Self-Contained Music Headphones





Introduction: Self-Contained Music Headphones

Reuse an pair of old over-the-head headphones with a Shuffle for "wireless" headphone goodness.

Step 1: Reuse

Find a pair of over-the-head headphones that you're not really using anymore. In my case, it was a really excellent pair of AKG K240's that I'd run over with my office chair, damaging the cable, and destroying the headphone jack.

Hack the broken cord off with scissors, or a giant machete, or whatever you have handy about 4" from the base of the cord.

Then, go to your local Transistor Hut, and pick up a new headphone jack. (~$4), some solder (~$3) and a soldering iron ($? I had one already).

Use a pair of wire strippers, or a knife (giant machetes unwieldy for this step), strip the outer housing, and the three (in my case) wires on the inside.

These particular headphones had a red wire, a white wire and a yellow wire.

Step 2: Solder

So, one thing I didn't know before starting this was that yellow wasn't actually ground. For these headphones, white is ground. Apparently red and yellow are the left and right channels or some such. I originally had soldered yellow to ground, white to the inner pin, and red to the outer pin.

The weird thing is, it sounded alright, but biased to the left ear. Even weirder (to me), the right ear sounded pretty good except that the vocals were garbled. Instruments, for the most part, sounded fine.

Anyway - I found some other references for wiring up these little jacks, and it seemed like a lot of headphones have two ground wires, but they all seemed to have red and yellow wires as well. So, I figured white must be ground, switched the wires, and voila, everything sounds fine.

I might have gotten left and right reversed, but I haven't been able to tell yet. Can't find a song where I know something's supposed to be on a particular side.

One thing to remember: BEFORE you solder the wires to the jack, remember to slide the stress reliever, exterior housing, and the little plastic sheath over the wire. If you solder, then remember to do this stuff, you're screwed. (no, I remembered at the last second. Lucky me.)

Step 3: Finishing Up

Once you've soldered everything together, slide the plastic housing over the wires, then screw the jack shut. You're done!

I should point out that yes, I know this project's ludicrously simple. No, it's not going to change the world. No, most people aren't going to have a pair of AKG's lying around whose cord they've ruined by careless office chair-rolling.

That said, it's surprising how useful this new setup is at my work, and how nice it is not to constantly be watching out for cords. I can get up, turn around, sit back down and not have to untangle myself, and I don't get that irritating hiss that most wireless headphones seem to be cursed with.

Step 4: Plug In, Rock Out

If you don't have a shuffle at this point, you'll need to buy one, or something like it. The shuffle's clip happens to be almost exactly the same size as the bars that support the headphones, and since it's so light, and the headphones are relatively heavy, you don't notice the shuffle's weight at all.

Unfortunately, the volume control's upside down, but that's not really that big a deal. If you're really desperate to mount it right-side up, hope that you have a longer piece of cord to work with.

While this project unfortunately isn't terribly practical unless you happen to have wrecked the cord on a relatively large pair of headphones, if you *have* happened to do such a thing, it'll bring an old, ruined pair of headphones back to life.

Better still, if I want to use the headphones in a more traditional way, I can just plug them in to a headphone extension cord and presto, old-skool functionality restored.



    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest
    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest
    • Planter Challenge

      Planter Challenge

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    if i get some high end cans do you recomend akg or grado

    1 reply

    Sennheiser is my favourite, but I also have a very nice pair of pioneers.
    Just don't get Bose....

    Thanks, crewjuice! The Shuffle was definitely loud enough to drive 'em. I've been using this setup for a while now, and still love it.

    GREAT IDEA!! I have a pair of AKG 240's that I Love but it's becoming clear to me that no matter how much I love them I still opt for the smaller, more "on the go" headphones! This would be a great idea to revitalize those studio standard AKG's. What I was wondering was this: Is your I-Pod Shuffle strong enough to drive your AKG's? I tried using them with my 80g I-Pod and the sound just wasn't there,....I Dunno. I thought I tried everything! Regardless, it's a fantastic idea! Thanks for the great idea!!

    amazing work....even if its already been done. it would look really nice with silver headphones to match the ipod or a black shuffle (the 3rd generation one) gonna have to try this...i have an extra black sansa clip that would might work

    1 reply

    Thanks! It's worth doing - I still use these at work all the time.

    How do you find the AKG 240s in terms of volume? I've tried using those and other high-impedance headphones on my iPod, and always found I had to turn things way up, and weren't even really usable in noisy environments. Does the shuffle have the output to properly drive these?

    1 reply

    Ahoy! The shuffle definitely produces enough volume for my purposes, though while earbuds might have you at 15% volume, these for the same level might require 70%. So if you like your music LOUD, it might not be enough - for me, it's been more than plenty.

    Amen! I did the same thing with a pair of Sennheisers and a gen 1 shuffle. Only difference is that the Sennheisers have a detachable cord with a 2.5 mm stereo plug, so I was able to make a replacement short cord. Also, the gen 1 shuffle doesn't have a clip, so I used a slip case and Velcro strap to attach the shuffle to the side of the headband. The gen 1 shuffle is reported to have the best audio section of all the iPods, but that was before the gen 2 came out. with the Sennheisers, the sound is awesome. How's the sound with the gen 2/AKG combo?

    1 reply

    I wouldn't consider myself an audiophile, so take my opinion as such, but the AKG's are the best headphones I've ever used, and the 2G shuffle doesn't sound any worse (or better) than any other reasonably good audio source I've attached these things to... which is to say, it all sounds awesome. I think people complain sometimes about the AKG's lack of ludicrous bass, but I really like the balance. It's noticeable without being overwhelming - more than bass, you get clarity. I dig it.

    You know, I probably should have looked around and seen that someone's already basically done the exact same thing. Alas!

    3 replies

    Once I bought those headphones that NASCAR fans buy from Radio Shack intentionally to modify. They are mono but I rewired them for stereo and clipped a small Walkman to the headband. Becuse they use off the shelf speakers inside they don't sound bad. The NASCAR fans use them with a scanner to listen to signals from the drivers and their "ground control" crews. Of course you could get one of those iPod FM transmitters to hide the iPod in a pocket away from "iJackers" but you look geeky of course also deterring iJackers. Since Walkmans are sooooo last century, you can keep your iPod Shuffle safe.

    Heh. Yours was the one that popped up immediately on the "Related Projects" pane on the right.

    Wow, I was just looking at a pair of those the other day. How well do they work? Nice idea if you have a new shuffle (getting ideas as I glance over at my headphones with a 15 foot cable.)

    3 replies

    The AKG headphones are awesome. Easily the best pair of headphones I've ever had. I'm not a huge audiophile, but I can definitely tell a distinct difference in quality between these and any other pair of headphones I've used. (to put that in to some context, I've used all sorts of headphones, from Shure e2c's to relatively upscale Sennheisers, to a whole variety of Sony headphones - nothing even comes close, IMO)

    Sweet, good to know. I'll keep that in mind for when my current pair busts. I know sometime my greedy subconscious will prevail and cause me to step on them eventually. Most headphones don't have nice, solderable wires unfortunately, but rather crappy fragile stuff with a coat of lacquer. This makes it really annoying to solder. I've found that the easiest way is to burn off a centimeter or so of the lacquer (this also helps get rid of the thin plastic fibres that strengthen the cable) then use fine-grit sandpaper to remove the soot. Nice instructable, by the way.

    Thanks! Good luck keeping your subconscious from forcing you to need a new pair of headphones. :D