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Detachable / replaceable headphone cables?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

An old and very large pair of "over-ear" Sennheisers I owned (forget the model number) had a detachable (and very long) headphone cable.  The cable was Y shaped with a pair of conductors going to each ear with push-on connectors a bit like the ones that connect a phono cable to the back of a cartridge (albeit a lot more robust).


This came in very handy once as my GF trod on the cable while I was wearing the phones and standing up.  The resulting tug on the phones nearly ripped my ears off but luckily the connectors popped off their lugs and the cable came away.  I dread to think what would have happened to the phones (or my ears!) if the cables had not been detachable.


This was just one of a two or three similar but less extreme incidents with the cable where one or more of the conductors popped off their lugs before any damage was done.  All I needed to do was push them back on again each time and everything was fine. The phones were replaced after about 10 years when the foam ear padding degraded beyond repair.


Since then I have owned several headphones but never bought anything more expensive than Sony MDR V300 as all eventually meet their end when repeated tugs on the cable mean the death of one or either of the speakers.  I try to be careful but live in a household with three children who inevitably use my gear from time to time.


I would love to try one of the Grado range but am loathe to part with the cash if they meet their end while one of the kids decides to stroll round the house with  them plugged into their pod.


Why don't all larger headphones with longer cables make them detachable?  Surely it is common sense, anything with a long cable that is prone to trailing along the floor is bound to suffer this kind of accident regularly.


Are there any headphone makes that do this as standard? Sennheiser appear to have stopped doing it.


Does anybody retro-fit new cables that have detachable connectors?


If I were to set up a business retrofitting this kind of "safety" connector would I have any buyers?


I am sure they could be fitted into existing cables with little problem, although connectors firmly attached to the headshell of the phones would be preferable.  For a Y split cable this could be done with a gold plated 3.5mm socket / plug just below the Y - although you would have to check that the plug pulled out before any damage was done to the 'phones.

Edited by TheLastMan - 7/9/12 at 2:28am
post #2 of 3

It is a fun hobby to retrofit headphones with removable cables.  I encourage it.  By removing internal wiring and replacing it with something less flimsy, shortening or replacing stock cables, etc you can get a little more performance...not everyone needs a 10 foot cable, and I've seen some internal wiring in headphones that is not ideal in how it is soldered or designed.  For example, the AKG K702s use the steel headband material as part of the signal path to route the right channel signal over from the left earcup.  They're still a respectable headphone, but it's not ideal.


Some use locking connectors like the Audez'e standard of mini xlr 4 pin female plugs.  I can see how for accidents like the one you described, having non locking plugs that rip right out would work.  You can retro fit mini jacks, mono or stereo, 2.5mm or 3.5mm to headphones...the only limiting factor is how good of a grip the jack has on the plug, and all jacks and plugs are not exactly alike.  You don't want the cable falling out.  


I would kind of like a headphone with a Magsafe style connector similar to Apple.  There's just the concern of that magnet there having an effect on the sound.  

post #3 of 3
Sennheiser still makes detachable cables for their higher end models, the HD 558 or 598 is the "lowest" model that has this feature (the HD 600, 650, 800, all have this). All of the current Bose headphones have detachable cables as well. This is true of most (all?) Ultrasone headphones as well. In none of these cases is it a safety feature, but a parts replacement feature for people who (ab)use their headphones regularly and need to replace destroyed cables (or in the case of Ultrasones, to switch between a short cable for use at a desk, and a longer coiled cable for more "move around" applications (they target pro users)).

As far as DIY stuff, I've seen BNC/F-type connectors used to great effect. As well as normal TS jacks. I'm not sure if you'd have any buyers in making "safety" headphones of this type - it's an interesting idea, and I think you're onto a potentially real problem, but it's not something I've ever had a problem with (I use my equipment at a desk and I don't have a cord running across the room for someone to stomp over).

Anyways, do you mean this Sennheiser cable-set:
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