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I have win xp and asus p5ql-e motherboard.

The problem is that when i plug in my headphones on the front audio jack, the computer doesn't recognizes it.

They work on the back audio jack but not on the front - how can i be sure that it;s not a software problem (something miss configured or not configured at all), before i conclude that it's a hardware problem (broken front audio jack or miss connected to the motherboard)?

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Your assumption and question are incorrect. It's not an either/or situation. If could be both a software and a hardware issue. Check everything. – sawdust Oct 30 '13 at 3:01
up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is probably because your motherboard has High-Definition Audio module, but your front panel has only the "legacy" low def audio hardware. It lacks a key signal wire that helps the system detect that a jack has been plugged in.

So yes, very likely, it's a hardware problem. Worse, I don't think it's possible to find a high definition replacement : they only come as part of high end desktop cases, not as independent parts. There's a thread in toms hardware about how to make one though.

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