ISO earphone cord fix, or replacement
October 10, 2017 9:20 AM   Subscribe

I have a pair of Shure SE115 Sound-Isolating In-Ear Stereo Earphones that have served me well for over 6 years, but now there's a small break in one of the cords and I'd like to either fix that before the break is complete, or buy new "ignore the world" earbuds/earphones. Details and more questions inside.

When I first noticed the break, I tried electrical tape, but because the cord is so thin, it didn't stay stuck on too long. I was thinking of trying hot glue, but I'm not sure if that's reliable, either.

So then I started looking at replacement earphones, and got overwhelmed by the options, reviews, and range of prices. Furthermore, I like the idea of on-cord mics, but I have two phones (my own, and for work), an iPhone and an Android, so it looks like I'll need a converter to use one pair of earphones for both phones with a mic.

My pricepoint is under $100, because while I'm good to my devices and peripherals, nothing lasts forever. I'm interested in lower price models, specifically following the good review of the Monoprice over-ear headphones from another headphone question, and these $25 Symphonized earbuds are tempting me. Other than the possibility of an on-line mic, I (currently) prefer basic in-ear headphones where the eartips create that "ignore the world" sound blocking seal, no noise cancelling necessary. The stock Apple earbuds make my ears ache, due to the hard heads that don't fit my ears well, which is another reason I like the foam tips. Also, I don't want wireless headphones, because I don't want another device to charge.

posted by filthy light thief to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you tried Sugru on the cord? I extended the life of one pair of headphones several months that way.
posted by praemunire at 9:22 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]

Was also going to suggest using Sugru!
posted by forkisbetter at 9:28 AM on October 10

If you're looking at buying a new pair and are overwhelmed by options, I can enthusiastically recommend the next-level Shure headphones, the SE215, which you will probably find similar to your SE115 (only a bit higher in quality). I use them regularly for in-ear monitors when performing live with my band, and they're stupendous – very clear sound, and great isolation. What's more, they actually fix the issue that you're having now; the SE215 has detachable cables, so if the cable wears out again, you can just go buy yourself a replacement cable and keep using them. In fact, you can replace the cable with a cable that has a built-in mic, or even a cable that makes the headphones Bluetooth-capable wireless, if you decide you want to later on.

They're right at the price point you mention – usually I see them for $99 – but my experience with them has been so positive that I can heartily recommend them. I've tried in-ear monitors and earbuds that cost MUCH more and deliver sound quality that is worse.
posted by koeselitz at 9:38 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]

Seconding the SE215 recommendation. I'm on my third cable in about six or seven years (don't recall exactly when I got them), and I use mine every single day, in all weather conditions, and basically abuse them way more than I know I should.

If you do go the SE215 route, you can get replacement cables from Shure, but they use the Micro-Miniature Coaxial (MMCX) standard, so any MMCX cable will work if you like a specific style/featureset better than what Shure offers.
posted by daisy55 at 9:53 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Thirding the SE215 recommendation, I've used them in the same way koeselitz describes and have loved them. I very rarely find earbuds that actually stay in my ears and don't cause pain over time, so I'm a big fan of those.

If you want to repair your headphone cable, you could also consider using heat-shrink tubing. Just slide it over the damaged area and use a lighter to make it shrink down over the damaged area. I've done this before with damaged headphone cable sheaths and it works well, though it does make the repaired area a bit stiffer. It's easier to slide heat-shrink onto headphones with a straight jack connection rather than a bent one.
posted by hootenatty at 10:38 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]

another one for sugru. that stuff is magic.

alternately, there's a pair of these on amazon for $70, if you don't care that they're pink.
posted by koroshiya at 1:08 PM on October 10

Another vote for the SE215. I've had mine since about 2010. Still kicking. Would not suggest the transparent version as the internal wires get a green from the protective oxidization (copper oxide). Dependable, and one of those phones I can wear for a long time without fatigue.
posted by TrinsicWS at 8:04 PM on October 11

The SE215 is now on my wish list, and sugru looks pretty keen, but I used the hot glue gun we had at home and so far that makeshift patch is keeping the earbuds in (usually) working order.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:18 PM on November 9

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