stereo earphone plug "widens" jack: how to fix (replace=impossible)


Subj: stereo earphone plug "widens" jack: how to fix (replace=impossible)
Problem with mini-jacks (TRS) for headphones: after a bit of use, seems like the female part ("jack"?) widens-out inside somewhere, making for a lousy connection between the radio or walkman (ancient word) or mp3-player and the earphones. Off on off on bzzz off etc. HORRIBLE LISTENING (if you can call it "listening"!)
Possible analogy:n
With standard screw-in lightbulbs, that springy copper strip in the back of the socket, which, when the bulb is fully screwed-in, touches the center-of-base-of-lightbulb connector; wonderful!
But, sometimes that strip is no longer sprung-forward enough to make the connection.
How to fix? Off the circuit, then with some needlenose pliers you pull the end of that copper strip away from the base a wee bit, and presto, bulb bottom now touches it again when fully screwed-in:
Let there be light -- and (again) it was so.
QUESTION: is there some similar fix for the socket for headphone plugs?
FWIW: picture of a jack (wrong size maybe, but shows the principle of the thing): http://www.suite101.com/view_image.cfm/823549
What might be the problem? Perhaps (see photo) the metal thingie that sticks out and touches the "ring" (TRS - tip ring sleeve) of the plug -- perhaps that got pushed back a bit, via wear. (More likely, by being CHEAPLY made, ie you know where, and for cheapest possible price)
What kind of device might fix this?
Maybe some kind of cork-screw-like plug that you plug into (at a certain rotation-angle?) the jack, and by *carefully* and with *sensitive nerves on the fingertips", you can tell when the tip of the corkscrew-thing hits that ring-toucher, and a SLIGHT extra twist will bend it a tiny bit back towards the center.
Surely there is SOMETHING like this existing?
Or at least some other way to fix it "in situ", *without* having to replace it.
------
Note: what I have is a Sansa "clip" mp3-player; it's like one inch by 2/3 inch by 1/5th inch thick, with the jack on the side of the thing. Ain't no way either you or I will be able to open it up and replace that thing, not unless you are a watchmaker.
The Sansa Clip costs between $50 and $70, depending on the num gigabytes; sure don't want to have to toss one each time that el-cheapo jack wears out!
Ideas?
THANKS!
David
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David Combs wrote:

Has this happened with more than one MP3 device? With more than one set of headphones?
I've spent a lot of time listening to walkman stereo for nearly 30 years and don't recall any trouble with a jack. Once I thought I had a loose sleeve because the plug fit a little loosely and the sound would sometimes get faint and monophonic. It was months before it dawned on me that it was not the jack but a broken ground wire in the plug.
The headphone I used with my cordless phone got noisy. I thought it was the jack and tried contact cleaner. Eventually I looked at the plug with a magnifier. The shiny plating was chipping off. A new headset fixed the problem.
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I suspect a goodly number of the USB audio interfaces in use exist are used simply to bypass a mangled earphone jack.
One thing I've found is that right-angle plugs put less stress on those minature headphone jacks. Neutrik has a right-angle 3.5 mm plug that is IME one of the best around. Less than $5.
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Cheap devices have low quality electroplating on the metal inside the jack. The paper stick of a Q-Tip cut in half is excellent for cleaning the contact points. If that doesn't work, the electroplating probably peeled off at the solder joints. Flow some fresh solder of the joints and it should work again.
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Often caused by broken solder connections iside the device, right there at the headphone jack. Seen it many times on Walkmans and the like.
Mark Z.
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"Mark Zacharias" wrote...

I had to take my iPod Touch back for exactly that problem. The connector is soldered to the PC board, and one of the solder connections broke loose. If I could have opened it up, it would have taken literally seconds to re-touch the connection and fix it. Of course, it would have also voided the warranty and presented a significant possibility of damage to the case, glass panel, etc. But Apple preferred to exchange it for a brand new one. Perhaps that's why they charge premium prices.
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Nope, it simply costs far less for them to make a new one than to repair it. They charge premium prices because they can. Someone has to pay for all the advertising and huge profits. Just be thankful it was still under warranty, they usually last just long enough for the warranty to expire. And let's not even mention battery replacement!
MrT.
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A natural consequence of high levels of automation.

That's a fundamental rule of business. Buy low, sell high.

Nobody is forcing people to buy techno toys. Furthermore the asking prices for a lot of this stuff is pretty low, all things considered.
About 6 years ago I paid about $300 for a NJB3 (Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox) with 20 GB of storage that weighed the better part of a pound and was bigger than of a big stack of CDs. Today the same basic funcionality runs only a fraction of the price, size and weight;, is far more durable, plays longer on its batteries, and sounds just as good. All that, and there were 6 years of inflation in-between.

In this day and age there are many things that are impractical to repair. OTOH, if the vast proportion of them last long enough for the owners to lose interest in them like I lost interest in my NJB3, then they effectively lasted forever.
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Of course. I don't really have a problem with that for cheap items, but throwing away a $300+ device because of a faulty connector or worn out battery is bad design done deliberately. In the past nobody would expect to throw away a $2000 television after a few years, now it is just accepted that your large screen plasma/LCD TV has a life expectancy of a few years and will be replaced rather than repaired. It's so bad a whole new market has developed for extended warranties that didn't exist when ability to repair was considered part of the design process.

Fortunately not ALL companies are greedy, simply most. And some are far more greedy than others. I try to avoid those ones as much as possible.

