Fixing Headphones

This post was published 9 years, 1 month ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some concepts may no longer be applicable.

When the computer is on – there is music playing. Probably not an uncommon statement – I find, however, that it is frowned upon to be playing music at 2 am, or other such times. Headphones are the natural answer (NOT the earbud kind). I have used a pair of Sony MDR-XD100’s for the past year or so – and they work quite well (they aren’t noise cancelling, but they do block out a lot of outside sound, and have good audio quality for a relatively inexpensive cost).

After a bit of travelling this year, however, I found that the right headphone was intermittently cutting out. Usually the wire could be moved around to get things back to functional, but the success rate of this quickly declined. This was clearly a broken wire, but it took about a week to get around to fixing it.

  1. Open the headphones:
    1. There are two screws that hold the speaker and padding in its case, they are located under the padding
  2. The wire is held in place with a knot that sits in a small enclosure. As expected, the wire was broken between the point of entry and the knot.
  3. Cut out the broken section, and strip the rubber insulation – so far, so easy.
  4. The wire consisted of two individual sections (a ground, and a signal carrying wire) – they were coloured red and ‘copper’.
    1. Unexpectedly (and annoyingly) the two sections were insulated with a plastic coating (the thin nearly invisible kind) and were each multistranded with extremely thin wires
    2. Getting the insulation off was a challenge – burning it off proved somewhat effective, but left either a carbon residue or oxidation on the wire (pity I don’t have a┬áBunsen┬áburner handy). Sanding it off resulted in a few strands breaking – between the two however, and after a couple of tries, the copper was exposed.
  5. Didn’t feel like soldering the wire directly to the speaker, so I had kept a short length of wire attached to the speaker. Redid the knot in the wire, joined the wires, soldered, wrapped each section and the connection electrical tape (testing at each stage – I found trying to play music through it to be the simplest test).
  6. Reassembly was quite simple – adjust the position of the knot, slip the knot back into its enclosure, and put the two screws back in place.

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