How Long Should Headphones Last? Why Do They Break Easily?

by Alex.   Last Updated On October 23rd, 2023.
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Headphones are one of the best tools you can utilize for both your personal and professional needs. You can use standard wireless headphones to listen to your favorite tunes every morning or even purchase an expensive wireless headphone to produce music or start a podcast. But before buying any wireless or wired headphones, you might want to study how long the average headphones last.

With the tons of headphones flooding the market and many manufacturers maximizing profits and compromising built quality, you might be fooled into purchasing a pair of headphones with a very short headphone life.

A good pair of headphones can last anywhere between three to ten years and more if taken good care of. High end headphones with a more sturdy build quality will have a longer lifespan than cheap headphones with a cheap plastic build.

This article will tackle how long headphones last, why headphones stop working, what causes headphones to last and break, and many more.

Let’s get right into it.

Table of Contents

Tell me the average life span of a wireless headphone.

The average lifespan for wireless/wired headphones is three years which can be extended with careful use. Many factors directly affect how long your headphones last, such as how frequently you use them, how often you clean them, and what type of headphones you are currently using.

Here are the different types of headphones.

In ear headphones

In ear headphones are the most versatile and popular types of headphones available on the market. In ear headphones go into your ear canal and deliver music close to your eardrums.

This type of design is guaranteed to produce crisp and clear audio; however, since these headphones go inside your ears, prolonged use of in ear headphones can be pretty uncomfortable and is prone to the build-up of ear wax.

On ear headphones

On ear headphones are a much smaller type of over ear headphones. Their more compact build of smaller ear pads resembles a closed-back headphones. On ear headphones rests on the outside of your ears which can be painful to some, especially if you are wearing one for hours.

Over the ear headphones

Over ear headphones are the biggest among the three types. They have bigger ear pads encompassing the ears, thicker headbands, and better sound isolation than the other two headphones stated above.

They are also the most comfortable type of headphones.

Earbuds/Wireless earbuds

Earbuds are designed to rest outside the ear canal and not directly inside like in ear headphones. Their smaller size produces less sound isolation, which directly affects sound quality.

In addition to this, earbuds also have a lot of sound leakages.

Bluetooth headphones

Bluetooth headphones are perhaps the most popular among all the headphones listed in this article, as their Bluetooth-connection points allow them to pair with almost any device with a Bluetooth chip.

A downside to the versatile Bluetooth earphones is that they have issues regarding the delay in transmitting the sound from your device to the headphones.

Noise-canceling headphones

Noise-canceling technology is becoming increasingly integrated into most high end headphones as brands tend to research more into creating better sound quality headphones.

These headphones last the shortest and are more prone to damage as they are most sensitive and have more electronic components that will create opposite and equal frequencies to cancel out the background noise.

Why do headphones stop working?

It is common when headphones stop working suddenly. A lot of factors can directly affect why headphones suddenly stop working.

Factors such as purchasing cheap headphones, a cord dangle, or not correctly taking good care of them can directly affect how long your headphones last and why they might suddenly stop working.

What causes headphones to break?

Here are some common causes that result in your headphones breaking.

Cord issues

Cords are one of the reasons why people are switching over to Bluetooth earphones. Cables on your wired headphones are long and fragile, and if you allow your cord to rest on the ground, it might be prone to get stepped on and be damaged.

Another issue related to cords is when you let them dangle. A dangling cord results in a bent audio jack at a 90-degree angle which puts an immense amount of stress on the internal wiring of your cord. A hanging cord also makes your cord more prone to get caught tugged on by doorknobs, which could damage your cord’s internal wires.

Forgetting they are resting on your head

Forgetting your headphones are resting on your head is something that has happened to a lot of us. When you try to stand up from a long session of gaming or work and forget they are on your head, the headphone cord gets yanked, which results in a sudden tension felt by the wires inside your wired headphones.

Sudden yanks of the cords are one of the most common ways of damaging your headphones. Pulling the plug and not the cable is a great way to help save any audio equipment and is something you want to keep in mind if your headphones last longer.

