Introduction: Zen Micro Headphone Jack Fix

Picture of Zen Micro Headphone Jack Fix

The Zen Micro is a great MP3 player. Sadly, the headphone jack assembly wasn't engineered as well as the rest of the player. It's design causes the contacts to losen from the board. There is a simple fix for on young grasshopper...
This is my first instructable, so I demand lots of constructive critism

Step 1: Required Tools

Picture of Required Tools

For this instructable, you will need:
1) A philips jewlers screw driver (I'm not too sure of the size, if anyone knows, its really small though)
2) A slot jewlers screw driver (this ones size doesn't matter as much, but it has to small enough)
3) Scissors (and paper, but it's not really a tool)
4) A bottle opener and a beer (to congratulate yourself upon completion)
5) A Zen micro, THAT'S A GIVEN!

Simple enough, so lets move to step two

Step 2: Remove the Battery

Picture of Remove the Battery

Easy enough, three steps to this:
1) Remove the zen from whatever case you have it in (do not attempt this if it is not in a case)
2)Slide the back panel off
3) Remove the battery
Now, if you try and power the zen on, and it turns on, repeat steps 1-3. If it doesn't turn on, proceed.

Step 3: Remove the Top Panel and Screws

Picture of Remove the Top Panel and Screws

This where things get complicated... For this step, you need both screw drivers, here's the steps to this step:
1)Place the zen on hold (this is required to remove the panel)
2)Take your slot screw driver and push it into the side opposite the hold switch (regard the picture)
3) Once in place, lever the panel off
4) Put the panel and hold switch in a safe place
5) Remove the two screws and place them in a safe place (but you were already going to do that weren't you?)
Once this is completed, you may move on to the next step.

Step 4: Prepare to Void Your Warranty

Picture of Prepare to Void Your Warranty

By doing the next steps, you void your warranty. If you don't want to void your warranty, then please read the previous steps in reverse order, and put your player back together. As for a disclaimer:
I am not responsible for you messing up your creative, if you deside to continue with this, you do it at your own risk. YOUR OWN RISK!
After reading that, if you decided that you would like to continue, please do so.

Step 5: Push the Plate Forward

Picture of Push the Plate Forward

This is the step that will void your warranty:
1) Take the metal plate in the battery compartment and grip it like in the first picture
2) Push it towards the warranty sticker with your thumbs, it should move slightly, and rip the warranty sticker
That wasn't too bad was it? Well, now that your warranties voided, might as well continue...

Step 6: Remove the Main Electronics From the Case

Picture of Remove the Main Electronics From the Case

This step requires some skill, do it slowly, and nothing should go wrong, here we go:
1)Basicly, you want to pull on the bottom front lip, and push from the back
2)If done properly, the main electronics should just come out
3)Place the main electronics in a safe place
*Optional* Take a soft brush (like a camera lens brush) and dust everything off
When this step is done, you should have a board on the case. This is what you're interested in.

Step 7: Unscrew the Metal Casing

Picture of Unscrew the Metal Casing

This part is easy, two steps:
1) Unscrew it from the board (there are two screws, remove them, and put them in your safe spot)
2) Now remove the metal casing, and keep it handy

Step 8: Warm Up Those Scissors

Picture of Warm Up Those Scissors

This is in my opinion the hardest step, here's what you need to do:
1)Take a piece of paper
2)Cut and fold it, so it's about six pieces thick, and fits above the headphone jack
3)The pictures should help clear this up
4)It is easiest is you use the metal casing as a template

Step 9: Place the Paper, and Resecure the Metal Casing

Picture of Place the Paper, and Resecure the Metal Casing

The title is self explanitory, but here are the steps:
1)Place the folded paper in the metal casing
2)Put the metal casing back into its original position, but now it should have the paper in between it and the headphone jack
3) Resecure it with those screws which you removed and put in a safe location

Step 10: Replace the Main Electronics

Picture of Replace the Main Electronics

This is realitivly simple, do the exact opposite of what you did to take them out, incase you've forgotten:
*make sure the metal slidey part on the back is down*
1)Take the top part (the part with the screen) and place it in so the contacts align
2)Push down on the top part so the contacts connect
3)Then push down on the bottom, and it should click in. If it's giving you problems (more like if you're weak, but...), try pushing on the sides.
The zen is now mainly back together, just a few more things.

