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Fixing Headphones

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by [email protected], May 1, 2013.

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  1. Guest

    I have a couple of headphones that have stopped producing sound on one side and I wanted to try fixing them.

    I know it will involve locating where the break is, as well as soldering but I was looking for pointers because I've never done this before.

    I assume that the problem is either at the location where the plug inserts or more likely where the leads enter near the ear pieces.

    Any advice from anyone who has done this would be appreciated.


    Darren Harris
    Staten Island, New York.
  2. mike

    mike Guest

    I use a time domain reflectometer. Can usually get you close enough to tell
    where to cut/splice.

    If you have a C-meter with sub-picofarad resolution, you can
    sometimes estimate the distance to the break.

    I've found cable breaks with a stun gun. Just cut out the part
    that caught fire. Not sure I'd try it with the headphone connected
    to one end.

    Soldering is an issue because it ain't normal wire. You can burn
    thru it in an instant. And when you do get it soldered, it likes
    to break right at the transition between flex and stiff.

    There was a long thread, here, I think, about soldering the stuff.
  3. N_Cook

    N_Cook Guest

    side and I wanted to try fixing them.
    but I was looking for pointers because I've never done this before.
    or more likely where the leads enter near the ear pieces.
    The smallest diameter sewing pin you can find, pierce the insulation and a
    resistance meter
  4. Mark Zenier

    Mark Zenier Guest

    A bit more info might help. What sort of price range?
    What type? (cover the ear? headband? earbuds?)
    (Apple?, or generic).

    The stuff I mess around with are the $10 generic headband type, used with
    cassette players, radios, etc.

    With those, the sound element generally snap into the headband
    and if you unsnap each on, there's two solder points.

    Color Code for the typical 3 conductor 3.5 mm/1/8 inch plug

    green - left side audio - the tip of the plug
    red - right side audio - the ring on the plug
    copper - ground - the sleeve (two wires, one each side)

    The wires are small (40 gauge?) multi-stranded wire insulated with
    thermally strippable enamel. In a two by two zipcord jacket.

    (Older cords use miniature shielded conductors with red (right) and
    white (left) center insulation and no other insulation on the central
    conductor and shield wires. This kind of wire can short out.)

    The first step it to unsnap the sound elements from the head band.
    (I'm not into earbuds, I suppose there's some way to uncap the
    end with the wires). Then you can measure between the solder points
    on the element and the plug to find the open conductor(s). See
    the color code...

    One test is just to tug on the open wire and see if it pulls out.
    The most frequent breakage is at the place where the wire exits the
    headband, about 3/8 inch down. At this point, cut, strip back about 3/4
    inch from the break, tin the wire, remove the old wire bit on the sound
    element connection, and re-solder. (If symmetry in the cord matters,
    you may have shorten the cord and reinstall on the other side too,
    or just put a knot in the other side).

    The wire isn't that hard to deal with. You need a high temperature
    solder iron to strip off the insulation. (Avoid the smoke!). Just
    get a blob on the tip of the iron and use that to strip the insulation
    and tin a 1/8 inch or less of the conductor.

    A lower temperature iron is suggested to solder to the connection points
    on the sound element. There are usually two pads for each connection,
    one for the headset cord, another to connect to the speaker coil with
    VERY SMALL wire, avoid disturbing that one.

    Another breakage point is at the strain relief at the plug end.
    Often you can fell the break where the wire has a "soft spot" at the
    high stress point.

    As most plugs are molded on, it's time for a $.69-$2 for a new plug.
    Or a whole cord assembly. (I've seen them in Mouser's catalog, anybody
    tried them?)

    When putting on a replacement plug, remember to put the outer insulator
    on the wire before you solder on the plug assembly.
    (See color code..., use your ohm meter frequently).

    I often reinforce the strain relief on the wire exiting the plug with
    some small (1/16"?) shrink tubing. Likewise the area where the wires
    exit the headband. The kitchen toaster works good for shrink tubing. ;-)

    Mark Zenier
    Googleproofaddress(account:mzenier provider:eskimo domain:com)
  5. you could turn this into a big task, but start easy.

    chop off the damn plug. replace it with a new one. that will fix
    headphones 99% of the time.

    keep the old plug around to trace out what wires to attach to which

    use lots of heatshrink on your new plug as a strain relief.
  6. Yup, I've only fixed a few of these for the kids, but every time the
    broken wire was right next to the plug. That point gets the most
    twisting, bending etc...

    George H.
  7. mike

    mike Guest

    I gave two valid ways to accomplish the task: "it will involve locating
    where the break is,"

    At last count, that's two more than you.

    Your move...
  8. mike

    mike Guest

    By my count, despite all your bluster, it's still 2-0.
    If you have a better idea, spill it.
  9. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    ** Ever hear of Google??

    There are lots of pages and U-tubes on the subject.

    .... Phil
  10. N_Cook

    N_Cook Guest

    Or some hotmelt glue roughly wiped over the join plus one piece of
    heatshrink for poor-mans adhesive heatshrink
  11. Guest

    I'd need visual aids to understand what is being referred to. But the information on the heahdphones is as follows: “SONY Synamic Stereo Headphones MDR-7502 Professional”. Here’s one on Ebay:

    It is the right side that doesn't work. And the plug has two green rings.

    I'm wondering if there are replacement ear pads available for this. IF not it wouldn't be worth fixing.

    I attempted to check continuity by sticking a sewing needle into both parallel wire leads in order to determine if the break was at the plug and had no luck at all. So it looks as though I'll just have to shotgun by strippingthe wires.

    From what is said here I should start with replacing the plug. But I haven't been able to find anything via Google as far as an illustrated diagram onhow everything is connected.

    Do I start by cutting off the plug so that there are on the two leads left?(Of course I'd have to find a replacement first).

    I'm not sure how to deal with the leads where they enter the earpieces or if it is possible to open the ear pieces up.


    Darren Harris
    Staten Island, New York.
  12. Guest

  13. Mark Zenier

    Mark Zenier Guest

    Sorry about the delay.

    Looking up the model number, these are $65 (list price) over-the-ear
    phones. An order of magnitude more expensive that the stuff I'm hacking
    on. Getting inside probably involves screws hidden under labels or
    plastic plugs.

    At that price range, I'd try a Sony spare parts source first to see if
    there's a replacment cord and ear pads. There's a link to a megabyte
    pdf manual on the page for that model on, maybe it has a
    spare parts list. (Google on MDR-7502, it was the second or third link
    for my search).

    Anybody have a favorite URL for Sony Parts?

    Mark Zenier
    Googleproofaddress(account:mzenier provider:eskimo domain:com)
  14. Guest

  15. Guest

    I managed to fix one of the several pairs I have. At least temporarily. The leads tend to break near where they enter the ear pieces.

    I opened up a different pair last night and this one, unlike the others has three instead of two leads:

    The typical red and green, but also a black lead which I assume is ground.

    I see a lot of 2.5mm adaptors on Ebay, but these are not what I can solder to. ?!?

    Also, I have no idea where to get the two or three led wires that can be used to repair headphones.


    Darren Harris
    Staten Island, New York.
  16. Guest

    Can anyone tell me where I can get the specific wire used or whether or not it is plausible to use some 20g I have?

    Also, where can I get the plugs for headphones? (I assume one just solders the leads to them before using something like shrink-wrap).


    Darren Harris
    Staten Island, New York.
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