Can headphones break in cold/freezing weather?

by Alex.   Last Updated On November 3rd, 2022.
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Headphones are almost inseparable in today’s setting, with people listening to music while watching movies and even during their daily commute to the workplace. Headphones are a great option if you want to listen to music privately without sacrificing sound quality.

Most headphones are equipped with ear pads that are not only designed to minimize external sound from entering your ears and damaging the audio quality, but they are also there to provide comfort for your ears. Ear pads on the headphones can also keep your ears warm, especially if you are in freezing temperatures; this begs the question, can headphones break in cold temperatures?

Good quality headphones can still be worn during cold weather because mild cold weather won’t cause any issues, whether they may be Bluetooth headphones, wireless headphones, or wired headphones. However, constantly exposing them to freezing weather, under 0 degrees Celcius, can damage the headphone’s functionality and cause massive damage to their charging capabilities.

In this article, we will tackle if you can wear headphones in cold weather, if headphones in cold weather will break, how to protect your headphones in cold weather, and many more.

Let’s get right into it.

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Can headphones be used in cold weather?

You can still wear your headphones in mildly cold weather. They can withstand cold weather damage for some time; it’s better for most electronic devices like headphones to operate in cold weather than in a hot temperature range like in a sauna or steam room because heat and electronic devices don’t go well together.

However, it should be noted that extremely low temperatures will eventually damage your headphones, especially if they are exposed to that cold weather for a prolonged period.

Effects of Cold Weather on Headphones

Your headphones getting severely damaged in cold weather is a very rare occurrence. Any electronic device, such as headphones, performs better in cold weather than in hot weather because headphones generate heat when used. This is also the reason why headphones make your ears hot.

Because of the cold weather, the wirings are less likely to undergo a short circuit. A short circuit can occur once the wirings are exposed to a high temperature for a long time; this is why the effects of cold weather on headphones are not studied heavily.

Despite this, too cold of weather can also cause some damage. The recommended temperature wherein your headphone will work perfectly fine is between 0°C and 35°C or 32°F and 95°F. And for wireless headphones, it is recommended to store them at a temperature range of 20°C and 60°C or -4°F and 140°F, meanwhile it takes -80°C or below for the extremely low temperatures to cause damage to the headphone’s circuits.

Here are the different ways that cold weather can affect headphones

Brittle Cables

Cable freeze is uncommon because of how rare it is. However, the extreme cold weather will make the wired headphones’ wires less flexible, making them more vulnerable to breaking or snapping. Your headphone wiring snapping will most likely render your headphones useless.

Moisture

Moisture is the number enemy for most of your electronic devices. Moisture will damage any electronic components inside your devices and will, most of the time, render them completely useless. Moisture can kill your drivers and speakers, and while the cold environment won’t directly enter moisture into your headphones, moving from a cold weather environment to a warm weather surrounding can enter your headphones.

Since your headphones were exposed to cold weather, tiny icy droplets might have entered your device. Once you enter a warmer environment, the frozen droplets could melt and enter your drivers and other electrical components inside your headphones, damaging them.

Muffle Sounds

Muffled sounds can result from your headphones getting too much exposure to the cold weather. Ice particles can enter your speakers and block the sound coming out of them; this results in a muffled sound produced by your headphones.

Battery Life

Battery life is an essential factor to consider for most wireless headphones. Almost every Bluetooth headphone and Bluetooth speaker with an alarm clock are made with lithium ion batteries. Lithium ion batteries which are the preferred choice for electronic device manufacturers, do not perform well under low temperatures.

These batteries have very little internal resistance, meaning less energy is wasted when used. However, this also means that they can’t generate enough heat to warm themselves up when exposed to very low temperatures, which leads to the battery life getting reduced, and the battery life getting drained more quickly.

Sometimes, if it is at a low temperature, the battery could undergo a low-voltage cut-off circuit, causing it to get depleted entirely without warning. If your headphones experience this phenomenon, it is advised not to charge them immediately. Leave the headphones in a warmer environment to warm up for a while before charging them.

Condensation

Just like wired headphones, Bluetooth headphones are also susceptible to condensation inside if you move from a cold weather environment to a warmer one. The humidity can result in a short electronic circuit, and the water could corrode the metal parts inside your headphones.

Even headphones of premium quality are not safe from this as headphones are specifically designed to be used in a warm temperature range where water is unlikely to enter the electronic components inside.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Bluetooth headphones rely on Bluetooth connectivity to connect to your device, allowing them to play music through their speakers. Once the Bluetooth function is damaged, there is no way for your headphones to connect to your devices and play music.

Fortunately, Bluetooth technology is not affected by temperature, so your Bluetooth connection will work fine in cold conditions and a typical temperature environment.

How can I still listen to music in low temperatures?

