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Do headphones 'age' ?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by hpiper, Jan 11, 2015.
  1. HPiper
    I was looking to get some of your opinions on the topic stated, do you think dynamic headphones age. Does the driver suspension start to loose it's tension and not control the movement as well as it did when it was newer. At some point in time would it be wise to replace your headphones just for that reason. I have a pair of HD600 that are probably around 20 years old, other than the cable and the headband/ear pads nothing has ever been replaced on them. It just occurred to me the sound may have gotten worse over time and as it is happening very slowly, it would be un-noticeable unless some part failed completely. I don't have a new pair to compare them to so I was wondering if anyone knew anything about this. I wonder if Sennheiser would consider doing a 'tune-up' on them <g>
  2. ericj
    Past the initial break in phase, no, not really. I have at least a dozen 30-40 year old headphones going strong.

    .:Sent by pneumatic tubes
  3. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    It would be more like dropping a new crate engine in a pony car. Headphone drivers aren't like loudspeaker drivers which have individual parts that are easier to replace. With headphones, you order the new drivers and drop them in - you can easily find them in Sennheiser's spare parts list.
  4. thoughtcriminal
    My 25+ year old MDR v7 are still running strong and still compete well with headphones in the $150-200 range. (Sennheiser hd558, vmoda m100, Logitech ue9000).
    To keep with the car/engine metaphors, take good care of the right motor and 400k or more is attainable. Push it to its limit and it'll fail a lot sooner
  5. nw130d
    FOR SURE DOES! Ask any material engineer all would say yes (short of pure elements in perfect controlled environment).
    If there is an audible change that is another question... HD 600 does change in sound over time as the pads brakes down. Not sure about the driver it self?
  6. Chris J
    I still use a pair of 35 year old Sennheiser HD424 headphones.
    Still soundin' good.
    But I don't use them a lot.
  7. HPiper
    It is pretty amazing just how long quality headphones WILL last. I have a pair of HD580 headphones (my original pair of high-end headphones) that my wife still uses and they are every bit of 30 years old and still going strong. Too bad a lot of other stuff doesn't seem to have that kind of longevity.
  8. vbvb
    This is an interesting thread that I found when I wanted to ask if headphones get better with age.  It seems to get better after break-in.
  9. onebigunion
    I think 99% of the "aging" process of headphones is pad deterioration leading to sound degradation. This can be the foam in the padding or the pad itself, particularly if its pleat her, though velour also changes its characteristics. If you leave a large head, the headphone band may stretch with time, affecting clamping force. The drivers themselves should last decades without degradation with normal care. Sometimes, cable connections deteriorate with time, but this us either you have a good connection or no connection, so should be obvious.
  10. Sefelt103
    An interesting question and hard to determine the answer. Buying a new set of HD600s and comparing them to 20 year old ones may not give an accurate comparison (even after burn-in if there is such a thing) because Sennheiser might well have made some alterations to the headphone. I suppose you could get an old used set of roughly the same age and replace the drivers with new ones to compare the sound. I would be surprised if you found much difference. Quality headphones are just very durable unlike many devices. Designing drivers to fail after 5 years of heavy use isn't a good idea given the level of competition in the market. Most other components (except earpads/cables) last a long time.
  11. vid
    Get a pair of HD 600 with pads A, get an extra pair of pads B, measure the baseline responses Ab and Bb, put the phones over an artificial head and let them play music for x hours per day, measure the response every y intervals if you want some temporal resolution. After a few years, replace A with B, measure the response Br, and compare Br to Bb, your aging being the difference accounting for measurement error which you've established beforehand. Compare Ar to Br relative to Ab-Bb for aging due to pad wear. If you want to go for more realism (ear gunk etc.), use the phones on your own head rather than a dummy one - but then you'd also consider wear on the foam disc over the driver.

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