Is the audio jack on your laptop or PC broken? This $ 12 cure can get you back on track

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An external sound card adapter can take the signal from your analog headphones, microphone, or combination headset and convert it to a digital one passed over USB. You can find these starting around $8, but throw in a few more bucks and you’ll also add features to your setup.

So your laptop’s 3.5mm audio jack has given up the ghost, and having it serviced is too much of a hassle. (After debugging your PC’s audio difficulties, you’ve regretfully arrived to this conclusion.) No problem—a simple attachment can easily solve this problem.


  • We’ve actually purchased these accessories for friends and family looking to eke more life out of a well-loved laptop or improve the performance of a pair of inexpensive earbuds. It works surprisingly well and doesn’t cost much. (I even ended up with one for a couple of nicer but older gaming headsets in my household stash lacking a dedicated mute button.) You may find that you start recommending these to other folks, too. Few can afford to give up an otherwise perfectly fine laptop or PC, nor can everyone afford to upgrade to a nicer headset.

  • For example, this $12 sound card adapter includes a large volume dial, as well as separate mute buttons for audio output from the PC and microphone input from a headset or dedicated mic. Such physical controls aren’t always included with wired earbuds, headphones, or basic headsets, and gaining them vastly simplifies audio controls. If you step up to a fancier model, like this $20 Creative Play 4, features like noise-canceling, bass boost, and equalizer adjustments get included in the mix, too.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details. Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.


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