Adding An Audio Jack To Classic Headphones Is A Nifty Upgrade

One of the most common ways to junk a pair of headphones is to damage the cord. Obviously, the lead can be repaired, but it involves busting out the soldering iron and can be tedious when dealing with the tiny little coated wires.

It does involve soldering, but ideally, you only have to do it once.

[] has a way of dealing with the problem in a once-and-done fashion, by installing a female audio jack into his vintage headphones. The benefit is that if the cable is damaged, it can simply be unplugged and replaced with a new one, and is commonly seen on headphones from companies like KRK. 

The hack is simple when applied to a classic pair of AKG K141 headphones. The little plastic casing on one earpiece is popped off, and replaced with a 3D-printed version that stoutly holds a female TRS jack in place. This can then be soldered up to the wiring inside the headphones.

With everything assembled, the headphones can now use an easily-replaceable cable, and one needn’t worry about having to bust out the soldering iron if the lead is damaged in future. It’s a particularly useful hack for those who use their headphones on the road, always throwing them into backpacks between gigs.

If that’s not hardcore enough, consider attaching a headphone jack to an old 8-track player for the most ridiculous Walkman you can imagine. If you’ve been working on your own portable audio hacks, be sure to drop us a line!

15 thoughts on “Adding An Audio Jack To Classic Headphones Is A Nifty Upgrade

  1. Be sure to use gold plated connectors. I’ve epoxied connector without gold plating in my headphones and i need to spray contact cleaning oil to it every other month or so, because it oxidizes too easily. i will probably have to dig it out and replace it with gold plated one.

      1. No idea how i would do that through 3.5mm hole without shorting everything together. I was thinking about pouring gold plating solution into the connector, but that might leave conductive residue on plastic parts, or even corrosive residue on metal parts. Probably not worth the effort when compared to connector replacement.

        BTW Is leaded solder really really good protection from oxidation? I’ve found that regular SnPb seems to tarnish quite a lot after some time. Is 2% silver going to do such difference in the long term when subjected to air moisture and wear?

    1. Be on the lookout for any gentleman who owns a pig farm, and has some ’60s, ’70s Jack’s for sale. And if that dog don’t hunt email me and I’ll send you one. I’ve got about a dozen, but only two ears. As for the pig farmer reference, watch the movie “Snatch” about a diamond heist. Cheers!

  2. “Bust out the soldering iron”? This IS Hackaday, right? I think few of us here don’t have a soldering iron and solder sitting on the bench ready to go, and for some it hardly gets a chance to fully cool to room temperature! ;-}

  3. In case WordPress does its usual ‘magic’ and fails to associate this with the post I’m replying to, I’ll start by saying that this is for Werza, who said “finding a quality female TRS jack is nearly impossible”.

    Go to the Digi-Key site and search for ‘CUI SJ1’. You’ll find quite a variety – the form factors aren’t always the most convenient, but if the quality is anything like the ones I’m used to then they’re pretty good. The (admittedly older) ones I’ve used even have gold-flashed contacts – the contacts are visible through clear plastic on one side of the connector. I can’t tell if the ones currently at Digi-Key are as good but they look as though they might be the same.

    1. CUI are basic lowest-bidder stuff, one notch above chinesium. Not quite junk, but not something I’d put in something I’d put in a product I would have to support. Try Switchcraft and Schurter.
      The faint breath of gold flash is nothing but cosmetic. The decent plated ones are rare and expensive.
      I’m with Werza. Decent TRS connectors are hens teeth.
      12L14’s suggestion of a mini XLR is good, but they are still pretty chunky.

  4. I just rewire with telecom-quality station cord starting with a reused plug salvaged and stripped of the soft plastic over-molding. A loop of piano wire is soldered to the ground of the plug, it will hold the wire securely at minimum right angle profile. No need to take phone case off to fully insert, or have a long lever sticking out of the phone’s jack.

    The other end of the cord is secured in the left ear cup or cavity. Use a paste flux to make a quick tinning to the tinsel wire in these cords, strain must be totally relieved with the piano wire’s grip. Epoxy covers the whole end of the plug connection. These strong cords are comfortable in use and will outlast everything.

    1. Gold contacts are highly overrated. The majority of pro audio gear that makes the music you’re listening to on these headphones have no gold contacts. Yes, gold is a better conductor. Gold contacts get dirty too though. A Switchcraft or other quality product is all that is needed.

  5. You can find reasonably priced chinese spiral (telephone) cables with TRRS jack. Cable has integrated remote control and microphone. On the end there is TRS jack to plug into headphones. That way you can use your hi-fi headphones as a handsfree headset.

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