Dollar Store sucks
March 2, 2009 10:18 PM   Subscribe

Did this cheap POS from the dollar store really just break my computer headphone jack?

I bought a 1/8 to composite cable from the dollar store and when I went to hook it up to my receiver nothing happened. My computer didn't seem to be affected, there just simply was no sound going through the speakers so I just assumed the cable sucked. Than I went to hook up my computer speakers back up and they don't work now. I used the computer speakers literally 5 min earlier and they worked fine, the power lights are on and I'm pretty certain they are in good working order. I have Apple care but did this cheap ass cable really just break my headphone input?
posted by BrnP84 to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
It's possible there was a short if some of the insulation broke and wires came into contact with each other -- really, though, it's going to be difficult to track. If you have a multimeter, you can measure the resistance between the outer shielding and the contact part to check. I know it sounds daft and insulting, but have you done a sanity check -- e.g. volume, tried different media players, another set of headphones or speakers, etc. to isolate it to a physical problem?
posted by spiderskull at 10:21 PM on March 2, 2009

Response by poster: yea the speaker volume is turned up and I only use Itunes for music. When I unplug the computer speakers my built in speakers kick in and the music plays but once I plug something into the jack nothing works. I've scoured my whole apartment for headphones but I can't find any but the computer speakers literally worked a few min before I tried using this cheap adapter.
posted by BrnP84 at 10:26 PM on March 2, 2009

Have you restarted your computer since this happened? I've had a couple sound problems in the past, all of which were fixed after restarting the computer. I even used an Ask the first time it happened, and some mefite out there brilliantly suggested restarting.
posted by phunniemee at 11:20 PM on March 2, 2009

For composite you mean RCA stereo right? (not some fancy A+V combo)

There have been some reports of trouble in Apple's 3.5 plugs. I think mostly it has been the plug always detecting something connected (that is, never reverting to the built-in speaker). I haven't heard of the port dying.

So, if you tried jiggling around and it doesn't come back, it's probably not a mechanical thing. Here are some theories:

1) Do you have optical/digital output enabled? The mac could be misdetecting a digital connector, and be just beaming a red laser at your speaker plug. System Preferences, Sound, Output, check what it shows up when you plug your speakers - if it says digital out, then that's what's happening. This could happen if the plug detection is half broken, and detecting the tip of the cable but not the body. So you'll probably have to get to applecare anyway on this one.

2) Speaker out circuits are generally built to be very robust. A short wouldn't normally kill your port permanently, although it COULD trip some protection circuit. If everything else fails, turn off your mac for a couple hours, and turn it back on.

3) What COULD kill your port is if there's a ground loop between your mac and your receiver (and then it's not the cheapo cable's fault). Are both of them grounded, and on the same plug (or a plug controlled by the same breaker)? If they are NOT, there could be some voltage between the two grounds, and then it might screw you. But that's quite unlikely. Which end did you plug first? did the other end spark when you plugged?

4) do you have a "disposable" old mp3 player that you can test the cheapo cable and see if it works?
posted by qvantamon at 11:31 PM on March 2, 2009

Try going into System Preferences>Sound, click Output and change it to a different device by clicking on it. Just a wild guess.

This happened to me a week ago, I only heard system sounds though.
posted by glenno86 at 5:37 AM on March 3, 2009

Open /Applications/Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup. Under the "Audio Output" in the righthand corner, is the number to the right of "Format" 44100.0 Hz or 48000.0 Hz? If not, that's your problem.
posted by WCityMike at 1:33 PM on March 3, 2009

Response by poster: I plugged in a pair of headphones today and they work but the computer speakers still don't work. This is really strange considering I had been using these computer speakers for about a month now.
posted by BrnP84 at 9:40 PM on March 3, 2009

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