Durable/Replaceable Cable Earbud Headphones with a Microphone?
September 5, 2012 9:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for iPhone headphones that will hold up to daily use while walking. Every pair I've owned has problems with the 1/8" connector after a few months, or less, of use (while walking, usually in a pocket, but often getting taken out to check an email, respond to a text, etc...). More details inside.

I've been using Sennheiser MM 50's, which are actually perfect for my needs. They sound fine (for podcasts), are comfortable and have a mic. I don't find that the start/stop/advance button works too well, but I could live with that. But, both pairs I've owned have stopped working or gotten really crackly after a few short months of use. iPhone earbuds also stop working far too quickly. I've got a pair of the Monoprice earbuds but they don't have a mic and the part of the earbud that's outside the ear is awfully bulky and oddly shaped.

So, I'm looking for earbud headphones with the following characteristics:

1. Either an extremely durable cord/connector or with a detachable/replaceable cord.
2. Mic for iPhone. Stop/Start/Advance controls would be nice, too.
3. Around ~100, if possible. Could go a bit higher for the right pair.
4. Good sound quality (but again, I'm mostly listening to well-recorded podcasts so no need to go crazy here). I do greatly prefer the Sennheisers to Apple's earbuds.

The Shure 215's seem like my next step (they've got the detachable cable), but it seems like the replacement cable that includes a mic is $50 (more expensive than the Sennheisers).

Alternatively, could anyone point me to a short extension cable that would handle the Mic/Stop/Start controls and make it so the headphone plug connects to the extension cord just outside my pocket?
posted by jeffch to Technology (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
No replaceable cord, but I've been using these with good result.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:22 AM on September 5, 2012

People rave about using sugru to reinforce the cords, so maybe that's an option as well?
posted by Grither at 9:28 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sugru is definitely an option to reinforce cords. It works very well in my experience.
posted by dfriedman at 10:05 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have used sugru before and love it, but I haven't reinforced a headphone cable. I have the exact same problem as the original poster so I'm very interested in any answers. Right now I'm just buying $8 headphones every month or two, but that doesn't seem to be a good solution. I just did a quick search, and there is a method of making a cable reinforcement with sugru that users are saying seems to work very well-- good enough to appear on the official sugru blog. Even though it is for the wide ipod base cable, I think that using the third plan shown in the video would probably greatly reinforce a standard headphone jack as well. From an engineering perspective, I'm particularly happy with the base-end extension tabs for extra strength, and also the pulling handle is a great concept that will probably reduce or eliminate a lot of strain on the unit. Thanks for the ideas-- I'm off to buy more sugru!

Reinforcing a headphone cable with sugru.
posted by seasparrow at 10:21 AM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've had these for well over 3 years and it works wonderfully. The sound quality is amazing. Comes with a great warranty so they will replace any frayed cords (if that ever happens). If you replace your $100 pair at least once a year, consider this equivalent in cost.

The quality is amazing. Sadly no microphone (but in my case I just switch to stock iphone earphones for those situations).
posted by special-k at 10:24 AM on September 5, 2012

I have been using the same $20 headphones from The Source for almost a year now- it's amazing! I usually wreck them in a few weeks. Unfortunately, I have no idea what they're called.
However, I don't think it matters. I think the secret is this: whenever I'm not using them, I immediately unplug them from my device, wind them gently, and stuff them in a plastic craft egg that I carry in my bag. It has helped a lot.
posted by windykites at 12:16 PM on September 5, 2012

A short extension cable sounds worth it anyway. Bacause if your are being rough on that part of the cable for some reason then it is cheap enough to be regarded as a consumable. Also sugru before a repair is necessary, not after.
posted by epo at 2:07 PM on September 5, 2012

I have had the MIE2I headphones for a while and I really do love them. They seem to fit your criteria. I was recently looking to purchase headphones for my father with the same criteria as you and I wanted so badly to buy him something other than Bose but after lots of research I really couldn't find anything that I liked as much. Even though audiophiles say that Bose stands for Buy Other Stereo Equipment, I am really rather satisfied with the MIE2I headphones.
posted by masters2010 at 3:30 PM on September 5, 2012

When my daughter was a few months old she began to love tugging at my headphones. I went through several sets rather quickly (at $60-$90 a hit) before I got fed up. I've also had several pairs where the remote stopped working in a matter of weeks.

I found a company on ebay selling reconditioned SONY MDR-EX38 iP for about $20 a pair. They retail for $30-$55

I bought 10 sets, figuring I'd slowly break them all. The first pair lasted three months until I snagged them and broke the cable, the second pair have lasted for about four months, with generally multiple hours per day of use. They are pretty comfy, they sound perfectly fine to me for podcasts and audio books, and apart from major damage I haven't had any die on me yet.

Also this is the sort of adapter you were mentioning.

posted by tomble at 7:17 PM on September 5, 2012

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