Introduction: Turn an Old Telephone Handset Into DJ Headphones!

Picture of Turn an Old Telephone Handset Into DJ Headphones!

These cool old phones are easy to find and cheap to pick up, we got this Brown Beauty at the local Salvation Army for $7 which was a complete ripoff. Shame on you Salvation Army. If I was an evil rich, would I be shopping at you?

Anyway, these old brutes look good and sound good, but often don't really cut it as a home telephone unit choice. The connection is bad, the numbers are sticky... Time for retirement? NO! Time to show your DJ boyfriend you care about him by making him an extra cool DJ monitoring headset while he's away in New York City!

You'll need:

-An old telephone handset with cord attached
-A soldering iron and some solder
-A mono male phone plug (yes, they are really called phone plugs baby)
-A sharp utility blade

Step 1: Cut the Cord

Picture of Cut the Cord

First things first, chop off that cord as close as possible to the telephone base.
Now you have a cordless phone and a phoneless cord!

Step 2: Expose Some Wires

Picture of Expose Some Wires

Now carefully remove about 1/4 inch of cable jacket from your cut end with the blade to expose four wires. Two white ones, one red one and one black.

You can trim off the black and red wires, we won't be using them here. They carry the signal from the mouthpiece back to the base. You can hook these up to a simple electret preamp and have your own telephone microphone instead.

Carefully remove about 1/8 inch of cable jacket from the ends of the two exposed white wires. Be extra careful because in this case anyway, the wire inside was just this flimsy flat copper coil stuff.

Step 3: Make the Connection

Picture of Make the Connection

With the soldering iron, tin the ends of the two white wires. Slip the jacket of your mono plug onto the cable and you're ready to hook this sucker up!

As per the diagram, the speaker ground line will be opposite the red wire and the hot line will be opposite the black. Solder the white hot line to the tip of the plug, and the white ground to the ground. Obviously.

Step 4: You're Done!

Picture of You're Done!

Plug your new headset into any stereo or mono output jack and for the first time use the phone without any obligation on your part!

Use it to cue up tracks when DJing and intimidate people into thinking you're 'on the phone' and they should NOT try to talk to you! This REALLY WORKS!


djtylersnow made it! (author)2014-10-24

Made one, however, the sound is VERY quiet. Not sure how to remedy this, even with a pre amp.

Pisces838 (author)djtylersnow2015-03-17

I spoke with DJ Terrance Parker about why he uses a telephone for his headphone, and his response was volume as opposed to sound quality as well as durability and cost. I've made them and the mids and highs seem quite loud. Not sure why volume is an issue here.

regular_thijs (author)2013-08-25

Nice idea !
I wondered whether the telephone speaker is loud enough for Dj use? Since sound levels at most parties here are a lot higher than my average living room call :)

One could by the way use a simple circuit to mix the stereo channels into one mono channel instead of just using one of the channels, since records, especially older ones, can have quite some difference between the left and right channel. I'm not a DJ though, so I don't know if it is that important. figure2

nodoubtman (author)2012-01-07

What's the use of that?



I just got three used phones from my boss, but the dont have cords attached. Can you do the same thing with the regular plug in cords? Also. I want to just make iPod headphones, is it pretty much the same idea? Just chop up the headphones and do you think that would work?

mischka (author)2011-05-25

Good hint to keep those DJ-talker away, but for a whole set I wouldnt use a handset ;-). Nice Idea!

sophielily (author)2010-06-01

Hey guys can anyone help me out I have no idea where to get the male phono plug im googling galore need someone who can ship to australia even ebay is not coming up trumps for me. If anyone can give me a heads up would really appreciate!

gmoon (author)sophielily2010-06-04

Search for "1/4 mono plug" (a 1/4 inch plug size), it's a very common part...

ngomji (author)2010-04-12

do u happen to know if there is a way to bump up the volume for the phone?
the sound quality is great, but it's a little hard to hear

bobert610 (author)2009-07-04

Hey, is it possible to cut the phone in half then put plastic or something so that is coveres both ears?

cjgraves (author)bobert6102009-08-15

it would be a lot more work. this is only hooking up the earpiece of the phone, so sound is only coming from one end... the one with the speaker in it. you could do this, but you would need another telephone so you have two speakers and it would be a little different in terms of soldering. but they wouldnt be that great of headphones, and you should really just spent the time working to earn money to buy a nice pair of monitoring headphones from like seinheisser or something.

bobert610 (author)cjgraves2009-08-17

yea i already have a pair of bose mixing headphones and i had a bunch of crappy ones sitting around so....

djr6789 (author)2008-12-20

this is so cool!!!!!!

lolcat360 (author)2008-12-19

whats a itt

The Red Button (author)2008-10-17

Get a spinny dial telephone and turn that into a turntable

soundcloset (author)2008-06-29

Carrying a cell (mobile) phone around reconfigured inside the shell of an old handset would be cool! But mine can't "ring" like a real old phone; that would be the best! Otherwise, the cases are easy to get into, so any working mic head would work, and with some care and the tons of schematics on the web, any sort of electret head and powering circuit as well (you'd have to fit a battery, of course). OR the guts of an ugly but working phantom powered one. But I think the DJ wants the flat, lo-fi sound of the old mic, so does anyone have a schematic (randofo...?) for how you've done it -- I mean, powered up and used the carbon mic? Of course, if I find it, I'll post it here.

As for the ringer, look for a generic ringtone in your cell phone's settings. Maybe you can find a sound effect similar to that of a cheap landline phone.

dg33 (author)2008-09-02

I think You should put a stereo plug on that because the stereo out put from the dj equipment will have the right output shorted out :( But Gr8 Project

transeunte (author)2008-08-07

Very Cool stuff!

