Instructables
Picture of DIY - $25.00 Soundproof HiFi Headphones
Mowing, chainsawing, jack-hammering, running compressors, etc.  Wouldn't it be nice if you could listen to music or podcasts while you're doing these loud tasks?  Want to actually hear your iPod?

This DIY article will show you step-by-step how to construct completely soundproof, high fidelity headphones using firing-range rated ear protection and high quality headphones.  You can literally ride your lawnmower while blowing leaves and chainsawing shrubbery, and all you will hear is Hotel California in your ears.

Wrapping each ear in its own individual sound studio, and completely blocking out exterior sound is pretty shocking the first time you put them on.  These headphones sound incredible.

They are so good, in fact, that they can be dangerous.  If you build with care as instructed here, you will have built headphones that put you in a bubble, absolutely null to the outside world.  You will only be able to hear what's playing through the headphones, and only a visual cue will be able to get your attention.  Please remember that it can be dangerous to block out all outside noises.  
 
This will take about two hours from start to finish.

 
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Step 1: Materials


#1 - Firing-range hearing protection
        [Peltor President - $15.00] - Great brand, very comfy, most sport a -26 DB rating.

#2 - Headphones
        [KOSS KSC-75 - $10.00] - Hands down, the best headphones you can buy under $50

#3 - 6 ft long Red / White stereo cable with 3.5mm mini-plug.
        [Any brand - $2.00 or less]

Side note - Don't waste your money on an expensive cable.  Things that matter are thickness, how it feels (rubbery, not plastic'y), and a tight 3.5mm connection. 


 -----------------------

[The quality of your headphones and hearing protection does matter however.  I built mine with the above components for $25, and they sound incredible, but you can certainly spend more if you're a real audiophile.]


Step 2: Tools

- Wire strippers
- Drill
- Soldering gun
- Epoxy, glue, or caulk to seal a small hole

- Small pliers
- Razor blade (or X-Acto knife)
- Beer.



cta932 years ago
Any anticipated problems with substituting other ear muffs, such as the Howard Leight L3 or similar? I like the design, I just want slightly higher DB protection. Thanks!
dsjackson1 (author)  cta932 years ago
I don't think the process would be any different with the Howard Leight headgear. They appear to be built the exact same way as the Peltor earmuffs I used.

If you're worried about DB protection, take care to not mangle the foam when you're carving the divot. Measure properly and use a sharp razor blade, and try to make one long cut instead of "chopping" at the foam with the razor.

Those foam inserts are THE sound blocking barrier. Be calculated and think "surgeon". If you tear, stretch and mangle the foam, you'll damage that sound blocking barrier.

If you run into any problems just post it and I'll try to help. Good luck-
CrawJac2 years ago
I did this with some cheap earbuds and they are great! It was so simple and I can't hear a thing other than the sound from my iPad. Thanks!
bowmaster3 years ago
This is cool. I have a pretty nice (as in, $20 nice) pair of over-ear headphones that broke (plug got yanked at an angle, completely destroying it) that had good sound quality but terrible noise isolation. Can't wait to mod them into these.
dohse3 years ago
The headphones I'm using for the drivers are the same Sony headphones used in the instructions. Since it is the type with only one cord going into the ear pieces, one of the headphones has wires going out to the other earphone. The earphone without any "out" cords looks just like the one in the picture, but what about the one that both "in" and "out" that also has a green cord?

Thanks, I have everything ready to go and all I need to do is solder, but I'm afraid of botching it!
dsjackson1 (author)  dohse3 years ago
To make it simple, there may be extra stuff in there. Each driver should have exactly two wires soldered onto it, not more and not less. If there's anything else - cut it off. You solder twice on each driver, that's it. Positive and negative.

Just cut that additional wire that goes through the headband off - it was just carrying the signal to the driver on the opposite side. If there are any additional wires, like the green one you mentioned, cut them off. If you've already identified a positive and a negative to solder, don't worry about it what the green wire was supposed to do. You don't need it.

If you're unsure, test each driver by touching the wires to the solder points I showed in the Instructable before you solder. Plug in your Ipod, and once you get sound, solder it down. Remember, SOLDER FAST. Clean the points, get your iron really hot, and make a quick dot. If you hold the heat to the driver for more than a few seconds, you will burn the voice coil up. Let me know if you have any more questions.
Thanks - I amateured my way through it. I had never soldered before so I decided to avoid burning out the drivers by leaving a length of the original wires on the driver and soldering that to my Y-cord. Figured out which wires on the driver I needed by doing exactly what you suggested and cut off the rest. My soldering looks like absolute crap (so I was smart by not trying to solder it to driver) but they are hidden in the ear muff and more importantly, it works. Project came out awesome and was a good excuse to get my feet wet with a soldering iron.
hawkz3 years ago
In step 4, the second pic shows headphones with padded head band. Where did you get these headphones and are the compatible with the mod. What's keeping me from choosing other ear muff protectors is the ability to route the wire to the other side.
dsjackson1 (author)  hawkz3 years ago
The headphones I used in the tutorial are Sony behind-the-neck style sports headphones - just because I had them laying around. It doesn't matter what kind of headphones you use, as long as they are over-the-ear style with a big, round driver. Earbuds won't work because they can't produce enough sound. You can take ANY paid of headphones and hack them up like I did in the tutorial

You can use any kind of ear muff protectors you like, but I much prefer running the wire through the headband. I once made a pair and tried zip-tying it all in place, which works, but didn't look nearly as nice.
Wesquire3 years ago
First off, thank you Dsjackson for the great build. The instructions were perfect. I had no soldering experience and made it from your instructions.

