Learn the best DIY tips to repair your headphone or earphone cables at home with this easy step-by-step guide.
Headphone cables are one of the most fragile parts of any headset, but they’re also the most overlooked. as a result, they are often the first to be damaged.
With every tug, twist and turn, the outer rubber insulation of the cables becomes weaker and thinner. Over time, headphone cables become more exposed, causing them to fray or break altogether. What’s worse is that even if you handle them carefully, your headphone cables are still prone to other accidents, such as being bitten by your pets.
but don’t worry! If it’s damaged headphone cables, you don’t have to throw them away yet!
There are several easy fixes you can do at home to repair broken or frayed headphone cables without using soldering tools. You’ll also find tips on how to repair the most severely damaged headphones and headphone cabling, including lost-cause replacement options. then let’s do it!
Are exposed headphone cords dangerous?
not. exposed headphone cords are generally not dangerous.
Although electricity passes through headphones or headphone wiring, it does so at a very low voltage that depends on the impedance of the headphones. so even if you accidentally touch an exposed wire, you can rest easy knowing your headphones’ frayed wiring won’t electrocute you.
However, while exposed headphone cables aren’t exactly dangerous when touched, your audio device may not be as safe as you think.
Exposed earphone wires are more likely to damage the earphones by short circuit. Short circuits occur when excessive charge flows into an unwanted wire, and often occur when the wire’s insulation is worn or exposed. this can cause overheating and electrical sparks, damaging both the headphones and the audio source.
how to fix headphone cords that are starting to fray
When it comes to headphone or earphone cables, the part closest to the plug is often the first to show signs of fraying. Most of the time, it’s because of the frequent abuse this area receives.
We often get caught on this part when pulling or tugging on the headphone cord before putting it away. it’s also the part that we tend to twist, push, or bend when the headphone jack doesn’t stay in place.
This repetitive damage eventually takes its toll on headphone wiring, resulting in common problems like hearing static or having only one working speaker.
Fortunately, there are quick fixes for frayed or exposed cables that require little money and effort. Here are four easy ways to repair headphones and headphone cables at home:
- wrap it with electrical tape
- use heat shrink tubing
- mold sugru around it
- use cable protectors
wrap it with electrical tape
Most people have electrical tape in their homes, and if not, they’re easy to buy from any hardware store. Electrical tape is designed to insulate electrical wires. Black colored electrical tape, in particular, is made for low voltage electrical wires, so you can try using it for a quick and easy headphone wire repair.
follow these foolproof steps:
- Prep your wire. Before anything else, make sure that your headphone wires are clean and have no traces of oil on them. This ensures the electrical tape will stick to the wire longer and more securely. You can do this by taking a clean cloth with a small amount of isopropyl alcohol and wiping the area down.
- Pre-cut your electrical tape. Electrical tapes vary in size. Pre-cut your electrical tape to your desired size before wrapping it around the wire.
- Wrap it. Wrap the electrical tape around the wire as tight as possible. This will protect the wire from fraying further and insulate it.
use heat shrink tubing
You may also try using heat-shrink tubings or sleeves for a more durable and long-lasting fix. These tubings are primarily used for repairing, reinforcing, and insulating frayed electrical wires.
These are the steps to use them:
- Check the material. Heat-shrink tubings are usually made from plastic materials such as polyolefin, FEP, or PVCs.
- Choose the right size. Choose a heat-shrink tubing that perfectly matches your headphones’ cable size for a snug, secure fit. Depending on their material and composition, these tubings can contract one-half to one-sixth of their original diameter when heated. Popular shrink ratios (the ratio between the tubing’s original size and its shrink size) are 2:1, 3:1, and 4:1.
- Clean the area to be wrapped. Make sure to rid your headphone wires of any excess debris or grease. Take a clean cloth with a small amount of isopropyl alcohol and wipe the area.
- Insert the headphone cable through the tubing. Make sure the tubing is positioned directly over the headphones’ frayed wires. If you’re using the wrap-around heat-shrink type, make sure to wrap it as tight as possible for a more compact finish.
- Apply heat to the area. You can heat the area by using the heating device that comes with the heat-shrink tubing kit, a hot air gun, or a lighter.
sugru mold around
Sugru Mouldable Glue is an all-around moldable adhesive putty made of silicone rubber. You can use this for DIY crafts, mounting needs, electrical repairs, etc. It is moldable, flexible, durable, waterproof, and has good insulation properties.
This is how you can use it to repair frayed wires on your headphones:
- Clean the wire. Clean the area around the wire with isopropyl alcohol to rid it of excess dust, debris, or oil. Take a clean cloth and pour a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on it. Wipe the area and let it dry.
- Mold it. Sugru Mouldable Glues are soft and malleable like play-dough. Roll the material in your fingers and mold it around the wire using your hands. You have more or less 30 minutes to shape and reposition it as desired before the glue sets.
- Leave it for 24 hours. Leave the material at room temperature for at least 24 hours to allow it to set permanently.
use cable protectors
If you’re not much of a DIY person and you want a quick and easy fix, you can try these Jetec cable savers. These are mainly used to prevent wires from fraying. But you can still use them on exposed wires to give your headphone cables added support and backing.
You can use them by following these three simple steps:
- Choose the right cable saver size. These cable savers come in different sizes. Look for the size that would fit your headphone cables the best.
- Wrap. Wrap the cable saver around the part where your headphones’ wire begins to fray.
