If you’re anything like me, you like to have the best sound quality possible, whenever possible. This means doing simple things like tweaking the equalizer and getting better headphones to major undertakings like re-ripping your entire music library to Lossless encoding.
An often overlooked area in the pursuit for better sound quality is making sure all your player’s contacts and connectors are clean, especially since a pocket is sanctuary for dust, moisture, and other harmful debris. I have been asked why cleaning a headphone jack is important and I always give this example: if you have distortion (static, etc.) while playing music and have to either disconnect and then reconnect the headphones or turn the headphone jack to make it go away, then cleaning your headphone jack might help with this problem.
Luckily, cleaning a headphone jack is quick and easy. With a few simple steps you can be on your way to musical bliss.
Step 1: Have a nice clean work area with plenty of light, then gather the supplies you will need. In this case it will be some Q-tips, some rubbing alcohol (70% or higher works better), and a soft cloth towel. (Some other guides and tutorials recommend using pipe cleaners or dental brushes instead of Q-tips, but I do not recommend using those as they contain metal and can break a headphone jack.)
Step 2: Pull most of the cotton fuzz off the Q-tip until just a thin film is remaining. (Q-tips with all the cotton are too big to fit in a 3.5mm headphone jack.) You will want to make sure that all the remaining cotton is firmly attached as you don’t want any coming loose while cleaning.
Step 3: Get the Q-tip lightly damp with rubbing alcohol (be careful, as too much rubbing alcohol could damage the player), and proceed to gently stick the damp end of the Q-tip in the headphone jack of the MP3 player. (Be careful to not force the Q-tip in too far as that can also damage the player.) Once inserted, turn the Q-tip back and forth for a few revolutions and remove. If your MP3 player is anything like mine the Q-tip will come out dirty (which is a good thing).
Step 4: We will also want to clean the headphone connector on the headphones themselves. We can do this by getting the towel damp with the rubbing alcohol and gently cleaning the tip of the headphone jack.
Step 5: After all of the former steps are complete, we’ll let the the player and the headphones dry for a few minutes and try them out. If your music sounds better than before or you no longer have to twist and turn the headphones, then Success!
Since cleaning the headphone jack, my sound quality has gone back to how it was when the player was new, which makes me a happy camper! Just thought I would share this with everyone as I see it as a good practice to make sure your player is always performing at its best.
Let me know what your experiences/preferences are in the comments.