How to Make Your Headphones Last Longer: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need

One thing that annoys the hell out of us is the inevitable morning when our headphones have suddenly stopped working. Or, midsong, one ear is quieter than the other. Or the innards of its wiring are on the outside.

Choosing high build quality, being gentle with the wiring, keeping the earbuds clean, and storing it safely are some of the things that you can do to extend your headphone’s life. 

Detailed below are some specific cases and tips to follow to get your headphones to last longer. 

Apple Headphones: Fragile Wiring needs Extra Caring

Wired Apple headphones are more prone to breaking than some other brands, which is a shame since we love them. 

As expensive as they are, keep these in mind while using Apple:

  • The body may seem secure, but pressure can break its connections, so there is no snagging and pulling the wires. 
  • Never let the buds dangle, for gravity kills by pulling on the connections.
  • When wrapping them up, get hold of the earbuds first and then wrap the rest with your other hand. The fragile wiring around the buds is thus protected. 
  • Store the headphones in a protective case that can’t be squeezed down.

Bluetooth Headphones: Easier to Take Care, Harder to Make Last

Headphone in hanging in the gymnasium

Bluetooth headphones are usually made with less sturdy material because they have touch sensors and other peculiarities. They might prove harder to last year–hence the title. 

But these are easier to care for than wired headphones, in some ways.

If we are talking about TWS (truly wireless) headphones, then this is what you can do:

  • After using, put the TWS directly back in its charging case. You shouldn’t place it in your pocket where the lint might get into the buds, or on the table where dust or moisture can attack it. 
  • Clean the buds regularly. If you have bud-tipped headphones, take the tips out and clean them with mild dish wash, and dry them properly before putting them back on. 
  • Don’t put pressure on the buds–apart from damaging the touch sensors of your TWS, it may also displace the speaker.

If it is a neckband type:

  • For the wired part, don’t pull and don’t let it snag. 
  • Don’t dangle them even though the design may tempt you to do it. Instead, keep them in a secure place, preferably in the same position as it came inside the box (horizontal, with the wired parts and buds positioned between the band).
  • Dedicate a tray in your table drawer just for your neckband(s).
  • Keep away from dust and water (and pets, too).

Time-tested Tips to Preventing Headphones From Breaking

Here are some tips if you have a headphone with weak wiring, and how to manage the junctions between separate parts of the headphone:

  • Get a protective case and keep the headphone in it, when not in use. 
  • For Bluetooth headphones, be extra careful. Keep the TWS in its charging case. The partially wired headphones should be kept in a safe place with little possibility of snagging and shaking. 
  • Whenever you unplug the headphone, do it by grasping the plug’s covering, not the wire that connects to it. 
  • Whenever you are taking the buds out of your ear, make sure to get ahold of the buds themselves instead of pulling at the wiring. 
  • To avoid entanglements and snagging while using a wired headphone, wrap the longer part of the wire across your neck so that only the required length is free. 
  • On the other hand, don’t dangle the buds when not in use, if you can avoid it. Wrap it up and keep it in its case immediately. 
  • Get a hold of the earbuds before wrapping up the wire with your other hand. This protects the fragile junctions in the wire.

This Is Why Headphones Stop Working

There can be many reasons why your headphone has stopped working. Let’s take a look:

  • The wiring junctions have become loose: There can be six or more connections within your headphone that you can see outside. These connections are made by the thin copper wire inside the headphone and are susceptible to breakage if pulled.

Once the connections have become loose, it begins to give scratchy noise and you would have to adjust the position of the headphone to get it working properly. 

After this, the headphone can stop working in a matter of days.

  • There is earwax in the buds: This is a common problem with in-ear headphones and is easily prevented by cleaning.

The earwax, like any oily substance, will harm headphones if it gets inside. More commonly, it blocks the sound and makes the headphones quieter.

  • Any other type of Moisture: For example, water or oil. These entering the headphones will lead to damage.
  • Loud Volume: Well, technically, playing your headphones at its maximum usually doesn’t damage the headphones.