- Adjust. Make sure to wrap the cable saver up until the very end of the wire (the part where the headphones’ cord meets the plug) so that it stays securely in place.
what to do with the most severely damaged headphone cables
In cases of more severe damage where cables break completely, there is still hope. the two best ways to approach this involve either soldering the headphone wires or using a combination of electrical tape and heat shrink tubing.
These methods have been known to fix many problems with headphones, such as hearing static in the headphones or only one side of the headphones working. however, while these fixes have proven to be effective most of the time, they still run the risk of not working or causing more damage, especially if the steps are not done correctly.
Before you start repairing damaged headphone cables, a sure-fire and most cost-effective way to tackle this is to use your warranty.
If your headphones are still under warranty and the damage is covered, you can defer repairs to a professional who knows how to repair them properly. this helps you avoid unforeseen mishaps if you don’t trust your DIY skills.
If you decide to make your own headphones and it doesn’t completely fix the problem or makes it worse, it’s best to buy a whole new pair of headphones to avoid damaging other devices you use them with. make sure you follow the necessary protocols on what to do with broken headphones so you don’t run into any problems.
but if you’re willing to give it a try, be sure to follow these steps carefully.
repair with welding
Before you begin, you will need:
- soldering kit
- wire stripper/knife/cutter
- insulating tape/heat shrink tubing
- lighter (or sandpaper)
- Start stripping the wire. Strip off the insulation to reveal the wires inside. If you see two wires stuck together, carefully separate the two using a knife or cutter. Remove the outer shielding by slowly running a wire stripper through it (1/4″ to 1/2″ cuts). Continue cutting until you see a broken wire that needs repairing. The inner layer of the headphone cable may reveal differently-colored wires. Generally, the colored wires ( red, green, blue, or copper) transmit sound, and the single bare and uninsulated wire is the ground wire.
- Cut the wire. If the wires inside are shredded and threads are showing, cut the headphone wire. Do this so that they become more uniform and easier to work with.
- Sand the wires to expose the copper. Before soldering, sand off the thin enamel coat on all the wires, including the ground wire. Sand away until the copper is exposed. If you don’t have sandpaper on hand, you can also burn it off using a soldering iron or a lighter.
- Twist together and solder. Twist the wires together and solder the connections. Use your soldering iron to melt a thin coat of solder over the wires. Let the wires and solder set and cool completely.
- Wrap each wire carefully with electrical tape. After the internal wires have cooled completely, wrap each wire with electrical tape to keep them from touching each other and avoid any possible short-circuit situation.
- Place and heat the heat-shrink tubing securely over the headphone cord. Carefully place the heat-shrink sleeve over your headphone wire, then heat to constrict it. This sleeve will protect and insulate your newly-repaired headphone wire. Alternatively, you may also use electrical tape to wrap the wires if you don’t have heat-shrink tubing on hand.
how to fix headphone wires without soldering
If you’re not that skilled at soldering, don’t worry! you can still fix broken wires on your headphones with easier tools.
To repair damaged headphones or headphone wiring without fusing it with a soldering iron, you’ll need:
- wire stripper (or cutter)
- lighter (or sandpaper)
- duct tape/heat shrink tubing
- Remove the rubber covering or sheath. Using a wire stripper (or cutter), remove the rubber covering of the wire to reveal the stripped wires. Be very careful not to cut through any wires.
- Separate the wires by color. Separate the colored wires (right headphone cable = red wires, left headphone cable = blue/green wires) from the other wires by twisting them together and moving them to the side. Also, do this with the ground wires (copper or gold wires). Repeat the same to the other side of the cable.
- Melt off the thin enamel coating. Melt off the enamel coating (colored varnish covering the wires) using a lighter (sandpaper can also work). Repeat the same to the other side of the cable.
- Isolate the wirings. Splice the colored wires from either side by twisting them together. Afterward, use electrical tape to isolate the colored wires from the ground wires.
- Wrap it up. Wrap the wires together by using electrical tape or by using heat-shrink tubing.
replacement headphone cables you can try
If the solutions mentioned above are not enough to resurrect broken headphone cables, replacing them may be the best option. we’ve listed some relatively affordable replacement options in the next section.
But if you’re thinking of buying more high-end cables, check out our detailed guide to expensive headphone cables to see if it’s worth it.
If you’re okay with cheap cables, feel free to check out our recommendations for replacing headphone cables:
lanmu replacement cable
These LANMU Replacement Cables are made of high-quality transparent PVC. The wires are not easy to knot, so they remain intact even with everyday use. Their durable structural support also gives them good tensile strength.
earla tec replacement audio cable with in-line microphone and control
This Earla Tec Replacement Cable is compatible with Beats Studio, Executive, Mixer, and Apple iPhones. The cable material is TPU-coated, soft, tangle-free, and durable. This is a good choice for those looking for a replacement cable with an in-line microphone and control setting.
pack of 2 fancasee replacement cables (open end)
This Fancasee 2-pack Replacement Cord is the perfect replacement for lost or worn-out headphone wires with a 3.5mm male plug connector. It is easy to install. Just connect the respective bare wires and wrap them together. Finally, secure the bare wire using electrical tape or heat-shrink tubing.
Not all broken earbuds require immediate replacement or disposal. Sometimes, with a little patience and ingenuity, a little DIY repair can fix things from frayed cables to damaged headphone pads.
That said, we hope this article has helped you find new ways to save your beloved headphones or earphones. If your headphones are experiencing other issues, feel free to check out our ultimate guide to fixing broken headphones.
If you’ve successfully “saved” your headphone cables using any of the tips above, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below. Also, if you have other tips and tricks you like, please share them with us too!