Can headphones wear out? What is their lifespan?

by Alex.   Last Updated On November 13th, 2022.
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Headphones come in different sizes, shapes, and types. And these differences from one headphone to another also comes with their diverse price range and durability. Headphone durability is just as important as the sound quality they produce because you wouldn’t want to invest in headphones that break in a month or two, right?

There are different factors as to why your headphones degrade over time. Some of these factors include that you purchased a relatively cheap headphone made with lousy quality material or the fact that your headphone was exposed to moisture, or the fact that you did not purchase a headphone case.

Most headphones last approximately 3-5 years if they are cared for well. Of course, the headphones’ lifespan depends on how you take care of them. Adding to this, it’s no surprise that expensive headphones will outlast cheaper headphones. Also, wired headphones last relatively longer than wireless headphones because the wires can be replaced more manageably than the batteries in a Bluetooth-powered pair of headphones.

In this article, we will tackle the average lifespan of headphones, the factors that can contribute to the longevity of your headphone, what to do to extend the lifespan of your headphones, and many more.

Let’s get right into it.

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How long do headphones last?

There is no specified duration as to how long your headphones can last because there are different factors that contribute to the longevity of your audio equipment, such as the type of headphones you use, how well you take care of them, how well you protect the internal components of the headphones, and many more.

However, users report that their headphones last approximately 3-5 years when properly taken care of. Additionally, wired headphones reportedly last longer than wirless headphones because of their more basic design. In contrast, wireless headphones break more often because of their complexity and their irreplaceable batteries.

Factors that affect the longevity of your headphones

To make sure that your headphone will still play your favorite tunes in the long run. Here are some factors that you should consider.

Build Quality

The build quality of your headphones is just as crucial as its audio quality. Build quality is sometimes correlated with price because headphones built with good quality materials tend to be more expensive. And although they come at a higher price, they are worth the investment because you receive better sound quality than cheap headphones and will last much longer, primarily if you use them often.

A good headphone headband is probably made out of a steel frame or a heavy-duty plastic material; since these materials are more robust and reliable, they are less prone to breakage, flexing, and deformation in the future. Adding to this, you should also ensure that the hinges on your headphones are well constructed. The hinges on your headphones are just as crucial as the headphones wires because the hinges are the components that will hold the headphone together, and if they are unstable, it will lead to your headphone breaking apart.

Lastly, more expensive headphones will also provide you with a better warranty. Some brands like the Jabra and Beats headphones offer up to 2 years of warranty, ensuring that your product will be fixed or replaced if it lasts up to its set lifespan.

Usage

Usage varies significantly from one user to another. While some like to listen to music at a low volume, some also prefer to blast strong sound waves by increasing the volume to their maximum level. Adding to this, usage also refers to how often you use your headphones to listen to music or watch movies.

Suppose you love listening to tracks at their total volume. In that case, you might be putting your headphone drivers at risk because the constant blasting of sound waves from the headphones vibrates the internal components of your headphones, and continuous exposure to this vibration makes the headphones break.

Playing tracks on your headphones in full blast mode is not recommended because not only will the headphone’s lifespan decrease drastically, but it will also damage one’s health and likely lead to a person to stop hearing sounds totally.

happy kid using a headphone

Wire Protection

If you have wired headphones, the components most prone to damage are the wires. Protecting the cables and internal wires on your headphones is priority number one because the internal wires on your headphones can transfer sound from your device to the headphones. If they are damaged, the sound they produce will seem more muffled compared to you playing music at the same volume.

Adding to this, a damaged wire will also not sound fine since the cracks from broken wires can’t transmit sound correctly and will most likely lead to data loss.

To make sure that your wires stay intact quickly. Try placing your headphones correctly or use a headphone stand, and don’t hang them 90 degrees from your desk. Also, avoid bundling your wires and storing them in a cramped space.

Cleaning Your Headphones

Cleaning your headphones is also crucial if you want them to last longer. Dirt, dust, earwax, and other tiny particles can get on the surface of your headphones or even enter the inside components of your headphones, damaging them permanently. You can easily clean your headphones with a damp towel or wet wipe after each use. If you clean your headphones properly, they might not get damaged and sound better than they are; this applies to all other electronic devices.

Avoid Sharing Your Headphones

Sharing your headphones will lead to them getting damaged much faster. Not only does the usage of your headphones increase drastically, but other people might not take care of your headphones properly. Sharing your headphones also means that the amount of earwax and other dirt particles on your headphones increases immensely, leading to your headphones getting damaged more often.

Moisture Protection

Moisture is the number one enemy of headphones and many electronic devices. Moisture will damage the inside components of your headphones no matter how good of a build quality they are, so to keep your headphones lasting longer, keep them away from moisture.

