Getting to Know Your Headphones: Cords, Headphone Covers, & More

Headphones are all made up of a few key parts. But what few people know is that many of these parts, like headphone covers, can be replaced when they wear out or break. Instead of shelling out the cash for a brand new pair of headphones, you can simply buy (or make) a replacement for the part that is broken or worn.

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Headphones Guide

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This will save you tons of money and save you from the hassle of having to look for a new pair of headphones that are as reliable and well-suited to your needs as the pair you have come to love.

In this article, we’ll quickly breakdown the key parts of the headphones and talk about what can and cannot be replaced. Then we’ll talk more about the benefits of replacing parts rather than just buying a whole new headset. We’ll also give you some tips for shopping for headphone covers. So keep reading to learn more and become a smarter shopper!

 

Breaking Down The Different Parts of The Headphone

Your headphones are composed of a few different key parts. In most cases, with quality high end headphones, when the quality starts to decrease or you start to have problems, it’s usually the result of a malfunction or breakage in one of these key parts.

 

That means that instead of simply throwing away your headphones when they start to have problems, you can narrow down which part is worn or broken and simply replace that part.

Headband

The headband is the long, flat piece that carries the speakers and headphone cushions on either end. It is usually made of plastic or another hard material. If your cable doesn’t split in two to connect to each speaker, that means that your headband will have a cable running through it to connect to the other speaker in order to carry the electrical signal over.

 

Unless you are extremely rough with your headphones, it is not likely that you will ever have to deal with a broken headband. However, if it does break, that means you can no longer wear the headphones. And if there is a wire running through it, you may lose sound in one side.

Speakers

The speakers are located in either earpiece, behind the headphone covers. They translate the electrical signal coming from your device into beautiful, crisp sound. Highly advanced speakers can even help provide noise cancellation by playing inverted versions of the noises coming in from outside (effectively cancelling out the noise so you hear nothing but silence or your music).

 

Speakers depend upon quality headphone covers to help guide and direct that sound into your ears and keeping it crisp and clear. The speakers are not very easy to replace on your own but it is possible to get them professionally repaired. And assuming you’ve got a quality, high end set of headphones, the costs of professional repair are still going to be cheaper than the cost of investing in a brand new headset.

Cable

The cable is the rubber or cloth wrapped length of wires that connects the jack to the speakers inside your headphones. It is these wires that the electrical signal (aka, the sound) travels along in order to be played from the speakers.

 

Frequent twisting and bending of the cable can gradually weaken the structure of the wires inside. As they start to wear down or break, it becomes more difficult for that electrical signal to travel smoothly from the jack to the speakers. Think of it like trying to drive across a bridge filled with holes or even missing a whole chunk right in the middle.

Jack

Also known as the plug, the jack is the part at the end of your cable which connects to your device (whether it’s your phone, tablet, laptop, car stereo, or other source of music) and picks up the electrical signal to send up the cable to the speakers. In general, it is pretty sturdy and will not break on its own.

 

However, the point at which it meets the cable can be weak and prone to breakage since it tends to be twisted and bent most often. So sometimes, you will need to remove and replace it for this reason. We will give a tutorial on how to do that below.

Earphone Covers

Earphone covers are one of the most important parts of the headphone and one of the most prone to wear. Since they are the part responsible for gripping your head and providing comfort, they are exposed to the most heavy usage and wear.

That is one reason why it is so important to look for a pair of headphones that come with quality foam earphone covers. No matter how high quality, all headphone foam covers will eventually wear down. They will flatten, lose their springiness, and generally become less effective at their job.

However, by getting quality foam covers for headphones, you don’t have to replace as often and you get improved functionality throughout their use. We’ll talk more about when, how, and why you should replace headphone covers below.

