Introduction: Quality DIY Headphone Cable Replacement

Picture of Quality DIY Headphone Cable Replacement

In this instructable I will show you how to make a great replacement headphone cable.
Instructions are specific to Sony MDR-V6 headphones, but should work with any similar large (studio type) headphones as long as you they are easy to disassemble.
I've been using this headphones while commuting to work because they sound great and very comfortable. But coiled cable was very long so I decided to make my own.
Cable that I used is high quality and flexible Mogami W2893 4 conductor microphone cable. It costs $0.82 per foot at RedCo Audio. Final cable that I made was a little over 4 foot (50 inches). I don't recommend anything shorter as I previously made 3 foot cable and it was a bit too short for walking comfortably.
I paired it with gold plated Amphenol KS3P-AU 3.5 Stereo Mini jack ($1.79).
For outer jacket I bought a pair of 63" Kevlar enforced laces from ($9 for pair). You can use others, but make sure it's flat and 3/8 inch wide.
Here's part list:
-  Mogami W2893 5-6 ft
-  Amphenol KS3P-AU 3.5 Stereo Mini jack
-  63" Kevlar enforced laces

Tools that you will need:
- Soldering iron with small tip
- Rosin core solder
- Sharp blade (i.e. from box-cutter knife)
- Wire stripper
- Diagonal cutters (or anything else that can easy cut wire)
- Phillips head screwdriver (to open headphones)
- Multimeter or continuity tester
- Needle nose pliers
- 3rd hand tool or soldering vice (to hold plug while soldering)

Warning! By proceeding  you will most definitely void any warranty you might have for your headphones . You might also damage your headphones if you are not careful, so please do not blame me.

Step 1: Cable Preparation

Picture of Cable Preparation

Measure 50 inches of Mogami cable and cut it with diagonal cutters. 
Take one shoe lace and with sharp blade cut one end of.  Kevlar is very tough material, I had trouble cutting it with scissors but sharp blade works great.   We do not want to cut other end just yet for 2 reasons. First, it's hard to judge needed length of shoelaces at this point as it will become shorter when slid over cable. Second, it's much easier to thread finished hard end into headphone's hole.

Step 2: Measure and Cut Wires

Picture of Measure and Cut Wires

Take Stereo jack out of packaging (do not loose transparent plastic piece!) and unscrew it. Pull out rubber end, you will not need it.
Now you will strip small piece of cable's rubber jacket to expose wires inside. To do this place end of the cable next to the plug until it reaches bottom of threads (as shown on the picture).
Notice at the end of the plug there are 3 clamps that will hold the cable. You will cut off outer jacket at the point where clamps end. Mark this point.
Now take sharp blade and gently cut where marked. Just press on blade and roll cable until you can pull off rubber jacket.
Unroll copper shielding, and cut off half or more of the strands. If it's too thick it will be very hard to solder. Then just roll all those loose strands into single wire.  Do not leave any loose strands, as they might cause a short.
Cut off paper, rope material and spread out wires.

Step 3: Soldering

Picture of Soldering

Strip Black and White (transparent) wires all the way down. Tie them together with shield strands.  Tin them with solder.
Place plug into 3rd hand tool or soldering vice.
Now measure where to cut/strip red and blue wires. Place cable into plug assembly and see how long should these wires be. Leave some slack. Now cut them if needed, strip off insulation and tin.
Now comes the trickiest part, soldering shielding wires to the body/sleeve of the plug.  First melt some solder inside the plug's sleeve as shown on picture. Measure cable again and cut excess of the shielding if it's too long. Solder shielding wire to the body of the sleeve, take care so it doesn't touch other two leads (ring and tip), but also make sure that cable's black jacket is inside tabs.  It might take some extra heating from soldering iron.
Once it's soldered test if it's securely attached, then move on to the remaining 2 wires.  Solder Red wire to lead that goes to the tip (one on the left side like on the picture) and Blue wire to the Ring lead (right one). Check with multimeter set to continuity  if there are any shorts.
Cut off excess wire ends.
With needle nose pliers bend tabs around black rubber body of the cable so it's attached securely. If they are sticking out or uneven they might prevent plug's cap from sliding on.