Step 11: Push the Plate Back Up

Picture of Push the Plate Back Up

Very simple, but because I like you, I'll give you the step
1)Place your thumbs in the same place they were before, and do the opposite motion of when you were pushing it down
Oh look, it's the same picture as before

Step 12: Replace Screws and Cap

Picture of Replace Screws and Cap

Again, the exact opposite as before, but you can have these steps:
1)Take the screws (you stored them away safely didn't you?) and rotate them clockwise in the holes until they're tight (may I suggest a screwdriver for this?)
2)Put the hold switch in place
3)Replace the cap (it should stick on its own, but one could use double sided tape to hold it)
Yes, you're almost done!

Step 13: Replace the Battery, Battery Cover, and Case

Picture of Replace the Battery, Battery Cover, and Case

Self explanitory, but:
1)Put the battery in in such a way that the contacts line up
2)Put the Batter cover back on
3)Place any case you may have back on
4)Test to make sure to unit powers on
5)Drink the beer you put aside
You're done now, yippie! Now you can go back to listening to your zen at un-zenly volume levels.


NeroInferno (author)2010-10-20

I've added the little folded paper into the metal chase but actually I can listen music just from one only ear.

How can I fix it?


adamx97 (author)2010-05-28

thanks.  Worked for me.

amclaussen (author)2009-12-10

I have Critically tested a few MP3 players with very high quality in-ear phones and top-quality Sennheiser headsets that are many times more expensive that this player itself.  It definitely puts out Hi quality sound appreciably better than almost anyother player; specially when compared against the ubiquitous Ipod (which can sound louder, but definitely not better).  A piece of advice: use the "Smart Volume" and the "Custom EQ" settings always, as the sound when those are turned "Off",  is of a lower quality (for reasons related to the very poor firmware that Creative uses).  Be aware that the first versions of the firmware caused the player to consume a lot of energy when turned off. (It kept not completely turned off, but kind of in a "sleeping mode" that provoked that the battery lasted less than half of the specified hours.  Keeping the "Sleeping Timer "On" also wastes energy, turn it Off unless you want this setting to go to sleep.

Most importantly, forget about using the mediocre sounding earbuds that came with it (or with other Creative products like the very good Audigy laptop sound card).   Go get a SHURE brand In-Canal type Earphones (could cost more than the Zen Micro, but then the Sound is of TRULY High Fidelity!  The Shures have a higher impedance and also higher sensitivity, both produce a MUCH better performance...   Even people with extremely expensive and top quality Pro sound systems are surprised of the quality of sound of the Zen Micro+Shure In-canal Earphones!  Finally, try to get a couple of extra batteries before those become unavailable! (Creative´s website has discontinued them already), I saw a replacement at Radio Shack last year, but they also renew their catalog too frecuently... Ah, dont forget to only use the 192 kbps WMA or the 320 kbps settings when ripping from CD's, the Zen Micro circutry deserves top quality music to really be appreciated. It is a shame that such a good circuit design was so poorly assembled by Creative´s suppliers.

Steve F (author)2009-03-06

Thanks a lot! I thought I'd have to get a new player!!! Your fix helped me immensely!

bmcc7718 (author)2009-02-10

Thanks a bunch for creating this Instructable. This worked perfectly for my Zen Micro!

RoDrAs (author)2009-01-13

I stripped one of the screws that hold the metal casing to the board (the left one). I have tried many screwdrivers but I can't remove it. Is there anything I can do? I'd be really grateful if anyone could help me... Thank you.

paolo66 (author)2008-12-16

I started to have problems on my 4 yrs old Zen Micro about one year ago. I was about to buy another player when I saw these instructions: I've just finished to fix the problem and the player works as new!! A big thanks to GreenDay.

maorlowski (author)2008-12-05

I followed these instructions carefully on my daughter's 4 year old Zen Micro and lo and behold it is functioning perfectly now. Before finding these instructions I was afraid that I'd need to solder the headphone jack connections, which didn't look like a very easy project. I did make a slight adjustment to your instructions by using a small piece of cardboard that I cut to size. Saved me the trouble of making lots of folds in a sheet of paper. One other note: The player was also freezing during startup. This turned out to be just a weak battery. Found a new replacement battery on Amazon and now it is working just like new. Total cost of refurbishment: under $9. I'm a hero in my daughter's eyes now. Thanks for posting these instructions.

