How to Fix Earbuds | Guide to Common Problems and Fixes

You own a great pair of earbuds that get you through noisy commutes with ease. Not only do you love their design and sound quality, but you’ve had them for quite some time now and grown attached. Suddenly, they stop working one day. Can they be saved?

If they are cheap and you don’t mind replacing them you might toss out your old pair. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we have grown accustomed to just throwing things away and replacing them instead of trying to repair them. Not only does it seem daunting to repair electronics yourself, but finding a repair shop can be difficult and they sometimes charge ridiculous prices.

For high-end earbuds that cost hundreds of dollars it is best to fix them than replace them, especially if they are no longer under the company’s manufacturer warranty.

This guide covers the five most common problems your earbuds have and how to fix them quickly with tools you probably already have lying around at home. The five most common earbud problems are:

  1. No sound from left or right side earbud
  2. Jack plug needs to be replaced
  3. Broken wire
  4. Mic doesn’t respond
  5. Connection loss or your devices scan but can’t find your Bluetooth earbuds

Locate which line is broken

It’s quite easy to trace where the wire is broken by using the Digital Multimeter like INNOVA 3300, the meter most newbies and professionals own to test their devices. Carefully open the earbud housing and inline controller, then check every thin wire to find out which line is broken. Once you find the broken wire you can determine if it can be fixed or needs to be replaced.

Jack Replacement

Aside from eartips, the plug is the second part of earphones that is most likely to break. This is because the wires are repeatedly twisted at the connection of plug and cable. To replace the cable you must prepare some tools and order a new jack which is the shape you prefer: straight or L-shaped. The 3.5mm L-Shaped Jack, Neutrik NTP3RC-B Plug works great for most earbuds.

Prepare the following tools:

  • Wire Stripper/Crimper: This will remove the wire cover. You must also remove the extremely thin nano layer coating the wire. A little trick for removing this thin layer of insulation on the wire is using sand paper or just burning it lightly and quickly with a lighter then stripping the burnt layer off.
  • Soldering Iron: This will secure the joint between the jack and the wires. Note that it is not easy to solder the very thin wire.
  • Glue Gun: This will help secure the wire and jack in place.
  • Glue Stick and Core Solder
  • A jack: Note that there are two kinds of 3.5 mm jacks: 4-pole and 3-pole. The 4 pole jack has a line for the mic.

Use wire strippers to cut off the broken plug.


Step 1 how to repair earbuds at by replacing jack

Remove the plastic housing that covers the wires by cutting 1 inch from the beginning of the wire. If this is the first time you have used a wire stripper, take your time and practice on another cord before trying to fix your headphones.

step 2

The green and red wires now are exposed, burn them lightly to remove the nano layer which they are coated in. 

Step 3

You should know which wire is stuck to a pole on the jack: copper, red, or green wire. It is pretty standard that Cooper wire is the center, ground pin while red is right channel and green is left channel. If you have an in-line mic, the wire should be blue.

Step 4

Remove the insulation coated on the thin wire so that the wire can make contact with the new plug poles when soldering them with tin.

Check your work 

Plug the jack into your phones to check whether both earbuds are functioning properly.

Melt the glue stick around the jack

This is to strengthen the connection between the jack and the wire.

If the bass is highly distorted it is possible that the diaphragm has split form the speaker. You need to repair this part by using glue to re-attach the diaphragm.

If your eartips are broken, there are plenty of aftermarket eartips out there. Check out this guide to find the perfect pair for you.

Expensive earbuds have complicated drivers and circuitry system. Once they have problems it’s hard to repair them and you should probably return them to the manufacturer for repair rather than attempting to repair them yourself.

If your Bluetooth earbuds often drop connection or present a lot of hiccups first try pairing them with another device. If they work fine with the new device try checkin the firmware update.

If your headphones got submerged in water or washed with laundry, there is a big chance that the inner components won’t be the same as before. You should blow dry the housing completely and leave them in a bag of rice overnight to absorb any remaining moisture.

Cheap earbuds are generally built with low quality material that can wear out easily. If you don’t want to fix your earbuds often, try to avoid these 5 bad earbud habits. How long your pair of earbuds will last depends on how you care for them. Comment below and let us know how long your favorite pair of earbuds has lasted for you.


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