For anyone building it, my hardest part was getting the ear muffs back in with the headphones inside. If you make sure that the headphones fit flush in there from the start, it is a lot easier. Also, put the headphones in BEFORE you put the muffs back in. When you put the muffs in, crinkle the foam around the headphones first (think wrapping an apple in a napkin that isn't big enough). Then lower one side in at a 45 degree angle, making sure to keep the entire headphones crinkled like when you began. Then put in the other side of the same headphone. Repeat for the other ear.

This helped a lot.

Thanks again for the great build, Dsjackson. Great sound. Great Instructable.
These are so awesome, it's almost unsettling. It's an awesomely unsettling experience. The closest comparison I can think of is the old-school headsets in music stores, except the sound is exponentially more crisp and clear and the outside noise is COMPLETELY blocked.
stefire3 years ago
Simple Idea, usually the best. Closest thing out there commercially are racing radio headphones, stupid expensive, not stereo. I'm building a pair this weekend.
Well executed and a fantastic Instructable. A touch of humor makes everything better.Thank You
Awesome instructable!
El.Jefe3 years ago
AMAZING sound quality. You can not buy a set to sound and perform better. Thanks for the post you truly changed my life for literally 25 bux!! You Rock!
This idea is genius!
Teguess3 years ago
Very thorough instructions, easy to follow. This guy definitely knows his way around a set of headphones!! Thanks for the great post!!
bluelite3 years ago
Love mine! Great isolation. Terrific sound.
CreativeGeek10 months ago
"#2 - Headphones
[KOSS KSC-75 - $10.00] - Hands down, the best headphones you can buy under $50"

>>Portapros/Sportapros are pretty epic too, especially as they use KSC35 drivers. Or you could spend $50 and get some actual KSC35s.
83drummer1 year ago
I made this using drivers from very good sounding headphones (I needed to change the headband for use with my helmet), the big kind not the neckband style, but the volume and quality has dropped to the bottom.. It seems to need something to resonate against; any ideas on how I could make it better again? Right now the foam is behind and around the driver; I'll try to put it behind the foam, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to increase the volume back to the old level. I'll also try to use the old resonating chamber again (or what's left of it), or try the toilet paper roll hack..
grimerking1 year ago
Great guide. Thanks for posting it.

I used a pair of '3M Peltor Optime III Ear Defenders' and the speakers from a pair of Sennheiser HD 202 Headphones. They worked out a bit more expensive than your version, but the sound quality is amazing.











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Awesome!! I'm building a recording studio and these will be great for monitoring and performing :)

One question: In the image showing the positive and negative wires, your description is "3. Same here. The colored, solid, darker wire is the positive. The smaller, lighter wire is the negative."

but the image shows the solid thick wire as negative and the thin copper wire as positive.

Which is it? Am I not reading it properly?

Thanks so much!

Here's the image I'm referring to: http://www.instructables.com/files/orig/FPT/1HPQ/GJHVL5RV/FPT1HPQGJHVL5RV.jpg
dsjackson1 (author)  rasikananda1 year ago
Ah, well to be honest - it's going to be different for every set of headphones. The pics I posted were more "examples", and it's possible I made a mistake.

The easiest way to figure out which wire goes where is just to test. Plug the 3.5mm jack into your iPod, and play some music. Try the wires one way, and if it sounds like garbled mess, you know it's supposed to be the other way. You won't hurt anything.

Email me directly if you need any more help, I'm happy to walk you through it. - dsjackson1 at live dot com.
dsjackson1 (author)  dsjackson11 year ago
I guess I should clarify. You should have the exposed back side of the driver on a table in front of you, the 3.5mm jack end of the cable should be plugged into your ipod, and you should have music playing moderately loud.

Now, all you're doing is touching those cables to the solder points on the back of the driver until you hear music. Then solder it down, and bam, you got it.

Send me pictures of what you have if you need any more help.
cineris3 years ago
Anyone know a good place to find that cheap audio cable?
hawkz cineris3 years ago
Yeah man. You can get some cheap & good quality silicon wired audio cables from monoprices.com

While you're there, pick up some 3.5mm to 3.5mm f/f adapters and use them with this retractable cord for a wire extension. Pull apart the retractable cord (throw away the spring components and you'll have a pretty slender extension for your new awesome headphones!

Audio Cable:
http://bit.ly/HgXvX

3.5mm to 3.5mm f/f adapter:
http://bit.ly/qZdsJp

Retractable cord:
http://bit.ly/gNRkrX
Lisa_12023 years ago
Great idea, Daniel!!!!
amyj3033 years ago
The best headphones I've ever used!
What a great idea - and the instructions are so helpful!