1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

The Complete Guide to taking proper care of headphones

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by squallkiercosa, Jun 3, 2013.
  1. squallkiercosa
    Taking proper care of headphones
    OK, you've spent a fair amount of money on headphones so you probably want to protect your investment the best possible way. For future references I decided to compile every reasonable suggestion from head-fiers posted on the website. For you by you guys.
    Most of you probably know better than I do about taking care of headphones, so any contribution/suggestion will be well received and added to the list.
    Now, the best way to look after your headphones is to keep them in a case or bag whenever you're not wearing them. If your headphones do not come with such a bag, you can pick one up for $30 or less. More is luxury.
    Repeatedly adjusting the headband in any headphone shouldn't be a problem at all, so you needn't worry about that. The vast majority of headphone problems are cable issues, so just make sure you never scrunch up the cable or put too much stress on it at either the headphone end or the plug end.
    Don't run the cord over with your computer roller chair. It sounds silly, but trust me, it's going to happen. I don't even have a rolling chair and does happen.  I'm pretty sure all headphones have some suicide pact worked out with chairs.
    Check the plug and the 1/8 to 1/4" adapter periodically for metallic flash that may cause shorts across the contacts. (Somebody posted it here).
    Although I don’t necessary agree with this: hang them on a stand. It does minimize contact with dirty surfaces. It also makes them more easily accessible and it looks good.
    Wipe the surfaces (headband, pads, cups) with a microfiber cloth if possible and store them in a safe place (away from younger kids and pets)
    I would use common sense and not subject your headphones to high temperatures or humidity changes, direct sunlight, being near heat vents, etc. And don't go skateboarding in the rain with them on, don't attempt to use them underwater, don't throw your headphones on the floor to give examples.
    In conclusion, keep the cans away from:
    - Heat or cold
    - Sunlight
    - Kids and pets
    - The edge of a desk/cabinet
    - Dust
    Don't forget to give 'em a good night kiss every evening. Most important thing to keep them happy
    For Pleather/velour pads
    Wipe them periodically to remove dust.
    Some users have contemplated vacuuming them Thus far I made it by simply picking and wiping off the dust/dirt with a wet cloth and my fingers. If the earpads get really dusty (like all velour pads) you could use one of those battery-powered mini-vacuums meant to clean keyboards.
    Pleather/synthetic leather/protein leather:
    Leather conditioners shouldn't be used simply because they were not intended for synthetic materials. Certain leather care oil products might cause leatherette (pleather) to crack after several uses. Nobody knows how chemicals will react so why risk it?
    For Grados, washing the pads is very easy and achieves good results.
    Cleaning, preserving leather pads
    Sometimes the simplest way really IS the best way. Plain tap water is ideal for cleaning and is the easiest on leather. Quick polishes with sponges are actually water/acrylic based which are not that good for fine leather in the long run. As for myself I wipe down the leather pads on my cans often before storing.
    Leather requires a little more attention and again, I'd reassert that you should be careful about what you use, especially for repeated application, which is typical for any leather item that gets used repeatedly over the year. Just clean them with a soft damp cloth or leather cleaner if they're really dirty and apply a coat of leather conditioner about twice a year.
    Any quality leather conditioner can be used on the leather ear pads, it doesn't have to be expensive or from a well-known brand either however, I'd be careful in choosing. Mink oil and dubbin will eventually soften and rot the leather if applied constantly. Cream conditioners are better, but some brands don't saturate very well. You should be careful removing excess cream between stitches: If you leave it dry, it won’t let our leather breathe.
    Whatever you go with, be sure to first test in an innocuous area to be sure.
    I read this somewhere and I’m posting it. Do not use saddle soap! Now we know this may come as a shock to many but despite popular belief, the saddle soap can actually harm leather.
    IEMs in general
    Music is everywhere, and the best way to control the flow of that music is by using IEMs/earbuds. Accept the fact that your earbuds will absolutely grow to become a part of your lifestyle. The most important thing you can do is to buy a good pair but keep in mind even the most expensive pairs are not indestructible. Treat them well, and they will treat you well.
    For starters, stop wrapping them around your player. It damages the cable, especially if you wind it tightly. Worse, if you leave them plugged in it'll put strain on the plug as well, which can cause even worse damage, to both the headphones and the player. Over time, you’ll notice that your music gets choppy unless you bend the wire in a certain way usually after warranty expires.
    Unplug your headphones first and then loosely coil them separately to the player. That's the best way to take care of them.
    Clean them. They are in your ears all the time. Over time, ear debris can clog up the phones and mess with inner circuitry. 
    Clean your ears: Hygiene is the key...
    There's no need to clean your ears constantly with q-tips. A towel is usually more than enough, small cotton hair from the q-tips can rest inside your ears and cause an infection, so avoid them. I used to have allergic reactions often but it was a matter of time, the allergic reaction disappeared even using the same tips after a few weeks and now I'm allergic free (knock on wood).
