I have a set of headphones that have a built-in mic for hands-free calling. They work great on my Sony Ericsson Cedar cellphone.

The problem is that when I connect headphone to my Dell N5010 laptop to listen to music, the quality is horrible, with very weak or no vocals.

When I hold down the talk button on the mic, however, it changes: the quality goes up. When I let go, it goes back to sounding bad. When I adjust the jack by pulling it out and moving it around, the quality goes back up, but I have to hold the jack in place.

I've looked for a way to configure the sound card but found nothing.

Is there a solution besides gluing down the talk button on the mic?

  • 1
    I have a muc simpler solution: dont push the plug all the way in! I had the same problem with the plug oushed all the way in, but when I pulled it out so that one "ring" was outside the jack, the problem disappeared.
    – user104759
    Nov 9, 2011 at 19:31
  • possible duplicate of Distortion on human voices but not music
    – kinokijuf
    Sep 16, 2013 at 20:18

2 Answers 2


The Solution

  • See if you can buy a TRRS to TRS connector.

  • Don't push the plug all the way in (as I already mentioned above).

Read on for a bit of explanation...

TRS and TRRS Jacks

I'm afraid you won't be able to fix the problem by software. There are two types of jacks:

  • Those headsets have a three-way jack, with a tip, two rings and a sleeve (left, right and microphone plus a ground - middle in the image). Those are called TRRS.
  • Standard headphones uses only two channels, i.e. tip and ring (for stereo, left in the image), the sleeve is used for ground. They're called TRS.

enter image description here

The Problem

The thing is: Your phone will fit the jack. Your laptop however probably won't – it could be that one of the stereo rings doesn't match the laptop's output jack perfectly. The laptop will only have two internal connectors (for stereo), whereas the jack has three. The stereo ones will have to overlap exactly. This is why you have to pull out the jack a little in order to get it working. In the image you can see that this is a matter of millimeters.

From Wikipedia:

TRRS plugs do not work properly with a TRS stereo jack if the ground contact in the jack connects to the microphone contact on the plug

Pressing the talk button may short-circuit something so that you achieve the same effect as pulling the jack out.

The TRRS 3,5mm jacks have 2 different types of connections. The industry standard and the Apple version. from the tip of the jack on industry standard, the connections are left,right,mic,gnd. On Apple this is changed to left,right,gnd,mic.

On a 3 pin TRS connector it should not make any difference, since the last 2 will be shorted to gnd, however where there will be a difference is when you are using the Apple to Standard, the ground will be lifted and connected through the mic, so the vocals (normally) will be muted/distant.

  • Is there any common solution (maybe a 3 to 2 jack converter) in the store for this?
    – Isaac
    Apr 17, 2011 at 15:50
  • 4
    The most common solution would be using an adaptor, yes. There seem to be some TRRS to TRS ones, it would probably involve some googling. I didn't find anything on Amazon yet, but here's one! (Not quite a bargain though)
    – slhck
    Apr 17, 2011 at 15:56
  • Thanks. But $19.25 is a little expensive. actually I bought the headphones with $10 :D. It seems the glue solution is cheaper :P OR maybe i would make my own TRRS-to-TRS adapter...
    – Isaac
    Apr 17, 2011 at 16:05
  • Yes, you'll probably be able to pick up the components way cheaper and solder them yourself if you have the skills. Or just buy a pair of new headphones :)
    – slhck
    Apr 17, 2011 at 16:09
  • 1
    Adding to the great explanation of slhck you can insert only two jacks and it will solve the problem.
    – user179495
    Dec 11, 2012 at 10:50

Here is what I did: Remove the last insulating ring with a blade or cutters the one away from the tip of the head phone jack. You can see the one I mean in the pic above in the other post.

Get your soldering iron and fill the gap in with solder. It does not have to be all the way around (it does not have to be neat – you can have it piled up and messy).

Now use a small file to file down the excess and round it off (I used the file from the nail clippers).

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