Ask LH: How Can I Stop My Earbuds Wearing Out?

Ask LH: How Can I Stop My Earbuds Wearing Out?
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Hey Lifehacker, Many of my pairs of earbuds seem to be losing signal in just one of the buds. I suspect this is due to me removing one earbud out to listen to what’s happening around me; my fingers tend to grab both the earbud and the cable and I suspect that wears the wire out. Is there anything I can do to protect the cable? Right Ear Listener

Dear REL,

While it pains me to state the bleeding obvious, the easiest solution is to remove your earbuds more gently. Even the cheapest earphones are pretty sophisticated pieces of equipment which makes them easy to break; especially when the build quality is flimsy. Try handling them with more care and always keep your grasp on the rear casing to the driver (i.e. — the plastic bits that stick out of your ear).

If your butter-fingers cannot be trusted, try shielding the cables by wrapping some electrical tape around the joins. It wont look pretty but it will definitely add more protection. For a slightly more elegant solution, you could use Sugru or heat-shrink tubing to achieve the same effect. (As an added bonus, this also allows you to customise the fit of your earbuds so they’re more comfortable to wear.)

It’s also important to get into the habit of coiling your cables properly. This video shows how it’s done:

We’re going to throw this one over to our readers: how do you keep your earbuds in tip-top shape? If you’ve uncovered any solutions that cut down on wear-and-tear, let REL know in the comments sections below.

See also: The Ultimate Guide To Headphone Wrapping | Use Plasti Dip To Fix Stripped Headphone Wires | Make Your Headphones More Comfortable With These DIY Tricks | Five Best Earbuds

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  • My earbuds are about 15 years old, i got them with my first sony erricson, havnt failed me yet, amazing sound quality, 0 issues
    i do clean them every now and then (cmon, 15years of ear gunk ahahah )

  • For the most part, ear buds are designed to break easily. I buy a few pairs a year and I always get the sound stopping in one ear and I don’t treat them poorly. They are just made to be flimsy.

    I go into JB and other places, if I could just get a decent one with braided cables. I got one a few years ago and they were great, but they got misplaced and I have never seen anything similar. Or at least not for a stupid price.

  • I have had this issue with the iPhone earphones , i think mainly because they get sweat in them at the gym but I also separate the outer sleeving above the little “V” that joins the two into the single cable about 3/4 down.

    Recently bought a Phillips brand pair that have Kevlar in the cable sleeve to enforce it and water resistance mainly for sweat. Cant fault them yet and haven’t seen any sign they are wearing around where my headphones usually do

  • I keep my ears in tip top shape by NEVER using in-ear audio devices. Much more important than anything mentioned here.

  • I swapped over to EARS 1964 IEMs a couple of years ago. They are custom moulds, and are quite expensive, but have completely replaceable cables, so you only replace that part. They sound amazing, better than anything that you’ll find in a shop, and because of the custom fit, you won’t notice them in your ears, even after hours of use. Isolation is excellent as a result also. Over the years I’ve spent much more on replacing IEMs than what these have cost me, so they are fantastic value – if you can afford them

  • I just buy cheap pairs that I replace every couple of months. Currently going strong on a pair of Phillips SHQ1200, and they’re my favourite so far, had them longer than any other pair yet.

  • Still have a pair that came with my previous Nexus. Been through the wash twice by accident. Still working fine.

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