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Earbud/headphones repair + diagnosis EXPLAINED. #22


Before we go any further, here’s a test
for your left earbud, a test for sound from the centre, and here my voice should be coming
from your right earbud. If any sound is missing, then please keep watching.
This video covers the operation, diagnosis, and repair of earbuds that use the 3 conductor
1/8th inch TRS plug, AND earbuds that use the 4 conductor TRRS plug which is the one
that has push-button controls and a microphone on them. I’m hoping you’ll get more than
just a little information from me in this video! There’s a lot of information here,
so I’ll be moving quickly but I will try to be thorough. You can simply click through
the parts you need if you miss something, so sit back and relax.
These 2 earbud connectors are found everywhere. The one on the left is the 3 conductor 1/8
inch 3.5 mm TRS plug, and on the right, the 4 conductor TRRS plug of the same size. They
both have the tip conductor, a ring conductor, another ring conductor on the TRRS plug, and
both have the sleeve conductor. Now you can see where they get their names. The designations
are usually the tip being the left earbud signal, the ring or ring 1 as the right earbud
signal, ground as being the return path for both the earbuds, and on the TRRS the sleeve
being the microphone which also has a return path to the same ground ring. The TRRS, I
just described is the latest standard used in most devices as of the date of this video.
Now there is one variation of this TRRS connector where the microphone and ground designations
are switched. This is the older standard used in the devices listed on the screen as well.
If you don’t know what yours is, then do a quick check online just to be sure.
So, as I said, the tip on the TRS drives the left earbud voice coil, with the ground wire
completing the circuit returning to the sleeve. And on the right, the ring feeds the right
voice coil, with the other ground wire returning to the very same sleeve where they join together
at the sleeve. 2 methods can be used to diagnose electrical
continuity of your TRS style earbuds. A multimeter is the preferred choice, but if you don’t
have one, then a copper penny, and a galvanized nail or staples, and a potato will actually
work quite well. For the potato method, don’t use anything stainless steel like forks or
knives because they will not work. For the earbud repair I use these tools on
a fire resistant surface to work on, in a room with proper ventilation for smoke. I
used a replacement 1/8th inch TRS stereo audio connector, and for the 2nd repair a TRRS connector
of the same size. I picked both of them up from my local electronics store. These can
be found online. Just search EBAY or amazon for them. The tools are rather cheap that
can all be used for future repairs anywhere. So, yes you might spend a bit of money to
buy them inititialy, but if the earbuds you’re fixing are worth over $50 you’ve already
broken even anyways. And, down the road you’ll be glad you have the tools.
Alright so for method one, we’ll use an ohm meter to check for continuity. The readings
will vary for different style earbuds, but I would expect to see between 16 and 32 ohms
for each side to the ground sleeve. Left and right should measure the same! If any of these
measure as open, there’s a broken connection. You’ll need to google search the resistance
values for yours if you have doubts. And now if you don’t have an ohm meter,
this way will work to check for electrical continuity. Like I said earlier, a copper
penny will work just fine with staples too. I’ll show you the nail method. You’re
creating a small battery that will drive each voice coil in the earbuds. It’s a very small
electric current, but enough for you to easily hear. If you hear sound clearly in the left
and right ears, then there are no broken wires, and you can stop right here. If the sound
is muffled in one earbud, it could be blown, or contaminated with some kind of a build-up.
Make sure your phone case isn’t stopping your connector from going in all the way as
well, because that will make your earbuds cut out too. If everything seems good, check
out my other video for a common cause of earbuds cutting out. The link is on the screen, and
also below in the notes if you want to go that way.
However If one or both sides are not working after this test, then we’ll continue. Since
the majority of broken wires happen right at the connector itself, we’ll need to cut
the connector wires back from the connector like this. I go back about an inch or so.
You can try it closer to the connector if you like. Remember, you can’t put wire back
if you cut off too much and make the wires too short. Separate and strip the wires carefully
about ½ an inch (or 1.25 cm). You will need to burn back the insulation on the wires.
You must stop the flame with the pliers from racing up the wire when burning off the laquer
insulation or you’ll risk shorting the wires out later when you’re putting these wires
back together. Once that’s done wipe off the residue from each exposed wire, and then
wash your hands with soap to be safe. Here we have the typical coloured wires, that being
2 copper grounds, the green left, and the red right. Let’s check the buds again. Put
them in your ears and listen. If both sides work, we’re good. Here we’ll check with
the ohm meter the same way. If either of these methods shows one or both as being an open
circuit, that means of course that we have a problem further up the wire, or even possibly
that one of the earbuds or both are damaged or defective.