Sure, but some are far better value than others. Take the PC Vs Mac competition for example, 90% of the hardware is common, (processors, RAM, hard drives etc. etc.) the major difference is the operating system, and advertising campaigns. A similarly specced PC clone is far cheaper than a Mac. I have no problem with people choosing to support Apples profits, but when they complain about Microsoft, I have to laugh!!
(Yes I do think MS is just as bad, but OS10 is just a variation of Unix, and Linux is FREE for your PC. And of course *many* Macs run MS office anyway! In fact there are far more free programs available for the PC and Linux anyway, enough that most users could avoid paying for OS and software completely *if* they wanted to.)
> About 6 years ago I paid about $300 for a NJB3 (Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox)

bigger
years
Which has what to do with Apple iPods? You are making my point that there are usually better options. The NJB3 was a good choice at the time IMO. It's competition that really drives those technology improvements! Be very thankful we have a choice other than Apple products.

lose
Which would be very true *IF* all the latest Chinese toys lasted 6 years like your NJB3. Most however will be landfill **LONG** before that. The marketing for iPods is for you to throw them away when the batteries are stuffed, IF they last that long. What percentage of iPods last 6 years I wonder?
MrT.
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I don't know about the deliberately part. 3.5 mm jacks have been problematical as long as I've had experience with them, and that goes back to the 1960s. Some more so than others, but all of them are susceptible to wear and use. If there was some magical way to solve that problem head on, by now someone would have found it, it would seem.
Right now there are two work-arounds to the problem of 3.5 mm plugs and jacks. One is used by a lot of headphone manufacturers on 3.5 mm headphone plugs, and it involves making the 3.5 mm plug so that a 0.25 inch plug can be securily threaded onto it. On the jack side, what a lot of people do is equip the equipment with a 0.25 jack, and then plug a 3.5 mm adaptor into it. When the 3.5 mm jack inevitably breaks, you just get a new adaptor.
As far as the problem of $300 equipment that gets trashed because a 3.5 mm jack gets damaged, the current solution is that the $300 equipment gets microminiaturized into a $40 piece of equipment that works about as well. That's what happened when my NJB3 was replaced by a Sansa Clip.

If the large screen TV costs like $600, that is almost acceptable. I've seen 50" plasmas for $688.

Extended warrantees are just insurance policies.

Agreed.
There was once a day when all of the cool audio, graphics, and desktop publishing software ran only on Macs. If memory serves, there was even a time when the only extant spreadsheet program ran on an Apple. Those days are long gone.

One of the smaller, lighter, cheaper, easier to use alternatives to the NJB3 was the iPod.
Fancy that!

As far as I'm concerned, Apple is just another alternative. If they can compete, then I'll serioiusly consider Apple. If not, too bad!

It didn't. Surprisingly enough my NJB3's headphone jack lasted, but the line input jack didn't. It got replaced by a Microtrack. The Microtrack's only "must have" jacks are USB and 1/4". Both have a far better track record for durability than the 3.5 mm jack.

There seems to be a good market for replacement batteries for the iPod. I even replaced the battery in my MicroTrack - it cost me less than $10 and about 20 minutes.
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They did *long* ago! They simply added 2 or 3 spring tips to provide better contact and evenly balanced pressure. Of course nobody uses them, since the crap ones usually last long enough for the warranty to run out.

is
None of which is suitable for iPod devices that won't readily fit 1/4" jacks.

But doesn't have the same recording capability. A Zoom H2 or similar device is a good replacement. Better quality at a similar price. And still difficult to repair of course, but will probably last longer than an iPod..

seen
Not here, a cheap 28-32" set costs more than that, and the major brands all sell between $1,000 and $5,000. No shortage of buyers. No shortages of complaints when they find out how much it costs to repair after a couple of years either!

Of course, and absolutely necessary for an unrepairable expensive device that comes with a 12 month manufacturer warranty.

Yes LONG gone!

Agreed. But I won't hold my breathe expecting them to ever compete AFAIC!

line
for
Yep, so that cheap Sansa Clip didn't do what the NJB3 did after all. You needed a Microtrack as well. :-)

Sure, but the average user can't replace the batteries in an iPod, Apple make sure of that. And it costs a lot more than $10 to have the service department replace them.
MrT.
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What is goolge?
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On Wed, 16 Dec 2009 11:07:47 -0500, "Stormin Mormon"

Does it have something to do with the Chinese?
[snip]
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On 15 Dec 2009 20:46:28 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (David Combs) wrote:

I think your diagnosis is simply wrong. It is FAR more likely that the connections of the jack to the circuit board are cracked. I'd say the chances are very close to 100%.
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I agree.
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On 15 Dec 2009 20:46:28 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (David Combs) wrote:

Power connectors to that too. I've had cell phones and laptop computers that became unusable because of that.
[snip]
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This thing is a Sansa Clip -- like I say, the thing is maybe just under 2 inches tall, one inch wide, and maybe 1/4 thick.
It's a NEAT device!
And THAT sems to work ok -- the electronics, sound quality, FM, etc.
Taking it apart looks non simple, indeed!
I mean, no obvious place to unscrew something.
Thanks,
David
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wrote:

Right - my MicroTrack was made that way. They are held together by catches molded into the plastic case. Cracking the case takes skill, patience, and a tool that can apply enough pressure to the seam, without scratching up the plastic.
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On Thu, 17 Dec 2009 06:35:25 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (David Combs) wrote:
[snip]

and all those little parts popping out, never to be seen again.

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