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Can sweat fry your IEMs?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I had a pair of Westone UM1s for nearly 2 years and absolutely loved them. A few months back I started back at the gym and used them continuously. However after about a month or so my headphones suddenly died. Well not suddenly the sound started to become tinny and quiet, until there was nothing. Is it possible that sweat could have seeped into them and fried them? I'm guessing it's that or a wire somewhere has been broken.

The reason I ask is that I am now looking at buying a new pair of IEMs and if there is a chance that the same fate may await them, I don't want to take the risk. In fact I've even considered buying the Sound Magic PL30s for gym use only, if they break, you've only lost 30 or so bucks. But if sweat wasn't a factor I would prefer something a little bit better.

Thanks in advance for your answers.
post #2 of 10
I may be wrong, but I don't see how sweat could fry your IEM's if the wire is OK, no cracks etc. If there is a crack in the wire or a separation between the IEM and where the wire connects, then it is absolutely possible for you to short one or multiple drivers. I just don't know how likely that is.

Have you tried crimping the wire different ways, or messing with the jack where it plugs into the player? If you get better response at any point while doing that then it's very likely your problem is further down the cord where sweat would unlikely be. Though I don't know how much you sweat
post #3 of 10
I got into using IEM's because my gym was so loud. I never fried out a pair because of sweat. It has been nearly ten years since my first pair of Ety6's.

The only thing I've noticed is that the cord, especially near the neck, can get stiff because of the sweat. I try to wipe it down to avoid this.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the prompt replies. And I've taken what you have said on board. From reading a couple of other posts on these forums (which for some reason didn't show up when I searched 'sweat' before posting) the consensus seems to be this -

yes sweat can harm your iems if it gets into the casing, a few posters even singled out the UM1s as having this particular problem.

however if you have a proper seal this should never be a problem.

I think what might have happened in my case is that the foam tips I was using got sodden and the problem ensued from there. And to answer the previous poster I am pretty definite that it's not a cable problem.

So I've just gone ahead and bought 2 pairs of new IEM's one for the gym, the aforementioned SoundMagic PL30's (which I got super cheap since I live in Korea and SoundMagic have a distributor here) and one pair for general use, again went with SoundMagic with the next model up the PL50's. I would have bought the Westones again in a heartbeat, but due to bad exchange rates they are over 200 bucks over here in Korea now.

I've heard a few posts comparing the UM1's and PL50's in the same breath, so will be interested to see how they match up. I don't expect them to given the price, but you never know!
post #5 of 10
This is going to sound pretty gross, but I've had this happen with a set of Zune premium headphones in the past. The right phone started to get quieter and quieter, and eventually I couldn't hear hardly anything out of it. To be sure, I could still hear a very little bit, but it was extremely quiet. Turned out that due to the general "largeness" of the tips that come with that set of headphones, combined with the metal grate used to protect the driver area, every time I cleaned the headphones for earwax, I was apparently pushing earwax through the metal grate to the other side of the metal grate. After a while, I had completely blocked the entire driver area with a combination of earwax and the grate itself, but I couldn't see it, because the grate looked clean. The earwax was on the other side of the grate.

Removing the grate and cleaning behind it revived the headphones immediately.
post #6 of 10
I had a pair of UM2's I used to go jogging with, using etymotics tips to completely protect against sweat. They became damaged twice from sweating (inspite an excellent seal) and eventually they were replaced. I now use a pair os sweat resistant Sony IEM's for exercise and will not use expensive IEMs for exercise anymore.
post #7 of 10
If you sweat copiously or over long periods, I can see how sweat can get into the phones and corrode them. Now I only exercise in beater phones, ever since a pair of Denon C551s I had fell apart and died.
post #8 of 10
Sweat contains lots of salt. So yes, I believe it can kill everything that can corrode.
post #9 of 10
more likely is constant movement from working out led to stress failure of connections.
post #10 of 10
The heat in your ears isn't enough to fry your IEMs, but the sweat factor is worth looking into.
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