loulou92 (author)2008-10-30

I have a zen micro photo, essentially the same design I thought, but when I tried to follow your Instructable I realized that the top panel (step 3) is not separate from the rest of the white casing. I stopped trying to pry it open and just cleaned the jack out as well as I could. this seems to have made a difference, but can anyone offer advice as to how to apply this Instructable to the microphoto?

grosse8485 (author)2008-10-19

ahhhhhhhhhhh! I just fixed the headphone jack but the stupid touchpad doesnt work!!! What should I do. Note:some of the little plastic tabs that snap the screen and the faceplate broke off.

GreenDay (author)grosse84852008-10-19

Make sure it's plugged in, if it is did you short anything out accidentally while soldering?

esposimi (author)2008-08-25

i did a fix using some electrical tape. worked perfectly for a month without a problem. then the hard drive died. i had the player for about four years. so i went out and i bought an ipod touch, and am enjoying it alot more then my old zen micro. thanks creative

marklkiefer58 (author)2008-07-26

Got a 5gb micro as a throw in on ebay, it was the first time using it. Saw this instructable through googling it and it worked fantastic. Thanks a lot. Mark

CruseKrazy (author)2008-05-04

It worked! Mind you a grommet and 2 retaining clips fell out when I took the main electronics board out... My Zen micro is now all the more lighter for it! Now 3 more years of daily use I hope. iPods eat dust! Thank you GreenDay CruseKrazy

bigpinecone (author)2007-01-26

i'm getting one of these on sunday! if i ever have this problem i'll think about this, thanks

bigpinecone (author)bigpinecone2007-01-28

make that tomorrow _

bigpinecone (author)bigpinecone2008-02-25

well it happened. just this morning. now i can't get my 8-gig open. is there a difference with opening the 8-gig and the 5-gig? i know they're not that different but i can't get the faceplate/electronics off.

bigpinecone (author)bigpinecone2008-02-25

ok i'm pissed. i figured it out, and i went into it, placed the paper, and plugged it into my computer headphones. both sides work fine! BUT! i tried it with my normal headphones, and it turns out it was my headphones... F***!!!!!! so i destroyed the powder coat on my player, just to realize that it was my headphones the whole time. i hate that...

GreenDay (author)bigpinecone2008-02-25

That sucks so hard! But you haven't wrecked your player, you've redecorated it. At least no one will try and steal it, plus you can use it in a lot more places because you stop caring how it looks. That's what I tell myself each time I look at my scratched up cell phone.

bigpinecone (author)GreenDay2008-02-25

yeah it does!
i don't really care about how it looks anyway lol. i don't think anyone could steal it, it stays in my pocket ALL DAY LONG! only comes out when i have to change songs, and that only takes a few seconds. maybe i should paint it with some black nail polish i have laying around, just for the hell of it.

GreenDay (author)bigpinecone2008-02-25

That could work, but it might also mess up the touchability of the pad. Put some on a piece of paper first, then hold that over a button and try and use that button. If it responds you're good.

bigpinecone (author)GreenDay2008-02-26

nah not the pad. it's already black lol. i mean the white case.

buckbeak and happy (author)2007-10-13

The fix for the loose headphone problem on my zen micro worked FANTASTIC! Thank you SO MUCH. I've had my micro for 3 years and have had to hold the headphone cord this way and that to get marginally consistant sound (unlike when I first got it!). Now it sounds awesome again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Instructions were clear, easy and amusing! I will give thanks for you EVERY time I use it (which is a LOT!)

engelaugen0706 (author)2007-10-02

Thanks! This has been bugging me for years, but never had the guts to try and solder it! So thanks very much :)

Your steps for opening the case were kinda hard to follow, but I figured it out.

peterr2468 (author)2007-09-30

Yea, I finished and it worked! I had some problems with your photos and instrucions so I went to and that helped me get the player apart.

jared.boone (author)2007-09-13

Thanks for these instructions. My Zen works perfectly now. I'm happy that I didn't have to risk damaging it with my poor soldering skills. I used graph paper to make it easier to cut pieces of the right size.

coolio (author)2007-09-08

Yes these instructions were very good, and the pictures were great as well! Made everything so much easier, thank you so much!! But yeah, now my Zens broken but dont worry! It had nothing to do with your instructions!!!!

technosapien (author)2007-08-09

You my friend, are teh awesoem.just yesterday my Zen started doing this, and now I know how to fix it. My luck, it'll blow up in my face.... But that's nothing to do with your excellent instructions. Thank you!

