I have a computer that has a 3.5 mm audio jack on the front of it. The computer itself has no speakers, so this is the only way to hear sound. If I plug headphones into it, the audio properly plays through the headphones, and if I plug in external speakers it used to play through them as well.

Just today I turned on my computer and the audio no longer plays through the speakers, but if I plug in the headphones instead it works. The speakers aren't broken, as both the speakers and headphones work in my iPod and play music.

I thought that 3.5 mm jacks could not send data back to the computer, and the computer had no way of differentiating between different devices plugged into the jack. If this is true, how is it that the computer plays audio through the headphones but not through speakers plugged into the same 3.5 mm jack, and both devices are functional? Or is my knowledge on 3.5 mm jacks incorrect?

I don't believe drivers are important, as the same driver runs the 3.5 mm jack for all devices, but if necessary I can provide additional information.

Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • Have you tested the speakers with your iPod recently? – Questionmark Jun 11 '14 at 20:13
  • Only a guess, but modern audio ports can detect whether a device is plugged in, presumably from the load presented by their impedance. I presume your speakers are amplified, and if their input is high-impedance the audio detection circuit may not register their presence. – AFH Jun 11 '14 at 20:19
  • @Questionmark Yes. As I mentioned, both the speakers and the headphones work in the iPod, but only the headphones work with the computer. – gfrung4 Jun 11 '14 at 20:20
  • @AFH It does work and is properly detected through the iPod though. The speakers have a power adapter that connects to a standard power outlet. I assume they get the power from there to amplify the sound. – gfrung4 Jun 11 '14 at 20:42
  • Yes, but the the iPod may have a more sensitive detection circuit. – AFH Jun 11 '14 at 20:53

That is a common problem with Realktek drivers, you have to disable the front panel jack detection as the problem is what AFH stated.

If the drivers are something else search for something similar.


  • Thanks for reinforcing my instincts with that information. – AFH Jun 14 '14 at 22:30

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