Repair cheap earphones

How To

The audio from my cheap earphones suddenly became very "tinny" with no bass. Pulling the plug partially out of the socket restored the bass but the sound was mono. My diagnosis? The common (ground) wire had become disconnected inside or close to the plug.

I cut off the plug to inspect the wires. They were VERY fine indeed. In fact they look suspiciously like LITZ wire - very flexible but notoriously difficult to solder.

However, I decided to have a go but I wasn't going to attempt to solder the wires inside a new plug. Instead, I used the original plug with the moulded plastic removed.

Note that the plug has only three connections - "tip", "ring" and "sleeve". That's all you need since there's no microphone.

I held the cable gently in a vice, applied flux to the stripped ends and then tinned them with solder. Then I held the plug in the vice and soldered the three wires - green to the end, red to the centre and bronze (ground) to the body.

At this stage I tested the earbuds to ensure that they worked reliably.

I applied a little hot-melt adhesive* and, once it had cooled, slid the heatshrink tube over the wires.

*I used a glue-stick with another soldering iron set to a lower temperature (about 100°C) by unplugging it before it became too hot. I used a paint-stripper hot air gun to shrink the sleeving and further melt the adhesive slightly.

Again I tested the earbuds to ensure that they worked reliably. The final result isn't very aesthetic but it works!

Also see Repair iPod Earbuds

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