It worked! I also found that there is another way to do steps 5 and 11 that don't require so much thumb power, at the opposite end of the battery slot is a raised edge of the metal plate a person could hook a thumbnail behind. Push gently on the faceplate, and with only minimal pressure from the thumbnail the plate will slide. To put the plate back in place, again apply pressure to the faceplate of the device, and next to the raised edge is a flat bend where the plate hooks into the case, that's a good place to push back to snap the plate into place. Also the retaining clips are not hard to place back in, I had the good fortune that one of mine did not fall out so I took some macro pictures for how to put them back in. Once the pics are on my computer I'll upload them if you like. And my earphone jacks works swimmingly, thank you tons!

Here's a pic...

Colleen4189 (author)2007-07-29

i worship the ground that you walk upon. i truly do. i've had my zen for about 4 years now and the problem just kept getting worse and worse.. i was about to send it in to get fix, but since my warranty had obviously run out, i was told it would cost upwards of $90. thanks, but no. i cannot believe that i was able to do this (talk about empowerment...) and that it WORKS. i'm beyond excited. and for what its worth, i didnt use those screwdrivers....i used tweezers and a nail file (because i'm a girl and don't have tools), and those worked just fine. my "staples" fell out, as well, but they really don't seem to be that big of a deal. THANKS AGAINNNN!!!

cloin (author)2007-07-15

What a star you are. Socket sorted - but I have a bit left over. It's like a used staple with bends and is prob some sort of retaining clip - which fell out when I did step 5. Is it important and if so where does it go? Cheers C.

Sergiales (author)cloin2007-07-24

I think those two pieces (each one at each side) are useful for retaining the battery case, but perhaps you don't really need them. You should try to place them in their respective holes. It is not too difficult. Good luck.

rexter123 (author)2007-07-09

OH MY GOD.. i am bowing down before you.. amazing help thank you so much

jorgetex (author)2007-07-05

Thanks for those great instructions! I rescued my daughter's player (this happened after about 18 months of use). One thing, I now have problems with the player staying on/turning on. Removing and replacing the battery will solve this sometimes. I think the little staple looking things that fell out - see comments from others -, somehow keep the battery in snugly. If anyone knows where those go, could you please show us? Thanks again for the great tutorial!

Sergiales (author)jorgetex2007-07-06

It also happened to me at first so i was a bit disappointed. I had to re-open the whole thing and remove some paper folds (it seems like the little metal case was touching the back part of the display and that "could" be the problem). Indeed, i broke by accident the screw threads (weak plastic!) in the small board, so i couldn't screw them anymore (amazingly it also works even without the screws!). So, if you still have problems, try to do this. Make sure that everything fits properly when assembling the parts. Therefore, i had to put some glue (the weak stick glue that children use in the school) in the external panel (conectors). My ZM still works pretty well. It is a good music player. Good luck!!.

Sergiales (author)2007-07-05

Now that i've fixed it, it's time to buy a EP-630 or CX-300 in-ear headphone! :-) Thanks! Sergio.

xxUnLeashTheBatz (author)2007-07-03

This tutorial is AMAZING! For a few months now I've had to deal with the horrible connection in my MP3...but now that I've finally been able to get it fixed, thanks to you, I'm extremely happy. Two staple looking things fell out...and I couldn't figure out where they go...but my MP3 seems to not need I guess they're not very important. In your tutorial though I think you might want to mention that you need to use COMPUTER paper... At first I used just regular notebook paper and it didn't work, but when I went back in and re-did it with computer paper it worked. Anyways, thanks so much!

exodusfollower (author)2007-06-06

Awsome instructions. My 5 gig was letting me down on my runs, but your easy instructions fixed it. Thanks!

rockursocks (author)2007-05-31

awesome tutorial!! i fixed my mp3 player after having it break on me after 6 months. then i suffered with holding my headphone to my jack for a year. this was very simple and easy. just wondering while i was pushing the metal part out, two stapler looking things fell out. I wasn't sure where they went so I didn't put them back in. Hopefully it doesn't matter!

