Sony Headphone Jack Replacement - Better and Stronger





Introduction: Sony Headphone Jack Replacement - Better and Stronger

Most headphones are made to be light, sound good and designed to break at the plug.

These steps can be used for most all models of headphones. For very inexpensive headphones the wires will be too fine (small) to work with

For this Instructable I'm fixing the plug on Sony headphones.

What you'll need:

Wash your hands. Oil on your skin is the #1 reason wires handled do not solder successfully.

You'll need the ability to solder.

A soldering iron capable of over 700 degrees Farenheit is helpful, but a normal one works with extra care.

Wire Strippers, wire cutters, long nose pliers, electrical tape, scissors to cut the tape (not pictured) or use the wire cutters. (OH -A pair of wire strippers can replace all three cutting - stripping-plier tools)

If you have heat shrink ability be sure to remember to put the heat shrink tubing (about 6" of 1/4" or 3/8" over your headset cord at first chance. This way it will be there when you need it at the end.

Step 1: 1. Select the New Jack for Your Headphones

After years of frustration I can wholheartedly recommend a new mini plug with the cable already attached in a molded plug. Working on the wires on the other end will be enough work.

These connectors come as just one plug with wires attached and soldered ("tinned") on the ends for a bit MORE money than getting one of these. A two ended 3.5 mm plug cable is a couple dollars. AND you can now repair TWO headsets.

Step 2: 2. Prepare the Plug End of the Cable

Cut one end off 6 inches or more from the plug. Make this first cut long so if you need to re-cut it or the insulation stripping takes a couple tries you have enough cable left. These come with 3 or 6 feet of wire between the plugs, so EXPERIMENT and PRACTICE stripping the wire a few times. its one of the simplest and hardest parts of it all.

Step 3: 3. Get New Cable Plug Ready for Solder

So, Cut the cable and strip it. You'll see the "positive" conductors for the left and right channels and a hairy copper group of fine wire that is the shield of the cable and acts as the ground of the circuit.

Neaten it up. Twist the ground wire. Strip the RED ( Right channel ) and the OTHER ( in this case WHITE left channel conductors. Take about 3/4" off the end.

TIN the ENDS. That means melt a tiny bit of solder into the bare end of each of the three wires. THIS IS A KEY TO YOUR LATER SUCCESS.

Step 4: 4. Prepare Headphone Cable

Big Deep Breath. Now, Cut off the end of the headphone cable.

Yes, you paid 30 or 40, or 50 dollars for these things and even though they don't work it always hurts to make something ugly in order to make it beautiful and work again. It will be OK. Let's take it slow.

Now, the rest is easy.

Strip the insulation off each side of the "ZIP CORD" the side-by-side flat cable these come with.

This will make your repair stronger and resist ever breaking again.

Step 5: 5. Prepare for Strong Connections

The big idea here is to make electrical connections that carry the sound as good as new while we make the cable itself comparably strong to the orginal. Likely, stronger.

The next few moves outline something specific that will make this repair like one from a professional shop, not one you let your kid brother do.

Bend one ground wire from the headset cable back toward the headset. Leave a small loop, so don't crease it hard, but do what they always tell you not to do: Bend it backward.

Then, do the same with the other ground lead from the other half of the cable and twist the two bare wires together. You did wash your hands first, right?

Make sure the new wire from the plug overlaps the cable from the headset . It should stop between the two offset sides of the headphone cable.

Solder the ground wires together

Step 6: 6. Begin to Join Cable and New Plug

Remember that new beautiful plug with the tinned ends ? Go get it.

Twist the new cable ground together with the combined ground wires on the headset side of the cable.

SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS - overlap the non-stripped part of the plug cable with the headset cable. This will make it look like it is picking up where the shorter side of the headset cable leaves off.

Twist together the red to red and green to what is left. Often green, sometimes white. White in these photos.

Step 7: 7. Bring Together Right and Left Channel Wires

Look at the picture. Headphone to the left, new plug to the right. overlap your cable this way for maximum strength when finished.

Bring together and twist the Right Channel (red wires) and the Left Channel (green to green or green and white.

Twist and keep the resulting cable flat and straight.

Prepare to solder Right and Left Channels

Step 8: 8. Solder Plug to Headphone Wires

Check the overlap of cable we talked about already. Got it? Ok. Let's solder - S-L-O-W-L-Y

Why slowly? Because we have to bake through the SONY plastic coated headset wires. We scraped them a little in the last step, Now, we solder and wait. You'll see solder smoke and some new plastic smoke. Just a little bit. No lab rats got dazzled in this experiment.

