It happened to me not too long ago. Not because of wear and tear or because the headphone socket was of poor quality, but because of an accident. Admittedly it was probably partially my fault. I was visiting family and decided to bring my laptop and K701 along. Since the K701 use a 6.3mm plug, I had to use the chunky 6.3 to 3.5mm connector AKG supplied (which is a decent weight in itself). That alone didn't prove too much of a problem, though I'm sure prolonged use wouldn't do the socket too much good. The problem was that with the size of the plug and the adaptor, it was protruding from the laptop maybe a good 2 inches. It got snagged on some clothing, and you can figure out what happened next.
Although I have a USB DAC, losing the headphone socket would have been a major inconvenience for me since the headphone socket also doubles as optical output (and I prefer optical over USB for the DAC, as I get some weird interference with USB). I also occasionally use the onboard audio with earbuds if I am watching something at night.
I hadn't had the laptop too long when this happened, and I had no idea of what it's internals were like, so naturally I raged. My fear was that the headphone socket was built into the motherboard, as is the case for some laptops.
|Dell Inspirion Motherboard. Note that the headphone and microphone jacks are built into the motherboard. This would require specialist soldering or a new motherboard.|
I can't remember exactly how it went from there, but I recall searching for service manuals (PDF files that Sony service center staff use for repair), browsing forums and looking for images of the motherboard, to try and determine if this was something I could fix myself.
I got lucky. It turns out this laptop has the headphone/optical, microphone and USB ports on their own small PCB, meaning that as long as I could get into it, I should be able to swap the part out. After a little googling, I managed to find out the part number, and was able to locate a replacement that was sourced from another laptop from The Laptop Centre. It's also worth checking ebay.
|Vaio F12M0E with the CNX 448 M930 USB/Audio Board (the board inside the laptop is a CNX 448 M931 but they appear to be identical)|
The Replacement Process
Replacing the audio board in this particular laptop was easy, and will take you 15 minutes or so.
Make sure that you have earthed yourself and that you are not wearing any clothing that generates static electricity.
Things you will need:
- A PZ0 Screwdriver. Must have a thin shaft to fit inside the recessed holes.
- A CNX 448 USB/audio board.
- Something thin and flat to push tabs in (eg a flat screwdriver)
- The service manual or a laptop with this website for more detailed information .
The service manual is for the Vaio VPCF1 series, which appears to cover the F11, F12 and F13. It contains exploded views and part numbers, so it's worth keeping just in case.
The audio board in my F12 was a CNX 448 M931, but the replacement I am now using is a CNX 448 M930. Everything appears to work fine.
Please refer to this website for detailed images on opening the laptop. It's fairly simple, so I shall just talk through the process.
1) An obvious step, but remove the power cable and disconnect the battery. I waited a few minutes with the battery out, and then held the power button in for about 10 seconds to drain any remaining power.
2) Now remove the DVD/Bluray drive. This is secured by two screws, one in the top left near the power button, and one to the left of the RAM cover. These have 3 small dots above the hole.
3) Proceed to remove the HDD. Looking at the HDD cover, there are two screws at the bottom, remove these. Again these have 2 small dots above the hole. Once you have removed those screws, gently slide the door toward you to reveal the HDD. Remove the two screws at the top securing the HDD and slide it left. Once it is free from the connector, lift it out.
4) Remove the RAM cover. The screw that secures the RAM cover does not actually come out as there is a retaining clip under it. What you have to do here is unscrew the door as best you can and then lift it up from the screw side (you should be able to slide a nail under it).
|Just before removing the back cover|
5) Remove the remaining screws from the back cover. I placed them on a table in the same position that I removed them from the laptop, but it would be better to draw a quick diagram to save confusion.
6) Now to remove the back cover. This was tricky at first as I wasn't sure what to expect. The bottom 1/3 of the cover felt as though it was still secured by something. I thought that maybe there were screws under the rubber pads but that wasn't the case.
Joe Bleau suggests working from the HDD side and carefully sliding the cover. When I tried this it felt like it wasn't working (perhaps I was doing it wrong), so the method I used was to start from the opposite end and run my fingernail down the front of the case carefully forcing it apart, working from right to left. I stopped just as I got to the HDD bay and lifted the case at the right hand end a little which also seemed to lift some of the PCB with it. With the PCB clear of the lower half of the case, I was able to slide it right (as suggested) and get the back cover off.
I suggest going with the original instruction of Joe's of , "Starting from the hard drive bay side, slide the cover, shake & bake with care & patience & remove the cover."
Patience is definitely the key here. Fortunately getting the case back on is rather easy.
7) You will notice a lone PCB to the left where the HDD bay is. This is the USB/audio board. Remove the two screws securing it, and carefully turn it over and remove the cable. You will need to pull the metal tab toward you at the same time as pulling up on the plastic removal tab.
|This is the view as you remove the back cover. Notice how under normal usage, the motherboard is facing down, making it very easy to upgrade and service.|
8) Replace the old audio board with the new one, and connect the cable. Secure it using the scews from earlier and then work backwards from step 6 to put everything back together. Power on and enjoy.
|CNX 448 M930 and M931 side by side|
I want to say a big thanks to Joe Bleau at vaiofseries.com. Without his help and awesome guides, I probably would have ended up breaking something, so thank you.