noise from your computer’s headphone jack is likely to drive you to distraction, so identifying the cause and remedying it are essential steps to take.
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The noise coming through your headphones is either coming from a bad wire or connection in your headphones, or a problem with your jack. Check the jack by using different sets of headphones or external speakers. If the fuzzy noise remains, it is your jack.
When you have a machine with lots of different components and metres upon metres of wires conducting electricity, static electricity – exhibited as a fuzzy noise in audio components – is an inevitable side effect. To overcome this, audio components are fitted with a grounding wire that takes away the static and removes the fuzz. If your jack is fuzzy the grounding wire could be loose or disconnected. The electrical connection to the jack could also be faulty – either way, you or a computer technician needs to get into the computer if you want to fix the wiring.
Fixing the jack
You will have to judge for yourself how confident you feel opening up your computer and soldering wires together. The job will be more straight forward in a PC tower, in which you have more room for manoeuvre, but less so in a laptop. If you’re going in yourself, you will need a soldering iron and possible new wiring if you want to replace the grounding wire completely. Do some research on your particular computer before you take it apart. Always make sure it is completely turned off and unplugged before going in.
You can easily side-step a problem with a faulty headphone jack by not using it. You can buy a converter for a USB port that allows you to plug your headphones into it. The converters contain small sound cards to allow you to do this, and they only cost a few pounds.
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