Solder Right and Left Channel.

Don't tape or cover your joints because this is where the new folks get caught. In case you did not heat the solder joint quite enough you will not have contact at that connection. So, leave the connection bare until testing is over.

You guessed it. TESTING is next.

Step 9: 9. Testing

Plug your new headset cable into a audio source. One you know exactly what it is going to do - so the ONLY thing you're testing is the headset cable.

I used a Mac and the edit program Final Cut Pro and made a timeline with alternating left only and right only sounds.

Be sure to put the headphones on so the left is on your left ear and the right is on the right ear.

(Hey, don't look at me like that. I have a friend who put them on backward and ripped the whole connection apart to put it back right - then found out he didn't have to because the headset was on backward. Boy did I - er - he feel stupid. )

Is Left where it belongs and Right where they belong ? Congratulations !

If one or both do not work, Congratulations ! Your're Normal.
You've been slowed by the funny insulation on these wires. Simply re heat the solder joints. Maybe scrape a bit more plastic off the surface - being careful to not tear or shorten the wire.

Step 10: 10. Make Cable Strong, Beautiful, and Long Lasting

Now, don't just fix the thing. Make it better.

In picture 29 the headset is to the left, the new plug is to the right. GROUND is pointed to the headset and the well insulated RIGHT AND LEFT channel wires are pointed to the right - toward the new plug. If the dog ever gets ahold of this cable the worst that will happen is that your left and right will short and you'll have mono headphones, not dead ones. Cool, huh?

Make sure the cables overlap slightly like we talked about.

Use small pieces of tape to put the cable together.

Tape or use heat shrink on the solder connections.

If you forgot to put shrink wrap on your headphone cable before you started, like I did,
do it with two courses of tape. One from the headset to the jack, and another going the reverse direction.

Test it again, just to be proud. It will work just fine.

Two views of cable finishing. Heat shrink is not shiny, Electrical tape is shiny.



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27 Discussions

Great instruct able!  I tryed to repair my sony phones, not realizing each wire had 2 wires inside ( live and ground).  Now I will do it right and maybe they will work.  Thanks for your help! 

how do you do it with ihome headphones with a cord that cant be replace and is snapped in half at the part where it is plugged into other devices?

would this work with the


would this work with the


Nice and easy-to-follow instructable ... however, whilst following it, I discovered an easier (and even more durable) method of doing this repair job on most Sony headphones, I'd suggest the following:

Pull off the ear padding. It's generally just stretched over the lip of the earpiece, and pulls off easily without tearing or breaking anything.

Underneath you'll find the screws, usually 3 of them. Unscrew them. This exposes the point at which your broken/damaged headphone wire attaches to the actual speakers.

Unsolder the old wire.

Solder on a new, thicker headphone cable (follow the guide of this instructable to know which wire is which).

Screw the headphones back together, and stretch the ear padding back over the ´phones.

Job's a good'un, in half the time, and no need to worry about melting through plastic shielding on the original wires, nor splicing wires together (no unsightly taped-up patching 5 inches from the jack).

Hey, I own a headphone set that has only one cable and I want to replace it buuuuuut I don't know if i really want to do that or not. It started when I had it plunged in to my old Sony walker then it started acting weird. When I plugged it in all the way it cut off the main vocals but the instruments were still playing and some warbled background voice. When it was plugged in half-way it was regular. What I did to keep it in the sweet spot was put like a small strand of duct tape on it but then something else happened. I dropped my walker then no sound came at all but in the right headphone peice I could hear like a very small whispering or something at the highest volume. So any ideas or something would be helpful! Also My headphones are ifrogs-earpollution.

