Are my Sennheiser headphones fixable or should I replace them?
August 6, 2012 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out what's wrong with my headphones (Sennheiser HD 280 pros) and how to fix them, or decide on a replacement pair.

I have a pair of Sennheiser HD 280s. I've had them for years and I really do love them.

But for some reason, they are shorting out on the right side. The left side works just fine, but no sound comes from the right side unless I shift them around, generally moving the left side up or down in relation to the right side. Unfortunately, to make the right side work, the left side has to be lifted far above or below my left ear, thus rendering the left side useless. I'm assuming this is because a wire is broken inside the band connecting the two sides (wire comes off the left side).

Is there any way to fix this? I'm not handy with electronics, but I'd be willing to try something as I have nothing to lose.

Alternatively, if they have kicked the bucket, what would you recommend to replace them with? I've been really happy with them, but I'd be willing to try out something new. I know the Sony MDR-V6s and the Audio Technica ATH-M50s get recommended here a lot. How do they compare? Is there something better on the market now that I don't know of? I mostly listen to music on them, but I do use them for recording now and then. I'd definitely want to stick with this basic type of headphone and stay in a similar price range (~$100-$150).

Thanks everyone.
posted by Lutoslawski to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Broken signal wire. These are repairable; don't know of any local places for you. A local joint in Toronto will do this for $20-30, so don't chuck 'em. Anywhere that refurbs audio and turntables might do this.
posted by scruss at 6:47 PM on August 6, 2012

Best answer: You could take them apart to figure out whether the break really is in the cup-to-cup cable, or whether it's the right-channel wire in the main cable.
posted by flabdablet at 6:52 PM on August 6, 2012

Yup, one of your wires is broken, most likely at the jack or where it connects to the headphone (these are the main stress points). On a more expensive set the cable would be removable (it would just have a plug on both ends and there would be a socket instead of a permanent connection at the headphone end) but even on your mid-range cans it should be repairable, albeit some soldering is going to be necessary. The simplest thing to do, if you want to repair it yourself, would be to pop open the headphones where the cord goes in, and solder in a new cord, probably scavenged from another pair of headphones -- this will fix the problem regardless of where the break is. I don't know how difficult this would be for your particular set. There are probably professionals who could do this for you, or if you know anybody who's a hardware geek and is handy with this kind of stuff then it's probably not outside the realm of a moderately-experienced amateur.
posted by Scientist at 7:46 PM on August 6, 2012

Best answer: Hey, flabdablet's video above is terrific, and it shows that you are in luck! All you need is a small screwdriver to disassemble the can. The replacement cord just plugs right in — no soldering! The factory replacement cable is part number 082328, available from the Sennheiser store for $31 plus shipping. Happy listening!
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:13 PM on August 6, 2012

Oh wow I didn't actually watch flabdablet's video, but clearly I should have. That's way better news than what I thought you were in for. Shame it's not a standard cable connector, as that would be cheaper for you to deal with. Still, $31 is considerably cheaper than $99 (albeit it's still gouging for something that I guarantee costs less than $1 to make) and it sounds like it's an easy fix! Hooray!.
posted by Scientist at 9:19 PM on August 6, 2012

You should check with Echo Audio to see if they might be able to fix it for you, or get you the part since they are a Sennheiser dealer.
They're down the street and around the corner from Powell's.
posted by nickthetourist at 10:07 PM on August 6, 2012

The HD 280 is the only pair of headphones I've ever purchased that came with a manual detailing the disassembly for repair. So yes, you can repair them. It is also why I always recommend them.
posted by chairface at 11:41 PM on August 6, 2012

Alternatively, if they have kicked the bucket, what would you recommend to replace them with? I've been really happy with them, but I'd be willing to try out something new. I know the Sony MDR-V6s and the Audio Technica ATH-M50s get recommended here a lot. How do they compare?

Having used both the Sony MDR-V6 and the Sennheiser 280s - i would fix/replace the Sennheisers. I find them better fitting, and the Sonys tended to give me ear fatigue; too much top end for my liking.
posted by dubold at 2:23 AM on August 7, 2012

Response by poster: Hey thanks everyone! This is extremely helpful and good news. I'm going to give fixing them a shot and I'll let you know how it turns out.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:53 AM on August 7, 2012

The connector on the end of my cable just snapped and this was the first article I stumbled across. The replacement cable from Sennheiser is way too expensive in my opinion - I only payed 80 bucks for the headphones to begin with. After a little more searching I found this article which diagrams the wire connections. Here's the part from RS.

$4.50 for a new connector (I have a soldering kit) vs $37 for a new cable. I guess if you don't already have a soldering iron or don't know how to solder then buying the replacement cable might make sense. It's a shame it's so overpriced though.
posted by strangelooper at 12:04 AM on January 26, 2013

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