Broken audio jack on your laptop or PC? This $12 fix can get you sorted
So the 3.5mm audio jack on your laptop has given up the ghost, and getting it fixed is too much of a pain. (This is the conclusion you’ve reluctantly come to after troubleshooting the audio issues on your PC.) No problem—you can easily fix this issue with a simple accessory.
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.
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.
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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.