Instructables
Picture of Hearing Protection Headphone Conversion for iPod
Listen to audio books or music in the shop for cheap.  Folks sell fancy safety headphones with radio/electronics in them, but you can convert a normal set of headphones into musical ones for free (or under $20 if you need to buy the safety headphones/grommets.)

All you need is an existing cheap pair of protective headphones, and a scrap set of audio headphones.   I used a pair I got from Jet Blue, but any old pair you might have around will do.  You can wire the speakers into your headphones and your good to go.  The basic conversion is trivial, but   I include some tips/photos about making it look a bit more like a professional set.

Let me put a disclaimer in here.  You're modifying the protective headphones, so they may be slightly less good at hearing protection after this.  There are some small holes for wires passing though the foam/outer shell.   So this might not be a good thing to do for headphones used for super high noise levels like shooting ranges or lots of work with jet engines.  However they still seem to work very well for table saw/weed whacker level noise.

The second warning is that this adds a dangling cord to your headphones.  (Which might get pulled into machinery, etc.)   I considered putting  an 1/8" jack into the headphones and only using a patch cord to wire them into my iPod so I could have the wire out for normal use, but I discovered:
     1)  super cheap/free headphone wires are amazingly weak, so the cable is unlikely
           to pull me in it'll just break.
     2)  I can just have different protective phones around for when I do operations with
          more danger of being pulled in.

So I decided not to bother with the 1/8" jack since that was going to be more damage to the foam inside the headphones.

Alright. Enough with the disclaimers.  Lets get on to making the headphones.
 
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kmonroe33 years ago
Yeah so what you mite do about getting the cord out of the way is run it though your clothes. It mite not feel so nice but it's better then getting your cord ripped out or your "headphones" tore up.
i put a 1/4 inch stereo jack in mine so I could plug a stereo line from my sound board directly into the headphones. i will post pictures shortly.
Cool! Thanks for posting about it. I like hearing from folks when they build variations on this theme! Post some pics!
tscottme4 years ago
Why not wear earbuds and then put on the safety ear muffs over them? When I was training to become a private pilot back in the 1980s I did this so I could listen to music during the solo cross-country flights.
kurt.schaefer (author)  tscottme4 years ago
Ja, that's what I did a few years ago when I was building a deck. It does work reasonably well, but there's some small annoyance with jockying wires, earbuds pulling out when I'm putting the headphones on, etc. (and I'm not a huge fan of ear bud style in general, but that's just me) Heck you can even go the other way around (put ear plugs in under your audio headphones, and then turn the volume up a bunch.) I just built these since it's a bit more comfortable, and then I only have to track down one thing when I'm trying to listen and get work done.
my friend gave me a broken pair of sony headphones, but the only thing that was broken was the headband, so i decided to do this. after putting the speakers inside the headphones, i realized that even at full volume, it was still pretty quiet. i'm assuming the foam inside the headphones absorbed a lot of the sound. not only that, but the cord running out of the headphones created a very tiny crack that let in a surprising amount of outside noise. i probably could have sealed the crack or drill a hole in the case, but either way, the noise canceling wouldnt be as effective as it was to begin with. i was pretty disappointed, so i took them apart and returned the headphones. oh by the way, my intention was to make a pair of noise canceling headphones, like kipkay, and not to make it so i can listen to music while wearing ear protection.
kurt.schaefer (author)  zvillesurfer4 years ago
That's a good cautionary tale. I can't tell (by ear) that my safety headphones are operating any less well. I'd guess they're still operating at least 90% as well as they did originally (because I was careful about running the wires and making sure I wasn't introducing any gaps, etc.) I think the number one loss of volume comes from increased distance to the ear. I positioned the speakers so they're still very close to the ear, just not quite touching. I did that so that they wouldn't be getting pressed mechanically every time you put the headphones on. But you still want them very close to the ear. Any increased distance means more audio going into the foam and less into your ear. Although my rig is a bit quieter I can still make it too loud, so I have enough headroom. I think with normal headphones I usually have the volume at about 1/4, and with these I have to turn it up to about 2/3.
air pressure is why they are quieter
rkking4 years ago
it lok very usefull
mikeyx4 years ago
Good job!
k-twizel4 years ago
Funny... I made a pair tonight while watching TV.... need to find my soldering iron though then I can put the end back on...