Ear Defender Headphones




About: I make and create anything that comes to my mind from skateboard hooks to garden rooms. And I footle around with electronics and instruments at night....and I have a passion for reducing waste packaging by m...

Have you ever missed listening to the radio when working with power tools in your workshop?

If like me you wear ear defenders this will happen often.

Hey ear defenders look just like headphones...so why not make them into both!

In this really simple Instructables I will show you how to make your most comfortable ear defenders into headphones and as a bonus they are also noise reduction ones as well.

As an option as I play electric guitar I chose to add a toggle switch to be able to switch a mono feed to both speakers. If you don't need this then just leave this out.

Step 1: You Will Need


Soldering iron and solder

Power drill

Selection of drill bits

Hot glue gun and some glue sticks

Rotary tool and a reamer bit


An old telephone!

Two speakers I took them out of the telephone handset, mine were 45mm in diameter and quite thin. Easy to buy speakers that fit if you don't have a handy old telephone to hand

Curly telephone wire form the old telephone

Audio wire I used screened wire

One 3.5mm stereo socket

Two 3.5mm stereo jacks

One SPST toggle switch

Electrical tape

The above links are to Bitsbox, a UK based online electrical component supplier that I use. I have no connection with them except that I am a happy customer. I believe they will post overseas though I am sure your country will have good suppliers available as well.

Step 2: Schematic

The wiring for this project is super simple.

All you need to be able to do is to solder. Check out noahw's Instructable for a good in-depth how-to solder if you need to learn how to do it.

Check out the drawing above that shows the schematic in a graphical context.

Step 3: Get Your Bits Together!

Get your most comfy ear Defenders and remove the foam pads and put to one side.

If you are using an old telephone get into the handset and see if you have two speakers and that they will fit nicely inside the muffs.

Sometimes the talky end is a microphone, mine luckily was a speaker. Don't worry as speakers are easy to come by and readily available to buy online.

Step 4: Make Some Noise!

Decide which ear muff you would like the 3.5mm audio socket to be in.

Drill an appropriate sized hole for the wire to each speaker in the muffs somewhere near the headband pivot point.

Drill an appropriate sized hole for the 3.5mm audio socket in the bottom of the chosen muff.

If you want the option to toggle between mono and stereo feeds drill an appropriate sized hole for the switch in your desired location.

My ear defenders had thicker plastic than the audio socket and switch thread would allow for, so I had to locally ream out the plastic around the holes for these to fit nicely.

Step 5: Put It All Together

Solder together the audio input socket, speaker and toggle switch if using.

Feed the audio cable through the muff and around the headband.

If you are lucky you may be able to feed the wire through the headband. I couldn't achieve this and had to resort to electrical tape to stick the wire to the headband. It doesn't look so good though it works.

Remember to allow enough slack for full extension of the headband.

Feed the wire into the second muff and solder the wire to the second speaker.

Hot glue the speakers in place and poke the audio input socket and switch through their holes and tighten the nuts.

Add a dot of hot glue to where the wire comes out of the muffs to avoid the wire being pulled.

Put back the foam pads.

All done....nearly

Step 6: Funky Audio Lead

Old telephone handset curly leads are really funky and rarely seen now.

They work well to give the headphones a long lead though in a compact length allowing the MP3/radio to sit in your pocket.

Cut the ends of the lead to expose the thin wires inside. Mine had about six wires.

Use a multimeter continuity mode or an audible signal to a speaker to check which wires are which. They may be colour coded which will help.

You only need three of the wires.

Solder them to the 3.5mm stereo audio jacks remembering to first put the jacks covers onto the cord.

Tighten up the covers and that is it.

Plug in to your favourite music and enjoy.

This project is part of my YouTube series Its a Rubbish Challenge where I try to make cool and interesting things out of the stuff that we throw away. Please check out my channel if you want to see more of the challenges, if not there will be more coming to Instructables

Please feel free to check out my website to find out what I am up to with Pricklysauce.



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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I kind of did the same thing with a helmet, i'm planning on building a pair of these ass well. But i used a pair of Monacor SP-39's i got them for €3 each and the are really good speakers (i think better than most €100 headphones).

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Cool. The great thing about making your own is that they are unique and I also find that the sound from the ones I made is really good. Being ear defenders they block out other sound as well, why spend lots of money on noise reduction headphones!

    Good advice on the speakers, there are loads out there and they are cheap. My idea with 'It's a Rubbish Challenge' is to reuse the stuff that gets thrown away and an old telephone works well.


    3 years ago

    That is deadly. I've been poking earbuds into my defenders muff but I'll certainly be making this!

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Cool, I make these Instuctables and It's a Rubbish Challenge YouTube videos to try to inspire others to give it a try. Thanks for making my day.


    Reply 3 years ago

    And thanks for introducing me to bitsbox. Cheap delivery to Rep Of Ireland - not many good sites do that.


    Reply 3 years ago

    excellent, I have found them to be very good with v.quick deliveries to UK