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Repair a 3.5mm Microphone cable for a headset

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reddragon105

New Member
I have an Asus Vulcan ANC gaming headset for my PC, which consists of a pair of headphones with a microphone attached that connects to a PC's 3.5mm input/output sockets.



The cable for this headset has a 4 pin 3.5mm jack at one end, then splits into 2x 3 pin 3.5mm jacks at the other end (one for the headphone socket, one for the microphone socket). It looks like this -

http://www.offdutygamers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/ASUS_ROG_Vulcan_ANC_cord.jpg



Unfortunately, my microphone jack has broken - the end just snapped off. Asus do not sell these cables separately so I'm currently using one of these 4 pin to 2x 3 pin splitters with two regular stereo 3.5mm cables as a workaround -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Startech-com-3-5mm-Headset-Splitter-Adapter/dp/B004SP0WAQ



This works fine, however it obviously doesn't have the benefit of the in-line volume control and mic on/off switch, so I'm trying to repair the official cable using a replacement 3.5mm stereo jack. I've stripped the mic cable at the end of the headset cable to find two wires inside - a white wire surrounded by a bare wire.



After a bit of Googling I found at least two 'how to' guides that said I should solder the bare wire to the sleeve and the white wire to the tip, but bridge it over to the ring. That consensus was good enough for me so that's what I did - but it doesn't work. The headphones work perfectly but there is no input from the mic.



This is what I have (not my photo, found on another thread, so not my annotations either!) -

http://cdn.head-fi.org/4/48/900x900px-LL-4821d0ca_microphone-repair.jpeg



What else can I try?
 

BioniC187

Member
Some headphone cables have enamel on wires - Meaning, even though the wires looks bare or seem exposed, it is in fact insulated. You will have to scrape off some enamel to expose the copper, and then proceed to soldering it to the new 3.5mm jack.
You can use a hobby blade to scrape it off - google "scraping enamel of wire"

If that fails, then :
Do you have a multimeter that has continuity test feature?
The cable may be broken somewhere along the line.

If you can, post a pic of what you are working on
 

reddragon105

New Member
Some headphone cables have enamel on wires - Meaning, even though the wires looks bare or seem exposed, it is in fact insulated. You will have to scrape off some enamel to expose the copper, and then proceed to soldering it to the new 3.5mm jack.
You can use a hobby blade to scrape it off - google "scraping enamel of wire"

If that fails, then :
Do you have a multimeter that has continuity test feature?
The cable may be broken somewhere along the line.

If you can, post a pic of what you are working on
Thanks for the reply.

This is what I have at the moment -

Side view - White wire going to tip, bare wire that surrounds it going to ground.

MicSolder-Side_zpse8e17e96.jpg


Top view - Tip and ring bridged. This was done with a spare bit of wire put through the holes and then soldered. The white wire was then soldered to the top of the bridge wire on the outside of the tip.

MicSolder-Top_zps4f062db9.jpg


So do you think I've got this right, at least in theory of what I'm soldering where? I'm not a soldering expert but I have been doing it on and off for 10 years or so, repairing audio and video equipment when it breaks, and I did a very similar recent where I put a new jack on a mic (a Sennheiser lapel mic) and I had that fixed in 5 minutes.

You could be right about the wire being broken higher up - the headset came to me broken so I don't know its history. I am about to cut another inch or so off and do this again - and as I do, I will check for enamel. I don't think there is any, but I've Googled it as you suggested and I've got a hobby knife and some fine sandpaper to hand.
 
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alec_t

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Could there be a dry joint where the white wire meets the bridge?
Have you done an Ohms check to see if the white wire is shorted to the braid/screen?
 

reddragon105

New Member
Could there be a dry joint where the white wire meets the bridge?
Have you done an Ohms check to see if the white wire is shorted to the braid/screen?
I did check for a dry joint - I thought it looked okay until I took the photo and zoomed in on it, then I thought it looked quite dry! I have since redone the soldering, though, and it doesn't look dry now.

Unfortunately I haven't got a multimeter handy at the moment - my last one broke and I haven't replaced it yet. I'll try to get one sometime this week.

I did notice something while I was resoldering - the white, inner wire has some kind of white braid inside, along with the copper braided wire.

MicSolder-Core_zps86b3af3e.jpg

So on my last attempt I would have just soldered that in with the copper, which would have made getting a good connection a bit more difficult. However this time I've tried my best to separate it out and just solder the copper to the tip - but it's still not working.
 

alec_t

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Looks like the white strands are plastic fibres to add strength/flexibility to the wire.
 

BioniC187

Member
I rate, go for a continuity test.

Put the tester to the ground pin of the 4pin 3.5mm jack, and test on each of the 2 wires that come to the mic jack that you are working with.

It must only show continuity for the ground pin. If for the other, then it is shorting. If no continuity is found then you have a break in the cable.
Do this for the remaining 3 pins - only ONE of these 3 are supposed to show continuity to the "white wire". Same as above - check for continuity

EDIT : Whoops, somehow missed your words about your multimeter. Do this when you get a chance then :)
 

reddragon105

New Member
The plug that broke off, was it a 2 pin mic jack or a 3 pin?
Yeah, I'll definitely get on to getting a new multimeter and doing those tests. Not sure if I'll have time before Christmas, though...

The plug that broke off had 3 segments to it (does that make it a 3 pin or is it 2 pin + ground?). Basically it looks the same as a standard stereo headphone jack and the same as the one I've replaced it with. You can see both original plugs in this stock photo of the original cable -
http://www.offdutygamers.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/ASUS_ROG_Vulcan_ANC_cord.jpg
 

reddragon105

New Member
Well thanks for your help, everyone, but now that I've got a new multimeter I was able to ascertain that the wire was broken internally much higher up, so the cable was pretty much a write-off. I've replaced it with a 4 pin to 2x 3 pin splitter and two regular 3.5mm cables and the headset works just fine with those, albeit without inline controls.
 
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