Technical Help Tips

This page is too help with the little problems life chucks our way when dealing with computers and other technology!

Replacing a dodgy plug/cable on headphones.



If your headphones are cutting out, or they have lost sound, or you  have damaged the jack plug that goes in headphone sockets of amps, or I-Pods, or Mp3 players, then here's something that might help.


So if you have this problem here's what to do. First you must have a soldering iron, no greater than 25 watts, with a smaller tip as possible.

A desoldering tool might come in useful too. You don't have to any special ability to use a soldering iron. You just have to wait till it gets hot to melt some radio solder. But don't touch the iron with your fingers! If you haven't used one before practise soldering bits of wire together. The desoldering tool might come in handy if the wires are thick in solder, or you put too much solder on a joint! These tools are not expensive and can sometimes be bought at Pound shops. Or from Maplin Electronics.
maplin.co.uk =Soldering items
There are two types of desoldering tools
The first is a is a plunger with a button shown below:

The second is the bulb type. Two be honest I like this better than the above types:

The first thing to do is determine where the damaged area is. This can be done with ease by plugging the headphones into a working source and flexing the cable all over (in stages) till you find where the break is.

I'm splitting the break areas into 3 sections which will help you determine the best course of action.
1: A break near the plug or the plug itself.
2: In the middle.
3: Near the headphones themselves.

Break Area 1: The most common area as the plug gets most abuse. The plugs are sealed and are not serviceable, so they have to be cut off and a new one fitted. I recommend (if it is just the plug that has gone) to cut it off about 10cm before the end of the plug body. This will take out any weak section of the cable due to bending. If the break is further away from the plug, allow some space to clear the damaged area.

A replacement plug. You should be able to get a replacement plug from your local electrical parts shop. They come in two main sizes 3.5mm and 6.35mm (1/4). Most headphones are fitted with a 3.5mm now. You can get adapters for both sizes. It is easy to solder to the larger size, but if you are fitting a new plug to go in an I-Pod etc, I would advise you use the 3.5mm. Jack plugs come in different types. Some have bends in them, you can get them in gold, also with metal bodies. The latter would be best if you have a habit of standing on the plug! Make certain you get a STEREO plug too!

A 3.5mm stereo jack plug.

maplin.co.uk/plastic-3.5mm-stereo-plug




Fitting a new plug.

After you cut the old plug off, don't bare the wires back, but put the body of the new plug on the remaining cable. Then strip the wires back.
They should look somewhat like this:

The colours may change with different makers.
The - wires are earth and the + wires are the channels. Never confuse the two.

Inside the plug

Connection is simple attach the right + wire to the right channel flange. Pass it through the hole, then do the same to the left. You don't need a large area of wire exposed when you strip it back, as the thick black cable has to be gripped by the Ground flange at the end.
The earth or - wires should all be group together and passed into the hole on the ground flange.
Make certain that the + wires L&R don't touch each other or the - wire ground. You can now solder them on. I find that applying a bit of spit to the wires helps the solder go on better! Again don't let the solder join the connections to each other.
At this point it's a good idea to test the plug by fitting it in a working device without putting the body over the plug.
If the channels are there, but it sounds spaced out or tinny, the - wires are not making a connection to the ground. If the right appears on the wrong side then reverse them (it won't have caused any damage).
If the connections are good slide the body over and the job is done.

2: Break in the middle.
Again cut off and fit a new plug as above.
If the cable needs to be longer you can get one of these extension cables:

3: Break near the headphones.
This is the most tricky of the lot. It generally means a new cable. If you can't find one in your local parts shop, I suggest you get one of the above extension cables and cut off the female socket.
Replacing the cable will be more tricky if the wire is split in two (outside). This will mean you have to go in both "cans" to fit the wire.
There's no easy way to get inside the cans, but you will need to remove the ear pad(s) on most models. You might have to use some force to do it too! If you encounter foam next peel it off, again you might have to rip it off! Don't worry you should be able to glue it back with some Bostick white glue afterwards!
Hopefully you should now see some access screws.
It might look a bit like this inside:


Make a note of the + connection, before you unsolder the wire. Unsolder it carefully you don't want to disconnect the wire that goes inside the speaker (you might need a desoldering tool for this). Don't short the + & - terminals of the speaker together when you solder the new wires on.