The Benefits of Replacing Headphone Ear Pad Covers

Once you know the important role that quality headphone covers play, it’s easy to see why making sure you maintain the best quality possible in this area. Here are a few benefits to replacing headphone covers rather than just buying a whole new set:

 
  • Save money - One of the biggest reasons to replace your headphone covers is to save money. Most people just buy a whole new headset and that technically works since the new headset comes with new headphone covers. But it is still a waste of money because the rest of your headset is still working just fine so you can simply replace the covers for much cheaper.
  • Improve quality - As ear pad covers wear down, they are no longer able to provide the same grip or the same level of noise isolation that they used to. Replacing them often enough means maintaining the same high level of quality from beginning to end.
  • Improve comfort - The ear pad covers are responsible for your comfort while you are wearing the headphones. When they wear down, they are no longer able to provide the same level of comfort they could at the beginning. Replacing them is so affordable that there’s no reason you have to just accept and live with ever decreasing comfort.
  • Super easy - Replacing headphone covers is one of the easiest things you can do. In most cases, removing the old covers and installing the new ones is a process which takes less than 10 minutes. Given how easy it is and how much it can do to save you money and improve your listening experience, there is really no reason not to opt for the replacement headphone covers route!

The Benefits of Replacing Other Parts of The Headphone

The most common replacement parts to find are earphone covers. But you can also replace the cable and jack. There are many great reasons to do this that are similar to the benefits of replacing your ear covers like saving money and improving the quality of your listening experience:

 
  • Replace With Higher Quality - Sometimes the stock parts, even on a fantastic set of headphones aren’t as good as they could be. While many brands go a long way to make sure ear covers are high quality because, as users, we can immediately feel and hear the difference between high and low quality headphone covers, the same is not always true for other parts. We don’t always know what goes into a quality jack or cable. So once the original parts wear out, you can shop around for a quality part that may be even better than the original.
  • Save Money - As with replacing headphone covers, replacing the jack or cable is also a great cost saving strategy because buying a small part is much, much cheaper than buying a whole new headset. And the same is true even if you choose to have the new parts professionally installed (which is sometimes recommended for more complicated replacement processes like that for the jack and cable).
  • Improve Quality - When the wires in the cable near the jack start to wear or break, it can cause a short in the electrical signal. This interferes with the sound and leads to one of the most common problems in headphones: only hearing sound coming out of one side. We’ll talk about some temporary DIY fixes for this but you can also simply replace the jack and/or cable to again experience the full possible quality of your headphones.

Tips For Taking Proper Care of Your Headphones

In addition to replacing parts as they wear down or break, there are steps you can take to extend the life of the parts that are already on your headphones. Taking good care of your possessions is one of the best ways to proactively save money in the long run.

 
  • Buy quality products - Give them the quality treatment they deserve and you will end up saving tons of money in the long run since you will have products that last. Here are a few tips for giving your high end headphones the quality treatment they deserve:
  • Remember your cable - It’s easy to forget the cable is there when you are listening to music on your headphones. You may accidentally role over the cable with your office chair or you might get up and walk away causing the headphones to snap off your head (and put strain on the cable). Try to be more aware of your cable to avoid putting so much strain on it.
  • Store cable properly - Avoid letting your cable get into a tangled mess. Avoid letting your headphones just dangle at the end of the cable. But at the same time, don’t wind it up into a tight coil or ball. Don’t wind them up tightly around your phone. All of this stretches the wiring and causes it to start fraying and splitting. So, instead of neglect or overly-tight storage, loop your cable into a very loose coil and use a clip or piece of string to hold it in place.
  • Store headphones properly - In addition to taking care of the cable, proper storage for headphones in general is important. Don’t just throw them into your bag. Store them in a case. Ideally, the case will have a hard cover so that the headphones and cable aren’t subjected to bending, twisting, or pressure from other objects in your purse.
  • Avoid extreme volumes - Not only is this bad for your ears, it’s bad for your headphones. They will burn out much more quickly if you’re constantly cranking up the volume. If outside noise interference is a problem and you’re trying to drown it out with louder volumes, consider investing in noise cancelling headphones so that you can keep volume at a moderate level while still blocking out outside noise. If you start to notice a buzzing sound when you listen to music, this is a sign that you have worn out your speakers because the sound waves have literally knocked pieces out of place.
  • Keep ear pads clean and dry - No matter what style of headphones you have, the ear pads are going to be exposed to sweat and dirt. Immediately after taking headphones off, you should do a quick wipe down just to get rid of any sweat or dirt before it has time to absorb into the cushioning. If you use your headphones regularly, you should also do a weekly cleaning that just involves wiping them down with a damp cloth and a bit of soap. Let them dry out completely before wearing them. Never completely saturate them since the porous foam can retain water for a long time and get moldy.

