GUIDE: How to clean your Shure SE535's (if the sound starts to occasionally cut out on you)
Jun 2, 2013 at 8:42 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

s1rrah

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I wear Shure SE535's on a daily basis; and I wear the hell out of them, from 4 to 6 hours, every day.
 
This use is done in some fairly inhospitable environments and as part of my daily work: dusty, windy conditions; some times in light rain, very cold, very hot, extremely physical, dirty work. Seriously, they are in my ears, sure, but the external housings and cables are definitely put through the wringer in so far as environmental conditions are concerned. I also run/jog about 15 miles a week and so sweat factors in to the equation as well.
 
All that said, every two to three months, I'll notice that the sound begins to occasionally cut out in either one or both of the ear pieces. I've also read that more than a few other SE535 users have also experienced this phenomenon, some times referring to it as "static" ... but it's more like, just intermittent audio drop-outs or "cut outs" ... generally depending on some movement of my head or the other.
 
So as opposed to sending them to warranty service on the first occasion of this problem, I decided first to attempt cleaning the contacts where the cable connects with the ear piece on the chance that this might be the problem.
 
And so, I did this and after reconnecting everything, I found the problem to have been completely solved, no more cut outs in the music. Over time, I've found it necessary to clean the ear piece contacts at least every two to three months, the indication of when this becomes necessary being the re appearance of the occasional audio drop outs.
 
And so, since I've read a good deal about person's having this same problem and as well, some questions as to how best to clean the Shure SE535's, I decided to do a little guide illustrating the method I came up with that works best, especially regarding how to clean the tiny little female connector (although, as one picture will demonstrate below, the male connector becomes equally filthy...it's just easier to clean).
 
Here goes...
 
 
You'll need...
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The only tools you need are some rubbing alcohol, a small bit of paper towel (just tear off a little 3" x 3" piece or so) and a toothpick (or any other object of an approximate, pointy nature...like a dental floss/pick or otherwise) ...
 
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An improvised, cleaning swab...
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Next, make an improvised cleaning swab (with a tiny tip) by gently pressing the toothpick in to the paper towel, the idea being to make a soft, pointy paper tip; you don't want to push the toothpick all the way through the paper, just in to it enough to form a paper tip (sort of an umbrella shape). If you use a standard issue paper towel, you'll find it best to fold the paper in two before pressing the toothpick in to it in order to avoid wholly penetrating the paper...
 
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Disconnect your ear pieces...
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I don't know about the rest of the Shure SE535 owners out there but mine are super fxxxing hard to pull loose from the cable; I mean, it really takes exceptional effort (also, for whatever reason, I've found that one ear piece  is more difficult to separate than the other). I've found that ever so slightly wiggling the ear piece while pulling on it helps to more easily separate it from the cable. If you look closely, below...you can easily see the shiny brass of the male connector, stained with some greyish looking dirt...
 
Also, check out that black olive tip! LOL ... it looks sort of weathered, huh? It's actually over 1.5 years old and though it looks a bit worse for wear, it actually still sounds perfect. I clean those too, BTW ... warm water and dish soap and then rinse real good. They last a long time, this way. In fact, I've never bought replacements for my originals that shipped with my SE535's  (that was a freebie) ... 
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Ready your weapon!
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Next you'll want to set up to dip your improvised cleaning tool in a bit of the rubbing alcohol; personally, I just pour a bit of the alcohol in to the bottle cap and then dip the cleaning tool in to this...
 
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Stick it in and twist it about...
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Do just what the title says, once you have dipped the tip of the cleaning implement you've fashioned into the alcohol, and while holding the napkin pressed back against the shaft of the toothpick, insert the pointy tip in to the female portion of the housing connector and twist it about, rotate it, etc. (and just stop it, already, you filthy minded perverts!)  
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[size=11.818181991577148px]...[/size]
 

 
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After this initial cleaning, you'll most likely see quite a bit of black/greyish filth left on the paper towel; in fact, I recommend repeating this cleaning process a few times as I continue to see reducing amounts of grime on subsequent cleanings; generally, I find the connector to be completely clean after about three repetitions.
 
