I Repaired My Headphones

Hardware manufacturers are missing out on a huge potential source of revenue: the thrifty tech user market. No, really. Let me explain.

I just woke up to find that my favorite pair of headphones was making only one sound, and it wasn’t the one I was putting in as an electrical signal. It was rattling.

Feeling adventurous, I popped the around-the-ear pads off and - lo and behold! - found four Torx screws. I removed them, found that the drivers had separated from their sockets, and put them back in. I also glued them in with a bit of hot snot, since the drivers happened to be a little deeper than their sockets, giving me a nice lip around which I could run the hot glue gun.

These headphones cost about $25. They’re not expensive and they’re not fancy, but they’re repairable. I bought them for that, in a sort of shallow sense: they’re advertised as having a 3.5mm accepting jack on the left ear, which means that the cable can be replaced. I abuse my headphones constantly, and I’ve already replaced the 3.5mm cable twice.

My only question is, why didn’t they advertise to me that the insides were trivial to repair as well? Every other pair of around-ear headphones I’ve owned has been ultrasonically welded, not affixed with screws; the drivers have been glued to the frame, not inserted into a socket that’s integral to the frame; and the around-the-ear cups have been either glued on or attached with a huge lip that’s nearly impossible to remove.

In Idoru, Gibson predicted that, by around now, we would have reverted to a model of non-disposable, easily repairable electronics. I’d pay so much more for headphones that were advertised not just with shots of the outside but with schematics and examples of how easy repairs are. I’d be willing to wait longer for my shipment if I didn’t think I’d need to buy a new pair of headphones next month.

I want headphones made by the Sandbenders out of coral and turquoise and the interior surface of renewable nuts, and I’d be willing to pay a lot for them, not for aesthetic reasons but because I know I won’t have to replace them for a long, long time.

Written by Leo Tindall on 04 June 2016