DIY Headset Ear Covers & Other Repairs

Here are a few DIY fixes and projects to deal with some common problems. While we typically recommend getting professionally made products to replace old and broken parts, there are some DIY ways to replace or fix things on the cheap. But it’s best to treat these as temporary fixes until you can afford to buy proper replacement parts.

Quick Fixes with Electrical Tape

If you are only getting sound out of one side, chances are the wires have frayed at the point where the cable meets the jack. A temporary fix you can do until you get your new cable:

 
  • Put on the headphones and plug them into your phone to listen to music.
  • Start gently and slowly twisting the cable at the part where it meets the jack. Continue slowly twisting until you hear sound in both sides.
  • Once you can hear sounds in both sides, hold the cable in that exact position.
  • With your other hand (or with the help of a friend), wrap electrical tape around the cable and the jack to hold the cable in place in the position that allows for sound in both speakers.

This will not last forever as the electrical tape will eventually wear out or start to bend too much itself. But it is a helpful temporary fix while you are waiting to get a new cable. For a more permanent fix, you’ll want to replace the cable and/or jack. Check out this tutorial for that more complicated job if you want to save a little extra cash by not getting it done professionally.

Another helpful temporary fix with electrical tape is good for your headband. If your headband snaps, it won’t be as easy to find a replacement part or even to replace it yourself. This is something you’ll likely need to have fixed professionally.

 

But as you are searching for a good place to get it repaired, you can use this quick trick:

  • Hold the pieces of the headband together in place.
  • Wrap a generous amount of electrical tape around the broken spot.
  • Press down on the tape to make sure it is securely bonded.

This won’t look super cool but it will do the trick for a while until you can get the headband properly repaired.

DIY Headphone Covers

You can find a lot of tutorials for making your own replacement headphone covers. They aren’t very hard to make but, in the end, the price difference between getting the materials to make your own and just buying a pair of professionally made headphone covers is not that different.

 

And with DIY covers, you risk losing out on quality by not getting the right shape or not having quality materials. This can affect the headphone covers’ noise isolation abilities and the level of comfort.

With that said, if you’re feeling crafty or you’re really insistent on saving those extra couple of bucks, you can definitely find some nice DIY projects for making your own headphone covers.

Tips For Shopping For The Best Ear Covers

While it is definitely possible to make your own replacement earphone foam covers, it’s going to be tough to make them look and feel as good as a professionally made pair of foam headphone covers. Professional headset ear covers are also better for noise isolation and other important features of headphones that make listening to your music a more enjoyable experience.

 

But not all foam ear covers for headsets are created equal. There are definitely some duds on the market that aren’t worth the money. So to help you make the right choice when you shop, here are a few tips for being a smart, well-informed buyer.

  • Check compatibility - Before you can even start to think about the quality of the replacement covers, you want to make sure they would fit on your headphones in the first place. You don’t have to buy from the original manufacturer of your headphones to ensure compatibility, however. You can buy great, high quality and easy to install headphone covers from other sources that are compatible with major brands like Bose or Beats.
  • Check quality - This means look at the design and the materials used. Does the stitching look sturdy? Does it use protein leather coating? Does it have memory foam cushioning? The higher the quality of the different materials and manufacturing details, the better the overall headphone cover.
  • Check reviews - This is an important step no matter what you are buying. It’s always good to know what other buyers have to say about the product. When reading reviews, you want to be careful of two things. First, look for detailed reviews. The more detailed it is, the more likely it is that the reviewer has an in depth knowledge and knows exactly how to detect quality. Second, take reviews with a grain of salt.
  • If you find a negative review, consider whether the negative experience was really a result of a faulty product or whether the reviewer simply didn’t know how to use it. If you find a positive review, consider whether or not it is bringing up specific features and points about why the reviewer likes the product. Vague reviews don’t really give you the info you need to know whether or not it’s the right choice for you.

Final Word

There’s so many reasons to opt for replacing parts as they go bad rather than just throwing out the whole headset as soon as one part wears out or breaks. The only reason more people aren’t doing it is because they simply don’t know that it is possible.

 

After reading this article, you are now better informed and better prepared to start taking care of the headphones you have grown to love so that they last longer and you don’t have to worry about getting used to a brand new pair for many years to come.

 

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