Introduction: Don't Throw Away Bad Head Phones! Fix Them.
my headphones almost always break in the same place. instead of chucking them and shelling out $10 or $20 bucks for a new pair, i bought a few small pieces and fixed my old pair. it's not too hard if you have some time.
Step 1: Gathering Supplies
these are the tools i had near me.
it's completely possible for this to be done with alternative tools. i've heard of people using fingernail clippers to work with wires, and when i don't have strippers around i use the wire cutters on my multi-tool.
-new 1/8" jack
(also, later on i discover a decent knife was very handy.)
Step 2: Off With the Old
the connection inside the molded jacket is what seems to break most often on my headphones.
so i snipped off the connector as close to the molded jacket as possible (you could snip off more if you want a shorter distance between your music player and headphones. yay, customizable!)
Step 3: Strip the Wires
split the two sets of wires from each other, separating them might be easier if you cut them a little bit with a knife first.
the strip the insulation back. i only have about a 1/4" off here, i ended up stripping it further, to about a 1/2".
Step 4: Don't Forget!
before you get much further (and you could've done this before the last step) don't forget to put all the connector back pieces in place. (the back, and any heat shrink you plan to use.)
the last thing you'll want is to complete the soldering only to have to take it apart because you forgot to put the back on.
if you do a lot of these projects you're bound to forget the back. it usually only takes one time though, and then you'll not forget it again.
Step 5: Tinning
sorry a couple of these pictures are kind of blurry.
a great trick for soldering with small delicate pieces is to tin everything first.
there are actually four wires. a copper and green in one set, and a copper and red in the other set.
all of the wires have an enameled insulation on them. i scraped at it carefully with a knife.
to tin you just add a small coat of solder to all the surfaces you intend to connect.
(when you go to solder them together you no longer need to add the solder, just touch the two pieces together with heat and hold them till they stick.)
Step 6: Soldered Connectors
here you can see a better shot of the four wires.
the soldered part of the picture still isn't really clear, but the notation might help.
again, with everything tinned, i just had to hold the wires in place and touch them with the soldering iron till the solder from both sides (wire and contact) melded together.
at this point, if you wanted to double check your work, you could plug the connector into a player to make sure all your soldered points are solid.
Step 7: Put the Back On
if everything checks out, move the back into place.
Step 8: Secure It.1
you might notice there is a little play and jiggle in the back of the connection.
there are a number of way to alleviate this. i used a thin bit of heat shrink to bulk up the size of the insulation inside the metal spring back.
Step 9: Secure It.2
for even more security, i added a larger piece of heat shrink to the outside of that metal coil. electrical tape would work as well.
if you have extra headphone cord to work with you could take it one step further. a sound tech friend of mine would do this to all his clear com headphones. wrap the cord forward toward the connector then back to the headphones (making a flattened 's' shape) and wrap with electrical tape. it really adds a lot of strain relief.
(to shrink the heat shrink, you could use a heat gun, you could wave a lighter underneath- but make sure you don't melt it, or you could use the heat exhaust on the side of a butane soldering iron.)
the end result isn't as slick looking as the manufactured ones, but it does give you a real sense of pride. for instance, after checking my newly fixed headphones out, i paraded around the living room announcing, "I am a GENIUS!" to anyone who might have been in earshot.