So I’ll need to address this now. What to do if the wire is broken further up towards
the earbuds on either style earbuds that being TRS or TRRS? You’ll know it’s broken or
blown, because there will be absolutely no sound when testing with the potato, and your
resistance values on your meter will read open. If you want to save your earbuds, you
could use a cheaper replacement set for the bottom end, with your originals at the top.
That is an option. You will need to cut your wires near the top to test the buds individually
using the same method I showed you. If there is still a problem, then the earbuds are blown
and you are out of luck. If your earbuds are $50 or $100 or more, then it’s an option
well worth considering. So on to the repair. First I’ll grab a set
of 1/8” 3.5 mm TRS three conductor connectors. Unscrew the cover and look. These are the
tip ring and sleeve connection points that need to be joined to the wires we just stripped
clean earlier. Now slide the threaded cover onto the wire first or you won’t be happy
later. And twist the two ground wires together like this. You’ll now have three wires ready
to be connected. You can solder your wires to the terminals of the connector like this,
or you can tin the connector and wires first. The choice is yours, On the TRRS coming up
next tinning is the only option though. And please don’t hold your connector by plugging
it into your $500 phone when you’re soldering! That’s just crazy! I’m just saying, I’ve
seen someone else do that! Hold your connector down onto a fire proof surface by any means
that works for you. Solder your ground connection first. Once that’s done, gently push the
wires inwards into the connector, which will then allow you to gently crimp and secure
the wires to the connector like this. If your connector has connection points that can bend,
bend them out a bit to give you better access for soldering. Solder the green left wire
to the tip conductor, and then the red right wire to the ring conductor. Now carefully
bend those tabs back inward paying attention to the wires. Don’t let the soldered connections
touch each other. Now check your work before you put it together. So if all is good, you
can thread back on your cover, and optionally you can use some hot glue to secure the wires
in the end of the connector. Yup, it works! So on to the TRRS system, which essentially
works the same as the TRS system, with the one difference being the microphone and controls
circuitry. This will be tough if you have sausage fingers! Now when you strip the wires
back you’ll see the difference. You might see a wrapped up wire. For example, when you
open this one you’ll see….this! Now what? Well, a quick Google search on these leads
me to a wire colour pinout that looks like mine. This one shows where each wire goes.
This also shows that the wires wrapped around the microphone wire are part of 4 wires that
all connect to ground. By the way, if your phone starts with an I, at this point in time
these wire colors are likely yours. You must always check the wire colors yourself OK because
you might see this video years from now, and things are always changing!
So on mine the microphone’s the white wire, and the controls are a tangled up red and
blue, red is right, blue is ground, green is left, and the large braid of copper is
ground. So just like in the last fix, we’ll hold the wires where we want the flame to
stop, and we’ll again burn away the insulation on each wire, including the messy looking
control wires. Then we’ll remove the ash residue, and then get this off our hands by
washing our hands with soap. After, we’ll make sure our wires really are ok. Once you’ve
heard sound in each ear, you can grab your new TRRS connector and unthread the outside
cover and remove the plastic insulator sleeve. Now here’s the open connector showing the
pins where we’ll solder. Because the tip and ring 1 conductor tabs are so small, you’ll
need a soldering iron or gun with a small tip to get in there. All 4 conductors will
need to be tinned like this. After, slip the threaded cover over all the wires , then the
plastic insulator sleeve, and then expose the pre-stripped wires for the next step.
We’ll then combine the 4 ground wires we identified earlier into one. Once that’s
done, we’ll then tin all the wires. First solder the left wire which is green
to the tip conductor, then the red right to the ring 1 conductor.
I then used some heat shrink for the next step. You can use electrical tape if you like.
Because the copper wire is bare, we need to stop it from shorting to other conductors.
I solve that problem this way. After, connect the microphone to the sleeve conductor, and
then finally the ground to the ring 2 conductor. So here we pinch the sleeve conductor around
the wires to hold them securely. You can see how the heat shrink tubing we put on is keeping
the combined ground wires insulated from the sleeve conductor. Now we’ll slide up the
plastic sleeve, and then thread on the threaded metal cover. And so we’ll test again. This
is definitely an advantage here in using a proper ohm meter, as we can verify all the
resistance values for the control switches along with the earbuds themselves. And now
for the optional step of gluing the wire to the end of the connector.
So that was a bit of work. But if you have expensive earbuds, then I would say it’s
worth it. So there you go. I hope you got something
out of this, and that you can maybe use this as a reference in the future! And thanks for
watching!

Bernard Jenkins

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