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Rewiring an ER-6i just aint that hard, folks. Pics enclosed.

post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 
I searched and searched, and i found no posts here or elsewhere on the intertubes regarding the proper repair or cosmetic recabling of hard-wired etys. I found a few people saying that it was too difficult, that the wires were impossibly small, that it just can't be done.

I'm hear to tell you, that's a load of bullflop.

I bought my ER-6i off that auction site for $5.99 shipped - used and with damaged wire on the right side. Complete with half a dozen gray tri-flanges and a never-used pair of foamies, four filters and a (totally unnecessary with ER-6i) filter replacement tool. And pouch.

The ER-6i is held together with heat-shrink tubing. The rubber band / flap on the back is just really poor strain relief.

There's a bit of glue top and bottom that holds the white piece over the clear piece, but it's no big deal to break free.

The repair took me about 30 minutes, including time to take pictures, change batteries in camera, and kinda/sorta watch Sexy Beast.

Anyway, lets start. Most pics are clickable for a bigger version.



Pretty easy to cut of the heatshrink.



Strain-relief tag pulls off easy too



Had to use the x-acto blade to dig out the glue blob on the bottom, which provides some strain relief for the wire. There are tabs top and bottom of the clear piece that snap into slots on the inside of the white piece.

Here we can see that the Etymotic cable is utterly mundane as earphone wires go. Pretty standard reinforced enamel-coated strands soldered to a flexible pcb. Granny knot for strain relief.



Standard tinning method for enameled wire. Flux liberally, apply blob of hot solder, wait patiently, clean up. Helps to tin about 1/4" of wire and then trim off the excess.

Now, here's the fiddly part. I used my 600f tapered tip in the weller to desolder the original wires, because it's a tight space, and then had to switch to the 700f conical to tin the end of the wire, and then had to switch badk to the 600f tapered to solder down the new ends.

Having a pair of pliers helps. This is the 1st time this year I've had to change tips hot, btw, and you folks who use variable temperature irons are chumps. Continuous temperature wellers are where the careful control is at.

Before:


After:


Frankly i think i did a better job here than Etymotic did.



It turns out that my color choices for this size of heat shrink were yellow and green. I'm running low on heatshrink and have a bunch coming in some time this week. I'll re-do this in clear when it gets here.

Works perfectly!
post #2 of 79
Im impressed
I would have been afraid of overheating the VC.
post #3 of 79
Thread Starter 
not likely - that's what the flex pcb is for.

It's also why you always pre-tin your wires
post #4 of 79
@$5.99 a pop... fantastic!! Good work ericj
post #5 of 79
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Yeah, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Now i just need to find a similar price on an ER-4P or something

I'm considering replacing the etymotic cable, but with just another totally mundane earbud cable - something in a J-cable, maybe black. the ety cable is just old and stiff, and probably never was all that nice.
post #6 of 79
Cool, thanks for sharing ericj!
post #7 of 79
Thread Starter 
Well, the right side has developed another cable fault. The insulation is pretty stiff and i think i'm gonna call the original cable a loss.

It's time to cannibalize my unused ibuds for their pristine and unused cable. I bet i can fit a layer of heatshrink over the end where it enters the housing for some basic strain relief, too. Maybe red on the right and black on the left.

I bet i won't get a round tuit until monday night, though. Bummer. I sorta like these, bassless though they are.
post #8 of 79
Consider how cheap you got the phones, even the Westone's ES series replacement cable ($40 shipped) will not hurt.
post #9 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SONGsanmanwah View Post
Consider how cheap you got the phones, even the Westone's ES series replacement cable ($40 shipped) will not hurt.
I'd slit my own throat out of disgust with myself if i ever paid $40 for a headphone cable of any kind.
post #10 of 79
Thread Starter 

Exclusive iCable mod!

Well, I should have been packing for the weekend, but instead i was fixing my er-6i.

It turns out that the cable itself may not have been the problem. But it was still a crappy cable that had gone stiff. Frankly I think the iBud cable is better.

The flex pcb on the armature driver is supposed to be glued to the frame of the driver around the corner it straddles. The end with the pads where you solder in the cable in both sides of mine had lifted.

And it turns out that one of the flexi-pcb traces had cracked.

If any of you had ever doubted my mad skillz, behold, THIS, is how i roll:



That's three filaments of SPC wire from a 22awg stranded lead, soldered from one pad to the other. A jumper wire about 6mm long.

I did this with no tools fancier than my fingers and my Weller WTCPT. And my trusty harbor freight wire clippers.

Here's the final build:



Bagged the idea of heatshrink strain relief because it was pretty hard to get the insulation alone to feed through the hole in the white plastic piece. I'd have to ream it out to add strain relief.
post #11 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericj View Post
I'd slit my own throat out of disgust with myself if i ever paid $40 for a headphone cable of any kind.
Ety charged my $50 to replace my ER-4S' cable. :' (
post #12 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SONGsanmanwah View Post
Ety charged my $50 to replace my ER-4S' cable. :' (
Well, sometimes that's just the tax you pay for not having the wherewithall to do it yourself. It's not your fault.

My sig doesn't say "team cheap bastards" and "team fearless modders" for nothing.
post #13 of 79
Not to recall this thread but any audible difference, aside from it now working, and all

Pretty nice job.
post #14 of 79
Thread Starter 
The iCable mod brings out the bass and enhanced the detail but the mids seem recessed :P

No, seriously, under their insulation the ety cable and the apple cable are extremely similar, the only major difference being that apple chose to use four different colors of enamel coatings where ety used three. It's not like i sat there and counted filaments of copper, but they're very similar.

Oh, the apple wires are easier to tin, too, so there's that.

Sounds the same, just less stiff cable microphonics.

Anyway, thanks for the recognition. btw, i dig your avatar.

Oh, and in case anyone was curious, i've determined that it's basically impossible to break the connection between the driver coil and the flex pcb unless you really work at it. Those connections come up through the pcb, which is held down by the clear plastic frame. You would have to extract the driver from the clear plastic frame, and it seems that you'd need a special jig to do that, at the very least, if you didn't want to break the frame doing it.

I'm now trying to figure out what posessed etymotic to perforate the flex pcb right through the traces. Seems like they could have predicted that the driver frame would get infiltrated by skin oils, weakening the double-sided tape that holds down the flex pcb on the cable-pad end. And they must know that the construction is loose enough that fiddling with the cable could fatigue that elbow over time.

So why the heck did they punch a hole in each trace?!

I hope i have emboldened my fellow cheap bastards to attempt this sort of repair themselves. Providing that you route the wires properly and you don't melt the clear plastic frame with your soldering iron, there's very little to go wrong.
post #15 of 79
Notes for anyone else that tries to do this:

-Fluxing the Ety's pads before soldering AND desoldering reduces the time you need to heat it up. Use a toothpick dipped in flux to apply. A little goes a long way.

-As ericj mentioned, 600f and a fine conical tip are the way to go. In my case, a variable temp Weller with the finest tip I have worked well. Keep it cool and use a thin, cleaned and tinned tip and a steady hand and all will be well.

-If you're using iPod/iPhone cables as a replacement, open the buds up and desolder at the phones. You can do this by prying the gray rubbery ring out from the white backs with an x-acto, desoldering the wires (600f and a touch of flux works here too), removing the knot, and sliding the cable out of the backs. That way, you don't have to tin the leads, and in the case of the iPhone, you don't get the mic too far up the cable.

-FYI, 1/2" tubing (always measured post-shrink) works well. Be patient when heating the tube. You want the tubing to melt and not the phones.
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Rewiring an ER-6i just aint that hard, folks. Pics enclosed.