Life-span of well built earphones
Mar 5, 2012 at 11:50 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

brucew268

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(My question is at the end. The rambling story is in between.)
 
In the early 90's most of my investment was in building a audiophile home music system. I still love the experience of music through it today and have been fortunate to only replace one component in that time... not that I haven;t been tempted to upgrade many times! But I have found myself on the go much more in the last 10 years, not able to enjoy my home system.
 
Then in the early 2000's I heard that good sounding earphones were to be had for portable use. I bought a used IPOD and used the earbuds which were recommended as higher quality than what came with most players. But my ears don't fit earbuds, so I felt like I was listening to someone's clock radio from the other room.
 
So --in I can't remember what year... 2004? -- I invested in a pair of Shure E3c, which I found frustrating in their mere hints at good sound. Rather thin in the mids and lows that hardly existed. But the microphonics were great; I could hear them as well as the music! When one the signal in one ear gave out , I was only too happy to try for something better.
 
After reading much here at Head-Fi and probably a couple of other (now-defunct) headphone forums, I settled on Ultimate Ears. Seems like Super.fi 3 Studios (2006), though I can;t find any identifying marks or receipts. The mids seem smooth, slightly, yet fairly detailed. And they actually had bass, at least upper bass, with nice texture. The upper end seemed to have some sparkle and detail, even some delicacy in presentation. A nice, coherent presentation, though certainly not the last word earphone musicality. They still are far, far short of my home rig.
 
For the last year, the replaceable cables on the UE SF3 Studios has been just loose enough to pop off the earpiece every 4th time I wear them, but tight enough to keep a good electrical connection. I played with trying to tighten the metal connection, which helped for a couple weeks. Fortunately, the cable usually popped off while they were in my ears, so I didn't lose the earpiece. But now the plastic around the earpiece socket has broken and only works with care. I think my UE's portable days are over.
 
So I've been haunting these boards the last few weeks, enjoying the hunt.
 
I started this thread annoyed that the earpiece had broken 'so soon'. But when I do the math, it's been 6 years with this set. Not so bad. I've read lots of horror stories of earphones self-combusting in their first year. (I was rather attracted to the UE700 until I realised that seemingly most of the owners have had the cables fall apart with a year.)
 
So if you have a pair of great sounding earphones that you think fairly robust, how long have they lasted? And what would you guess is average? I'm not looking for recommendations (I've just made a purchase). I'm more interested in the average life-span of well-made, great sounding earphones these days.
 
Mar 5, 2012 at 11:52 AM Post #2 of 11

tinyman392

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It depends on how you treat them.  If you just shove them in your pocket when you're done with them, they won't last long.  If you actually take care of them, they should last a couple years (unless there's a manufacturer's defect).
 
Mar 6, 2012 at 12:17 PM Post #3 of 11

brucew268

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Actually, a couple of years for IEM's seems like a pretty bad investment for $100-300 outlay. I'd be annoyed if my earphones only lasted that long. Any other experiences: of your IEMs that you use regularly, what has been the average lifespan? (assuming you took good care of them and they were not a defective manufacturing design)
 
Mar 6, 2012 at 12:23 PM Post #4 of 11

some1

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If looked after and stored correctly, headphones, earphones etc can last an absolute age, i have 2 pairs of MDR-D77 headphones that are vintage, apart from replacement earpads they are fine.
 
If you stored your IEMs in a case, and never tugged or snagged the cables ever, then they will probably work indefinately.
 
Mar 6, 2012 at 12:48 PM Post #5 of 11

JK1

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Complaining about an IEM lasting a few years? I see many complaints about some IEMs lasting less than 3 months! If you use it often, I consider two years of useful life rather good. of course how careful you are with an IEM will make a major difference in how long it will last. playing music too loud can not only damage an IEM, but will also damage your hearing. Experts advise keeping the volume below 80db, which is around the volume of the dial tone on a corded telephone.
 
Below one year with reasonably careful use is imo unacceptable though. For use when very active(ie extreme sports, working out at a gym, or running) using a less expensive player(perhaps a $30 Sandisk Clip+?) and a less expensive IEM is a good idea. Since IEMs that are used often don't tend to last that long, it probably makes sense for most people to spend under $100 each. A  $200 IEM won't sound twice as good as a good $100 one. Some $100 IEMs sound better than some $200 ones. There are even many decent enough IEMs in the $25-$50 price range. I can't see myself spending over $100 on an IEM.
 
Mar 6, 2012 at 12:56 PM Post #6 of 11

Yggdrassilious

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I've never owned any single pair of IEM for over a year. I've always upgraded, side-graded, or traded or something. For me, that's part of the fun.
 
There is a pair of UE 700s that I've had since spring 2009, but it broke winter 2009. I've since had 1 replacement pair and bought another brand new pair cuz I love the UE 700 so much.
 
BTW, if you are still using that "used iPod" as your portable source..... time to upgrade to something like a iPhone 3GS or 4, or Classic, and put in Apple Lossless files.
 
Mar 6, 2012 at 6:21 PM Post #7 of 11

brucew268

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Actually is use a Sony NWZ-X1050. Cowon and Sony seem to have the best mobile sound as far as I can tell. I had a Creative Zen X-Fi, which was good but not quite up to Sony standards, and I ran out of space with only 8GB. I still find it amazing that Sony MP3 players seems to have amazing sound even on two tiers down from the Sony NWZ-Xxxxx.
 
I don't bother with my HTC Desire mobile for music, since it wears down the battery too fast, and can't really compete with any of the music players listed above.
 
Mar 6, 2012 at 6:27 PM Post #8 of 11

fredman22

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I've managed to keep the same IEMs for over 8 years (the 1st four with UM2s and the last four with W3) and simply remaining conscious of them during use has kept them in one piece. Plus a few rules like NEVER put them in your jeans pockets, etc.  Whenever I am on the go with my portable music gear (I still carry a HiMD player around with me) my stuff is usually in a small camera bag and the bag-pocket I keep my IEMs in is roomy and non-constricting.  Cheers.
 
Mar 6, 2012 at 6:44 PM Post #9 of 11

Byakushiki

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Even the same models of IEMs will last differing times even with heavy use. I had a pair of IEMs from Altec Lansing, Backbeat Titaniums, and they only "broke" after I split the shell on one side. The driver is fine, even the crappy UE straight plug is fine, but the casing broke. Then again, it did end up in my pocket every 20 minutes for long periods of time, so it's run its course.
 
That being said, if you really like how those SF5 Pros sound, why not just reshell them into customs? Westone connectors>UE earphone connectors.
 
Mar 6, 2012 at 8:24 PM Post #11 of 11

JK1

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Quote:
Actually is use a Sony NWZ-X1050. Cowon and Sony seem to have the best mobile sound as far as I can tell. I had a Creative Zen X-Fi, which was good but not quite up to Sony standards, and I ran out of space with only 8GB. I still find it amazing that Sony MP3 players seems to have amazing sound even on two tiers down from the Sony NWZ-Xxxxx.
 
I don't bother with my HTC Desire mobile for music, since it wears down the battery too fast, and can't really compete with any of the music players listed above.


I am amazed that the $30 Sandisk Clip+ 2GB player sounds so great. Add a 32GB micro SDHC card for $30, and get a great tiny $60 34GB player.
 

 
 
 

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