Do headphones wear out?
Oct 31, 2005 at 4:15 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 38

trains are bad

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If you buy a high end set of cans, are they for sure going to last for your whole life? I mean do they eventually wear out? What about buying used headphones, do you need to worry about how many hours are on them or do they pretty much last forever?
 
Oct 31, 2005 at 4:16 AM Post #2 of 38

dhp

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Quote:

Originally Posted by trains are bad
If you buy a high end set of cans, are they for sure going to last for your whole life? I mean do they eventually wear out? What about buying used headphones, do you need to worry about how many hours are on them or do they pretty much last forever?


I don't think anyone here spends enough time with just one headphone to find out!
tongue.gif
 
Oct 31, 2005 at 4:34 AM Post #3 of 38

jki

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Any electromechanical transducer has a finite lifetime. The moving membrane will deteriorate over time, even without playing, due to exposure to air, ozone, other environmental pollutants... My guess would be that the deterioration would be accelerated in the cycles of humidity that come from wearing the cans, then drying out, back and forth...
For the materials used in transducers, the long term deterioration typically results in a loss of compliance. This would manifest itself as an increase in distortion, because the transducer could no longer "follow the signal." It is said that high end phono cartridges are only good for a few years whether played or not!
The big question is whether or not this deterioration becomes noticeable in any reasonable timeframe. My guess is that for most high quality cans, this time is measured in years before change is noticed. But I would not expect any set to last even a lifetime and maintain its original fidelity.
As DieInAFire suggests, for most of us this is never an issue, as something newer or better surely will come along down the road and that old set will just go away...
 
Oct 31, 2005 at 5:02 AM Post #4 of 38

Neko

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Even state of the art equipment will begin to deteriorate, but by the time this happens it already would have been superseded. With upper grade equipment replacement parts are made available if it happens people require them. So to answer your question, just as with any audio equipment, yes, they will eventually wear out.

With that said, some believe a 'wear in' exists aswell. Just like older guitar amps, some believe that equipment mature over time, developing their characteristics and iron out their flaws. With used Cans, just make sure they are "worn in" and not "worn out"
orphsmile.gif
 
Oct 31, 2005 at 5:09 AM Post #5 of 38

Kirosia

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uh . . defects, malfunctions, and user error aside, more or less a really long time.
 
Oct 31, 2005 at 5:11 AM Post #6 of 38

Zorander

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The AIWA phones I used back in high school (9 years ago) still sound fine to me. However, while the drivers are still in good working condition, the pads have pretty much worn out and require replacement (which sadly is impossible because there are no replaceable components for the phones). It's quite accurate though to say that headphones generally last for a very long time (and it's the users who are more likely to want to replace them with something else along the way).

Cheers!
 
Oct 31, 2005 at 7:50 AM Post #7 of 38

Nepenthe

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All the Sonys we've ever had have eventually worn out as far as the driver to ear coupling materials -- the pleather recedes, then the foam separates, then the black stuff starts to disintegrate and finally you pull it all off and are left with uncovered foam.

The MDR-V6s I believe have also worn out driver-wise, because the sound just isn't what it used to be and isn't what a much newer pair of V6s sound like.

Most things that move can wear out and I believe some headphone drivers can wear out so as to be noticeable to a human during the course of a couple of decades.
 
Oct 31, 2005 at 1:13 PM Post #9 of 38

jtwn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Nepenthe
All the Sonys we've ever had have eventually worn out as far as the driver to ear coupling materials -- the pleather recedes


Yes, my CD3000's pleather is wearing away badly, I am left with black **** all over my ears after enough head bobbing. The infamous breaking headband has broke on me, though just wrapping cotton thread over the metal bar and inner circle of the headband has made it more secure then it was before.
 
Oct 31, 2005 at 1:23 PM Post #10 of 38

Sovkiller

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The headband and pads use to deteriorate more quick that the drivers and other parts, that is why to get a durable can is a most, mechanically talking.
I use to clean the pads and headband once a week, and after cleaning it I apply a little bit of some protecting substance (I try to get one that has no odors from now on, after some problems with the Armored All) to avoid them to be too dry, that extend the life a little bit but finally they will and need to be replaced, in the case of velour pads, which people seems to prefer my experiences have been even worst, as they need to be washed once in a while....but in the case of Grados they use relatively cheap foam pads that is not a big deal to replace them cost wise....but most high end cans, the most expensive ones at least, use leather on the pads which are supposed to last a lot longer....
 
Oct 31, 2005 at 5:24 PM Post #13 of 38

Tasty

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jki
Any electromechanical transducer has a finite lifetime. The moving membrane will deteriorate over time, even without playing, due to exposure to air, ozone, other environmental pollutants... My guess would be that the deterioration would be accelerated in the cycles of humidity that come from wearing the cans, then drying out, back and forth...
For the materials used in transducers, the long term deterioration typically results in a loss of compliance. This would manifest itself as an increase in distortion, because the transducer could no longer "follow the signal." It is said that high end phono cartridges are only good for a few years whether played or not!
The big question is whether or not this deterioration becomes noticeable in any reasonable timeframe. My guess is that for most high quality cans, this time is measured in years before change is noticed. But I would not expect any set to last even a lifetime and maintain its original fidelity.
As DieInAFire suggests, for most of us this is never an issue, as something newer or better surely will come along down the road and that old set will just go away...



Hot damn, nice first post.
biggrin.gif


Was thinking of the same question myself actually. Just goes to show that upgradeitis is a necessary condition of headphone listening. I am convinced.

Now to get those UM2s...
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