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headphone repair

Discussion in 'Troubleshooting and Repair' started by alphacat, Aug 20, 2011.

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  1. alphacat


    Aug 19, 2011
    Hello everyone. I'm using alphacat as my alias with Electronics Point online forum. Male, age 24, and relatively new to the subject of electronics repair. By joining this forum, I think I can learn very useful, valuable information on electronics. I have a series of questions, and I hope someone can help me with what I'm working on.

    I own a pair of headphones that I have had for almost three years now. I usually use them for computer use and over time, my headphones gradually stopped working. What would happen is, maybe I would accidentally pull on the cables while reclining my chair or something like that. The jack seems to work okay, I do not have any problems with it. Sound quality, on the other hand is a different story.

    For example, sounds are often feint, or distant. So what I would do is move the cable for the headphones around until I can hear the sounds properly. This is a hassle and I don't want to have to spend my money on a brand new set of headphones when I know that I can repair them. What's more is that the sounds seem to be divided into partitions. So sounds tend to switch to and fro from partially working correctly to not at all and then to perfectly and then back again. There is a lack of consistency in the quality of the sound.

    If this happens, and you want to repair your headphones, how would you first diagnose the problem? Is more information necessary before I can get started on fixing this?
    When that's figured out, what is the right approach at repairing my broken headphones?

    Below, I have attached a picture a set of headphones. This model appears to be identical to the set I am currently having problems with. I've checked other sites. One suggested to dip the cable in a bowl of something called, "plasti dip". But it didn't explain WHY it works, so I'm not sure it's the right thing. Another source suggests I use oral wax, and apply it to the earphone to keep the cable in place. I'm not sure what to make of either of these approaches, so I'm turning to this forum.

    Attached Files:

  2. davelectronic


    Dec 13, 2010

    Hi there MR alias.
    why not try looking for a wire thats pulled lose or about to, hearing multiple sounds LSD ? joke. 3 years is a good innings for a pair of headphones in daily use, maybe time to invest in a new pair, go on treat yourself, why not ? oh money yes, i remember now, no seriously now, look for a lose connection ear end and jack end. Dave. PS you could always buy a new pair in quadruple stereo, is there such a thing ? :D
  3. daddles


    Jun 10, 2011
    As Dave suggests, it's very likely an intermittent connection problem in the cabling. Most earphones I've seen that fail (and don't have built-in electronics) fail for this reason. The manufacturers typically don't put industrial quality strain reliefs on them.

    You may be able to open the thing up and fix it; I did this decades ago with some nice Koss earphones I have.

    Once they're fixed, the best solution is to quit putting strain on the wire. Get an extension cord for the earphones so that you always have enough wire and never have to strain the cord to earphone connection.
  4. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    The problem is the cable. Probably at one end, where it connects to the connector, or the headphone. Plug the headset in, and wiggle the cable at each end, to find the
    problem. When I find exactly where the wire intermittent is, I cut back the cable past
    that point and resolder the wire to the connector or headphone end.
    Don't bother trying to do it quick and easy. You'll have to disassemble the plug, or the headphone, and connect the good wire, directly to the contact.
    Consider the fact that this will shorten your cable length. And if it's already so short that you damaged the wire, you're just going to do it again with the shorter cable length. So Like davelectronic said, you may just want to buy a new pair.
    I'll mention: You didn't say, but if you have a potentiometer somewhere on the headset or in-line with the cable, the wire damage may be at that point.
    I have yet to find a strain-relief, that would help in your situation. It's best to make sure
    the cable you have is long enough to prevent strain on it in the first place. There are plenty of extension cables cheaply available, to make a headphone cable longer.
  5. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    Oh, you're probably a newbie at this.
    What you're going to find, if you try this, is that to save money in manufacturing, and for flexibility of the cable: are VERY fine diameter wires, wrapped around a string. You need to look at the wire, which will be one unpainted common wire, and two laquered/painted wires (of different colors). Pay attention to which color wire goes to which point at the contact you solder to. These wire can be extremely fine, and you may have to look carefully for them in the string fibers. There is no conductivity through the laquer on the wires. I use an exacto blade or pocket knife to scrap the laquer off the ends of the small wires I'm soldering to the contacts. You need to do this, as the solder will not stick to laquer, only the wire itself.
    Good luck. I don't mind doing this type of repair, but it's tedious because the wires are so fine. If it gets to be too much of a hassle, there's always daddles and davelectronic solution, of replacement of the headphones.
  6. alphacat


    Aug 19, 2011
    These are all good tips, but I eventually gave up and ended up buying a new pair.
    I still have my old pair, and one of the main reasons why I wasn't sure what to do is because I couldn't figure out step 1. I think step 1 is the diagnosis.

    Repairing the wires is good, but what if the speakers are blown out? This particular headphone set also had a special component that allowed you to adjust the volume and switch from mono to stereo. A later found out that this feature may actually make the headphone set a little more vulnerable.

    I'm not planning on fixing my old set any time soon, since I know that I'm not going to know what I'm doing, but I'd like a little bit of feedback on just one thing.
    Let's just say that the speakers were blown out, or they aren't working for some reason, and this is the only problem with the headphone set. If this is so and I'd like to fix them myself, what would I have to do? What should I have in mind when thinking about how I'm going to do this?
  7. KJ6EAD


    Aug 13, 2011
    The impedance rating and wattage of the speakers, the physical dimensions, shape and frequency response would be the main criteria in selecting a replacement. It's far more likely that you just need a new cordset but these often have molded strain reliefs that are specific to the product. The "special component" is likely little more than a switch and potentiometer.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
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