Thursday Jun 21

Avoid damaging your PMP when using certain headphones.

All stereo headphones used to have 1/4" phone plugs to connect them to matching jacks on stereo amplifiers and receivers. (John Koss enjoyed telling how he flim-flammed Avery Fisher and Herman Scott into adding those holes to their components, but that's a story for another day.)

These days the most common jack for a set of phones is the 1/8" size, but there are a lot of superb headphone sets out there with the larger plug like the vintage Koss PRO 4/AA phones shown above trying to mate with a Sansa Fuze.

A simple adapter like the 1/8" male to 1/4" female piece shown below would seem to answer the need fully.

Headphone adapter

With the adapter in place, you can attach the large headphone plug as you see below.

Adapter in place

But people who take this obvious route risk doing damage to their players' headphone jacks. The massive combination of the adapter, the large stereo headphone plug, and the attached heavy cable put a great deal of stress on a mini-jack in a tiny player.

I read a review of an iPod model in which the user said that the headphone jack is terribly weak and broke quickly when it was connected to full-sized phones in this way. I don't view that as a fault of the iPod. I call it user error.

Here's what you need in addition to the adapter. It's a lightweight headphone extension cable.  You'll plug it into your player and then put the heavy adapter-jack-cable combo in the jack at the end of the lightweight cord, far from the player's relatively delicate output.

If you can't find a suitable extension, and most are many feet long, you can buy a two-headphone Y-adapter and use only one of the Y arms.  Snip off the other one if you like, but be careful not to short the conductors.  There's nothing wrong with just letting the unused arm hang.

Headphone extension

This is what it looks like with everything properly in place.

The extension puts no more stress on the headphone jack than the simple phones that we commonly use with these players and isolates the heavy headphone connector and adapter from the player.  It's the smart way to adapt a classic or professional headset to an MP3 player.