I have a 2004 Creative Zen Xtra with a history of audio jack problems. Each night, I used to unplug the earbuds and put the player back into the very nice leather case. But, after a few months, the audio started losing one channel and then both channels.
After receiving a warranty repair, the audio jack started to fail again within a few months.
I was fortunate to find a “fix” for the problem by using an audio splitter with short extenders. Then I plugged my Creative ear buds into one of the jacks.
From this experience, I made a personal resolution for all my old, current and future mp3 players (including my Clip Sports and Jam).
DO NOT UNPLUG THE EARBUDS. IF ITS WORKING DON"T MESS WITH IT.