Introduction: How to Make a 3.5mm Audio Switch

Picture of How to Make a 3.5mm Audio Switch

Tired of having to get off from bed to unplug your ps3 audio wire from the speaker and then getting on all fours so you can try to find your computer audio wire and finally plugging it back into your speaker? Try these easy steps to make a switch that costs less then $15.00. It'll take no more than 45 minutes from start to finish.

Step 1:

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The switch has to be a 3PDT switch. If you take a look at it behind the switch there should be 9 terminals. When it's all said and done there should be 9 wires attached to the switch. Got it? Good. This is important.

Project enclosure 3x2x1 (radio shack)
3PDT switch (make sure the nut comes with it)
(3) 3.5mm mount jack (radio shack)
1/4 or 5/16 drill bit; I don't remember. :/ I recommend to use the 1/4 first. ;) 
soldering iron
speaker wire

Step 2:

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For those of you out there with a voltmeter you may want to meter it out before you begin to solder. This will guarantee yourself which terminals provide a closed circuit. In other words you'll touch the terminal located in the center with one lead and with the other lead touch either the terminal to the right or the left. The voltmeter should elicit an audible beep so what does this really mean?

Step 3:

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This means the middle column will be labeled output. This is where I plug in my speaker wire. The ps3 and the computer in conjunction with a set of brand new Audioengine A5's make use of this 3.5mm switch.

Step 4:

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Every part but the 3PDT switch I purchased from radio shack. I found the 3PDT switch for $3.00 at a local electronic store. From start to finish this took me about 45 minutes and total cost was no more than $15.00. Ask friends if they have a soldering tool to borrow.

The mount jack I bought at radio shack contains three terminals and if the package label reads phone jack then this is okay. The mount jack I bought at radio shack was labeled phone jack and it works just fine. A 3.5mm audio connecter should have three rings in the plug namely tip, ring and sleeve. Three rings and three terminals. Tip: ground. Ring: audio right. Sleeve: audio left. 

Step 5:

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Please don't pay $40.00 for a switch when you can save a lot of money by making one yourself. Set aside an hour or two on a weekend and just do it. I say an hour or two because you actually have to go out and purchase the parts. It's instant gratification when you're finished making the switch, connecting it to your speakers or whatever, and figuring out that it works. This is a simple project just about anyone can do. You just have to put in a little effort. 

Step 6:

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Notice the first row of the switch is connected to separate jacks but for each jack terminal they're the same. This is what I want to emphasize when it comes to making one of these things. Relatedly the terminal soldered from the switch to the mount jack is arbitrary, however, this specific schematic shown is a working variant. If you do follow these instructions vehemently none other than what is shown you have a good chance making this thing work granted everything else is done correctly. I'll take the extra time to make another picture with color so it would be easier to translate what goes where if I get a lot of traffic. I'll make the picture better if a lot of people get confused looking at this picture. Good luck.


ydoucare made it! (author)2016-08-20

Made my own case for this on my 3D Printer. Also included a mic pass-thru for my headset.

Typhoon859 (author)ydoucare2017-12-15

Would you mind uploading and sharing the link to the 3D model of the pieces of this enclosure? Thanks! :D

Typhoon859 (author)ydoucare2017-12-15

Would you mind uploading and sharing the link to the 3D model of the pieces of this enclosure? Thanks! :D

donia.andrei.1 (author)2017-08-28

I made something similar but with this connector

Switching inputs works good, but when I connect my 5.1 speakers I only get sound on the subwoofer and central speaker.

Any thoughts of what I did wrong?


quansem. (author)donia.andrei.12017-12-11


5.1 audio carries with it 6 channels of audio (LF, RF, LR, RR, Centre, Sub), whereas this setup would only allow for 2-channel Stereo (L, R). Therefore, you would only get to choose 2 of the 6 channels to pass thru. Unfortunately this project would not work for 5.1.

jeffga (author)2017-11-20

I have a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle that has an Auxillary input - it is a 3.5mm headphone connector (male). I currently use this to plug in Ipods. However I just decided to add a XM radio and it must also be connected to the Auxillary input connector. Something like this would enable me to have both connected and simply toggle between the two (Ipod & XM radio). I am currently unable to make one of these devices but would pay someone for their time, materials and profit to build one for me. I know, I should do it myself but there are some valid reasons that I simply cannot. Contact me if you are interested. Thanks Have a nice Holiday season

alexandre100 made it! (author)2017-10-22

Great instructable! I had a little trouble with the 3PDT switch connections: the component orientation was wrong, so I just rotate it at 90º and it worked instantly.

