So I recently upgraded from an old build to a ASRock Z77 Extreme4 with a 3570k. Everything is running well. All the audio jacks on my old computer stop working over 3 years. Granted I did drop this old computer once. With this new motherboard the back jack works which I am happy about. The only problem is the front jacks still don't work. These jacks did get kicked a couple times but the strange thing is... When I take the hd audio connector out and put the ac 97 in, it works. Of course I would want the hd to work but at least the front does work with ac 97. Why would a broken jack work with ac 97 and not the hd audio? Any advice about this would be greatly appreciated.
The HDA 3.5 mm connectors are different from connectors used in AC'97 specification and general audio equipment. A regular 3.5 mm jack typically has one pin for ground, two pins for stereo signal and two pins for return signal.
In the AC'97 design, the audio output is sent to the jack. If the headphones are not plugged in, the jack directs the audio to the return pins that are connected to the speakers. When a headphone is plugged into the front panel jack, the audio signal goes to the headphones; the return pins are disconnected, so no audio signal goes to the speakers.
With HD Audio, instead of the return signal pins, there is a sense signal that is connected to an isolated switch inside the headphone jack that detects when the headphone plug is inserted. When the plug is inserted, the isolated switch informs the motherboard, and the codec sends audio to the headphones. When the plug is not inserted, the codec sends the audio directly to the speakers (the audio does not go out to the front panel and then loop back to the speakers). A similar isolated switch is used to detect when a microphone has been plugged in.
so with using the HD audio your "broken jack" may be sending a signal to turn off the output whereas AC 97 doesn't have that.