Headphones rarely last more than a few years before the wires snap due to the constant movement they have to endure. Is there a way to stop me having to get out the soldering iron, or worse, buy a new pair?
I use cheapish Sony earbuds - great sound, but they tend to break every couple of years because the soldering inside the earbuds is pretty shoddy. Here's a quick summary of all the advice I've found on keeping headphones safe; most of it is pretty obvious, but sadly I tend to ignore it because HARD WORK IS HARD.
- Unplug the jack from your player when you're not using it. If you have small earbuds, don't wrap the cable around the player and stuff it in the case or in your pocket, as this puts strain on the jack and may even damage your player at the socket end.
- Get a headphone case that lets you wind your cables around something. (Here's a list of ideas, some better than others). Don't want to buy one? Take a stiff piece of card and cut two notches in it, one for the jack and one for the earbud/headphone connection.
- Avoid huge flapping lengths of cable - it'll get caught on things and be painful, embarrassing, and eventually expensive. Pass the cable through your shirt, or under your coat or scarf.
- For the same reason, always secure your player: either clip the case to your belt, trousers, etc, or zip the pocket tight.
- Unplug headphones by pulling on the jack rather than the cable itself.
- Do not sleep on, sit on, fling, or absent-mindedly nibble headphones.
- Don't follow my example and get headphones with good quality soldering.
- ...Or just throw in the towel and go wireless.
Tl;dr: most failures occur at the jack end or at the connection with the earpiece. Protect these parts from tugs and strain and you protect your headphones. (And I imagine mid-cable breaks will be less likely as well.)
Use zip-ties across a loop at each end to prevent tugging. These cables fail because of tugging and bad rubber on the wires. The bad rubber will now not tear, and tugging at the weakest spot is not going to happen. Looks silly though. I do this with AC wiring after I've used heatshrink tube to the solder joints... Just works.
The best method I've thought of requires a bit of hot glue to stiffen the end of the cable, and some heatshrink tube in the color of choice. First apply a thin layer of glue at the end, from wire onto connector ~2mm. Then push the heatshrink (which should be 2-3cm / 1 inch) over the glued part, and carefully heat it until it fits perfectly.
You could try buying one with Kevlar fiber coating. I have been using this type for about a year and have had no issues them at all. Sound quality is great too.