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How Long Will They Last? (The Average Life Of Headphones)

by Josh Koop | Last Updated:   2 weeks ago
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When it comes to audio equipment, you want your headphones to last. The problem is that there are so many models on the market today, which makes it difficult for consumers to know what they’re getting themselves into.

With so much competition in the headphone industry, companies always have found ways to cut corners and compromising quality. This has led to a higher chance of breaking or malfunctioning sooner than anticipated. In this blog post, we will discuss how long your average pair of headphones last!

If you care, clean, and use them responsibly many headphones will last for three years or longer. For headphones, there is no “end of life” or similar where they will just stop working. The more they cost though the higher quality the components will be and the longer their lifespan will be.

People like to use headphones. They can listen to music and it sounds good. Some people spend a lot of money on them, but you can find good values that cost less than $200. There are different types: over-the-ear, earbuds, noise-canceling, and wireless.

How Long Do the Average Headphones Last?

When you are looking to buy a pair of headphones you will want to get the longest life out of them that you can. The issue with buying headphones is you never really know how long this life expectancy will be.

While I can tell you that they can last years there is no way to tell you if your purchase will be able to last over time. In most circumstances, you will have to follow the guidelines below to push them to their maximum lifespan.

You Get What You Pay For

When choosing headphones you definitely want to make sure you don’t cheap out because this alone can be a large reason why they end up lasting a very short time.

If you make the solid investment in the beginning this can mean not buying another pair for years to come, if you buy cheaper ones though you will find yourself having to buy replacements constantly.

Additional benefits to paying more are that the speaker quality is typically better, the batteries will last longer, and the materials will be of higher quality which will allow them to last longer and break down less over time.

Take Good Care of Them

The last way to get a longer lifespan is to take good care of them. Since they are expensive it is important that you keep your headphones clean and in a safe place so they don’t break.

This means cleaning them consistently along with lookit to replace things like the pads on the over-the-ear headphones and cleaning the charging case for wireless earbuds.

Cleaning and caring is a simple thing yet very often overlooked by the owner. This can be a huge factor in the life of your headphones.

Reasons Headphones Break

There are lots of reasons how people break headphones, this isn’t some perfect list by far but they are some of the most common ways your headphones may meet their end, especially with cheap headphones.

Cord Issues

Let’s face it, the new world operates on mostly wireless headphones because cords suck, they are simple to damage and their dangling nature makes them simple to catch on to EVERYTHING!

The most common issue is when seated at a desk is rolling over the cord. As one expects this has a chance to damage the internal cable and decrease the audio quality over these signals back and forth leading to cutting out and then no sound eventually.

Another issue is that with the wired headphones the cord dangles as they are always longer than necessary, The issue with letting the cord dangle down is that it has a large chance to be caught on things like doorknobs leading to damage.

For those who have ADHD or fidgety hands, the cord also is right there for you to play with, winding the cords around can cause micro-tears to the cable causing loss of function very fast.

Forgetting They’re on Your Head

This happens a lot to gamers or those of us who work at a desk all day, you have the headphones on so long you forget they are there and when you try to stand up and walk away they get caught and yanked.

This can hurt you but it also has a high chance of damaging the cable that runs between due to the fast force at which the yanking causes on the cable.

Every time you snap the cord of your headphones, it puts a lot of tension on the wires and connection points. That can cause your headphones to break after a while.

Traveling Without a Case

We all do this, trying to be fast and decide instead of putting them in their case we just throw them in a pocket or other open space to transport them with us.

Today, you must stop tossing your headphones and earbuds into bags, backpacks, or handbags. The contents of these get jostled and moved a lot, regardless of how cautious you are, causing the headphones or earbuds to get dinged, cords pulled, stretched, twisted, bent, knotted, and in the end just damaged.

If you leave the cord connected to your phone, for example like leaving it in your pocket, other things you toss into your pocket may hit the connection and damage both the device and the headphones.

Make the most of your headphones by storing them in a case whenever feasible. Most high-end headphones are now offered with hard storage cases, so you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Most wireless earbuds will come with their charging case, for others they should have options for carrying pouches are available for earbuds. If your headphones include a detachable cable, you may store them in a hard case with the headphones.

Moisture Exposure

If you like to work out in headphones or you live in a humid area then you are going to shorten your electronics life just due to the moisture.