2 replies

Hi Ivo,
You've got a couple things going on here.
The plug on the end of the cable is designed for stereo, with a different sound channel going into each side of your headphones. For this reason, when the plug is half plugged into the Walkman you'll only be connecting to one channel and you'll get some sounds and miss some sounds - depending on the recording you'll be listening to .
The walkman being dropped changes alot. If it is a machine that plays tapes, the tape head could have been knocked out of alignment with the tape. This will make it play back softer because it is not in line with the tape, and miss he sounds completely that the head is no longer passing over if that part of the head is not over the tape anymore. If it is a walkman playing CD's a similar misalignment can happen with shock. Usually with a CD it is an all-or-nothng affair if the head ( or main laser) is out of place. If it still plays, it is the headphone jack that is bent or wacky.
Since your problem started with the headphone needing to be in a particular position in the headphone jack to listen, it sounds like the headphone jack in the Walkman was the start of the trouble.
Check the headphones in another player of some kind to check the headphone performance. If you have only one side of the headphones working and the jack and cable look good it is possible that the 'driver' the little speaker in your headphones is failing - and no one sells spares of those. If the headphones themselves are failing, a new set is in order. If the headphones are good and the walkman is wacky time to check it with a different playback . If it does it with that also, then it is the playback mechanism. Likely you're near a trip to a professional for repair, or if you're hooked on a particular playback machine check out the second hand stores. You could get one working for less than the repair .
Some thoughts, hope these help

OK, so my Walkman was a CD player (should've mentioned sorry) and no i do not think it is the jack i used a pair of ear buds on it and it worked fine. I plugged it into my 6.25 plug then plugged that into my stereo. I put it to maximum, which is usually dangerously loud, but all I got was a small sound from the right piece. I tried the half way thing again also didn't work. I plugged into my computer and same. I don't think it can be helped any way. (And I'm pretty much screwed unless I get to WalMart tomorrow. I checked my calender and i fell to ground crying.) But thank you for replying!

I have a question, so I followed your directions and head phones seem to be working. My only concern is that I may have the wrong right/left wires connected.

The 3.5 mm jack that I used has 3 wires: yellow, white, red. I'm assuming this is a composite wire and the yellow is video so I connected it to the 3rd bronze wire. I'm not certain this is the right assumption. Could someone explain?

1 reply

You are on the right track,
There is not a strong consensus among manufacturers anymore about color code. Often Red is right channel +, with a green wire being left channel + and the remaining braid is the ground for both. Unfortunately, if there is white and yellow you've experienced the challenge. The test is always the final answer so if you find the channels reversed than that is your answer. More wire is from China these days and they sometimes do not go by the USA or even Japanese traditions of electronics color schemes.
Best to you,

I have headphone with a single cable and it has 3 wires in them (red, green, golden). I had to strip the cable because the 3.5mm jack broke. I have striped another cable with a 3.5mm male jack so as to extend the length of my headphones cable.. it also has 3 wires (red, blue, golden). These are very thin wires and has white thread in them to make them strong(i guess). i have striped the white thread off and twisted the two same colored wires with each other, but the headphones don't work....what am i doing wrong...i've made sure that the wires are not touching each other..

1 reply

You're almost there.
In the Instructable I get solder to soak into the larger cables wth a soldering iron, (called 'tinning the wires' ) then I drag a knife blade over the tiny headset wires before they are wrapped around the main wires. Then, what makes this work, is heating with the soldering iron to get through the tiny clear coating on those amazingly small wires on the headset. Then, connection is made and the headset can be used again.
I hope this helps

Yes, that would remove it, but the challenge is the fineness of the wire. To avoid heating it twice the thin plastic is replaced by solder if you do it at once. Thanks for the note. Tim

Thanks for the note, sorry to hear about the difficulty. The ultra fine wire they use in the Yamaha's may be best fastened with the cold solder paste. I have no other suggestion. The instructable was made with Sony headphones. Best to you

make sure its the right type of solder, check to see if the solder u r using is used for electronics.

I had to replace the cable on one set of my Sony MDR-XD200s (ner ner!!! :P ) after my cat, when she was a kitten (so she got away with it!!!), had chewed the wire to oblivion, and I did everything inside the headphones, and while I was at it I added a headset microphone (fixed, I couldn't be bothered measuring the hole so made a bigger-than-needed one and hot-glued it in place) on the left side, the original cable was pretty long, about 2 or 3 metres, but the replacement was just right for using with my laptop, about 1 metre... :) Also, as a suggestion, replace the plug with a solder-on replacement plug, which I'm sure you can get from somewhere like Radioshack (or Maplin for us UK bods), saves the cutting of a good cable and all that ugly black tape... :)

Thank you for the question. Clearing the coating while soldering is how it is done at the factory. It becomes one step, instead of two. Yes, you can clean in advance if you like with a soldering iron or lighter. The advantage to doing it all at once is that it eliminates the chance for impurities in the solder joint from fingertip skin oil or air. eTechTim

Not really... It may screw up the wires. You'll really find out what a hotwire is, haha.