Since most headphones are not designed to withstand cold weather, you might ask yourself, how do you protect your headphones in cold weather that will allow you to listen to music for hours on end?

Here are the ways you can protect your headphones in cold weather.

Young woman smiles in her earmuffs

Use Ear Warmers

While most people use headphones as ear warmers, this is not advised, especially in the extreme cold. To use your headphones safely in low temperatures, place the ear warmer around the ear pads of your headphones; this will prevent small ice particles from entering your headphones and prevent condensation from occurring once you go from a low-temperature environment to a warmer area.

Keep Your Cables Covered

To allow your wired headphones to withstand low temperatures, do your best to keep your cables covered beneath your coat, as the wires on your headphones are the most vulnerable part of your headphones since they are exposed to the elements. Prolonged exposure of the cables to a low temperature will cause your wires to become less flexible and more prone to breaking.

Don’t Charge Your Headphones at a Low Temperature

Charging your headphones at low temperatures can damage your batteries severely. Charging them in a cold area will not charge your device. Instead, it will damage the battery’s life and lose its life cycle. Wait to transfer from a warmer location to charge your headphones to allow the batteries to work correctly.

Switch From Headphones to Earbuds

Although they won’t make your ears warm, switching from headphones to earbuds is one of the best ways not to make your headphones break in cold temperatures. Since earbuds are much smaller, they can be easily covered using hats. Adding to this, since earbuds have a smaller point of entry, it is less likely for water to form inside your earbuds.

Use a Thermal Cover

A thermal cover is an inexpensive material you can purchase online, which helps isolate your headphones from the extremely low temperature, enabling you to listen to music for hours.

Use Winter Headphones

Winter headphones are also equipped with earmuff headphone covers; winter headphones are even sometimes called earmuffs. You can wear earmuff headphone covers in the cold weather because they are designed to withstand cold conditions, they will keep your ears warm, and the earmuffs will also provide excellent noise cancellation.

Weather-Resistant Headphones

If you still prefer headphones from winter headphones, then you should look for headphones with an IP67 or IPX6 and above rating. These ratings will make your headphones more durable against cold weather or moisture.

Do Not Go From a Cold Weather Environment to a Warmer One Quickly

Moving from a cold environment to a warmer one can quickly melt the ice particles that might have entered your device, thus introducing water to your headphones. So to not make your headphones break from the moisture, avoid going from a cold weather environment to a warmer one quickly; this will keep your headphones safe from water.

Avoid Wearing Headphones in Extreme Temperatures.

Avoiding headphones in extreme temperatures is the only solution to keep your headphones entirely safe from the elements. Try to use your headphones under the recommended temperature range.

Can headphones freeze and still work fine?

Unless you live in a country with a temperature of below -80 C, your headphones will most likely not freeze.

However, if your headphones are exposed to low temperatures for a very prolonged period, they can freeze, rendering them useless. Your headphones won’t work again if they are frozen beforehand because it’s most likely that ice particles have entered your headphones. Once they are melted, water will come rushing into the electronic components, damaging them forever.

Smiling girl having fun in winter time listening to music with headphones

Can moisture from humidity damage my headphones?

As mentioned earlier, moisture is the most destructive element for most electronic devices. Moisture from humidity can damage your headphones; the moisture from the cold weather will cause electrical shorts and even corrode the metallic parts of your headphones.

Is it okay to leave your earbuds inside a cold car?

Knowing that cold weather can severely damage your headphones, you might ask yourself if leaving your earbuds inside a cold car is okay. The temperature in a car can get as low as -20°C, and since most headphones operate between a temperature range of 0°C and 35°C, it is, therefore, a bad idea to leave your earbuds inside a cold car.

How well do AirPods work in cold weather?

Airpods will perform well under any cold weather temperature. However, it would be best if you did not expose them to cold weather for a prolonged period, as moisture could enter the AirPods, damaging the interior components.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to wear headphones in the snow?

Yes, it is relatively safe to wear headphones in the snow. However, it should be noted that you should not wear them for a long time as snow could enter the headphones and muffle the sound they produce. In the worst-case scenario, the snow could melt, and water could rush into the drivers, damaging them.

Will the cold ruin my AirPods?

Yes, the cold could ruin your AirPods, muffle their sound, and shorten the lifespan of your AirPods. Lastly, it could also cause the battery of your AirPods to drain much faster.

How cold is too cold for headphones?

A temperature too cold for headphones and most electronic devices is when the temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius. Although it won’t freeze your headphones, it could damage the components of your device.

Conclusion

Headphones are a great way to listen to music privately. Not only do they produce superb sound quality, but they are also a great way to keep your ears warm in a cold weather environment.

We hope this informative article has helped you become more knowledgeable if headphones can break in cold conditions or freezing temperatures.