    Carrying case: One of the worst things you can do is ball up your earbuds and throw them into your pockets…
    For Shure/MMCX connectors:
    Sound dropping out or what some refer to as "shorts" is due to the connectors needing cleaning; you should clean the connectors every four months. Once cleaned, no amount of swiveling will cause the drop out or "short" ... Toothpick, napkin and alcohol is all you need to solve the dirty connector problem.
    For IEMs with detachable cables:
    Do not keep taking your cables out as it can cause them to break plus making the sockets enlarge. 
    How to clean Comply foam tips/Olive shures/generic brands
    No matter what people say, foam tips don't last very long. Apparently the longer you use them, the more the sound quality will decrease. The only thing I do to clean them is slosh them around in some warm soapy water then let them air dry. Don't squeeze, since that just hastens the foam's decay.
    From Comply website:
    Clean your Comply™ Foam Tips by gently wiping them with a clean, damp cloth. Use water only. Do not clean tips with alcohol-based cleaning solutions. Let tips dry completely before next use. To ensure peak performance, we recommend replacing Comply™ Foam Tips every three months or when they become soiled.
    Cotton swabs should never go in your ear. Some users tried cleaning foam tips with cotton swabs and ended up getting compacted ear wax which had to be removed by a health care professional.
    Preventive methods are probably the best way to extend lifespan of the tips
    I clean my ears in the shower, the outside part and let the water from the shower wash some of the water into the ear canal. You can also get ear wax removal kits (murine brand for example) at any drug store but I wouldn't recommend them. These are good if you have some built up wax but not at all necessary for maintenance.
    Now I want to talk about cables. Just about every audio system has some wires coming out of it. Whether you bought cheap cables or expensive ones, these are often the most neglected part of any set up. Some manufacturers of higher-end phones have easily replaceable cables (ultimate-ears, westones, shures, customs comes to mind). Others (high-end) reinforce the cable's pressure points (where the wires go into the phones and where the wires terminate at the plug etc) internally to resist the twisting.
    As a general rule, it’s a good idea to try to keep the power cables away from the audio cables. Mostly, though, once you’ve set up your stereo system, you’re not going to look at all these wires. They’ll hang out around the back, getting dusty, and doing their jobs.
    Meanwhile, the poor wires on your headphones will be earning their living the hard way. Now, I’m rather fond of headphones, I use them a lot and storing headphones is always an issue.  If you coil the wire in a figure-8, the twists cancel each other out, and the whole thing unrolls every time without any tangles. The way I see it, this will easily extend the life of your headphones, which makes it okay to spend twice as much on them. I use a velcro cable tie to keep them in place, and I never have to untangle anything. The trouble with this is that twisting the cable weakens the electrical conductors on the inside, and in time causes the thing to stop working. 
    Headphile recommends: "cables should not be bundled, wrapped in a figure eight, wrapped around headphones, twisted over or kinked at right angles. Storage of cable should only be circular, no less than 3-4" circumference." 
    Now, the supposedly right way to do it is to think of it as a fishing reel. Hold the heaviest end of the cable in your hand, and make a 'wrap it up' style motion with the other hand, making sure you're not actually grabbing the cable but letting it slip over your skin and going straight onto the “spool”. I've also heard that with anything but replace-able cable head phones, you should never ever coil the wire around your hand or anything, but instead gently 'fold' the cable in progressive halves, taking care not to impress the bends and delicate parts of the cable.
    If you have any other great cable-management tips to share, please use the comments. Have a great weekend!
    Headphones with embedded wood
    The best is to keep your wood in a cool and dry place. Too much moisture or swings in temperature will be bad for your cans. I would stay away from oils or chemicals... you never know how the various lacquers and woods are going to react. Microfiber or soft cotton cloth can be used. The oil from your hands, etc. should be harmless, but you'll want to keep the pads nice for anyone else who's wearing them.
    Keep them away from termite mounds
    All your wisdom can be added simply by posting ideas or tips. It will be appreciated
    drey101, tehchewy, Tdeprat and 7 others like this.
  2. vinnievidi
    Nicely done Squallkiercosa. General maintenance is something that is often overlooked. There is little worse than ruining your prized set of cans--whether they be your spare HD800 or the used K701 that you've saved up for--by not taking proper care. So kudos. This is a great piece for anyone just getting into headphones; and a nice reminder for some of us who've been around for a while. 
  3. roadcykler
    Do what now?
  4. squallkiercosa
    I don't get it.
  5. Claritas
    Headphile recommends: "cables should not be bundled, wrapped in a figure eight, wrapped around headphones, twisted over or kinked at right angles. Storage of cable should only be circular, no less than 3-4" circumference." (http://www.headphile.com/page6.html)
    squallkiercosa likes this.
  6. DoomForce
    Nice thread, thank you!

