Nothing could be more frustrating than having to hold your broken headphone jack at a particular angle so you can listen through your best headphones. However, if this is a problem you are dealing with, you'll be happy to know you can easily replace headphone jack plugs in simple steps.
- What Is a Headphone Plug?
- How to Test Your Headphone Jack
- How to Replace Headphone Jack at Home
- The best Headphone Jack for Your Headphones
- Step 1: Cut off the old headphone jack
- Step 2: Access the wires inside
- Step 3: Pass the cable through the first part of your new headphone plug
- Step 4: Connect the wires to the headphone plug
- Step 5: Solder the wires to their terminals
- Step 6: Finish Replacing the Headphone Jack
- Step 7: Test your headphones
What Is a Headphone Plug?
A headphone jack plug is a family of electrical connectors that relay analog sounds. It is also called an audio jack and is commonly used with mobile phones and laptops to reproduce mono and stereo audio.
However, while wired headphones reproduce the best sound quality, they also get damaged easily. Therefore, you need to be very careful how you fold the headphone cables when using mono or stereo headphones.
If you notice the jack plug producing weird sounds or sometimes not recording audio, you will need to replace the jack before ruling the headphone set unusable.
This article will take you through a simple headphone jack replacement process so you can enjoy listening to your personalized content like music and gaming sounds.
How to Test Your Headphone Jack
Before you try to use a new headphone jack, it is imperative to be certain your headphone plug is broken. You can use these simple methods to diagnose whether it is the headphone jack with a problem or the headphones that need more fixing.
a) Test the headphones on different devices
If you plug your headphone jack into a mobile phone and it does not relay audio to the headphones, you can test it on other devices before you determine it is broken. Plug the headphones into a laptop headphone jack or TV audio jack to test.
Ensure the audio jacks are compatible with all devices. For example, make sure your devices connect with the 3.5mm headphone jack. If the headphones do not play audio on all devices, it could be time to get a new plug.
b) Test the headphone jack on different headphones
This method applies when you can use a cable and plug on different wireless headphones. For example, if you suspect your headphone jack is broken, you can try it on different headphones that you also use wirelessly. Make sure your wireless connection, such as Bluetooth, is turned off for the method.
Connect the headphone jack to your mobile phones or laptops, and if different headphones do not play music when wired, you'd know you need a new headphone jack. But, if the cable works on a pair of headphones but not one, you can continue to troubleshoot or replace the headphones.
c) Try twisting the headphone plug when connected to devices
When you try your headphones, and they don't reproduce audio, try twisting the headphone plug in the mobile phone or laptop headphone jack. If it plays audio briefly and then stops or starts producing some noises you can hear through the headphones, you will know it is time to replace the headphone jack.
When you have determined you have a broken headphone jack, here are simple steps to replace it at home.
How to Replace Headphone Jack at Home
Here are the supplies you need for a successful job before we get into the basics of replacing headphone jacks.
- Soldering iron
- Electrical tape
- Helping hands stand
- Wire stripper
- New headphone jack
The best Headphone Jack for Your Headphones
When looking for a new headphone jack, it is important to understand the different types available and which one you need for your headphones. Most headphones are categorized as either stereo or mono headphones.
The difference between these headphones is how they perform, but the headphone plugs look different. For example, in pair of stereo headphones, you will find a TRS headphone plug that looks like this.
Image source: circuitbasics.com
TRS stands for tip, ring, and sleeve. The three are parts that make up a stereo headphone jack. In terms of performance, these headphones will not have a microphone.
If you have mono headphones, the pair will have a microphone and other performance features. The headphone plug has four parts; the tip, two rings, and a sleeve. They are also called TRRS plugs and look like this.
Image source: circuitbasics.com
When replacing your smartphone or laptop headphone jack, you need to know how to connect the wires.
You will find an exposed copper ground wire and two insulated signal wires in a stereo headphone. In most cases, the red signal wire sends signals to your right ear, and a blue or white wire sends signals to your left ear. When you connect the wires, the tip sends left ear signals while the middle sends right ear signals.
The cable has five separate wires inside in a mono headphone, including; a ground wire for right audio, a ground wire for left audio, two left and right audio signal wires, and a microphone wire.
When you connect the wires properly to the jack, the sleeve will allow the microphone to work; the first ring will represent the ground wire, while the third ring and tip will send right and left audio signals.
Now that you understand how the headphone jacks work, here are the replacement steps to start listening again.
Step 1: Cut off the old headphone jack
Using your wire stripper, cut off the headphone jack plus 2cm of the cable. Observe caution when handling the wire stripper to prevent injuries. Place the cable and wire stripper away from y our body and watch where you place your fingers when cutting.
Step 2: Access the wires inside
After cutting the old jack, use the wire stripper to expose the inside cables. You will need to carefully tear the cable cover to see which wires you have inside. Most headphones have a brown or black ground wire, while the left and right audio signal wires are represented in white, red, and blue wire covers.
Now that you can see the wires, you will also need to remove the insulation covers on the left and right signal wires. Again, use your wire stripper to cut off the insulation, but do so gently to prevent damage to the signal receptors. If you are not certain you can remove the insulation without damaging the wires, you can use a lighter to burn the plastic shields.
Step 3: Pass the cable through the first part of your new headphone plug
You need to get your new headphone jack and unscrew it in this step. In most cases, the jack comes with two parts; the first covers the cable, while the second comes with the wire connection ports and the 3.5mm jack.
Before connecting the wires, you need to pass your headphone cable through the first round part. This is an important step that guarantees your headphone cable will not be exposed to elements once you complete the replacement process.
Step 4: Connect the wires to the headphone plug
After you pass the cable through the metallic or plastic part of the jack, you can now start connecting the wires to their ports. For this step, you need to understand the ground wire first. In most cases, the ground wire of exposed and has a copper appearance. Once you have the ground wire, separate the other wires by color and ensure they are not touching each other.
Now, palace your headphone plug in the helping hands stand. Study the jack to know where each wire should go. The ground wire goes to the main terminal, while the right and left signal wires take the side terminals as follows.
Image source: howtogeek.com
It is vital to understand that the right and left audio wires may come in different colors, but this feature should not affect how you repair your headphones. You can test them using an AVO meter that tells you which terminal to connect each wire to. When you know where each wire goes, pass the wires through each hole, then get the soldering iron to finish the work.
Step 5: Solder the wires to their terminals
Take your heated soldering iron and solder the ground wire first. When the wire is connected, continue the process for the right and left audio wires. When handling the soldering iron, avoid touching it as t is hot. It is ideal to heat the soldering iron to up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit in most cases.
When all wires are soldered, it is time to cover them to prevent damage.
Step 6: Finish Replacing the Headphone Jack
When you have soldered all the points, it is time to finish the process. You can use a plastic cover and apply electrical tape over the soldered point to prevent any damage to the connection before reconnecting the two parts of your headphone plug.
To reconnect the plug, push the first part that you passed the headphone cable through and screw it into the headphone jack.
Step 7: Test your headphones
Now that you have replaced the headphone jack, you want to know if they will work on any device. To test the jack, connect it to any mobile phone, computer, or entertainment device and play some music or video. If you hear your desired sound, you know you have successfully repaired your headphones.
Check the soldered points before repeating the replacement process if no sound is played. If nothing works, you can consider replacing the headphone cable or headphones if they are wired.
If your headphones suddenly stopped working, you do not need to panic about replacing them. A simple fix like replacing the headphone plug if your pair is wired can do the trick. We hope you can now replace your headphone jack at home and save money you'd have spent on a new pair of headphones.
Featured image source: oldtimemusic.com