Earbuds are great! They offer a great deal of convenience and are also a great companion that helps to carry your favorite music or radio programs along with you anywhere you go and listen without distracting your neighbor or people around you. However, they do not last long. No matter how expensive they are, a horrible day is coming when they will begin to malfunction and start calling it quit.
One of the signs you will notice when your earbuds start malfunctioning is when one side fails to work while the other is working. When this happens, most people toss their earbuds furiously in the trash and rush out to get a new pair (in this case we recommend you go to top 14 best earbuds under $50 to take new one). This might not be an option for you, especially if you own an expensive earbud or if it’s simply your favorite. You can fix your earbuds and get it back into its normal working condition if you have the right tools and followed the right procedures.
In this article, I am going to show you the step how to fix your earbuds when one side doesn’t work.
Tools needed in fixing your earbud
- Soldering iron and soft solder
- Scissors or knife
- A cigarette lighter or matches
How to fix your earbuds when one side doesn’t work (step by step guide)
Step 1: Identify the problems
Before you can fix the issues with your earbuds especially when one side stopped working, you have to identify the problem (where the circuit is open) to know where to concentrate your efforts on.
Follow the procedure below to identify the problem with your earbuds.
Bend the cable while listening: While the earbud is fixed to your ear and plugged to an audio source, bend the earbud’s cable at every half inch along its length and listen if you can hear some sounds. If you can hear some sound when you bend the cable, note the area by marking it with masking tape. You have just figured out where the wire is broken or disconnected. If there is no sound after trying this method, proceed to the next method.
Push and readjust the plug: Try to push or readjust the plug at the end of the earphones. If you can only hear the sound when the plug is pushed, then it shows the problem is with your earbud’s plug. But if it brings no sound, then you have to try other ways of identifying the problem.
Use a friend’s earpiece: Plug in a friends earpiece on your device and see if you can hear anything, if you can hear any sound, you know the problem lies with your earpiece. If otherwise, you may have to check with a different audio source. In the same manner, you can plug in your earpiece to a friend’s device, if it the faulty side of your earbud still doesn’t work, you can move to the next method.
Use a multimeter: Set up your multimeter to test continuity. This way, your multimeter will make a beep sound if there is no problem or disconnection within your earbud’s cable. You will have to slit the cable with a sharp blade or knife to expose the wires before you can test it with your multimeter. So, care must be taken here to avoid injury, if you’re a kid, kindly seek the help of an adult on this aspect.
Use your screwdriver to open the speaker compartment of the faulty side of the earbud or slice the cable close the earbud gently and another close to the plug to expose a small part of the wires. If there is a protective coating on the wire, scrape it off with a razor blade or a sharp knife. Now test these areas (the plug, exposed wires and the speaker terminals on the opened speaker compartment) by touching them with the multimeter probes and see if the multimeter will beep.
Note that the multimeter beeps if there is no issue or disconnection, you can use this as a clue to check if the problem is within the cable, plugs or the speaker (earbud driver) itself. After figuring out the problem, you can now proceed to repair or fix the damages.
Steps 2: Fix the problem
Fix the problem in the earbud
Note that there is a different process for each model. Dissemble the earbud. Using a small flat-blade screwdriver, tear the earbud housing open.
- On the earbud, check for screws. A size 0 crosshead screwdriver may be needed.
- Gently remove the padding where possible, check for screws beneath it and loosen it.
- Check for loose wires. The problem may be visible if you are lucky enough, reattach any loose wire inside the earbud to the driver. Check for small metal pins and solder the wire into the position on the bare pin. Make sure the wires don’t touch one another
- If the driver is faulty or damaged, change it.
- Reassemble the unit and add a small bit of superglue to hold it in place.
Fix the problem in the plug
If the problem is in the plug (as detected by your multimeter), you may have to replace it. Follow instructions below to fix or replace the plug.
- Cut off the old plug using a knife or a pair of scissors.
- Get a new jack plug ready to replace it. Make sure you get the one that matches the size of your old plug.
- Get your cable ready. There are two cables running through a headphone stereo, each for the left and the right channels. They are colored red and green, and each cable is wrapped by copper wire. Peel off the two cables so as to have a half inch to an inch of naked wire. Keep the two colored wires separately, but knot the two sets of copper wire together in order to have three separate
- Take your match, or a cigarette lighter, light it and slightly heat the three wires at the end in order to burn off the covering or coating. The covering is some kind of plastic or paint. It is necessary to do this step so that the wires can make a good electrical connection when soldering. Just allow the flames to heat the wire briefly for a few seconds and out the fire afterward and scrape the wires gently with a razor blade.
- Lose the case of the jack plug, therein are three terminals each for the three wires in the cable.
- Before soldering the wires to the plug, insert the cable into cover, so that it can be ready to screw back on the plug’s metal base.
- The next step is to cover the naked wires lightly with a small melted dab to make good electrical contact.
- Check the wiring: plug the earbuds into a music player, let the wires touch the plug terminals and check if the stereo can be heard. Make sure to touch the wires to the contacts firmly. Before soldering, you may get crackly sounds as the wired are placed on the terminals, but it will disappear when they are firmly soldered into place. If you cannot hear a stereo sound, check if the wires are well prepared, and placed in the right spot.
- Solder the three wires into the three terminals. The copper-colored ground wire will go to the large outer terminal. The green wire will go to the central terminal, while the red wire will go to the third terminal.
- While soldering, it can be somehow deceptive to rest such kind of small jack plug on your finger. Don’t try touching the bottom of the jack plug while soldering the top as the heat may run through the electrical pins and get your fingers burnt in a twinkle of an eye.
- If the two colored wires get mixed up, that doesn’t stop the earphones from working, but the left and right channels will get switched over.
- After you might have finished soldering, the three soldered wires should be carefully placed inside the clamp at the top of the plug and fasten it tightly with the use of pliers.
- Lastly, you can as well push the soldered connections to the middle so as to stay well inside the case and fasten it more. Make sure the three wires are not touching each other.
- Test your earbuds and start enjoying it once again.
Fix the cable
- If the problem is in your earbud’s cable, strip the insulation off the faulty area using a knife or blade (you may have to use sandpaper if the cable is too small). Splice the broken wires and twist them together to create an electrical connection.
- Solder this connection by applying a small melted dab on the area. If the wires come with a protective coating or color, remove the coating by burning or scraping with a razor blade before you solder.
- When the soldered area cools down, wrap it with masking tape to prevent contact with other wires in the cable. Test the earbuds.
Now that you know how to fix earbuds when one side doesn’t work tossing your faulty earbuds into the trash is no longer an option. Fixing earbuds with no sound on one side is not as difficult as it seems. By following the guideline above, you will restore your favorite earbuds back to life.