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Headphone lifespan

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by autumnholy, Jul 22, 2012.
  1. autumnholy
    How long actually can a headphone last? (Apart from the changeable cosmetics, eg. padding)
    Just wondering how long can a headphone works. I think units break down eventually due to driver failure. But I wonder in average how long can a headphone function.
  2. xnor
    It depends. Cheap plastic cans typically fall apart after a few months. Others last as long as over 20 years.
  3. OJNeg
    I'm no expert, but some models can last for decades. The physical parts such as pads and hinges and cables will break down before the driver ever comes close to failure. The HD580/590/600 are a good example of this. Some decade-old Grado models are still floating out there too.
    I wonder myself if there is an audible difference to be heard between a factory-new model and an identical 20-year old model.
  4. JadeEast
    On my desk right now I've got a Yamaha HP-1, and a Concept Ceh-1, both orthodynamics, from the late 70's and they work (and sound) great. I've also got a pair of AKG k180s that are- I think- from 73ish, almost as old as I am, that work. From my small sample 30-40 years and counting.
  5. proton007
    Depends, my Sennheiser PX200 lasted 7 years. I replaced the pads twice, and finally one of the drivers gave in. They're $50.
    So better/premium headphones should last 15-20 years atleast.
  6. RexAeterna
    beyer dt48A made in the 60's still used today and perfectly working. drivers can last a lifetime if well taken care of and maintained. only thing going are cables and pads that degrade with years of use. only headphone i know that degrades with time is sonys' R10 and CDxxxx line cause of the bio cellous driver. only other thing that decays on a driver but mostly with just speakers is the surrounds cause the foam surrounds decay after 30 or so years. that's why most speakers use rubber surrounds beside it's stiffness and flexibility. some professional speakers for recording used cloth surrounds which look and feel really nice. headphones use lot different material with surrounds so decaying with headphones is a non-issue. i have pair of sextetts as well with original box over 30 years old and still sound better than most headphones out today.

    don't forget stax/electrostatics as well cause lot of favorite ones are from the 70's and still work if carefully maintained.
  7. autumnholy
    I'm wondering about this because as far as my audio journey goes, I somehow felt that there's no such thing as the best SQ setup, but rather, all those setups provide different sound signature. Therefore, I felt by rather purchasing a set of high-end setup, I'd rather purchase a few gears and combine them for the joy of different listening experiences.
    Not sure if I am right about "best" and "different" sound, just that by my expectation, more expensive gears "should" last longer than the cheaper ones. And in fact, I also trying to find my own perfect cutoff between "improved sound quality for the price paid" and "unjustified price-value ratio"...
  8. BrownBear
    I have two pairs of cans made in the late 70s, Pioneer Monitor 10 and K240 Sextett, and both sound amazing and are going strong. Save for the pads on the Monitor 10, I am going to need to make some soon I think. I also have a pair of Pioneer SE-50 from the early 70s that are still going strong as well. I think headphones can last a pretty long time.
  9. autoexec
    It's very comforting to know that they would last quite a while. :) Though I'm seeng posts like "my "forgot what model" drivers are dying, what would you recommend for my next pair?" How is it exactly dying? As in dying from their interest or like the sound becomes weak? I would definitely ask if I see that kind of post again. O_o
  10. autumnholy
    I don't know if headphones build and endurance dropped or I'm just unlucky for picking up the malfunctioning ones. I've had one Radius DDM sent back for RMA, returned and used less than 2 weeks and experienced a lack of bass on the left side of the driver. Well, sometimes production do matter.
    It's very pleasing to hear that headphones can indeed withstand years and years. My initial hope would be for 3 years in order to get used to the sound signature and also learn to listen and appreciate my songs before I move on to "upgrade" or change my current ones to another. Well, after all, it's all about music enjoyment [​IMG]
  11. autoexec
    It's definitely a lemon if it only lasted weeks as headphones usually come with a 1/2-year warranty. :)
  12. autumnholy
    Heard that the whole batch is facing similar dilemma.
  13. bigshot

    Once you hit a certain price point, all headphones should last for decades. I doubt if $1500 headphones would really work longer than $150 headphones. But they would hold up longer than $50 portable folding headphones.
  14. streetdragon
    but im not sure if more expensive headphones are more durable in build than cheap ones, like the hd202 vs a hd800 cause i know a hd202 is pretty darn tough (possibly except the wire outlet part)
  15. dvw
    I owned more than 40 phones. Only 3 broke and they're all broke because of the plastic casing. I have lost more phones than broken phones. One of my phones is more than 40 years old and it still work. So I won't worry too much about it.

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