Step 4: Cable Sleeve

Picture of Cable Sleeve

Now we'll inserting wire in shoelace. There are two methods to do this.
Method A:
From the other end of the cable slide transparent piece of tubing that came with the plug. Slide it so it covers soldered connections. It will isolate it from the outer metal jacket of the plug.
Now take shoelace with one of the ends cutoff (in step1) and snake it on the cable.  It's not very hard, but will take a while.  Just bunch it up at the end, and smooth out over cable. It will start moving over it slowly. Keep doing it until end is just below the threads of the stereo plug. 
Now take plug cover and slide over covered cable. It will give you some struggle once cover is just about over the plug because of the added thickness of the shoelace. Screw it in, it will be tough. I used put some cloth on the tip and held it with pliers, but it's easy to damage plug like that.
Method B:
Almost like Method A, but slide shoelace first, and then slide transparent tubing over it. It might be a little harder to do but it will hold shoelace more securely.

Step 5: Headphone Attachment

Picture of Headphone Attachment

Now we going to replace headphone cable and attach new one to Sony MDR-V6.
Take off foam padding from the earpiece that has cable coming in.  You will see 4 screws. Remove them. Notice how wires are connected. Two of them are going into second earpiece, we will not be touching these. 
Green wire is Tip, Red is sleeve and shield wire is sleeve/jacket of the plug. Remember where they located and unsolder all 3.  You can always reattach them alter if desired.
Some plastic tabs hold wire inside, just unravel it from there.
There's small rubber piece that doesn't let wire slide easy out of earpiece. You need to push it inside the body of earphone, and then slide off the cable. Now slide cable out and put aside in your drawer, etc.
Take pointy end of the shoelace and thread it inside earpiece hole. It will pull new cable along with it (with lots of resistance). Pull about 4 inches in.
Measure about an inch from where cable ends (you can't see it because of the shoelace, but you can easily fill it) and with sharp blade carefully cut outer jacket together with shoelace.
Cut off shielding, you will not be soldering it.
Strip and tin all wires, tying together black and white/transparent. 
Solder these tied wires to spot where original cable's shield wire previously was.
Solder red cable to where green one used to be, and blue to where red one from original cable used to be.
Plug cable into some audio source, preferably w/ left and right channel test and check if you can hear sound coming out of headphones. I accidently swapped left/right channels on mine, first time I did it, so just make sure they are correct before closing earpiece.
If too much of cable is inside earpiece pull out some. It should be really hard to pull out, giving you sufficient security from accidental tugs.
Put cover back on, screw it in and pull padding on. 
You are done, enjoy!


bt017 (author)2016-11-16

THANK YOU! Based on your instruction and pictures, I converted my headphones into a female jack at the end. Could NOT have done it without your help!!

SimionT1 (author)bt0172017-02-15

Nice add-on. But you should not stop there! Add another female jack on the other side, for sharing the signal to a 2nd pair of headphones!

bratan (author)bt0172016-11-17

That's even better! :) Thank you!

mroit (author)2015-04-14

You really should secure the cord inside the earphone. Even if it's "really hard to pull out", repeated tugs over the years it might still snake it out a tenth of a millimeter at a time, until it comes off entirely.

bt017 (author)mroit2016-11-16

The headphones have a loop catch thing inside. You route the table into the hole, then loop it around that catch. It's not going anywhere! Rock solid.

BenO24 (author)2016-05-13

My headphones have a mic on them. Is there a suggestion for what connector to get with mic connector.

Overlord_Laharl (author)BenO242016-10-22

different stores call those different names but the real name is TRRS, finding high quality TRRS plugs can be a difficult task.

Sometimes they are called 4 conducted stereo, it cell phone audio

Just make sure you get the same diameter one that you need (for Android and iPhone it's 3.5 mm TRRS) I have seen 2.5 mm TRRS.

FYI the standard stereo plug is called TRS

Read all about TRRS here

T = tip

R = ring

S = sleeve

innov83r made it! (author)2015-03-13

I re-cabled my senheiser HD428's. And made a patch cable as well. :) Nice to have a beefier cable on the 428's.

bmiller91 (author)2014-09-23

Any noticeable change in sound signature? Thinking about recabling my Sony Xb1000 to see if I can get a bit more clarity in mids/highs. Sony flat cables also just look completely disproportionate on these monster cans! I'm used to wearing Grados so these would hardly be heavy by comparison.

clint.mcfeely (author)bmiller912015-03-05

bmiller91, did you ever recable the XB1000s? I own a pair and the cable broke, so i'm interested in recabling as well.

bratan (author)bmiller912014-09-23

I haven't noticed any change..

HelenL2 (author)2014-12-20

I would like to repair a headset with mic and I'm having trouble finding suitable cable with shielded mic wire to stop signal bleeding across to the mic wire. Can you help with a supplier name. Would love to use Mogame cable, but don't think there is one?

