In today’s day and age, most people are aware of the fact that the majority of electronic devices are not built to last. Just like your old PC may be getting slower each month, your headphones probably don’t sound the way they did when you bought them.
In nearly 100% of cases, you can fix your headphone problems by fixing the headphone jack on your smartphone. The process is different depending on whether your phone’s headphone jack is bent, loose, or broken. If you want to do it properly, follow my simple step-by-step guide:
Confirm that Your Headphone Jack Needs Fixing
Whatever we’re fixing, we should first assess the situation and see what is causing the problem. In this case, you’ll want to double-check whether the problem lies in the headphone jack, or something else.
We usually assume that the headphones are the problem when we experience a noticeable drop in sonic quality, just like it’s easy to assume that your laptop’s system needs an update when it doesn’t perform as great as it used to.
I can’t stress how many times the problem was in my speakers and my PC tower. The ports malfunction as easily as headphone jacks. Before you begin fixing your headphone jack, confirm that it’s actually loose, bent, or broken.
Fixing a Loose Jack
The list of things that can cause your headphone jack to become loose is quite big, so I’ll just quickly run over the most notable cases.
Badly designed (as in ‘cheap’) speakers and headphones typically feature flimsy headphone jacks; you’ll encounter factory defects more often than not.
If you’re using the wrong case with your smartphone, the jack will fit at a weird angle, and it will inevitably become loose. Soft fixes can’t correct these problems, but fortunately, you can avoid them in the future by recognizing them as serious issues.
To fix a loose headphone jack, you should first clean it. Dust and dirt can temporarily ‘change’ the size of the jack, which means that it will fit poorly into a port that was specifically designed for its default dimensions.
Cleaning, however, won’t remove corrosion. Rust and corrosion affect the jack’s size in a similar way to how dirt does, but the effects are, sadly, a bit more permanent. In this case, you should replace the jack instead of trying to fix it.
- You don’t need any special tools to fix a loose headphone jack
- Clean both the jack and the ports you regularly use to prevent this problem
- Smartphone cases of inadequate size are a common reason why headphone jacks become loose
- Rust and corrosion are permanent problems, in which case you should replace the jack
Fixing a Bent Jack
Headphone jacks aren’t the sturdiest things in the world. Although they won’t break after being stepped on a few dozen times, there’s a good chance the connector will bend if sufficient force is applied. You’ll need two plier pairs and a basic ruler for this task.
Regardless of the reason why they are bent, what you should know is that you don’t need to throw your ‘dislocated’ headphone jack away, as fixing it is pretty easy once you’ve got the hang of it.
Before I delve into details, I want to accentuate the fact that you can destroy the headphone jack if you don’t know what you are doing. Straightening the jack out using pliers is straightforward, but it’s easy to apply too much force when frustration kicks in.
First of all, you should get two plier pairs. One set of pliers should be used to pin the plug’s tip in place while the second for straightening. Bend the jack back in place slowly, and be careful not to apply too much force. The final thing is to double-check whether you’ve straightened the jack or not; to be completely sure, use a basic ruler.
- Bent jacks can damage electronic devices you are plugging them into, so consider fixing this problem as quickly as possible (or refrain from using electronics with bent headphone jacks)
- Loss of volume, sound quality, artifacts, and music stuttering are dead giveaways of bent headphone jacks
- You only need two sets of pliers and a simple ruler for this task
- Don’t go overboard or you may destroy the jack
Fixing a Broken Jack
Before I dive deeper, I want to emphasize that fixing a broken headphone jack can be done on virtually all devices, but it’s not always worthwhile doing so. For instance, if the jack on your budget headphones is destroyed, it would be cheaper and more cost-effective to simply buy another pair for two bucks.
However, if you’ve spent a fair bit of cash on a mid-tier speaker set, you can repair the broken jack yourself and save yourself the money you’d otherwise spend on repair services. The process is quite straightforward, although a bit of technical expertise is required.
The first step is cutting the broken jack off with wire cutters. Cut a few centimeters down the cable’s length to make the following steps easier.
The next step is exposing the cable wires. A basic knife can do the trick, as long as it’s sharp. You will see two pairs of wires – ground and signal wires. You will recognize signal wires by plastic insulation (although certain models may have a different kind of coating).
Ground wires are the non-insulated ones, and the next step revolves around twisting them together. Take the replacement jack and ‘open’ the plastic part by turning it counter-clockwise. Use a soldering tool to bind the wires to the replacement jack.
The last part is slightly more complex if you don’t know what the parts of the jack are meant to signify. In short, the tip is the left channel; right below it is the right channel, and the bottom part is where you should place your ground wires.
The insulated wires should be placed around the first two pads (left and right channels). If you solder the wires properly, you will have stereo sound; if not, only one of the two headphones (or one speaker) will work.
Fixing and replacing a headphone jack is not rocket science, but it’s certainly not the easiest thing in the world. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t pull it off the first time you try; no one was born skilled and gifted for fixing and maintaining electronics.
By following the instructions provided in this guide, you will be able to fix any headphone jack easily, so best of luck!
A musician with over 2 decades of experience in studio recording. Audiophile, always in pursuit of the perfect set of headphones. King Crimson fan.