Check the Audio Jack

Accumulation of dirt around the audio jack of your headphones can lead to a drastic reduction in the performance of your headphones. It could lead to static and distorted sounds. In worst-case scenarios, it could block the audio jack, transmitting no sound from your device to your headphones.

Proper Storage

Storing your headphones is a great thing to keep in mind if you want to prevent them from breaking early on. Most expensive headphones come with a hard case along with their purchase; however, if you have budget headphones or ones with no included case, you should consider investing in hardshell cases because they will protect your headphones from sharp or pointy objects in your bag.

A hardshell case will also protect your headphones in case of accidentally drop them on the ground.

Headphone Type

Lastly, the headphone type also contributes to how long your headphones can last. In-ear headphones last a shorter time than on-ear or over-ear headphones because in-ear headphones are more commonly made with cheaper materials and are prone to ear wax contamination.

In addition, wired headphones also last longer than Bluetooth headphones because they are built more simpler than wireless ones. Also, the wires on your wired headphones can be replaced more quickly than the batteries inside your wireless headphones.

Will my headphones go quieter over time?

Most headphones will play music at a lower volume in the future than when they were brand new because of the deterioration of the mesh near the headphone drivers, which constantly vibrates as sound comes through the drivers. There are several reasons why headphones go quieter over time, and one of these factors is that most people listen to music at dangerously high volumes.

Since higher volumes result in a much stronger vibration, the mesh is damaged more severely, which means that sound will come through at a lower volume.

Another factor that could result in a lower volume coming out of your headphone could stem from the fact that the headband on your headphones doesn’t produce much of a clamping effort anymore, which will result in less sound isolation because of no adequate seal from the external sounds.

The last factor is only applicable to wireless headphones. Some headphones will play at a lower volume to conserve energy, and if your headphone battery gets damaged and deplete at a much faster rate, this could mean that your headphones will constantly play at a lower volume than before.

Why do my headphones break out of the blue?

Many reasons could lead to your headphones breaking out of the blue, such as moisture entering the drivers or accidentally sleeping and crushing them. A primary reason that breaks most headphones is due to listening to music at excessively high volumes despite the constant warning from your device to lower the volume to a safer volume level.

A leading cause of broken headphones could also stem from the wirings getting pulled on excessively, damaging the wirings inside them. Lastly, moisture might have also entered your headphones and gone as far as your drivers and damaging them permanently.

Telltale signs to purchase a new pair of headphones

If repairing your headphones is not in your best interest, then purchasing a completely new one might be your best option. There are different telltale signs when to buy a new pair of headphones. Here are some of them.

smiling teenager inside a headphone store holding a speaker and a phone

Distorted/Muffled sounds

Consistent use of your headphones will eventually produce distorted or muffled sounds, especially if you play tracks at a higher volume. Since drivers are pressured if you play music at a loud volume level, they could lead to distorted sounds in the future. Adding to this, constant extreme vibration to the mesh near the drivers could also lead to muffled sounds in the future.

Distorted sounds could also stem from the drivers getting rattled because of frequent falls or stepping on them.

Loose Headphones

Loose headphones result from the headband not being able to exert much clamping force, which will enable the headphones to be loose and more prone to falling off from your head. Loose headphones are dangerous because they are prone to fall off when doing physical activities such as exercising or commuting; rattling the headphones will vibrate the drivers excessively, damaging them.

Bent or Lose Audio Jack

A bent or loose audio jack is undesirable if you want to listen to music at its best quality or if you want to listen to music. The headphone jack serves as the contact point, so if your audio jack is damaged from the get-go, it could mean that the sound quality transferred from your device to the headphones is reduced. In extreme cases, no sound could even transmit from your device to the headphones, so if you have a bent or loose audio jack, it’s better to purchase an entirely new headphone than fix it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can headphones last ten years?

Yes, you can make your headphones last for up to 10 years if you take care of them properly. However, wireless headphones lasting up to 10 years are rare because their batteries last for just a few years and will not last decades.

What headphones last the longest?

Top brand headphones such as the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear Wireless, Sony WH-1000XM4, and Jabra Evolve2 85 have proven to be durable against the elements and in frequent use.

Is it OK to wear headphones all day?

No, wearing headphones is not something that the World Health Organization promotes. WHO encourages people to use personal audio devices such as headphones and earbuds for only 1 hour per day. Although you can use your headphones all day, listening at tracks below 50% of your device’s maximum volume level is encouraged.

Conclusion

Headphones are not an easy purchase, mainly because you must consider many factors to filter out all the headphones flooding the market. Once you can purchase your very own headphones, do your best to increase their lifespan by keeping in mind the tips in this informative article.