Longevity of headphones?

What is usual time span of your headphones from the point you buy them to the point when they fall into disrepair, and you get them replaced?

For me, many years before the foam earbuds eventually wear out.
For my son who winds his cord tightly when he’s not using them, under a year before the sound in one of the ears goes out.

But that’s not what breaks them. :rolleyes:

There isn’t really a “usual”. It’s around 1-20 years depending on model, style, usage, etc.

depends for sure.

lots of brands and quality levels.

closed headphones seals will be the part to often die first.

i have some last long, though i go nuts with strain relief on the head and plug end. i will clip or wrap the cord so neither end has strain.

Haha – there’s a Skullcandy ad at the bottom of this page, which I saw just as I started to bash Skullcandy.

I like them, but I know the sound’s going to go out in one ear within a year or so. So I either get the higher-end ones that come with a warranty, or treat them like disposibles (the $10 Jibs are the best sound I’ve found under $25).

And I always carry around a back-up pair in my bike bag. My worst day was being in the middle of a good audiobook with dead 'phones and wondering What Happens Next.

I have had my in-ears since 2007. Hundreds of gigs with them as phones and ear plugs. I will use them today. Shure triple drivers.

Capt Kirk

I have some old Bose in-ear headphones that are quite a few years old now and still work fine, though I need to get around to super-gluing the plastic together in one earpiece.

And I still use the headphones that came with Palm Tungsten way back when.

Honestly, my experience is that I’ll lose headphones before I break them.

The ones that come with the Apple products are crap right out of the box. Never had a pair that lasted more than a month. Most cheap sets are just throw away swag that either end of getting too twist3d too many times or get damaged by rain and sweat from wearing them while running or exercising.

A friend showed me how to windup earbuds in a figure 8 style so that the don’t get tangled up when you get them out to use them. I believe that this alone will double the life of any set of earbuds.

I consider all headphones disposable. They only last a few months for me whether they are high quality $200 sennheisers or 99 cent store earbuds.

I just buy cheap earbuds in bulk and replace them when they break. I’m no audiophile. I’ve have 3 dollar ear buds that sound better than $200 headphones.

They have a rather good replacement policy - 100% of the value if it died prematurely, 50% if it’s your fault. On some, the wires cracked, and they replaced for full price. Another time, a model was discontinued since, so the credit they gave me was higher than what I believe was the equivalent. No experience with their headphones or anything not in-ear.

And then the iPod style are ear buds, not in-ear. They don’t seal out outside sounds nearly as well, so they both sound bad and make users potentially damage hearing by increasing volume.

You could get the Sony MDR-7506. These are their professional headphone series, and they sell replacement parts for every component. Mine have lasted over 20 years, and have got to the point where cushions need to be replaced. No problem, just order new ones. (When Sony say professional they mean it, rather than some dumb marketing name. These headphones are a mainstay of professional users, and are ubiquitous in sound recording roles in most industries.)

My Sennheiser HD-650 have lasted happily for over ten years now. Also have a pair of Etymotic ER-4. One of these broke. These are in-ear phones, and the actual tube fractured - something which was probably my fault. They have a 50% rebate for replacement - however it isn’t quite as good a deal as it sounds, as it is against RRP, and when you add their shipping prices it works out very close to the same as an internet buy price for a new pair. Still very good phones. Not quite up there with Capt Kirk’s 3 driver phones, but the ER-4 was one of the first and remains the benchmark.

My pair of Koss PRO 4AA’s are 40 years old and still providing excellent fidelity. Guaranteed for life, so when the cord began to develop an intermittent short, they were sent in for repair. $6 to mail them in and they came back fixed (+new ear cushions thrown in) at no charge.

the MDR-7506’s look almost identical to my MDR-V6’s. Like you, mine are 20+ years old, and like you I’ve replaced the ear cushions a couple of times. They still sound great.

The cord is pretty thick, and has good strain relief at both ends. In the event of a mishap you’ll yank it out of whatever device it’s plugged into (or pull the headphones off of your head) long before the cord gets damaged. The only really vulnerable part is where the big “fork” swivel connects to each earphone; it’s sort of a thin piece of plastic, and prone to breakage in the event of a drop (this happened to a friend of mine).

I use the in-ear variety (for noise isolation) and the Sony ones I used to default to (those that came with mobile phones etc) tended to last me about six months before the rubber of the cords would start to deteriorate, if not the earpieces themselves.

Now I use a Korean-made, LG Bluetooth set that have been going strong for almost a year. I put this down to, not so much (/only) the make of the headphones, but their design ― they hang around the neck, in a horse shoe-like fashion, relieving the tension on the cords, with said cords not coming into contact with my neck / person, eliminating degradation through sweat, bodily oils and friction.

The only down-ish side of this particular model is that their noise isolation properties are less than the previous Sony branded ones I had. As such, you have to take care not to increase the volume over safe limits in places where ambient noise interferes with the clarity of the audio through the speakers (e.g., at the gym).


I think we can take him at his word on both statements. One is probably a testable fact; the other is an opinion. Furthermore, there are plenty of crappy $200 headphones, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some cheap earbuds, thanks to their geometry and the wearer’s ears, sound better than even half-decent headphones. Finally, he admitted he’s not particularly critical.

I wouldn’t extrapolate from his claim, though.

Huh – which I’d known that. My old Koss headphones dried up and I chucked them. Although they were enormous and I hadn’t used them for 15 years, so I guess not really a big deal.

Generally, I’ve been surprised at the longevity of headphones – I’ve accidentally send my iPod earbuds through the wash a couple of times with no obvious degradation in sound.

They are indeed essentially the same. However I don’t know how useful the consumer side of Sony is about replacement bits. The pro side will keep parts in stock as a matter of course - essentially as consumables.

Taking him at his word won’t help if your goal is to buy the $3 ear buds.

Exactly. I’d buy a 12-pack.

If he’d just tell us what he liked at that price… c’mon, austeruty!