Now take it to the next level and make the keys funcional turning them into a tringer-finger sampler!

...or at least making the keys work as cue/pause buttons. =D

captainjohn (author)2008-08-01

oi! You could gut the phone and have it house a female unit! I should do that! If I put an instructable I'll be sure to send them to you for step one!!

soundcloset (author)2008-06-29

Oh -- ha, ha. What a twit! I just "googled" the idea and got pointed right back to randofo's other post, with the handset and the checkerboard box dongle. I took the schematic, and may try it in a phone. Thanks! OR get back to work and do the dishes. One or the other.

Yerboogieman (author)2008-06-03

its phono jack

Tumbleweed (author)2007-05-02

Interesting idea... definitely a great use for technology that is otherwise, "going the way of rotary telephones." Why not use that extra pair of wires? Solder in a little pig tail with another 1/4" connector and have yourself a functioning DJ Mic as well. Then you can switch on the mic and say obscure stuff like "Hello? Get me the president!" Wurd, Tumbleweed

randofo (author)Tumbleweed2007-05-05

It's not that simple, but you could probably rig it up so that they're both on one stereo plug and being powered accordingly. The mic inside an old phone like that is actually a carbon mic and needs to be supplied with an electrical signal from the onset.

I messed around with the mic a bit:

By the way, $7 for a phone like that is a little on the high end, but it's hard to get the phones for less than $5. Everyone selling them is always far too happy to point out that they still function. That's the problem with technology that never breaks.

couldn't you use the phantom power on a mixer board to power the mic???

No. It's not a condenser microphone. It's a carbon microphone. It needs a different power source.

what kind of power does it need

I've been giving it about 1.2v DC.

Trust_in_Dust (author)randofo2007-05-06

it's like we're old phone pals

Trust_in_Dust (author)Tumbleweed2007-05-02

that would work if your mic input could handle a bare bones electret mic signal and was really really close to your headphone jack! which makes me wonder if it really is an electret mic in there... could be a carbon mic.

Tumbleweed (author)Trust_in_Dust2007-05-03

Should work just fine so long as the input on the mixer is a Mic Level Input. Plugging this into a Line Level Input would obviously not work or cause very undesirable results. Whatever type of Mic element is inside the telephone it still works off the same principals of other microphones. Your voice vibrates a tiny transducer and that transducer generates an electrical signal which is perceived by your mixer as an audio signal. This signal is somewhere around -40 dB to -60dB which is why it needs to be a Mic Level Input. Mic Level Inputs have a pre-amplifier built into them to bring them up around the +4 dB Line Level Signals are. Tumbleweed

Trust_in_Dust (author)Tumbleweed2007-05-03

i think if i did go this route, i'd just leave the whole phone intact and put two output jacks in the back of the actual phone base. that way i could just use whatever preamp mic circuitry was already in there. i like the simplicity of the single male plug on the end of a single cable. i suppose you could also attach a stereo plug to the handset and rewire your mixer a little so the one jack could accommodate both a mic input and a mono monitor output... it would only work with the phone, but that would be pretty awesome!

TechDante (author)2008-04-26

i think this is brilliant but a question? why not keep it on the phone stand and fit a Mic into it as well. two jobs for the price of one. you might even get away with using the existing mic. i do like this idea as i work in theatre and this could make a fun GOD mic and headphones for the sound desk

erick.mendes (author)2008-04-25

Lemme say it, ultra cool. Better yet, paint it with greenish fluorescent die, seriously!

conoronor (author)2007-07-27

Do you think that it would be pissible to wire one of these old hand sets to a cell phone? That way you get to be super cool when you get a call a whip out an old school hand set.

and put a little steam boiler on it for steampunk style while you are at it

Trust_in_Dust (author)conoronor2007-10-05

Yes, that's totally possible. As soon as I make one I'll post another Instructable.

arman1 (author)2008-03-14

NEED HELP WITH WIRING! I'm ready to go but I have a little problem, which is I don't have 2 white wires,black&red; ones but instead 1 white, 1 red, 1 blue and 1 green so which ones do I have to remove and which ones iron together?! A

Trust_in_Dust (author)arman12008-03-14

well, you'll probably have to do some testing with alligator clips and an audio signal like a radio you can plug into. just keep trying every combination of two wires until you have a clear audio signal coming through the phone.

sscamaro69 (author)2007-10-05

Let me start off by saying that they are NOT called phone plugs, they are actually Phono plugs.... Phono meaning mono if you have no clue Other than that good instructo

Trust_in_Dust (author)sscamaro692007-10-05

Do your research buddy, phono plugs are RCA plugs so named originally for their use with PHONOGRAPHS. Phone plugs are 1/4" plugs originally used in phone switchboards.

sscamaro69 (author)Trust_in_Dust2007-10-06

Ah yes but. They are known as phone plugs in (U.S)... being that im not american im not familiar with that term.. so yes ur correct

DIY Dave (author)2007-05-07

A lot of things at Salvation Army are overpriced.

Trust_in_Dust (author)DIY Dave2007-05-08

but the bibles are free!

DIY Dave (author)Trust_in_Dust2007-05-09

not always

Trust_in_Dust (author)DIY Dave2007-06-08

well the condescension is free!

mster (author)2007-05-22

This sooo great i just made one and it doesn't sound a lot worse than my regular headphones.... plus it just looks cool with the mp3 player hanging from it

Trust_in_Dust (author)mster2007-06-08

i wasn't kidding when i said the sound quality will surprise you!

Sm;)er (author)2007-05-06

I think this would be quite cool with a Candlestick type Phone.

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