When done, if you wear your SE535's out and about as much as I do and in as many varied and oft times dirty daily environments as I? Then when through, your paper towel piece will look something like this...
 
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Pretty damn nasty, eh? 
 
 
The male connector
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The male connector is easy (I don't even need to post pics!); just wet another bit of paper towel and with this, grab the male tip and just twist the paper towel around it a bit with your fingers (of course, no toothpick is needed here and if you try to use it on the male connector then something is wrong with your brain) 
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 ... just use the towel and your fingers.
 
You'll see even more dirt removed from the male connector.
 
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So that's all there is to it.
 
I've done this about four or five times over the past couple years and it always results in a perfectly, as new, functioning set of SE535's.
 
And yeah, I agree with some of you, I'd prefer a different sort of connector (while retaining the detachable cable) because the swivel action isn't that important to me. But I personally LOVE the Shure house sound and haven't really found anything to compare and so I'm sticking with them, semi-flawed cable design or not.
 
So if your sound begins to occasionally drop out ... or if you hear what others have described as occasional "static" in either ear piece of your Shure SE535'? Save yourself a lot of hassle and don't send them in for warranty service, just clean them.
 
Of course, true mechanical errors can occur which will result in the very same sort of intermittent sonic errors and so use the above process to rule dirt out as a factor...
 
Enjoy...
 
dt880smile.png

 
Oct 6, 2014 at 6:25 AM Post #3 of 7

s1rrah

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I run with mine and weight train with them daily/weekly and have never had any problems. I think the angle of the tube going in to your ear is such that fluid would have a hard time entering the nozzles; as well, the filter inside the nozzle will keep liquid from traversing the tube.
 
Never had any issues with water/moisture ...
 
In fact, not proud of this but I actually put an older pair of 535's that I had through the washing machine cycle as I had forgotten to take them out of my jeans pocket ... didn't damage them in the least and nor did it affect the sound ... go figure, eh?
 
But yeah, jogging with them is just fine ...
 
Best,
Joel
 
Jan 31, 2016 at 1:27 AM Post #4 of 7

Wavertonwood

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Thanks for this post. I have a pair of Shure IEMs that I bought about a year ago and spend most of my waking day in my ears. Recently the right side sound started to cut out.

I followed the step by step instructions above and now they are as good as new.
 
Nov 20, 2017 at 12:36 PM Post #5 of 7

damobananna

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Has had problems with a second hand pair of campfire audio jupiter and I got a bit worried as slowly but not shurely (no pun intended) I would hear static noises when I was listening, when I moved my head or cables at first, I blamed this on my second hand dac, as my HP out is gone on my laptop I need to run a through a dac, so no alternative testing available, the lg v10- second hand ,died 3 days after i got it and i dont recall any static coming through that around a month ago. this noise was so confusing I found that my pc xbox controller has an HP out and to much joy it works as good as my headstreamer and probably has better firmare for detecting hp audio out do i dont know how they acomplish this in a $30 controller from target , albiet it sounds like regular android moble line out, I could still hear the distortion , I was not yet convinced or wanting to come terms in fact I bought another second hand dud, this post has helped me so much, i tried the cleaning last night with a cue tip and windex, this was yesterday b4 i read this and i could only clean so much but i did manage to pull a mordor sized ring of black out, I plugged my iems in just b4 I started to wright this, and the sound was worse, so I thought fantastic!! they are not doomed as it was for shure (not shure i have campfires) that only the connectors that where temporally effed andcx I procceded to look out for a cleaning mmxc tutorial on the net with not much hope and I found this!! and after i read it I began the deep clean as described tearing of a piece of the cue tip and rolling it around the point of a scewer gave me a primary weapon dipped and as well as the secondary being a scrap of toilet tissue, (coz privileged) any way long story but since i began writing this i have all my trebble back that i denied not loosing and they no longer crackle just enough for me to second geuss what the noise is, there is still a tiny bit when i first plug them in and it has finally resdided now and when i purposly wiggle them the crackle zbfbfdvsadsxfbgfnhxchg is non existant 0
Thank you.
 

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