Talenjay (author)2017-01-08

Hello please excuse me, but i cannot seem to get it to work and i am not sure if i am iring correctly..please help me to make the proper connections from my picture. I tried to use the diagram above but the sound was not right. It switched fine, but the audio was not normal, like there was parts of the sound missing on either input. Like some 'channel' was not getting a signal. Any help with my diagram is most apprecitated everyone and i thank you.


Talenjay (author)Talenjay2017-01-14

Also to mention that i am wanting to switch INPUTS. Soo i have 2 inputs and i want to be able to switch between the two ddifferent inputs and output tommy wireless headset. Thanks and gope someone can help. Cheers. Tal

ThoGro made it! (author)2016-04-22

Thanks for the instructions! I bought the parts cheap from ebay, and it works. I use it so I can take the sound from both my computer and TV on the same speakers.

beatekkie (author)2016-03-28

Thanks and great job!

I couldn't find a 3PDT switch so I ended up using 2x DPDT switches instead. The extra switch was for the "ground" (to avoid humming noise by having a common ground). The downside is I have to flip both switches for it to work properly.

I've thinking about using the 2nd switch for the right channel instead, to go from mono to stereo and to have left and ground together in one switch. Anyway, feedback would be appreciated and welcome from anybody.

Thanks again.

jkorchok (author)2016-03-27

3PDT switches are hard to find and not really necesary. Just use a DPDT from Radio Shack and solder all three grounds together (those are the wires that connect to the sleeve of the jacks).

ShaneB46 (author)2016-03-18

I want to make a switch that is simply on/off for audio. I have a DAC/headphone amp/preamp for powered monitors but it outputs signal to every output, all the time. So I want to make a switch to simply eliminate the signal to the speakers when I decide to plug headphones in. Is a 3PDT switch still needed? Or would a DPDT switch work?

Jekotia (author)ShaneB462016-03-18

You might want to skip the switch and go with a specific kind of jack instead.

Commonly called a "switched jack", the jack facilitates a connection until something is plugged into it. When something is plugged in, it "breaks" the aforementioned connection and uses the jack instead.

See the attached image. The left jack would be input, the right output, and the bottom would be headphone. I didn't wire the grounds to avoid cluttering the visual. The three ground pins (pin 1 on each) would get tied together.

ThatSonyGuy (author)2016-03-08

cost me $57 in parts trying to make one on my own today. damn electronics store guy gave me power rocker switches instead of the one I asked for. Radio Shack aka the Source is where I am off to right now,.

JohnM584 (author)2016-02-27

I have a strange request. Here's the layout. A 5.1 computer speaker setup ( L/R front, L/R rear, center/ sub...3 channels) 2 computers with 5.1 support and a KVM switch with single channel support. With the KVM switch I can share the L/R front channel between the computers. What I need is to make a switch box that can share the other 2 channels between the 2 computers. I don't need a center off position, just on/on. Could you draw me a schematic to accomplish this? That's 2 3.5mm jacks in and a total of 4 3.5mm jacks out. If I can help in any way please feel free to contact me.

ryanf36 (author)2016-02-08

Just a note for anyone about to make one, make sure you don't do what I initially did any buy some mono jack mounts on eBay! Make sure your purchases are stereo versions. Works perfectly now I'm using the right jack mounts!

ScottHammond (author)2016-01-25

I have a similar question as below - can I add a third input by getting a 4PDT on-on-on switch? I don't need a mute option, just not sure if that would do the trick.

dijh (author)2015-11-13

Hi, I have a question! I want to make this switcher, but with more input capabilities.. I was looking at a rotary switch ( Do you think this one has enough volts/amps for the job? Thanks!

zachb8 (author)2015-07-16

I made one inside of a 1985 Joker van made by Ertl. I wanted a way to listen to my record player with the same speakers that are plugged into my computer without having to run the record player through the computer. It works great, thanks!