PS If you need to replace the above type of speaker you will find it is glued in at that black ring.

DAMAGE TO THE HEADPHONES THEMSELVES

If the headphone case has broken or snapped, but they still work, but you can't get hold of a parts to replace the broken bits. Don't chuck them in the bin!  If you more bothered by the sound quality then the look of the things, you can use section 3 to replace the headshell completely. All you need to do is find a cheap pair of headphones with the same size speakers as your current ones and take out the speakers and fit yours in the new cases. As I say they might not look as good, but they will sound the same!

Two final notes- if you have lost a channel and can't find out where the break is, the thing to do first in change the plug. If that doesn't work change the whole cable, but try a 1.5 volt battery across the speaker terminals for a split second (it should pop if working).

Much of the above will NOT apply to the wireless or other forms of special headphones.

Foam pad damage
If the foam pads of your headphones have worn away with use it is possible to replace them. Many of the types in use are pretty universal so don't try searching for your brand name of headphone IE Sony or Panasonic etc. Instead measure the diameter of the headphone pad in both directions if they are oval shaped. Note the measurements down in MM.
Then try this website: I have used them myself and they are good.
http://www.jntworld.com

SERVICE AND USER MANUALS

The following are PDF files of various Manuals connected to Hi-Fi and Video equipment.

The first is the circuit diagram to the Marantz Cassette Deck SD285.
marantz-sd285-schematic-diagram

The next two are service manuals for the mechanisms for a popular range of Panasonic Video Recorders. They were used in many different models such as the NVSD250 and NV HS900.
Panasonic simply called them the K Deck and G Deck.

K Deck
kmech-sm

G Deck
g-mecha-panasonic

Next up the user guide and part of the service data for the Panasonic NV F55 Video recorder.
pansonic-f55-manual-user-part-service

The last one for now is the Service Manual for The Sherwood Newcastle R925RDS Receiver.
R925rds-sm-sherwood

I will be adding more soon....

Windows Media Player and Album Art Problems

Without doubt Windows Media Player while being very useful can make a real mess of MP3 album art. Sometimes even a track downloaded from a commercial company can have it's artwork replaced during the playing process by a different album cover artwork. Even if doesn't change the picture on the original file, during playback the original one is not shown in Media Player.
Of course the worst of the lot is the ripped album, where Windows Media Player can't find the album artwork and so gives it a new one, which is wrong. The worst offenders are the Various Artists albums which because say the lead track is by the Bee Gees say, then it makes all the tracks have a Bee Gees picture.
Another issue is caused because the Music Industry is obsessed with the album format. The MP3 file has the word "album" in the tags of each file. This causes problems for Media Player when for example you have recorded music and didn't fill in the tag for the album. Often this happens when you recorded a single or 45 rpm which has no album details on it. Thus when you add an image to the MP3 file, Media Player will then add this image to other MP3's with no album details. Of course the simple answer is to fill in the Album Tag with a name, when you add the artwork. But if have an extensive collection you probably have loads of MP3 files that do have the wrong artwork showing in Media Player even though you have changed the artwork. 
It's quite possible also that you have loads of MP3 icons showing with no album art displayed. However you have been in the Media Player Library and added the cover artwork to all the files and when you play them the artwork does show up in Media Player, but the Icon shows no art at all. 
Clearly Windows Media Player is finding the artwork, but to you it remains hidden. Yet it is there on your computer somewhere the question is where? To solve some of these issues is what I will now show you. However if you have a large amount of MP3 files it will be time consuming so be warned. 
First I will tell you how I came across the solution, plus a little problem I had with a Leona Lewis picture. This one!
 
