How to Shorten a Headphone Cable
By Stephen Benham
Headphone cables can sometimes be far too long and get tangled or in the way. To avoid this inconvenience it's best to shorten your headphone cable to a length that suits. Headphones cables connect to your audio device using stereo phone jacks. There are two main phone jacks: the 1/8 inch (2.5mm) phone jack mainly for use with cell phones and the slightly larger 3/32 inch (3.5mm) phone jack used to connect headsets to iPods and MP3 players. If you want to shorten your headphone cable you will need to rewire your headphone jack. The task is fairly straightforward.
Obtain a new headphone jack from your electrical store before you shorten your headphone cable. It's always best to use a new jack: They are inexpensive. Ensure you purchase the same size jack as you already have on your headphone cable.
Cut your headphone cable with a small knife to the length of headphone cable you require.
Remove 1/2-inch off the outer plastic coating of your headphone cable. Use wire strippers or a small knife. Two wires will be exposed, both covered in thin wire braiding. The wires are usually colored red and black.
Peel the wire braiding from the two colored wires and twist together with your fingers. You have two colored wires and one strip of twisted wire braiding.
Remove 1/4-inch off the colored red and black coated wires carefully with wire strippers or a small knife. These wires are very thin, so if you cut through the wire you will need to start over.
Place your headphone cable in a small clamp with about 2 inches protruding. Touch the wire braiding with your soldering iron and solder. Let enough solder melt so it coats the wire braiding them remove from the wire and allow to cool.
Repeat the process for the red and black wire. Allow the wire to cool then remove from the clamp.
Remove the cover from your new headphone jack and slide the cover over the headphone cable. Move it up the cable so it doesn't fall off.
Place the body of the headphone jack in a small clamp. Ensure the three terminals are protruding. Do not overtighten.
Put the wire braiding on the central terminal of the jack. It is usually longer than the other two terminals and may be labeled "ground." Introduce your soldering iron to the wire braiding and terminal and allow the solder to melt. Remove the soldering iron and the solder will harden fusing the wire and terminal together.
Repeat the process for the two colored wires attaching them to the smaller terminals. Sometimes they are labeled "R" or "+" and "L" or "-". Attach the red and black wires respectively. If they are not labeled then connect to either terminal. Allow the jack and wire to cool completely then remove from the clamp.
Slide the headphone jack cover down the cable and screw onto the jack. Insert your headphone jack in your audio device to check it operates.
Stephen Benham has been writing since 1999. His current articles appear on various websites. Benham has worked as an insurance research writer for Axco Services, producing reports in many countries. He has been an underwriting member at Lloyd's of London and a director of three companies. Benham has a diploma in business studies from South Essex College, U.K.