Why Do My Earbuds Keep Breaking?

Black and white image of man running with earphones in


We’ve always been pro-headphone.  We like our on-ears and our over-ears for exercising, commuting and relaxing and we also love earbuds but we’ve burned through enough of them over the years to know that they can easily break. 

In some cases, we’ve replaced earphones after only a couple of months.  It’s annoying, and it’s expensive even if you’re only spending £10 or £20 a pop. The cost adds up, and we’re not the only ones frustrated by this.  Do a Google search and you’ll find countless search pages where people are asking and answering the same question: why do my earbuds keep breaking? 

Why Do My EarBuds Keep Breaking? 

Earphones often break due to carelessness.  We’re probably all guilty of being heavy-handed with them at times.  When was the last time you stored them correctly in their carry-case?  Do you throw them into the bottom of a bag or scrunch up the wires and shove them into a back pocket?  You might even wrap the cords around your device to keep it secure or if you have wireless earbuds, then maybe you just leave them out in the open ready to be used next time.  It’s all easily done, but that’s why it’s so easy to break them. If your earphones break semi-regularly, then it’s worth looking at how well you’re storing, caring and carrying them. 

Use A Carry Case

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a ground-breaking piece of advice BUT it would be interesting to find out how many of us actually use the protective case that our headphones came in.  Cases aren’t always convenient to carry and they can be bulky and boring to look at but they do protect earphones from dust, moisture and UV damage as well as from being battered about in the bottom of a bag or pocket.  If you don’t like the carry case that came with your earphones, then there are plenty of cases you can buy to suit your needs and personality. 

Be Gentle with Wires 

Earphone wires aren’t as hardy as you might imagine and when one gets damaged it often means that the whole unit is unusable.  One severed connection point somewhere along that string and it’s game over for most earbuds. What’s likely to have happened is that the wire has twisted or been stretched or severed so that the audio can’t be delivered to the speakers.  It’s relatively easy to damage the wire over time especially if you’re wearing your earbuds out and about or if you’re exercising in them. They’re pretty vulnerable and especially if you catch them on a door handle, roll over the end of one with your desk chair, twist the wire between your fingers when you’re bored or trap it in the zip of a bag.  It’s easy enough, too, to pull the wire if you’ve put your phone or device in a back pocket. You can damage the wire any number of ways but often it’s carelessness that causes it.  

Unplug Your Earphones

Unplug your earphones from a device by firmly gripping at the jack rather than at the wire. 

Wrap Them Correctly

To keep earphones in good working order, you may need to baby them a bit and that includes being careful about what happens when you’re not using them.  We’ve already mentioned how important it is to use a case but it’s also important to wrap the wire correctly. If you’re just shoving them into a pocket or tying the cord in a loose knot, then you’re definitely doing them some damage.  Back in December, we wrote about how to keep your wires from becoming tangled up. Some of the advice was related to on-ear or over-ear headphones but much of it is applicable to earphones, too. The devil horn wrap is a useful way of keeping wires together without damaging them.  For longer cords, there’s the roadie’s wrap. You can find examples (and videos showing how to do it) by reading our post on keeping headphones from getting tangled. 

Check Your Volume

Earphone drivers can break if the volume has been turned up too high.  It’s a problem more common with on-ear and over-ear headphones but it’s possible with earphones, too.  If the driver can’t handle the level of noise it’s being asked to process, then it breaks. This is worth bearing in mind because listening to audio at high volume isn’t just bad for our headphones but it’s bad for our hearing, too.  In 2018, the World Health Organisation added noise from personal devices to a list of things dangerous to human health, so if you don’t want to keep your volume lowered for your drivers then do it for the sake of your hearing.  

Sweat Damage

Earphones are popular with people who want to listen to music when they exercise.  Sweat is corrosive however and if it gets inside a headphone can cause damage that kills the sound. If you sweat heavily during exercise, then it’s worth upgrading to sports earbuds such as the Powerbeats Pro or Bose Soundsport.  If you exercise outside a lot in the rain, then you should also pay attention to how water-resistant some earphones are. Even a light rain shower can affect how some earphones work.  You might also be surprised to know that by adding a pair of sweat-proof covers, you can wear over-ear and on-ear headphones during your workout.

Buy Cheap Pay Twice (Sometimes)

Sometimes, it’s a case of you get what you pay for.   Cheaper earphones don’t always mean that they’ll break easily or that you’ll have to keep replacing them, but you may have to concede that a better quality pair might be more durable, robust and, therefore, likely to last longer.  Sennheiser, for example, offers a warranty on their headphones (as do others) so if they break earlier you can get a replacement pair. 

Keep the Wires Short

Some earphones come with inexplicably long wires that only make it easier for things to catch on them.  You want a wire that’s long enough to do the job but not so long that it becomes a hazard. 

Earbuds can break for any number of reasons.  Carelessness is one of the biggest causes.  There’s an obvious case for wear and tear, too, especially if you’re buying cheaper brands and models.  The wire is one reason that they’re so vulnerable so now could be the time to switch to wireless. Even if you’re on a budget, there’s a good range of cheap wireless headphones that come in under £100 available right now. 




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