 

While working in Windows Media Player Library, I was adding the artwork for the above track, and placed the above artwork on to the file. The album name had been added in this case: "Number One 2006" and so it should have only showed up on any album entitled that. So when done, I closed Media Player and saw that it had added the above image to the MP3 for the track. So job done. However the next day when I went onto my computer the Leona image had attached itself to music folder files all over my computer. So even the 1950's files had the above image on them! 
Instead of folders looking like this, they all had the above image inside. In fact when I selected the default icon on folder options, even if Leona wasn't on the folder, she was afterwards!
Well I searched like crazy to find the default icon image change on the internet, but I couldn't track it down.
In the end I used the customise folder option and chose my own image for the folder. Or I changed it using the default settings to one like this: 

I found that if you changed it to one that would except and image(s) of the folder content, then Leona would reappear.
Rather than use Windows Media Player Library to add more artwork to the missing file Icons and stop my computer looking like this:

  I decided that there must be another way to add the artwork and there is! The way around this is to use two programs. A Tag Editor and a Album Art Downloader.

I used:

AudioShell - ID3 tag editor shell extension

Though there are other types of Tag Editors out there, but this is free and simple to use. Once installed. On the MP3 file Icon, right click on it and you will see the green musical note Tag Editor, which you can select. Once done you will see this screen:
 You can edit all the fields shown. As it says you can drag your Cover artwork in the place provided. Clicking save will close the editor and your image will be added to the icon. If you select a track with an artwork on it, the save to file button highlights. You can then save the artwork to a folder, best called "Album Art". Give the image a name you can easily find, one word if you can, don't use the default name, which will be "folder".  
If the artwork is wrong you click the remove button. Don't click the remove tag one!
If you have been having problems with Windows showing only the name of the file and all the other details missing, even though you know they where there before. Click the Copy from ID3v1 Tag button. This should restore the missing details. If the button is not highlighted there are no details to retrieve.  

Note: never attempt to play a music file with this open. It could damage the MP3 file.
PS: it will also edit WAV and WMA files too! Plus I suspect others. Though I have not tried them yet.

Finally you can download the editor here:
Shell Tag editor

It's all well and done to have a means to add the artwork, but where do you get the album cover images from in the first place? You could use Google Image search, but it's a time consuming process.
Instead I found this much better to use. It searches Google Image too!
Its called Album Art Downloader and it finds loads more than what Windows Media Player Library will do, you can download it free here:
Album Art Downloader

Once installed it looks like this, actually the image here shows what it looks like after I searched for the Arctic Monkeys. Normally the big window is blank.
As you can see from the slider on the side of the albums show there are a lot more to choose from.
Once you have found the artwork you want you can drag it to the Tag Editor and it will paste there. However if you have lots of MP3 files to tag, I suggest you save it by clicking on the old style disc image and selecting save as. Again a simple one word name will suffice, saved to the Album Art folder mentioned previous. I would try to select the 600 x 600 files. The small ones will look distorted on the editor, the big ones will make the MP3 file much larger in file size. However sometimes it says unknown. So there's not a lot you can do about that.
By the way if you accidently enlarge the album pictures shown in the view window so you can't get to the save option, remove the downloader from your computer and the re-download it. This will restore it to normal. I couldn't find a way to do it any other way and the downloader help is very poor!
If you place your mouse pointer on the album image it will show what the full size album image looks like. Helpful if you can't see the name or the details of the album from the above view.
Rather than having to search and then drag one cover artwork to the Tag Editor. I suggest that you search for the missing album covers and save them to the Album Art folder. Then you can close it down and open up the Tag Editor and your Album Art Folder and then drag the art to the editor. It does not move the original artwork from the folder.  
There seems to be another bit of software associated with this software that will search for files missing album artwork. However I don't recommend using this. If you do it manually at least you know which files you have altered and if the artwork thing messes up it could create a bigger problem than what Windows did. Of course it's hard work, doing it manually, but that's life!

Even when you have done all this Windows Media Player might keep showing the old artwork.
So I will now tell you how to stop this happening and how I got rid of Leona Lewis from the folders.

A lot of fixers on the net suggest registry solutions or getting rid of media player's cache. But most say this doesn't work.
But this will and it doesn't involve messing with the registry thing!

