Problems with earbuds
May 7, 2009 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Help me stop destroying my iPod headphones!

I listen to a lot of music/audiobooks/podcasts using an iPod, and a pair of earbuds. About every 6 weeks or so, if not sooner, the earbuds start to fail, and need to be replaced. It always seems to be a wire problem at the area near the jack.

Is there an easy way to fix these old sets of earbuds, or something I can do to prevent further breakage? Or, can you recommend a good set of earbuds that'd stand up to lots of abuse and use.
posted by graventy to Technology (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I use my iPod for running and walking (and I do a lot of walking) and a long time ago I realized that it's easiest and cheapest to just buy a new pair of cheap headphones from Target or Radio Shack every six months or so. Better to pay $10 two or three times a year than to pay $40 for a new pair of Apple headphones that'll fail in exactly the same way every time, and not even last as long as the $10 pair.

I don't think you'll be able to fix them unless you're an electrical engineer. And if you were, you probably wouldn't be asking this question.
posted by hifiparasol at 3:06 PM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: Do you wrap them around your iPod when not in use, without unplugging from the jack? That can put strain on the vital area.

I like this method.
posted by The Deej at 3:10 PM on May 7, 2009 [4 favorites]

I can't speak to the brand (since I dont recall) but I bought a pair of "soft" earbuds at Best Buy and they work great! I use them at work every day, for going on a year now, and they show no sign of failing. They were like $20-$30 bucks though.
posted by elendil71 at 3:13 PM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: I've never had my ~$100 Shure E3cs fail from wear and tear (only accidental abuse) and even when they did fail from abuse, they were replaced free of charge by Shure. I use them multiple times every single day and wrap them haphazardly around my iPod when I'm done.

Don't buy crappy headphones - they don't last and they don't sound good and they really don't feel good.
posted by kcm at 3:14 PM on May 7, 2009

Buy yourself some TuneTies so you aren't straining the cord when not in use. I like these Creative Lab earbuds which are actually OEM'd Sennheiser ear buds and are pretty tough.
posted by chairface at 3:20 PM on May 7, 2009

I've not had Sennheiser or my Shure headphones fail on me, cheap ones failed all the time.

I definitely consider my Shure SE110s money well spent.
posted by chrispy108 at 3:51 PM on May 7, 2009

Well, it's not just you: this has happened to me with many pairs of cheap headphones too. They always fail around the connection, and I'm not hard or twisty with them at all.

I should buy better headphones, but now that I'm an iPhone convert I need a better headSET (with microphone) and that limits the choices, I think. So I keep buying cheap ones.
posted by rokusan at 4:29 PM on May 7, 2009

If you're not stuck on earbuds (the Apple generics made my ears physically hurt when I wedged them in my little ears), I'd recommend Koss KSC75. They sound great, and they've taken a beating. Plus, they were less than $20, so it's not a huge hardship if you do break them. Take note - the over-ear arm-thingies do snap off, but can be snapped back on with ease, and they don't squeeze your ears. Not ideal for running as they can wiggle loose, but great for casual listening.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:41 PM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: i asked a similar question a few months ago, and here were the mefites' answers. FWIW, the L-shaped jack seems to be working well for me.
posted by lizbunny at 4:49 PM on May 7, 2009

I have a pair Shure E3cs. They were a free replacement from Shure after my E2cs failed after 18 months of intensive wear (they cracked in the cord over my left ear). Can't speak highly enough about the friendly and quick service from Shure. They get my next purchase on the basis of that experience alone.
The earphones are pretty rugged and survive a bunch of abuse. Shure actually package them in a neat zip case, but generally I just wrap them loosely around my ipod.
posted by arcticseal at 6:21 PM on May 7, 2009

Just for an alternate perspective on Shure: Shure's good with replacing, but I'm now out of my period of warranty and am onto my third pair of replacements after each has had wires wear through within a year (one after 3 months). This *may* be different with this pair as I hear they've changed the material they make their cords with in recognition of this problem (apparently it's to do with a reaction between the materials they use + sweat in some percentage of the population, compounded by the problem that they're worn over-the-ear which means a lot of contact with skin), however, just flagging this. Do some research; the problem's pretty common amongst complaints about Shure headphones. Also, wrt to a suggestion above, if you need an L-shaped jack Shure's new jacks seem to have switched to straight ones which may not suit given your specific problem. (They are, however, great-sounding headphones. I lava them; I just wish they'd stop wearing through on me!)
posted by springbound at 6:40 PM on May 7, 2009

Seconding hifiparasol's suggestion, but even more so. I pick up earpieces on clearance and put them everywhere I might need them - car, drawers, laptop case, etc. Yes, they go bad quickly, but if that happens I just check a junk drawer and plug 'n' play. They're like sunglasses to me - I never spend a lot cuz I know I'll either lose them or break them.
posted by adverb at 9:53 PM on May 7, 2009

my shure's wore out on me. i have some bose ones now, which i actually like better. the shures would fall out of my ears during runs and their cord was so heavy and long it was irritating. yay bose!
posted by bellbellbell at 12:13 AM on May 8, 2009

I had the wire near the connector on my Shure's fray after a year or so of use, probably because I would just wrap the wire around the iPod when I was done. I picked up a pair of Maximo's for my iPhone, and now I always deatch them from the phone, roll them up and place into the pouch that came with the headphones when I'm done listening. It's a little more work but so far there's no sign of wear on the wire.
posted by Gortuk at 6:22 AM on May 8, 2009

Best answer: As far as reccomendations go, I'd have to say the Shure SE110s or 115s (newer).

And never, never, never, wrap your cords around the iPod, especially when it's still plugged into the jack.

Always wrap your cords loosely, like this
posted by WilliamWallace at 7:25 AM on May 8, 2009

As a musician for 18 years who's had to deal with twenty foot guitar cables spooling out on stage, what you want is the over-under technique. This is what cowboys do when to their lassos, and you can see how hassle-free they unwrap at a moment's notice.
posted by MesoFilter at 8:26 PM on May 8, 2009

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