But if you are amping up your headphone, (using an amplifier) too much current will pass through the coils around the headphone speakers’ magnets. 

This can heat the coil, and cause short circuits and other problems, lowering the speaker’s efficiency. Eventually, the headphone will stop working.

This is Why Headphones Don’t Last Long

  • The headphone material is not durable: As you well know, headphone’s copper wires are covered in some insulating coating for protection. But many times, the coating itself would need protection.

Many a time, though, this extra protection is lacking in several headphones. 

Extra protection may take the form of thicker cables around the junctions, fabric or nylon braids over the insulation, and higher quality material in the general make.

  • Rough handling of the headphones: Anything breaks if enough pressure is applied. This you know.

Headphone cables are prone to tangling, and users sometimes tend to pull at it instead of patiently unraveling it. This pulling can cause connections to break inside the cable and damage the headphone. 

Apart from this, the incorrect ways of plugging or unplugging the headphone can lead to loose connections and the eventual death of your headphone.

  • Absence of an angled plug: Headphone connectors come with straight, or angled plugs.

Straight plugs tend to get damaged sooner since there is more chance of pressure on the junctions connecting the wire to the plug. 

An angled plug solves this problem. There are plugs angled at 90 degrees or lower, according to the brand that you select.

  • Tight wrapping of the headphone wires: While you must keep the headphone wrapped and inside a protective case when not in use, it is just as important to ensure that the wrapping is loose.

Tight wrapping puts pressure on the connecting junctions, pulling at the copper wires and damaging them. Wrap them loosely and don’t tie them as tight as you would tighten a rope.

  • Ingression of dust, earwax, or moisture: These have been dealt with before in detail, so just a mention here as a reminder.

Beats Headphones: Worth your Money or Just Hype?

The quality of Beats headphones is not hype, but like any other headphones, there are ups and downs with several models. 

Follow the measures prescribed for protecting your headphones, and Beats can last you up until 5 years or so. 

Headphones for Life: Possible or Not?

While the title may seem preposterous, there are instances where headphones have lasted for years and years without damage that it felt like a lifetime had passed. 

Several measures and precautions will increase the lifespan of your headphones–up to 5 or 6 years, depending upon its build quality. 

Let’s rewind on what must be done:

  • Not pulling at the wires
  • Wrapping it carefully without putting pressure on connection points
  • Using a protective case
  • Cleaning the headphone regularly
  • Preventing contact with moisture, oil, etc
  • Preventing heating by listening to the headset at a reasonable volume
  • Buying a headphone with high-quality materials, like braided cables and wooden or metal earbuds.

Things to Remember While Storing Your Headphones

For wired headphones:

  • Make sure that you have wrapped it up properly without putting pressure on the connections.
  • Make sure your protective case is hard and sturdy so that once inside, the headphone will not be squeezed.
  • Make sure that your protective case has just enough space to carry the headphone, but not too much to make it rattle around. 
  • If there is no protective case, then make sure that the place that you keep your headphone is dust and moisture-free. Wrap it neatly and tie it up (not too tight) before storing it.

For Bluetooth headphones:

  • If you have something in your headphone itself to adjust the wire length, use it so that the wires are protected against snagging. 
  • Place the neckband in a secure place and preferably in its box, so that there isn’t pressure on any of its parts.
  • Keep it away from moisture, heat, and dust.

Wrap Up

Remember that these are guidelines, and an individual user may need to adapt these to their situations. Most headphones don’t last forever. That’s a sad truth we all have to live with. But in general, these tips add to the life of headphones effectively.

Vitaly Fedorov

Vitaly Fedorov is a seasoned audio technician and writer. After spending ten years in a studio team, I have decided to spread my knowledge to people in this domain. On this site, I work for headphone fixing or repair issues, that you’re thinking about fixing. Click on any article on my site and read the complete answer about that issue. I am excited to read your feedback.

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