Introduction: 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.

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.

Step 3: Preparing the Y-cable

We have to have a cable in order to thread wires through the headphones, so we need to make one.  This wire will be replacing the very small wires that are currently connected to your headphones.

Step 4: Preparing the Head-gear

Each earmuff has a foam insert, which is the mechanism that blocks the outside sound. Millions of tiny pockets of air trapped inside the foam force sound waves to dissipate through the medium before it has a chance to get to your ear drum.

In this next step, we're going to cut a shallow divot into each foam insert.  This divot is where we will be placing our headphones.

Try not to mangle and hack up the foam. Cut a shallow divot, don't dig out a hole.  Think surgeon, not hand-grenade.

The inserts need to come out. Grab it with your fingers, it will just pull right out.

Step 5: Wiring It Up.

Now, we're going to drill some holes and thread the cable through the headgear.

Left and right sides matter , because if you're like me - you you want the cable from the headphones going out BEHIND you. 

If you're making these headphones, you'll be working when you wear them.  You don't want cables draped around your ears, or falling in your face when you're bent over.

The very last slide is to check your work.

Step 6: Preparing the Sound

Don't be afraid, this is very easy, and I'll explain it step by step.  All you need to know is how to solder.

I usually use Koss headphones, but in this tutorial I used Sony.  It doesn't matter what headphones you use, as long as they are the over-the-ear style.  Earbuds will not work for your soundproof headphones.

All we want out of these headphones are the drivers themselves. We're going to destroy the plastic neck band, and get to the sound drivers without damaging them.

Step 7: Rock Out.

Repeat the process for the other side, and put a dab of glue, caulk, or epoxy to seal any holes you drilled and lock in those wires.  Let it sit for a while and you're on to the next step...

...which is to load every song by The Eagles' Hell Freezes Over album on your iPod, put on your new headphones and mow the yard.

Good luck!