How Long Should Earbuds Last?


Everyone has had the dreaded moment when their new earbuds cease to work in one of the ears effectively making it broken. Some earbuds can last a long time while others will break within days. 

How long should earbuds last? On average earbuds will last 3-6 months long depending on how often they are used. The first symptom will be the loss of sound on one side even though there are no visible indicators of damage.

What causes earbuds to stop working, and how can you prolong their life? Continue reading to find out how to avoid some of the most common reasons earbuds stop working.

What Causes Earbuds to Stop Working

Obviously many people have many different experiences, some people have earbuds that never seem to last more than 2 weeks while others can have earbuds that last a year.

Some people’s earbuds last much longer than others, even if they use the same brand. How could this be? It is due to the conditions the earbuds go through more than simply what brand of earbud it is. 

Many different factors contribute to how long your earbuds will work. The main theme that all of these factors share is that we handle our earbuds in ways that make life more convenient but end up damaging them such as tangling them, getting sweaty in them, blasting music, etc. 

#1 Running over the Cord

Some earbuds have long cords, and if they are left to hang too low to the ground, they might get stepped on, or a computer chair might roll right over them. 

To put it in perspective, all it takes is one point to become severed, and you will probably have to throw the whole thing out. 

#2 Dangling the Cord 

A common practice that can be harmful to your earbuds is letting the, dangle off an edge or desk. This bends the cord at a 90-degree angle and puts a ton of stress onto the wire inside at that one focal point. 

If this point is bent like this back and forth, it will eventually break, and it could get pinched, severing the whole internal wire. 

#3 Forgetting the Earbuds Are in Your Ear

This has happened countless times to many of us, you are watching a movie or playing a game, and you get up to go to the bathroom or get some food and SNAP. 

Either the earbuds are yanked out of your ears, or they violently unplugged from the computer. This sudden tension on the connection points and internal wires could be a big problem. 

This damage compounds until eventually, it causes a complete malfunction if you have trouble forgetting your earbuds are in your ear try to drop the habit of standing up too fast. 

#4 Tangling up Cords in Knots

There are a lot of life hack videos and articles about how to wind up your cords so that they don’t become knotted. 

This is a big problem, all that tangling, knots and tight loops puts a lot of wear on those internal wires and speeds of their inevitable breakdown.

The goal is to keep everything loose, and there are still ways to organize your earbuds so that they don’t become knotted. 

A safe technique is called the “roadie method:” 

  • Push two ends together to make a figure eight 
  • Next use a twist tie or rubber band to secure it

#5 Transporting Your Earbuds Without a Case

Whenever your earbuds are set loose into your backpack, purse, or pockets they will get jostled around, and all the cords will be pulled on, crushed, bent, pinched, twisted, and ultimately damaged. 

If you want to keep your earbuds safe, then use a case to transport them in. If this isn’t available to you, then try using a soft pouch instead. 

#6 Pulling on the Cord Instead of the Plug

Many people pull on the cord instead of the actual plug when they detach the earbuds from their phone or computer. 

This causes a lot of stress on the cord at the base of the plug and given enough time the internal wire will break, and it will separate from the plug. 

You should never pull the cord to unplug from something. Tension is always the primary cause as to why earbuds start to fail. 

Some earbuds will have sturdy jacks in the shape of an L which are secure in the case of cord tugging. 

#7 Sweat and Moisture Exposure

Water is an age-old enemy of electronics. It can fry tablets, smartphones, computers and can also destroy the audio drivers within your earbuds.

One thing many people forget to take into account is sweat since most people use earbuds and headphones when they exercise it is very easy to get sweat to interfere with your devices. 

There are some work-out earbud products out there that keep this in mind and have an extra resistance to sweat. Another precaution could be to wear a headband to keep the sweat from dripping down.

#8 Sleeping with Your Earbuds

Nobody can control what they do once they go to sleep, and if you have your earbuds in while your sleeping it is very likely that you will roll around on them, flop, turn, and twist. All these motions occurring for hours will put a lot of strain on the earbuds, and they will suffer damage. 

If you need to sleep with some sort of sound, we suggest wireless earbuds or a speaker like Amazon Echo.

#9 Playing the Volume Too Loud

Devices that make sound use sound waves. Vibrations produce these sound waves and so the greater the sound, the greater the vibration. The components of earbuds are very small and delicate, having sounds that are too loud can cause the sound-producing parts to warp.

It will take a while to happen, but you will first stop hearing noises at certain frequencies, and then the audio will degrade and shift. After more time you will hear the sounds start sounding more “tinny” and buzzing and other annoying sounds will be more common.

How to Prolong the Life of Your Earbuds

There are lots of ways to ruin your earbuds through bad habits. But, there are also plenty of good habits that you can start to implement to lengthen the life of your earbuds. 

#1 Always Watch the Cords and Use a Case

The internal cords contained within the cords are the most important pieces within the earbuds. All it takes is just one wire to break, and the whole system comes crumbling down. 

By watching the cords this means no wadding it up, and make sure no knots form. A case helps ensure that you can travel with the earbuds neatly and they won’t tangle themselves up and get jostled around leading to damage. 

#2 Keep Your Earbuds Clean

Deposits of sweat and earwax can build up within earbuds, making them potentially unusable in the future. To clean these out just get a small soft tool, or your finger, and delicately wipe all the grime away. 

Some tools are available online just to clean these out because they will need to be wiped regularly to avoid a serious build-up.

# 3 Use Apps to Optimize the Sound

Using EQ apps, you can tone down songs that have severely boosted their bass, which will eventually damage your earbuds. 

It will take some work to adjust all the bands and music genres to fit your preferences, but in the end, it will sound better and keep your earbuds from vibration damage.

#4 Look at Preamps and Dacs

These are a more advanced solution that aims to plug in a portable preamp to your phone that you then plug your earbuds into. 

The results show very positively with lower distortion and being able to play higher signal-noise ratios, and higher resolution audio files with high bitrates all the while not sacrificing quality. 

By increasing your audio like this, it puts less stress and wear and tear on your earbuds themselves. These devices make the audio process much better than most mobile devices.

#5 Keep the Sound Source of High Quality. 

The devices can only do so much to get the audio to play at high quality. If the audio files are really low grade, it can screw with the earbuds and the above processes can do much for it because it all starts at the source.

Most commonly will be free streaming service music or mass downloads of music at low quality. Aim to download and listen to high-quality files to allow your earbuds to last and your audio to sound better. 

Difference between Bluetooth versio...
Difference between Bluetooth versions

Rune Bearson

As you can see, I love my headphones! I use them every day when commuting, watching YouTube videos, playing guitar/piano and doing chores. I'm a podcast addict and I like all kinds of music from metal to chillout ambient.

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