    Remember, for normal plastic IEM tips, you can and should sterilise with a high quality alcohol (isopropanol is best, or rubbing alcohol with concentration higher than 50% if possible).

    You can read more about the sterilisation process of alcohol here: http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/disinfection_sterilization/6_0disinfection.html
  7. Claritas
    Yes, that's what a knowledgeable public health graduate student once told me. But how do we clean foam tips? Or should we give up and replace them?
  8. squallkiercosa
    How to clean Comply foam tips/Olive shures/generic brands
    No matter what people say, foam tips don't last very long. Apparently the longer you use them, the more the sound quality will decrease. The only thing I do to clean them is slosh them around in some warm soapy water then let them air dry. Don't squeeze, since that just hastens the foam's decay.
  9. Claritas
    Thanks. Sorry I forgot to refer to OP. It's been a couple of months since I read it.
  10. Trenne
    Great thread. Good advise for us who are new to this.
  11. jamericanmix
    Thanks. I consider this useful and valuable.
  12. maltronics
    I would just like to add that I have several headphones with velour ear-pads and the best way that I have found to clean them from lint and hairs is - get ready for it - a lint roller! Works fantastic. 
    I also have phones with pleather earpads and IMO the best way to prevent them from flaking over time is to wipe any sweat off them with a microfiber cloth after each use.
    Also I never listen to my more expensive headphones with anything other then clean hair to prevent oils from deteriorating the pads over time. 
    I hope these tips help you. Happy listening sessions!
  13. Claritas
    Thanks for writing about velour: I really like it. http://www.head-fi.org/t/600095/pleather-vs-leather-debunking-the-durability-myth explains well why some pleather lasts and some famously doesn't, such as Sony MDR-V6. I, too, use K702 only with freshly cleaned hair; it still looks perfect (knock wood). The others I'm not so picky about.
  14. BaTou069
    I think the best way is to use these rollers to get rid of dog/cat hair on your clothes before leaving home
  15. ostewart
    Dont wear them in the rain or throw them on the floor, unless you own the german maestro GMP 8.35 D, in which case do this periodically :wink:

Share This Page