Why are audio jacks so bad?

I’m talking about the “normal” audio jacks like what they have at the end of headphones, not any of that big studio-grade stuff.

You know what I’m talking about. It seems like they ALWAYS quickly “wear out” such that wiggling the plug even a little accidentally means the difference between hearing and not hearing the right and/or left channel. Why can’t companies make an audio jack that doesn’t suck?

Your made-in-China $5.00 headphones are made with the loest quality jacks available The funny thing-the cost to produce a GOOD jack is trivial-it amounts to using gold plating, instead of nickel, and havin thicker plated layers. It probably amounts to a 5 cent difference-but it is all about cost:smack:

I used to like the old big quarter inch plugs and jacks. They were durable, you could SEE them, and if they broke, it was always right where the wire enters the connector. So, you could trim back the wire, resolder, and it was good for another several years.

If you’re talking about the stereo plug that is at the end of the headphone cord, it’s usually not the plug itself, but the incredibly small wires that are connected to it. They break rather easily and even normal amounts of use can cause them to fail. They also generally fail at the point of highest stress, which is at the connection to the plug.

If you’re talking about the audio jack which is the hole you put the plug into, they normally only wear out from excessive use, where you are constantly inserting and removing the plug. (Write your own sexual innuendo joke.)

But I think you’re talking about the plugs but the problem is really the wires. This is why I never spend a lot of money on headphones. No matter how good the actual speakers in them are, the cord is still going to have the same hair fine wires in it which will break with even minor abuse. I’d rather spend $10 3 times a year than $50, especially since I can barely tell any difference in sound quality. YMMV.

Yeah, it’s the wires in the headphones that are the problem, not the jacks. And they ALL wear out sooner or later.

The jacks used in standard electronic equipment is a small box with 3 prongs coming out. Those prongs are what carry the signal to your headphones. These are soldered directly on the circuit board. In cheap electronics this is the only thing holding the jack in place. Plugging the headphones in and out and moving the plug from side to side moves the jack around and breaks the solder points. This is why sometimes you can push the jack to the left or right and hear a sound.

They do make jacks which have extra prongs on the corners which can be soldered onto the board to help secure it in place but these jacks are larger and normally won’t fit on the smaller designed boards.

Normally all it takes to fix the situation is a reheating of the solder points. Sometimes I’ll even cover the jack with epoxy putty and put the cover back on to help hold it in place against the case.

So, it isn’t really a case of cheap as much as it is size and component design.

If you are talking about the plug, Rhubarb has it. It’s the tiny wires.

You can buy shrink tubing to help combat this. Cut a 6-7 inch piece of shrink tubing to go over the plug and up the wire. This will help reduce some of the strain the little wires get at the end near the plug.

That. The worst thing is when the solder points are intact but the circuit board around the jack has cracked. I have thrown away several MP3 players that were otherwise in perfect condition because of this.

It is annoying. I’ve gotten used to replacing headphones every few months, but it’s okay because I’ve found a Sony model of earbuds for about $10 which have great sound quality for what I need. But in the last year I’ve had to take apart the car cradle for my SkyFi, as the connection between the circuit board and the jack had broken, and solder it back together. It didn’t work for long, but luckily these days a a full car kit for a SkyFi/SkyFi2 is dirt cheap. I also had to replace the entire headphone jack and hold switch assembly in my iPod (about 2.5 years old) because the jack broke. Again, that was about a $5 replacement from Hong Kong. Only problem is I can’t get the hold switch to work properly on the new one, but that’s not a big deal. I’m just happy my MacBook headphone jack hasn’t broken yet.

As has been said, it is generally the cables that fail and I just replace them. If your time is wirth a lot then it’s not worth it but if you enjoy the tinkering like I do then just replace the cable with a better one. Even molded plugs can be cut open, resoldered and then sealed with hot glue.

Part of the problem is the consumers who (a) treat a delicate cable roughly and (b) demand really thin cables for convenience. It is the same reason consumer electronics like videocams have batteries which are way too small for them.

Either some of you are being too rough on your equipment or I’ve been very lucky. I’ve used my $40 Sony headphones for over 6 years now without any problems.

So far so good with my iPod Touch. The “click” is still good, and the jack is still nice and snug. Had for almost a year now.

I use $1.20 headphones from Big Lots. The usual brand there has higher frequency response, and lower impedance.

I’m not an audiophile but I do know about electricity and that says to me more data carrying current is getting to the speakers.

When they die replacement is cheap. What I can’t wait for is for when they upgrade my G1’s firmware to support adp2, and stereo bluetooth headsets. Then I can get one of these to plug my headphones into instead of the shoddy miniusb adapter that come with my G1 in lieu of a real headphone jack.

And more often than not, the wires are actually something called “tinsel” that can not be repaired by mere humans. Rather than actual wire, it’s metal foil wrapped around threads. Very flexible and less likely to break from being bent repeatedly than actual wire, but you can’t solder a new plug to it.

7 years here. And although the foam surrounding the speakers is long gone, they still work just fine on a daily basis

Allright! You started the Pissing contest, I’m gonna finish it!

I still use my Astraltune headphones, now going on 29 years! Hard-core use, skiing, thrashing down mogul runs hour after hour, day after day, season after season.