This is because the moist environment can lead to corrosion on connections and in time this will cause damage that may be unrepairable, even with replacing parts of your headphones or earbuds.

Moisture exposure from things like a shower at home or wearing in rain can also cause long-term damage due to the addition of moisture to the environment so just take care as to use.

Sleeping In Them

I am highly guilty of this, but sleeping in any headphones or earbuds is not a good thing for many reasons.

For one, the constant pressure on your ears will eventually cause damage, like ear infections or worse, to them and in time can lead to long-term issues with ear health if done regularly over a few years.

If you may do this then you definitely would want to look into wireless earbuds and the flatter they lay the better but you need to manage this and remove them frequently to give your ears, and brain, a rest.

Amping Up the Volume

There is a little speaker in there that can be damaged if you push it to the limit over a long period of time.

This is because the speaker is still a flap of material and as such only has some many times movement can happen until the fabric tears and breaks.

The audio will become muffled and lack full-bodied qualities. Sounds may begin to sound tinny rather than solid as it deteriorates. Buzzing, as well as other annoying artifacts, are likely to be heard over time.

Skimping on Purchase Price

This is one of the biggest reasons for a crappy life expectancy on a pair of headphones or earbuds, unfortunately, the quality matters a lot to overall life, durability, and longevity. 

With more costly headphone models, you get stronger materials, clever designs, and higher quality control. To save money, you’ll have to make sacrifices and the smartest one is going to be on initial cost.

Extending Headphone Lifespan

There are some ways to extend your headphone life, and it is not as hard as you think.

Caring for Wireless Headphones

Whether you’re using regular Bluetooth headphones or true wireless earphones, you’ve got a lot less to worry about than those still using a wire.

Even genuine wire-free headphones come with charging leads, but keeping them in good working order (or obtaining replacements) isn’t difficult enough to merit much discussion.

The interior of the charging case, particularly for true wireless in-ears, will be the most crucial element of upkeep.

The most significant thing to maintain is the inside of the charging case, which should be kept mainly dry but also free of earwax. Before docking your earpieces in a charging case, make sure they are completely clean and dry

Caring for Headphones With Cables

Wadded-up cables are a thing of the past, thanks to so many headphones now being wireless or having detachable cables. Wadded-up cabling is no longer an issue since so many headphones now come with included detachable cables of higher quality than previously.

There are still hardwired headphones and earphones on the market, however, they’re mostly for audiophiles. If you have a pair of headphones or in-ears with a cable that can’t be unplugged at the jack, you’re probably already taking good care of it, but a simple reminder: Cables should be wound in a way that does not make them tight around the wires inside this allows them to follow that natural coil.

Cleaning Your Headphones

Earwax buildup should not be an issue if you use headphones, whether they’re on-ear or over-the-ear style.

If the earpads get moist (from exercise or regular use), you might want to wash them, but it’s critical to ensure that you know the IP rating, which has something to do with the degree of water resistance.

If you want to get them wet or rinse them off, make sure the rating is at least IPX5 and ideally higher than IPX7.

Many earpads are now detachable, and some may be washed like clothes, others can be run under a faucet and dried, while still more can be replaced entirely if they become too worn out.

As well, for leather earpads, you should consult the manufacturer’s website or handbook for cleaning suggestions since various types of leather might require diverse techniques.

Many earpads are not real leather they are more imitation leather that should have fewer issues. Clean your earpads by using a cloth that is damp and lint-free.

Cleaning Earbuds

Cleaning your earbuds or in-canal earphones can be a bit unpleasant and gross, regardless of whether they’re wired, wireless, or completely wire-free.

Earwax accumulation is a concern with in-canal models, especially those that are used frequently. Earwax can dull the treble, alter the stereo image, and make them appear unsightly.

If you don’t want to invest in earwax cleaning tools or gadgets, most tips can simply be removed from the earpiece and then washed underwater. Before replacing them, make sure they are completely dry and use a soft, lint-free cloth to do so.

Final Thoughts on Headphone Lifespans and Ways to Lengthen Them

The average lifespan of headphones is typically around 2 years. As you can see, there are some ways to extend your headphone life with the tips provided in this article.

Consider these tricks and hacks for keeping your favorite listening devices functional throughout their lifetime!

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