All Headphone Cables Break. But Do They Have To?

Feb 20 2014, 6:28pm CST | by

All Headphone Cables Break. But Do They Have To?
Photo Credit: Forbes Apple

I’ve owned a lot of headphones. I’ve reviewed even more. While only a few have ever stopped working, almost all that did were because of something to do with the cable. It’s easily the most fragile part of any headphone.

Can anything be done?

Before we get going, if you’re curious about the value of high-end headphones, or have questions about headphones in general, first check out Are Expensive Headphones Worth It? and What Are The Best Headphones?.
/>

It starts with a bit of scratchiness. Perhaps you have to wiggle or twist the connector in a certain way for them to work. These aren’t the signs of happy headphones. These are the signs of a headphone not long for this world. The cable, and by cable I mean everything that’s not the part that’s on/in your ear, takes a lot of abuse, probably more than most people realize.

Inside every cable are thin wires, almost always copper. These attach to connectors, either the plug that goes in your phone/iPod, or the other end, the part that goes into the earphone itself.

Stronger cables/stronger connectors

This is one area where we’ve seen a lot of improvement in the past few years. Cloth or braided cable coverings, rubber or even machined metal junctions between the cable and connectors, tangle resistant flat cables, and so on. These all help a lot.

The junctions are still the most-likely fail point, however. A flexible cable hitting a rigid connector is a recipe for friction.

Detachable cables

Some headphones, and not just expensive ones, are coming with detachable cables. This removes the junction as a potential issue (at least on one end), by letting the cable pull away if there’s too much pressure. Or at the very least, if the cable goes sour you can just get a new cable. This is a much cheaper fix, obviously, than replacing the entire headphone.

All high-end headphones should have this. The amazing Shure SE846 has this, as do the Audeze LCD 3, X, and XC, for example.

So why shouldn’t all headphones have this? Well, it’s an added cost for one. It may not seem like a lot, but with tight margin requirements every partial penny counts. Also, some in-ear headphone designs just aren’t conducive to the hardware required for a detachable cable. More headphones probably should have this feature, but all won’t.

Careful wrapping… maybe

Taking care while storing your headphones will almost certainly help. But how? If bending the cables is bad, how do you conveniently store them? Many headphones come with a case, so that’s generally good. Wrapping the cables so they’re not a tangled mess will also probably help. I use the method in the video below, and I’ve had pretty good luck with headphones, though YMMV:



Conclusion/>/>

So it’s sort of a mixed recommendation. On one hand, it pays to take extra care of your headphones, specifically the cable. Every time you crush them in your bag, shove them in your pocket, snag them on a doorknob, it’s potentially weakening the connections or even the wires themselves.

On the other hand, it’s not entirely use that’s the culprit. Manufacturers need to take more care in designing the cable on their headphones. Detachable cables are cool, but not an ideal solution for every headphone. More robust connections, stronger cables, and so on are vital if manufacturers want repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations. “They sound great, but the cable broke after 6 months,” is a bucket of cold water on any potential sale.

After all, no one likes wasting money, or losing money.

What kind of luck have you had with headphone cables? I’m curious. Drop a line in the comments below.

Follow me on Twitter and G+! You can also subscribe to my Forbes blog and check out my latest novel.

 

Source: Forbes Apple

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Apple Black Friday Deals are on Sale in MacMall Black Friday 2014 Sale
 
 
The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
Over 20 Black Friday 2014 sales are already launched. Get the deals early to get your head free for the hard to get Black Friday deals to be released on Thanksgiving Day.
 
 
Target Black Friday Pre Sale launched Online
Target Black Friday Pre Sale launched Online
The Target Black Friday 2014 pre sale is live online offering $100 Gift Cards with iPad Air and iPad mini 3 purchases and many more deals.
 
 
The Best Black Friday 2014 iPad Deals
The Best Black Friday 2014 iPad Deals
The Amazon Black Friday 2014 Sale has been released. The Amazon Black Friday 2014 begins earlier than ever before. In past years the Amazon Black Friday deals week started on Sunday.Besides Amazon, Walmart has kicked...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Albanian national arrested for nightclub shooting in Greece
Athens, Nov 27 (IANS) An Albanian national was arrested Wednesday for the shooting inside a nightclub in Greece Saturday, which resulted in 15 injuries. Albert Bako, 31, was apprehended during a police raid in an...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Obama to host Jordan's King at White House
Washington, Nov 26 (IANS) US President Barack Obama will host King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House Dec 5 to discuss issues of the Middle East, the White House said Wednesday. The two leaders will discuss...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
China pledges increased engagement with Saarc
Kathmandu, Nov 26 (IANS) A senior Chinese official said here Wednesday that the country will continue to deepen its ties with South Asian countries and outlined extensive policies to engage in trade liberalisation and...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
'Indian-origin woman killing in Sydney too well-planned'
Sydney, Nov 26 (IANS) The case of an Indian woman's killing by her jilted NRI husband is being heard in Australia and the police report indicates that the incident was so well-planned that it could be viewed as...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Indian-origin student took bear's photos before it killed him
Washington, Nov 26 (IANS) An Indian-origin student in the US took photos of a bear while hiking in a US preserve before it mauled him to death, media reported. Darsh Patel, a Rutgers University student, and four...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Iraqi forces break IS siege on town
Baghdad, Nov 26 (IANS) Iraqi security forces Wednesday broke the Islamic State (IS) Sunni radical group's months-long siege of a town in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, provincial and security sources said....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Five killed in Yemen Shia-Sunni clash
Sanaa, Nov 26 (IANS/EFE) At least four gunmen belonging to the Sunni Al Ahmar tribe and one member of the Shia Houthi militia were killed Wednesday in clashes that broke out in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, according to a...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
IS moving prisoners from Iraq to Syria (Roundup)
Baghdad, Nov 26 (IANS) Islamic State (IS) militants have begun transporting dozens of their Iraqi prisoners from Iraq to Syria, fearing that an attack by Iraqi troops on its northern stronghold of Mosul may be imminent...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
$49 Kindle and $99 Kindle Paperwhite Amazon Black Friday Deals announced
As expected Amazon will have a huge Black Friday sale on the Amazon Kindle eBook reader and the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets. Amazon will offer the Kindle for just $49 starting Thanksgiving Day. This is $30 off the...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
116 pro-democracy protesters arrested in Hong Kong
Hong Kong, Nov 26 (IANS/EFE) At least 116 pro-democracy protesters, including several of the movement's leaders, were arrested Wednesday after police cleared one of the three main downtown demonstration sites in Hong...
Read more on Politics Balla