If you use your headset to communicate, the mic is bound to fail sooner or later. Even the most expensive headsets are prone to breaking. Luckily, this common problem is also easy to fix if you know what to do.
Here’s how to fix a single Jack headset mic that’s not working:
- Adjust your PC settings
- Use a 3.5mm splitter
- USB to 3.5mm jack adapter
- Update your sound drivers
- Check for hardware issues
Regardless of how bad the problem with your mic is, fixing it is not rocket science. This article breaks down 5 ways to fix a single jack headset mic not working.
1. Adjust Your PC Settings
Before we approach more hands-on solutions, let’s take a look at your audio settings.
If you regularly use your computer for a lot of audio-related tasks, you might have run into configuration issues at some point. Perhaps the most annoying scenario is when your mic doesn’t pick any sound at all.
There are a bunch of not-so-obvious audio settings hiding in your computer that can make it impossible to get any sound from your mic.
If your single jack headset mic is not working, the first thing you should do is check that it is the default recording device on your computer settings.
Here’s how to make your headset mic the default recording device on Windows:
- Navigate to the taskbar and search for “Control Panel”.
- Click “Hardware and Sound”.
- Open “Sound”.
- Navigate to “Recording” on the new window.
- Select your microphone from the options available.
- Set as default.
Here’s how to make your headset mic the default recording device on Mac:
- Search “Sound” on the Spotlight search tool to open a new window.
- Click the “Input” tab and select your headset mic as the default mic.
Make sure your headset jack is plugged into the correct port. Fortunately, most computers today come with a single multi-purpose 3.5mm jack for your headset.
The single jack accommodates both TRS (Tip Ring and Sleeve) and TRRS (Tip Ring Ring Sleeve) jacks.
If you were using a TRS port alone, you would only be able to use your headset for either outgoing signals or incoming signals at one given time.
Before jumping to the next solution, you might also want to check if the mic is muted on your PC settings.
On Windows, look for the tiny microphone icon on the bottom right side of the taskbar. If you see a red slash mark on it, that means the mic is muted. Click on it to unmute the mic, or go back to settings and unmute it.
Test your headset mic once everything is set and see if you get a clean sound.
2. Use a 3.5mm Splitter
Splitter cables allow you to use the same audio pair of headphones in different ways at the same time. They’re a great way to share a single signal among different headphones without having any noticeable loss in audio quality.
A splitter cable is essentially two combined audio cables that fit into one 3.5mm jack. A standard Y-splitter has two inputs and one output.
However, audio splitters can do much more than just split an audio signal.
If your computer has one jack port and your headset has two jack outputs, you can plug the splitter into your PC 3.5mm and connect your headset inputs to the splitter outputs.
This means that the headset mic will have its own dedicated input.
Similarly, if your PC has two jacks and your headset has a single one, you can use a splitter with two inputs and one output.
You would simply plug each splitter input into its respective jack port and connect your headset to the other end.
Either way, a splitter ensures that your headset mic has a dedicated input.
3. USB to 3.5mm Jack Adapter
Sometimes, all it takes is a new port for your headset mic to work the way it should. However, unless your PC has several jack ports, you’ll have limited options.
One of them is using a USB port. USB ports are mainly used for data transmission and charging devices, but they can do basically anything with the right adapter.
To use headsets with a USB port, you need to get a USB to 3.5mm jack adapter.
A USB to 3.5mm adapter is a small device that has a USB input on one end and a jack output on the other.
You can find these adapters at any electronics outlet or online. They’re plug-and-play devices that don’t need additional software to work. If your PC does not recognize it at first, make sure to make your headset mic the default device on your settings.
If you want to try one of these adapters, I would highly recommend this popular option from DUKABEL (link to Amazon).
4. Update Your Sound Drivers
Sound card drivers are the software that lets your computer understand what your sound card is transmitting to your speakers.
Outdated or corrupt drivers can cause all sorts of problems.
To check if your drivers are up to date, open the Device Manager and look for your audio drivers. Right-click on them and select “Update drivers”.
This is the easiest way to update drivers, but sadly, Windows often misses new updates.
The only way to be sore is to download the update yourself.
This means going to the manufacturer’s website, looking for the right driver for your device, and then installing it on your computer. Thankfully, most manufacturers provide easy access to these files on their support pages.
If the problem persists, try a different headset or microphone. This will help you determine if the issue is with the headset or the computer itself.
If nothing seems to work up to this point, perhaps it’s time to pack it up and buy a new headset.
5. Check for Hardware Issues
If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still having trouble, there could be a problem with your hardware.
Try plugging your headset into a different computer or phone to see if the problem persists. If it does, there’s likely something wrong with your headset.