Danorexic made it! (author)2015-02-17

Thanks for the guide! Mine works very well. I was tired of having to switch between two different cables in my car. I bought the same 3.5mm jacks you used but bought a different switch after having trouble finding one. I bought this:

It only has ON/ON with no center OFF position, which is actually preferable for me.
I used shrink wrap on all the solder points to avoid any future shorts or breaks. Totals out to 18 small pieces.

I used some stranded hookup wire for my connections. It wasn't as flexible as I thought but it worked out fine. I also put a dab of hot glue on each jack and the switch just to ensure I don't have to mess with it again.

For anyone wondering which pins on the switch connect where, you can use a multimeter to test that.

SirDerpsAlot made it! (author)2015-02-12

Works Great!

I just bought a ASUS Xonar DGX sound card and it's an amazing card for the money, but it has some quirks. Most notably to me is that the card's audio output in the back is WAY better than the front. This box remedies the situation by allowing to switch between headphones, my stereo and even mute!

I went pure "cut cables" because I personally don't like those 1/8" female mount plugs. I'd also use a 3PDT that is ON-OFF-ON so the center position can act as a audio mute.

I have NO ground hum so no need for a ground loop isolator. It switches between the stereo, mute, and headphones positions with out clicks or pops. I also notice no sound degradation or any digital noise from the PC.

Here's some of the parts I used...

Male Stereo 1/8" Headphone to RCA "Y" cable. I cut off the RCA jacks to preferred length. This cable was on sale due to this Radio Shack was closing. A cheaper “Y” cable like this will do fine.

Male Stereo 1/8” plug to (x2) Female Stereo 1/8” Plug “Y” cable. I cut off the male end and just used the two female ends:

Bought this “3PDT MINIATURE TOGGLE SWITCH” at Frys. I like the ON-OFF-ON feature so center is like a quick mute.

Used this project box with plastic base. (Also added rubber feet.)

tieem (author)2015-02-11

Hi! I just made one and when my headphones are connected and not the speakers they release a small vibrating sound, any tips? :)

SirDerpsAlot (author)tieem2015-02-12

Do you mean like a hum, like a ground loop? Or is it different?

If it's a hum, I'd check your wiring one more time. Did you switch all three lines? (Left, Right and Common?) Sometime sharing a common between item on a different electrical circuit can cause this, thus the need for the 3PDT switch.

Other than that, you may need a ground loop isolator. (See metrometro's comments below.)

gord_oh (author)2011-08-26

for the 3pdt toggle, is the center supposed to be off? (on/off/on)

eyd84 (author)gord_oh2011-08-26

Yes because the system becomes an open circuit.

aslaveofaudio (author)eyd842014-10-07

Could I use a 3PST switch to toggle between two inputs? I'd appreciate your input on this. The off position would be useless to me and the simpler, the better.


CollinM2 (author)aslaveofaudio2014-12-23

a 3PST will only allow you to shut a single input on or off.
Quick explanation of the switch meaning
#P is referring to # of poles
(S or D)T is referring to # of throws

So a 3PST is a 3 poled switch with only a single throw (on or off for a single input). You will need a 3PDT switch to switch between two outputs.

mengstrom1 (author)2014-04-12

hi there,

In your diagram which way is the switch? Does it switch up and down or left to right?


aslaveofaudio (author)mengstrom12014-10-07

The orientation of the switch doesn't matter, it only has 2 possible inputs.
What does matter is that all the lines for one jack are on the same vertical line (using the orientation from the schematic) and all the lines for a channel or the ground are on the same horizontal line.
So in the given schematic, all the lines for audio channel A are on the first row, ground on the second row and audio channel B on the third row. The columns are, from left to right, input A, output, and input B. (Use a meter to test continuity to determine which poles are connected to which switch positions.)
This could be reversed to have two outputs and one input, as commented earlier.

eyd84 (author)mengstrom12014-04-12

It switches left to right.

AustinB1 (author)2014-08-03

I have a super long av cable on my hands. Would it work if I used the red and white wires instead of speaker wire? Sorry if it sounds redundant, this is my first project, heh.

eyd84 (author)AustinB12014-08-06

It depends. RCA (A/V) internal wiring varies. For some wire gauge may be the right size for the jack terminals. For others they're relatively thick and not ideal for this project.

