What size wire inside Beats Solo2 headphones?
November 29, 2016 10:32 AM   Subscribe

What size wire do I want to buy, to replace the one that goes through the strap from the left headphone to the right headphone in my son's Beats Solo 2 headphones?

The right phone no longer produces sound unless I really push hard on it, and then only in a certain position for a short time. This shows up on Google searches as a very common failure mode: apparently one end of the wire running from the left to the right gets broken or pulled loose. Naturally, they are only 18 months old, so they are out of warranty. Gaaaaah.

There are YouTube videos (like this) showing how to repair it, and one of those guys sells replacement wires for thirteen bucks.

I don't believe that the wire is worth $13 + shipping, and also I don't wait to wait for the weeks that his site visitors complain about him taking to ship. :7(

Any suggestion on what the name/type of that wire is (1mm, two-strand, perhaps?) would be greatly appreciated.

(Also, if this doesn't sound like the right fix, or if you have tried this repair, I would love to hear about it!)
posted by wenestvedt to Technology (13 answers total)
You don't need to get fancy. A piece of lamp cord would work if it fits inside the phones.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2016

Yeah I'd say use the same gauge or lower than the wire that came out of it. Speaker wire is pretty basic stuff.

If you have an old pair of earbuds you might just want to use the wire from that.
posted by bondcliff at 11:07 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Last time I did this I used 28 AWG stranded hookup wire (alpha wire 5852 RD005 and 5852 BK005) twisted together and it worked fine. The choice of wire was entirely dictated by the fact that I already had it around and it's Teflon insulated so there's no irritating stripping problems or soldering issues with insulation shrinkage. It is however, expensive (~$70/roll) you might be better off doing as bondcliff suggests and mining an old pair of earbuds for donor wire. alternatively MeMail me and I can send you a chunk afore mentioned wire.
posted by Dr. Twist at 11:13 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Have you taken apart the headphones yet? You might just be able to solder a wire back in place.

Seconding everyone in the thread, basically any wire that will fit should work fine.
posted by gregr at 11:25 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

gregr has the answer.

There's going to be no logical reason to replace the wire. Avoiding having to re-run the new wire is overriding reason to not even consider replacing the existing wire, unless it's recently burst into flames or something. You're working with a break in the circuit, not a bad wire.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:54 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I am praying that I can take off the outside cover, do an easy solder, and skedaddle. :7) But Beats being Beats, I bet I will have to go whole hog if I even start.

I have a small spool of non-stranded wire that feels like earbud wire, so I might use two short pieces of that if The Boy assents to his phones going under the knife. I also have some cheap earbuds I got at a tech conference last month which I know are junky, so they may be donors. But thank you for the offer, Dr. Twist!

The only reason I am considering replacing the wire is if it got pinched in the hinge at its middle and so is too short to reach. (If that happened I guess I could splice in a short piece, and cover the solder with heat-shrink tubing, or something.) So I am clear on "the less work the better" for this task!

(As an English major, I am kind of amazed that "any wire that fits" is acceptable. Isn't there, like...impedance or something? Resistance? in wire of different diameter? How come I don't have to care?)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:28 PM on November 29, 2016

I have a small spool of wire here; it's a solid copper conductor (not stranded), and its jacket is stamped with a bunch of stuff including: 22AWG vw-1 tr-64 LL83295 (??) and E81015.

Would that work?
posted by wenestvedt at 12:38 PM on November 29, 2016

22 ga is almost certainly larger than what you are replacing so that is good.

If the wire needs to flex at all-solid wire will break. If it needs to flex you need stranded (and finely stranded at that) wire.
posted by H21 at 12:44 PM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Given the tight tolerances of modern-day electronics, I'd be more concerned about the physical fit than any loss in quality. If the 22awg wire will fit where the old wire did, then use it.

I also think stranded wire might be less prone to wear and tear, though I'd suspect anything will last a long time.

I'm no audiophile, engineer, or anyone with much of a knowledge of electronics but I don't think any loss in quality by using a thicker or thinner wire would be noticeable by mere mortals.
posted by bondcliff at 12:45 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

One issue with the wire though, if it's soldered to a PC board on either end the holes for it are probably just as thick as they need to be, so if you're desoldering the old wire and installing new wire, you might not be able to use thicker wire unless you drill new, slightly larger, holes into the PC board, and if you get to the point where you're drilling holes you have to ask yourself if it's worth the effort.

As others have said though, it may just be a matter of re-melting the solder that's there now. Could just be a broken joint.
posted by bondcliff at 12:57 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

(As an English major, I am kind of amazed that "any wire that fits" is acceptable. Isn't there, like...impedance or something? Resistance? in wire of different diameter? How come I don't have to care?)

because resistance in the wire is the single most important factor in speaker wire and because you are moving very,very little energy in headphones it really doesn't matter.

for more than your probably wanted to know look here.
posted by Dr. Twist at 1:18 PM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

(Holy shit -- that link goes to a web site called "Speaker Wire: A History" that's laid out entirely in HTML tables! And features the phrase "audio perverts"! I'm in 1990s WWW looooooove!)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:28 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Screw it, I am putting in for the credit card's extended warranty coverage (Beats/Apple only offers a year) and will spend the money on something more durable.

(And if the card company doesn't want them back, I will attempt the repair as a Learning Exercise!)

Thanks, everyone. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:07 AM on December 15, 2016

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