iPod headphone jack... of DOOM???
July 8, 2010 7:52 AM   Subscribe

I think my iPod's (5G; 30 GB) headphone jack may be screwy. It seems to make headphones that penetrate it permanently screwy. Am I just screwed?

This problem started fall of last year (I've had the iPod since 2005). When I listened, sound would only consistently come through one ear, and I'd have to twist the headphone plug around in the jack to get it to come through the other. Then I'd have to kind of fold the cord over and hold it against the iPod the entire time I listened. Kind of a pain, and it only got worse: by winter, the positions the thing would accept were so delicate and tiny I couldn't get sound for more than a few seconds at a time. Also, my iPod, or the compensation I was doing, made it so eventually my headphones would have the same problem in other headphone jacks.

So this winter I found a guy on craigslist and he replaced the jack (Apple wanted $120 for the same job... right). For months the thing worked perfectly. Then about two months ago I encountered the same problem with the headphones I'd been using. I figured it might just be the headphones so I used a new pair. That worked for about a month, until those headphones started doing the cut-out sound thing in my iPod again. But they still worked in other headphone jacks. Then I kept using those headphones in my iPod and then yesterday I found they were having the same problem in other headphone jacks. So I used a new pair of headphones. They worked perfectly for like... a day. This morning they started doing the same sound-to-one-ear-cutting-off thing. They're doing the same thing in my computer.

The iPod has some minor hard drive issues but aside from the jack problem I would like to keep using it for as long as possible. I know I'll likely eventually need to replace it (well, to the extent that one needs expensive consumer electronics) but I would really like to wait for the new iPod Touch with the camera and microphone. The damage this has wreaked on various pairs of headphones isn't actually that much of a problem--I've been using relatively old, cheap ones that were laying around the house, ones that no one else would likely use. But there aren't many more pairs like that.

So what are my options? Do you think I should get the guy to replace the jack again (it was $30 with him making a house call) or does this represent an issue in which the iPod itself can't resist screwing with the headphone jack? Are there headphones that plug into the charge dock instead? I know there are speakers that work that way. Or is there something else I haven't considered?
posted by randomname25 to Technology (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
"lying" around the house glurg
posted by randomname25 at 8:00 AM on July 8, 2010


Just wish to pipe in to say I have this exact problem currently with my Sennheiser cans (connected to a comp) and I'd love to know a solution, but more importantly, the nature of the problem.
posted by Gyan at 8:01 AM on July 8, 2010


You can buy replacement headphone jacks for about $15. The replacement is not terribly difficult, as long as you don't have shaky hands.

I've had this problem as well. A cheap way to prevent it was suggested to me: buy a short headphone extender or splitter. This way a yank will only ruin the extender, not your iPod. In my case, I had a pair of headphones with a really long plug. Stuffing the iPod in my pocket put a lot of force against the inside contacts, probably bending them too much.
posted by mkb at 8:09 AM on July 8, 2010


If you do have shaky hands, you can get something like this repaired for around $50-$60. Way cheaper than replacing the iPod. Shoot me a note if you're in the NYC area; I know a good guy.
posted by kmtiszen at 8:15 AM on July 8, 2010


Given the nature of what's happening, I would venture that it's something seemingly-minor that you're doing to cause this problem. There's nothing inside your iPod that eats the contacts of the headphone jack to the circuit board, or the headphone cans to the plug. Like mkb, you're probably unknowingly putting some funny sort of stress on the interface somewhere, and it's causing poor connectivity over time.

My best guess: the headphone jack gets funny first, so you do the twisting-the-plug-around trick to fix it temporarily. This causes abnormal stress on the plug, which causes poor connectivity between the plug and the wire.
posted by supercres at 8:36 AM on July 8, 2010


Well, let me take that back. Have you looked at the plug of the headphones that the iPod has ruined? If there's corrosion, or anything looks out of the ordinary, then perhaps there is some sort of battery leakage or water damage inside the iPod ruining the headphones.

If you have a multimeter or continuity tester and don't mind cutting up one of the ruined sets of headphones, you should be able to tell exactly where they went bad after coming in contact with your iPod. If it's at the plug/wire interface, they're either especially cheap headphones or you're yanking/bending them too much.
posted by supercres at 8:42 AM on July 8, 2010


@supercres: The plugs look totally normal to me, but I'm clearly not an expert.
posted by randomname25 at 9:08 AM on July 8, 2010


This is a known issue with iPods of your vintage. Read a rather lengthy thread about it here.

The good news is that Apple are replacing the bad iPods for free. You have to jump through the hoops exactly as delineated by posters later in that thread, but they all get positive results. The bad news is that I have no idea how Apple will look upon the 3rd party repair you had done.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:13 AM on July 8, 2010


You can test to see if your iPod is affected like the ones in the thread that Thorzdad links to if you have a dock. Just plug a known good set of headphones into the line out on the back of your dock. In my case, the dock connector line out on my iPod was fine; I could connect it up to my home radio without any problem.
posted by mkb at 11:14 AM on July 8, 2010


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