At this point, in case you haven’t done it yet, you should try restarting your computer. Sometimes this is enough to solve whatever problem there was.
However, if nothing works, it might be time to replace the mic itself.
Some headsets, such as the Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3WH (available on Amazon.com) come with a detachable mic. You can replace it with another mic made for that model by simply unplugging the old one and plugging the new one in.
Common Problems With Headset Mics and How You Can Fix Them
As with any tech gadget, your microphone might have issues now and then. Fortunately, most of them are pretty easy to fix and require no tools.
These are some of the most common problems people face with their headsets:
- Distorted sound quality
- The mic doesn’t pick up your voice well
- You hear static, humming, or buzzing sounds
- You sound muffled or unclear
- The mic doesn’t record audio
- Mic volume is too low
Let’s take a look at each of these problems in detail and see how you can solve them.
Distorted Sound Quality
If you are experiencing noisy and distorted sound quality, you need to check the connection between your headset mic and your PC. Ensure that the USB or 3.5mm cable is securely plugged into both ends.
If it is, the problem might be that your current drivers aren’t compatible with your headset mic. Go to the manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers.
If your mic has poor audio quality, it could also mean that the sound coming through the wire is distorted. The problem may be with one or both of the things that make up a microphone: the mic itself and the connection between the mic and your computer.
If you think your microphone is producing bad audio, start by disconnecting all the audio devices. Then reconnect them one by one until you find out which device is causing the problem.
As usual, you should also try restarting your computer. If the problem persists, you may need to replace the part of your headset that’s causing trouble.
For example, if the cable is damaged, you can simply get a new one—many headsets have detachable audio cables.
But remember, some cheap headsets just use bad components and can’t be saved. In that case, just buy a new headset with higher quality (avoid the cheapest models out there).
The Mic Doesn’t Pick Up Your Voice Well
If your mic doesn’t detect your voice, the problem may be dirty contacts. The contacts are often in contact with your face, and they might get dirty from sweat or makeup.
To clean the contacts, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and clean the jack input. Gently apply pressure to remove any dirt.
Make sure you completely dry the input before putting inserting it back into the headset. Liquids and electronics don’t mix very well.
You Hear Static, Humming, or Buzzing Sounds
If you’ve been using your headset mic for a while and it suddenly starts picking up static, something may be rubbing against the inside of the microphone.
It may also be that a loose jack is trying to get a connection.
To fix this, separate the mic from the headset and test the jack to see what’s causing the issue. You’ll want to clear any gunk before reinserting the mic and testing it out.
You Sound Muffled or Unclear
If you find that your mic doesn’t pick up your voice well, there are a few things you can do. The first thing to try is to switch from omnidirectional to cardioid or unidirectional. This will help your mic pick up your voice better.
The second thing you can do is adjust the sensitivity of the mic. If you find that it doesn’t pick up your voice well when you speak at a normal volume, you may need to increase the sensitivity.
If it picks up too many background noises, you will need to lower the sensitivity and speak closer to the mic.
The Mic Doesn’t Record Audio
Some people report that their headset mic doesn’t record any audio. When this happens, the problem could be a loose wire connection or some other type of damage along the wire.
If the part of the cable that’s next to the connection seems to be coming loose, take a small piece of electrical tape and wrap it around the areas to keep it in place.
If there’s no visible damage, then one of the wires inside the cable might be damaged.
To fix this issue, you’ll need to replace a section of cable with a new one—either by splicing in fresh wire or replacing it with an entirely new cable.
If you’re not comfortable with handling wires, it might be best to take your headset to a technician. If they know what they’re doing and use a high-quality cable, your headset should sound just as good as before.
Mic Volume Is Too Low
If you’re having a hard time hearing yourself on the headset mic, it might be because your volume is too low. The first thing to do is adjust the volume of your mic or speak closer to it.
Some people have a habit of speaking far from the mic. This makes their voice sound muffled when others hear it on the other end of the call or recording.
You might need to train yourself to speak in such a way that your voice doesn’t get muffled when using headsets. Here are some tips:
- Talk directly into the microphone and make sure you don’t cover up any of it with your hand while you talk.
- Make sure nothing obstructs your mouth, like a scarf or hat.
- Keep the mic at least six inches away from any surface so that sound waves don’t immediately bounce back into the microphone.
After you’ve taken care of these, you should notice an improvement in your sound quality.
You may have the most reliable, high-quality headset mic that money can buy, but it won’t be useful if you don’t know how to troubleshoot it.
Fixing a single jack headset mic can be both easy and difficult, depending on what is causing the problem.
Sometimes the only reasonable solution is, unfortunately, to just buy a new headset.