Nemesis1598 (author)2014-02-24

Would it work to have the input in the middle and then have two outputs? I would assume it would but I'm not completely sure.

eyd84 (author)Nemesis15982014-02-25

That would work. For example have one output for speakers and the other output headphones.

armantaherian (author)2014-02-18

I made a diffrent kind of this box that don't have any key (radio shack), every time jack entered audio switch automatically, and have two port for output, one for speaker, and other for headphone.

But I want my gadget be smarter, I want make a device like this:

Can you help me?

whatitdo (author)2013-10-30

I want to do this because currently I use the headphone jack output on my tv hooked up to my speakers and I just use the ps3 and pc hdmi cables as the input. But my tv must have shitty components in it because it sounds much worse using the tv as a switch. So my question is, does this switch degrade the sound quality at all? if so to what extent? (1-10, 10 being ruined)

eyd84 (author)whatitdo2013-11-01

If there is good cable connection and good soldering then change in sound quality should be negligible.

metrometro (author)2012-08-12

Great tutorial. Two suggestions:

1) A word about ground loop might be useful. This causes speaker hum when you have components plugged in to different electrical sources. Ground loop isolators run around $10. 

2) Your design has a the speaker cords up top, and the switch down below. To me, this is backwards. I'd probably put the speaker inputs out the "back" flush to the "floor" surface, with the switch up top where the hands are. This allows a tidy wall mount, or just easier reach.

Nice work.  

eyd84 (author)metrometro2012-08-22


murriano (author)2012-05-09

I have a question:

If I wanted to add an led to show which is connected, what connectors would I solder it to and would the voltage/current through the wires be enough to power the led and would it affect the sound in anyway.

justanoldguy (author)2012-03-31

Thanks to eyd84 for coming up with a great design. I needed a switch to 'switch' between my GPS and my radio on my motorcycle while riding. Unfortunately Radio Shack did not have the 9-pin 3PDT but they did have a DPDT with 'middle off'. I made the three ground wires from all of the audio jacks common so they didn't need to be connected to the switch at all.

Just tested the new switch on my motorcycle and it works great. I also added a tiny eyebolt to the top so I could hang the switch around my neck with a lanyard for easy access while riding.

Can't imagine why some enterprising electronics manufacturer hasn't already put one of these on the market.

Thanks again eyd84.... a big problem solved for my touring.

danger89 (author)2011-12-10

Thanks for the tut. I should note that you draw the lines of the 9 terminals wrong (at least if I compare it with mine 3PDT switch). The lines should be vertical, otherwise it will NOT work.

Attachment for the end result.

eyd84 (author)danger892011-12-10

I'm assuming you're referring to which direction the switch functions that is should the switch move from left to right or down and up before soldering? With my switch after it was metered out (to determine output) what I could do is move the position of the switch all the way to the left. Then when I rotated the switch so that I could see the terminals I knew that the middle column was output and the right column was ps3 or whatever. The lines as you adequately put it will vary between each switch so that's why it was recommended to use a voltmeter otherwise by method of elimination which isn't that bad either. Nice picture by the way. :)

danger89 (author)eyd842011-12-11


I see, I think my switch was just another type. But after all it works great thank you ;) Who knows which projects I gonna make from this website in the future ;D

flamekiller (author)2011-11-25

I'd like to build one of these for switching my computer audio between speakers, headphones, and headset. I don't really want/need a switch with an "off" position, just on-on-on. Any recommendations?

Vspec (author)2011-06-23

I just built this the other day, I accidentally built a "mono" version of it though instead of stereo.

everybody, make sure you buy the jacks that have three prongs, not two.

mine still works but on my 5.1, one of my front speakers doesn't work, but a y cable fixed that.

also, great instructable eyd84, i've been needing one of these for awhile.

eyd84 (author)Vspec2011-06-24

Thanks. Happy to see people getting some use out of the effort.

was this the jack that you bought? i cant find the one that you have and not sure about the others

Yes in regard to provided link these were the jack(s) used for this instructable.

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