Seven Ways to Make Your Earphones Last

Linda Hansen | December 19, 2017 Seven Ways to Make Your Earphones Last

When it comes to earphones, we all want a high-quality listening experience without sacrificing comfort and dependability. While Shure earphones are designed to withstand considerable abuse on stage, out in the field or simply at the gym, sometimes customers contact us wondering why their earphones are no longer working properly. Fortunately, the vast majority of these issues can be easily prevented or even fixed by following these simple steps below:


Parts of a Shure Earphone

A: Connectors, B: Nozzle, C: Detached Cable 

1. Store Them Properly

Proper storage of your earphones is your first line of defense. That's why all Shure earphones come with a storage case or pouch. Rather than wrapping the cable around your device or bunching it up, disconnect the earphones from your device and coil it using either the "over-over" or "over-under" method. After the cable is coiled properly, place your earphones and cable in their pouch or case. Many earphone problems are the result of a cable failure caused by stretching or tearing.



Shure Earphone Case

2. Keep the Earphones and Cable Clean

While many Shure earphones have even survived an accidental spin in the washing machine, there's a much better way to keep them clean – especially if you work up a sweat while working out or playing live music. Take a paper towel and wipe down the cable and connector jack after each use in those situations. At home, try mixing in Dawn® brand detergent in warm water and lightly wipe down the cable to remove oils that have collected on it from your skin.

 3. Use the Cleaning Tool

Your ears produce earwax to moisturize your ear canals, fight off infection and help keep dust, dirt, and other debris from getting deep inside your ear. In other words, earwax might be gross but it's a good thing! Earwax build-up is often the cause of poor earphone performance. Remove the sleeves from your earphones and use the provided cleaning tool to clear earwax from the nozzle.


Earphone Cleaning Tool Being Demonstrated

One other suggestion – keep your ears clean, but don't try removing what may feel like excessive earwax with a cotton swab. An occluded ear canal is a 30-second task for a medical professional.

4. Check Connections

Make sure the connectors between the earphones and the earphone cable are clean. Many higher-end earphones (almost all Shure models) have detachable cables. If yours do, remove the earphones from the cable and make sure there isn't any moisture or debris buildup. A cotton swab is usually all that's required, but using some DeoxIT® D100L-CPK cleaner on the end of the cotton swab can also help protect those connections. When you reconnect them, don't forget to match up the R and L markings on the earphones and cable properly!


Shure Earphones Connectors

 5. Keep Them Dry

If your earphones have been in use while you've exercised, gigged or been caught in the rain, dry them off with a towel and place them in a container with a desiccant (moisture absorber) packet in it for about 48 hours. Silica gel packets, if you have any on hand, can be reused if they're allowed to dry between uses. And if you don't want to invest in purchasing a few packets, rice is a handy substitute. Do not put your earphones in the microwave!


Earphones Being Put in Rice
Earphones being put in Silica

6. Replace the Sleeves

Earphones are designed to last for many years, but foam, rubber or silicone sleeves will still degrade over time. This may result in the loss of the earphones' ability to block ambient noise that will end up diminishing the overall sound quality. Audiophiles may choose to replace theirs on a regular basis, but you may want to put this on your own periodic earphones maintenance checklist. Replacement sleeves can be ordered from most manufacturers of high quality earphones. It's always a good idea to keep a few spares on hand.


Earphones Sleeves Being Replaced

7. Buy Listening Products that Last

There's no other way of saying it – you get what you pay for. Inexpensive earphones you can find at the local drug store just won't last as long and won't come with some of the features – like detachable, multi-length and reinforced cables – offered by pro-quality or audiophile models. It's also important to consider the reputation of the manufacturer and available product warranties.

By following these tips, you'll keep your earphones in good condition and sounding great for quite some time. You'll also be able to reduce or eliminate that collection of non-functioning earphones you have in some drawer somewhere. You might just save some money in the end.

One last thing: Take care of the most important listening devices you have – your ears. Shure earphones were initially developed for professional use with in-ear systems. Replacing blaring monitor wedges with IEMs allows performers to hear themselves and the band without earsplitting stage volume while protecting their hearing at the same time. But if you tend to turn up the volume all the way, all the time, you may be doing just the opposite with your earphones.

Happy listening!

Linda Hansen

Linda Hansen

Linda abandoned a Michigan Avenue advertising career to start her own tiny communications firm over a decade ago. She has written and edited hundreds of articles for Shure over the years on subjects ranging from bluegrass at the Mother Church to Leslie Tone Cabinet miking techniques. Her only other musical claim to fame is having attended the last live concert of the Sex Pistols at Winterland.