Thanks for such detailed instructions :)

bratan (author)HelenL22014-12-20

The one I used is actually a microphone cable, I'm sure you can use it. It had 2 extra wires, and I think everything was shielded...

toecari (author)2014-11-30

have you ever tried to put a mic with volume control?

rellik1000 (author)2014-10-26

Love it,Never thought of using shoe laces as sleeving material.

matthew.harris.5095 (author)2014-08-13

Any ideas on how to apply the same concept to a set of headphones that connect from each speaker? I have a pair of these and they're not made anymore, cable got ripped and I would like to repair them rather than pay the price to get a new set, which has SKYROCKETED since they were discontinued. I'm thinking definitely need thinner cables since there will be two of them hanging, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to configure them as they ripped before they joined together to go in to one cable.

For single ended amp the right and left share common ground wire. So should have something like a white and red going to right can and black and white going to left with white wire going to common.

pointym5 (author)2013-08-31

Can you comment on why you used 4 conductor cable when (it seems to me) 2 conductor cable would do, at least electrically?

bmiller91 (author)pointym52014-09-23

Quad microphone cable is standard, cheap, has excellent signal transfer, noise rejection and purpose made to stand up to abuse. You'd be hard pressed to find a better cable at same price. You could consider twisted pair without shielding. A bit more work perhaps but lighter and some people prefer the look. EMI rejection could be issue with phone as source? Have not tried personally so can't comment but twisted pair very common on recables. Shoelace definitely adds a professional look but probably redundant unless you really abuse your cables ?

bratan (author)pointym52013-09-05

Good question! Yes you should be able to use 2 conductor shielded cable. One advantage 4 conductor cable has is redundancy if one of the wires breaks, another one will still pass signal. But main reason I used it because it was recommended on some audio sites just for this purpose, so I went with the recommendation because I knew of no other alternatives. If you find another great flexible cable please do share!

Mkplanet (author)bratan2013-12-28

Is there a place that repairs Sony headsets?
I have two pairs of headsets one sony extra-bass mdr xb500 and the other sony extra-bass mdr xb700

And they both have loose or broken wires headsets are in good shape, I would like to send them somewhere to get them are..

If you know somewhere please reply

pointym5 (author)bratan2013-09-05

I used some ordinary microphone cable I picked up at Guitar Center. If I had to do it again, I'd look for the thinnest microphone cable I could find. Getting the relatively fat cable I used into the headphone required some enlargement of the hole, and getting the mini plug housing on was really hard. I used some heatshrink to protect the plug soldering because the clear plastic thing from the plug (I used an Amphenol plug) wouldn't fit over the crimped cable+plug shield.

bratan (author)pointym52013-09-06

If you use different diameter cable, you'll need to find shoelaces that match that diameter. Mine fit Mogami cable perfectly. I also had no issues with Amphenol plug, it was tight, but I didn't have to use any shrink tubing. Also as for the headphones hole, it was a really tight fit, I had to pull it thru with lots of force, but that will ensure that cable can't be easily pulled out...

on3ness (author)2014-08-19

non surgical solution

gregdunn416 (author)2014-05-19

Thank you for this awesome guide! Came out perfect and I also added the Auray Sheepskin pads

They are very comfortable so far and I think they will break in nicely. One thing to note is that they might be a bit thinner than the stock pads. Your ears might touch the speaker surface enough to irritate. Works for me though :)


cdwetal (author)2014-02-11

Awesome! I opted for the tan Kevlar reinforced shoelaces and the black gold plated Amphenol connector for a little bit of added customization. Great tutorial! I thought I was going to have to replace my Sony MDR-V6's entirely.

bratan (author)cdwetal2014-02-11

Cool! Post some pictures of your cable! :)

cdwetal (author)cdwetal2014-02-11

I will also be making all of my patch cables in this fashion from now on. The shoelace adds an amazing level of quality to the project.

twdm3 (author)2013-11-28

Awesome instructions. If I'm making a 1/8 mini to 1/8 mini to use as a headphone interconnect, do I just repeat steps 1-4 for the second jack?

bratan (author)twdm32014-01-14

Sorry for late reply. Yes it would be same exact process :)

espdp2 (author)2013-08-22

Nice work! And very nice close up photography. It's like looking through a microscope. Can you comment on your technique, for those of us who need to make more 'ibles?

bratan (author)espdp22013-08-22

Thanks! :) It's actually just the lens. I'm using Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro, it's great for such closeups, and can even capture stuff not visible to naked eye. I also used steady tripod, "mirror lockup" function in my Canon 5D Mk II (which reduces blurriness due to mirror movement) and timer (remote release cable can also be used instead of timer).

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