The first thing to do is find the artwork files that Media Player stores and also the folder file images. You do this In Windows 7 by opening windows Explorer and going to where it says "organise" and clicking on it then selecting "folder and Search options".
Clicking View will show this:
  If you click and select the one that the Red arrow points and the one the green arrow points at, when you next view the folders with your music you will see the missing media player files. Windows will warn you, when you select these options, but continue anyway and then click Apply. Then your music folder will look very different.
Like this:

As I had already cleaned up the original folder there was nothing to really see so I have switched to another folder which does show what you need to see.

Now you can see the album art windows media player uses. The Green arrow points at the smaller of the hidden icons. These show up as faded images, while the ones you normally see remain bold. You might see 3 to 4 of these for each MP3 file, or just a couple. Not all MP3 files will have them. If you see one marked "folder" this is the one that embeds on the top of your file folder. When I did this the first time, I saw the Leona Lewis images and the file folder in nearly every music folder. You can delete these files by selecting them and pressing the delete key. Windows will warn you that it could cause problems, but as long as you are just delete the art folders and art icons then you are safe. DO NOT delete the thumbs and desktop icons shown by the RED arrow.

I recommend that since clearing up these files can take a long time if you have loads of MP3 files on your computer, that if other people use the computer, you reset the two indicators back to the original settings before leaving the computer. So that these hidden files do not show up.

If you see album cover artwork which is either wrong or no longer used by any MP3 files in that folder, you can delete that too. If one of your MP3 files does not have the artwork and you can see it as a hidden file, bring the Tag Editor up for the MP3 file and drag the "Large Album artwork" hidden file to the editor cover artwork space. The hidden file will not move, but on the editor it will no longer show as hidden. You can save the hidden artwork files, but you CAN NOT make them unhidden after saving. Instead you can save it when inside the Tag Editor to the album art folder.
If you have various artists in the file folder I recommend deleting the hidden folder icon. This will then show a selection of the files in the folder. However if there is only one album or artist in the folder leave the hidden folder alone.  This will make it easier to find the folder.
Watch out for the hidden "folder". It might be in the middle of the MP3 files if you have a lot.
Don't delete any of the hidden artwork files if you find an attached MP3 file with it on. Windows Media Player uses these. However if you do find hidden artwork of a album, by say Pink (using the image above as a guide) which is not the one applied to the Pink MP3 files, then delete them. Otherwise Windows Media Player might show them, rather than the one embedded in the MP3 file.

It seems if you have moved a music file, sometimes the media player hidden art is left behind. You can move this yourself to the correct file location, so check that out before deleting. Windows will warn you again! However if in the move process it says there is a file called this, cancel the move. Don't rename it "2" or anything else. The reason you should move it is because it might also be artwork you need to be on an empty MP3 file!!!

....And that should clear up all the problems......

When I emptied the Recycle Bin for just the Leona icons, there were over 400 in it! There should have been no more than 4! Plus any attached to a track marked as the album Number One 2006!
The clearing out of old and unused and wrong album art deleted over 50 megabytes of files! 

Remember to reset your view folders to normal after completion. And only delete artwork folders and Artwork files only. Leave it alone if you are not certain.

You might have to do this again, if you see media player showing wrong artwork again. But it shouldn't take as long to go and find the folder and delete any false artwork.

3 comments:

  1. Hey.
    I own the aerial 7 tank headphones ( over ear) and i accidentally yanked them a bit too hard.
    And now the right ear has stopped working.
    ( This is one of those one cable headphones connected to the the left ear)
    If i move the wire connecting the left ear and the cable the right ear comes on and off.
    And if i rotate the left ear , the right one works, but i have to hold it at an awkward angle.
    So should i remove the pads then?
    I honest;y don't know anythig about electronics but i can find somebody.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think you only need to remove the foam pad for the left ear piece and remove the screws for that. The right side wire will connect in there somewhere. It sounds like only a bad solder joint that causing the problem. You will need to resolder it. Follow my guide about checking the cable too.

    ReplyDelete
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