Do Headphones Degrade Over Time?

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There are two types of people when it comes to picking headphones. One group belongs to the casual users that seem to listen to music occasionally, and usually don’t pay much attention to deepness and details. The other group is for professional users and audiophile enthusiasts. These people treat the better sound quality like some kind of mystic follower of the quality sounds. 

JLab in their official web site mentioned a “burn-in” process. A process called “burn-in” in headphones in simple words is a belief that people think headphones should work many hours (between 40-50 hours) to play smoother and clear tones. Also, the fabric of the headphones will lose the ability to be changed or adapted over time and they want to break the headphone speaker drivers. However, this is not entirely true. Let’s examine the topic clearly.

Yes, the audio quality can degrade over time, but it’s really hard to tell when the degrading process starts. This depends on the price you pay, how often you use the headphones as well as used built materials. For obvious reasons, expensive headphones will have better overall quality. Cheap headphones, on the other hand, will sound bad while having a bad or average lifespan.

The average lifetime of quality products will last a decade without losing the sound quality, and other cheap headphones can last more or less than a year. It is recommended to change the ear pads or ear cushions, for the sound change in the headphones. 

Just like any type of electronic device, headphones too have a lifetime, it would be ridiculous to expect them to last forever, but you can make their life longer by picking the right headphones that are built from premium materials and have great sound quality. Go for well-known brands, they are less likely to disappoint you.

What Gives a Rise to the Loss of Quality in Headphones

Rollover the Wires

I get it, it’s not an option to roll over the wires, but it’s a necessity sometimes. Professional brands like Sennheiser 598, Audio-Technica M50XSony WH-XB910N, AKG K702, and K712 Pro and many more have 9.8 feet headphone jack.

However, they aren’t portable, but still, sometimes it requires porting it to another studio and rolling over the wires after you’re done with them. It would be better if you hang the headphones, and leave the wires through the floor. 

Hang or Swing Loosely the Headphone Wire

Letting the cords tangle, or swing them loosely to the edge of the desk is another issue that results in the sound losing its quality over time. It ruins your headphones internally and makes them impossible to repair. 

Think of cords like a thin rope, bend or roll them constantly, after a long time, it will start to break some pieces of wire, right? and over time it will reach the breaking point. The same case happens with wired headphones too.  

Losing Track of Time and not Realizing the Headphones are on Your Ears

The most common issue why headphones degrade over time is keeping them unnecessarily after spending some gaming times, or playing music. Not only doesn’t let the ear breathe, but the sudden movement is causing an internal issue that leads to degradation.

Knotting the Headphones

I’m sure you have encountered some “life hacks” on the internet that tells you how to knot and stop the headphones from tangling. Don’t believe them because they are breaking the cords and shortening the headphones’ lifespan. 

To cut the problem from the root, now brands produce headphones that come with a carrying case, so you don’t have to knot or put them in a bag. 

Exposure to Sweat, Water, and Moisture

I know, the technology now has gone so far, but we all know many times manufacturers lie about the features to make the product appear better and more qualitative. Don’t always believe them, check some reviews before buying.

Sometimes they are rated as dustproof, waterproof, and moisture-free but there’s always a limit to it. Don’t flatter yourself too much if you expose your headphones to severe weather conditions and think it’s going to last for ages. It may withstand for a while, but chances of headphone degradation are likely to occur. 

Rule: Keep in mind that not only headphones, but every electronic device that works with electricity cannot go along well with water.

The solution to Headphone Degradation

There’s always a solution to any problem, let’s see how to prevent the headphones not losing the sound quality for shorter times.

High-Cost vs. Budget Price Headphones

I’ll start with the quote” You get what you pay for”. Believe it or not, the price range isn’t placed for decorative purposes, there is something more about it internally. Just paying 10 to 20$ for a new pair of headphones won’t do much.

Also, you don’t have to spend too much money to get a nice pair of headphones. You have professional Studio Headphones Under $100 as well as Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $50. Don’t compromise the sound quality over built quality. 

Go with Wireless Headphones

Instead of using 10 feet cords, why not choose the wireless option. I get it, some people hate to charge the headphones every day, but let’s be honest we aren’t that careful features. The carefulness lasts a couple of weeks after buying, and when we are used to it, we care way less. This is human nature.

Wireless connectivity users are much more pleased and the headphones tend to last longer than traditional wired headphones. It’s good that we cannot forget the headphones in our ears and stretch them after a sudden rush, or we don’t have to knot the cords. The battery life may be limited, so your time with your headphones is limited.

The solution to struggle with cords from the root ends here.  

Final Opinion

So, to sum up, the article, yes headphones can degrade over time, but you can’t tell when the process starts. Wired headphones are the pain, rolling over the wires, tangling, and exposing them to harsh weather conditions can shorten the lifespan and make the sound lose quality over time. A friendly reminder: always pick headphones that come with a carrying case.

To end wire the struggle, you can always switch to wireless connectivity, or pick the better quality headphones. 

Further Reading

Other articles relating to headphones are available here as well. If you want to discover if wearing headphones in cold weather won’t harm them, look at this article. Then, go on to a separate article to learn whether cycling while wearing headphones is OK.

Check out this post for some incredible noise-canceling headphones designed specifically for use with loud machinery.

Let’s now examine if meditation with or without headphones is worthwhile.

Anton Dimitriyev

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