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IEM shorts - How to know where it's coming from
June 13, 2014 7:00 AM   Subscribe

I have Brainwavz M3 in-ear monitors and, before sending them out to be fixed, I want to know if the problem probably resides in the earbuds themselves or in the audio jack. See Extended explanation... Thank you.

Hi. I have Brainwavz M3 in-ear monitors that for reasons I won't go into I love and want to keep (a replacement pair I ordered sounded awful). It's two years now and there's a short. First it was in the left ear, now it's both, but intermittent. When I move or sometimes even touch the cable, which I wear around the back of my ear to reduce microphonics, all the sound comes back...but may go out again.

I want to send the IEMs out to get fixed, but would like to make sure where the problem is coming from. The fixer told me if it was the buds themselves, they will be too delicate to fix; if it's the audio jack, he can probably replace that. Three's a slight communication thing with him and I can't make out what his best guess is. If he can't fix, I'd rather not wait weeks to find that out...

The earphones still work fantastic about 70% of the time but I want the old reliability back for my commute. I baby these but always thought the jack was pretty sturdy, and that most care should be taken around the buds. I can see nothing wrong on the exterior of the whole product. It seems strange to me that both buds would develop a short around the same time unless there were some common source/reason -- like the jack. Sure, first I thought it was just a wire problem in the left bud. I would not even attempt soldering or anything technical. Can anyone tell me where the problem is likely to lie? Thanks.
posted by noelpratt2nd to Technology (3 answers total)
When I say touching the cable gets temporary relief, I mean touching or jiggling it right near the ear...the length nearest the bud. Alternately, I can unwrap the cable from the back of my ear and let it take whatever position it wants for the sound to come back. Either way I didn't think "Ah, the jack's the problem." Sometimes the short(s) start happening only into a good walk around the neighborhood.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 7:06 AM on June 13

You say "short" but you probably mean that the connection gets broken. This is a common problem where delicate stranded wires enter a stiff housing. I'd guess that the problem has nothing to do with the jack (if it were a common problem in the jack they'd both go out at the same time) and the fact that changing the position of the wire relative to the bud suggests that's where the issue is.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 7:17 AM on June 13

Hm. Yes, I see. But then, is it strange that the one started fritzing close on the heels of the other? And does this mean the soldering fix is called for? The repairer says he won't go into the buds, but do you think he might be able to fix them some other way? Finally, I wonder what the best way is to prevent this problem in the future.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 7:53 AM on June 13

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