How can I get my earbuds to last longer than 3 months before they break?
April 18, 2013 9:29 AM   Subscribe

I replaced my earbud headphones for the third time in six months yesterday. I'm not particularly rough on them (I don't think), yet after three months, inevitably one of the ears will get all static-y and then completely die about a day later. I'm buying pretty mid-range headphones and while they're not amazing, they should bloody last longer than three months. So what is it that I am doing that's apparently so beyond the wear and tear expected of these headphones? Is it how I'm wrapping the cord? Where I'm keeping them? Gah!

I have these Turtle Beach ones, mostly because they have a remote and mic that work with my phone.

Generally, I'll put them in when I walk to work, wrap up the cord like this when I get there and unwrap them and use them for the walk home. That's about it really. If that cord wrapping is the problem, is there another way to wrap the cord without it turning into a Gordian mess?
posted by Nelsormensch to Technology (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Twisting the cord in a figure-eight like in that video is introducing stress into the cable. A simple circular loop is the least stressful way to wrap up the cable. If you store the headphones in a hard headphone case, you won't have any problems with tangles.

Where in the cable is the problem? Normal stress points include where the cable connects to the jack, and where the cable connects to the earpiece.
posted by dobi at 9:38 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: completely agree, the copper wires don't want to be pinched beyond a gentle arc, I've had the same pair of Shure EC2 earbuds for 6 years, I wrap them in their round case.
posted by bobdow at 9:42 AM on April 18, 2013

I had the same problem as you and the solution I found was to just buy cheap earbuds like these so I'm not as mad when they die. The sound quality on that pair has been comparable to the $35 Sony earbuds I had previously. And ironically, the cheap replacements haven't died yet.
posted by wolfnote at 9:44 AM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've had Vmodas and Skull Candy earbuds like the ones you link. Mine tend to last at least a year, possibly 2 years. I never wrap them up--take them off, lay them on my desk, plug them back in when I leave.

Why do you wrap them up? Are they getting lost? Or tangled? Mine sometimes get tangled, but then I untangle them with little trouble.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:45 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a pair of Sennheisers bought second-hand for 60 New Zealand dollars circa 2006, showing no signs of degradation. They love to tangle, though, so I spool them around something when I put them away. The something used to be an ipod nano 2g, now it's a piece of cardboard about the size of an ipod nano 2g (or a little smaller).
posted by pont at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2013

Do you have to use earbuds? I have a set of Sony MDR-Q22 over-ear headphones that I think were ~$30 and that I've had for almost a decade and have regularly abused horribly (twisting and pulling wires, tying them in knots, etc) They still work great.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:56 AM on April 18, 2013

Best answer: I had this problem and started using Coloud earbuds, which are a bit more flexible and not as prone to breaking as some others, but I also try to put them in a separate case in my bag so that they don't get squashed by other things. I don't wrap them or anything when I put them in the case.
posted by fromageball at 10:01 AM on April 18, 2013

Best answer: Putting them in a separate case, or bag, is a good idea. What are you keeping them in when you aren't wearing them? I keep my Skullcandy buds in a soft case made for eye glasses, and they last for years.
posted by blurker at 10:22 AM on April 18, 2013

Response by poster: For anyone asking- yeah, I want earbuds (big cans won't fit in my pocket and don't have a mic) and super cheapo earbuds tend not to have a mic either. I mean, the ones I've been buying are only $30, sounds pretty good and noise cancel well.

I wrap them up because maybe it's just this brand, but they do get tangled as all hell. And if I need to put them in my pocket, and I shove them in there, I pull out a nightmare spaghetti mess.

Okay, I'll try to scavenge a case and see if that helps. Thanks!
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:56 AM on April 18, 2013

This is the cord winder I use and I love it because it stays with the cord -- you can just unwind however much you need and leave the remainder clipped in.

I keep my earbuds wound up with the Sumajin and then stored inside my makeup bag in my larger bag - you could use a pencil case or whatever. For me, the main purpose of the bag is to keep the rubber ear pieces from being knocked loose and lost.
posted by payoto at 11:05 AM on April 18, 2013

I keep mine in an Altoids-style tin, without problems.
posted by bendybendy at 11:20 AM on April 18, 2013

There are really cheap ones with mics you can find from websites that ship them from HK - I'm talking 3 dollars, and are the same quality (bad) as the apple earbuds.

The other alternative is go high end - there are earbuds with cords made from kevlar. There are also high end earbuds with detachable cords, which reduces stress and you can just replace the cords. I have Sennheisers like this.
posted by puertosurf at 11:48 AM on April 18, 2013

[I HATE in-ear buds like the ones you pictured, prefer 'regular' grain of salt, YMMV and etc]

after my iPod ones finally gave up the ghost, I broke sooo many... cheap, expensive you name it.

then i got these and they've held up for almost 2 years now...

it's the cord...they're covered in silicone rubber and pretty much just don't tangle...(a little bit maybe? shake them and they untangle with little help) also the base of the plug is nicely protected, but flexible (that's my usual fail point) ...I don't wind them other than just around my hand (no figure 8!) and mostly just toss them in my bag winding, no case.

are you on an android phone? I felt really stupid for not knowing that double-clicking the mic button=skip to the next I will assume you already know that.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:56 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

With the remote mic this will be harder, but try to find a little 6-12 inch extension cable. The stress is usually right at the plug, and by putting an extension cable on there, you can relocate the stress to the extension, which should be cheaper than the headphones.
posted by markblasco at 1:06 PM on April 18, 2013

I had a pair of Maximo earbuds that fell apart 3 times, about 6-8 months apart, despite me wrapping them carefully after every use. Every time I sent them back I asked Maximo if they couldn't send me a model that wasn't going to inevitably fall apart and they said no.

Eventually I gave up and bought a pair of Klipsch for around the same price, which have lasted two years without any issues. The moral is - some brands are better than others even at the same price range (or maybe the moral is, Maximo products are crap and don't buy them).
posted by Gortuk at 1:42 PM on April 18, 2013

sexyrobot, I have now ordered some Phillips ones upon your recommendation--the reinforced cable end is exactly the problem I have with all of my earbuds perpetually dying. Hopefully they'll work out! (Also, there's one pair whoppingly on sale right now.)

Nelsormensch, thanks for asking this question--I've been debating asking it myself these days because lately my earbuds are starting to keel over after a few DAYS now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:08 AM on April 19, 2013

This is more of a workaround than an answer, but I recently bought a cheap pair of SkullCandy earbuds (they were about $20) and paid the extra 5 bucks for their 3 year no questions asked warranty. I've already replaced them once after about 4 months (they went through the wash) and based on my historical use, I'm probably going to do so at least once more.

I'm not sure if the warranty was through SkullCandy or The Source.
posted by sauril at 11:29 AM on April 19, 2013

« Older Poets of Metafilter, Unite!   |   Excellent plays to watch this weekend in NYC? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.