Jonst (author)2007-04-16

I have my Sansa mp3 player and it did the same thing I use this fix and some help from another website for Sansa mp3 Support as well and now it works great now!!

Thank you so much this thing was starting to get on my nerves...

aniketrane (author)Jonst2007-05-05

Jonst, Can you please tell me how you fixed the problem with Sansa player? I tried to look for the fix on the site which you linked here.. The problem with my Sansa E270 that the left earbud gives out on me. The weird thing is that it plays through it when the headphone is halfway in but when I push it all the way in it goes out again. I know its not the headphones becuase they work fine on my CD player, so I'm guessing its the headphone jack. Any help is appricieated

Jonst (author)aniketrane2007-05-14

Hi aniketrane, I am sorry for the late reply I just saw the email from Instructables. I am not an expert on this but it sound like it is the jack and this fix here will help you secure the connection to the jack... I have used the free live chat support in the link I posted. The expert I talked with was very helpful and answered some of my other questions and helped me with this fix... DONT DO IT if you still have your warranty! because it might void it...

wingman246 (author)2007-04-17

I have a Zen Nano 512MB that recently stopped working completely, it won't even power on. I plug it in to my computer, nothing. I got it for about $50 (USD) and I emailed creative labs, and they want me to pay $25 to get it fixed, F.T.S., any help?

GreenDay (author)wingman2462007-04-17

I had the 128mb and the same thing happend. As for a fix, not a clue. Got ticked and wipped mine into a wall

GreenDay (author)2007-04-16

Are the pictures clear enough? Someone has to dislike something about my instructable

Kim88888 (author)2007-04-01

I've just finished fixing my Creative Zen 5 GB. I followed another site's instructions and resoldered one of the headphone jack solder points. Your fix is interesting, I might have tried that if I had found this site first. It was tricky to get between the USB port and the headphone port to solder (Of course the solder point that was detached on mine was the one in between these two ports), so your fix would have been easier. I can't believe how many people are having problems with the Creative Zen headphone jack. It's ridiculous. I was about to trash mine until I fixed it. Like another poster on here, I had a couple of extra pieces. They are two little springs that fell out when I took the body out of the casing. I can't figure out where they go, and they don't appear to be necessary as my player works excellent now. If you know what they are, though, let me know and I'll try to put them back if I ever take this player apart again. Congrats to you for putting this info out. You're saving a lot of people from going insane, I'm sure. There's nothing more annoying than sound cutting in and out when you're listening to music. Like you, I couldn't live for 4 - 6 weeks without my mp3 player! Now that it's fixed this is a happy, happy day!!!

xtremlyxtreme (author)2007-03-23

being the cheapskate I am, I searched for a mp3 on ebay a creative zen. I saw one with a not so well headphone jack and also directed me to this site. When I first heard how it behave, i thought I'd manage, but it started to annoy me and now it is fixed. I am listening to what I love and I am very happy. Cheap and working well!!! Your instructions are very good as well. Anyone could understand it. Nice. Cheers. I am drinkin sparkling juice 2 celebrate my good work. Thanks again

killster (author)2007-02-11

If creative fixed the problem and sent back your original zen i would consider even calling for a warranty but as everyone says im on my 4th one same problem again bla bla so i tore it apart and yup all the pads on the headphone jack where not even soldered on. i crudely soldered all the points and stuffed a folded up paper in and its 100% now.

I'm not sure why the soldering part isn't included in this guide.

Does the paper allow you to not have any the pads soldered?!

thanks for guide i doubt i would have figured out how to break it down, but one problem is i have a extra part left over looks like it came out of the usb area.. oh and the top wont stay on so i will glue it

GreenDay (author)killster2007-02-11

The soldering part isn't included in this guide, because I lack the soldering skills to do this.... The paper seems to prevent having to solder the pads. It just pushes the contacts down onto the board with more force than the metal plate would provide alone. Is there any chance you have a picture of the left over part? I'll see if I could help you figure out where it goes. As for glueing the top back on, you may want to aquire some double sided tape and use that. It'll make it easier to open it up again.

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