Knotting the cords

Winding your cords into knots makes carrying your average pair of headphones easier and more compact. However, this twist tie hack produces pressure inside the wiring inside your headphone cords, and this is why you should never tie knots because they eventually break the cord in the long run.

Traveling without a headphone case

A headphones case or a soft pouch is an essential tool to utilize if you are traveling around, and this is why many users prefer to purchase high end headphones as they have an included headphone case.

If you just put your headphones in your bag, they are more likely to get tugged on, crushed, bent, or stretched by the contents inside your bag.

In addition, sharp or pointy things inside your bag could pierce your headphones cords, damaging the wires and making your headphones completely useless.

Exposure to moisture

Moisture entering the sensitive electronic components inside your headphones directly affects how long your headphones last. Moisture entering your components will damage any audio equipment, especially a cheap pair of headphones.

Moisture leads to corrosion which in most cases is irreversible and unrepairable most of the time, which could force you to buy a completely new pair of headphones.

Maxing the volume every time

Maxing out the volume on your headphones every time leads to a shorter average lifespan.

Sound waves produced by your headphones create vibrations that rattle the internal components of your headphones. In addition to this, the vibrations produced by the sound waves also shake the fabric inside your headphones which could lead to them getting ripped or torn apart.

Buying low quality headphones

Low quality headphones last considerably shorter when compared to high end or even mid range headphones. You get what you pay for in cheap headphones, with their plastic build quality and sometimes, worse sound quality.

Expensive headphones will save you more money in the long run and guarantee a longer lifespan, more robust materials, better designs, and superb audio quality.

Tell me the best way to make headphones last longer.

Headphones are indeed sensitive equipment, and here are some ways to take proper care of them.

Avoid cord knots

Cord knots are one of the most detrimental factors affecting your headphones’ lasting longer. Do your best to keep your cords untangled at all times, practice cable management, and place them in a way that does not exert pressure on them.

Never tug on your headphone cords, and never wrap the cord around the audio head as this will strain your headphone cords, damaging the internal wires.

Clean your headphones

Frequently cleaning your headphones with a clean cloth will make your headphones last longer and will also make them sound better and louder. For wired headphones, do your best to clean your cord and the outside pads using a clean cloth or damp towel.

For wireless earbuds, always clean them with a cotton swab after every use to minimize the build-up of ear wax in your earbuds. Also, store them in a clean and dry environment to reduce the chances of them getting damaged.

Don’t use them excessively.

Excessively using earphones will break even the ones made with the strongest materials. If you are an audiophile or will likely use earphones for prolonged periods, then be sure to purchase ones designed to be durable, and buying headphones with a warranty is also a great choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do headphones last forever?

No, headphones will break one way or another given enough time; this might be because of any factors stated above. But if you take proper care of your headphones, they can last very long.

Do wired headphones last longer than Bluetooth headphones?

Wired headphones last relatively longer than Bluetooth headphones because the latter has more sensitive components. Wired headphones can last between 7-8 years if properly taken care of.

Do wired headphones sound better than Bluetooth headphones?

Audiophiles and sound engineers have expressed their thoughts which found that wired headphones just sound better when compared to Bluetooth headphones because they tend to avoid data loss through their wires.

Wired headphones also have no issue when it comes to latency or lag.

Are Bluetooth headphones safe?

Yes, Bluetooth technology inside Bluetooth headphones is safe, and the non-ionizing waves produced by Bluetooth chips are not harmful to humans. And the low absorption rate of Bluetooth waves further proves that Bluetooth is safe for humans even in long exposures.

Is it safe to wear Bluetooth headphones overnight?

Yes, wearing Bluetooth headphones overnight is safe and something that many people do. Just make sure that you know the right way to sleep with headphones on.

Also, wearing them for prolonged periods can be uncomfortable and makes your headphones more prone to damage.


Headphones are indeed fantastic tools for listening to music privately. Not only are these versatile tools safe for humans, but they are also very compact and easy to carry around. If you are planning to purchase a pair of good headphones, keep in mind their battery life, build quality, and durability.

We hope this informative article has helped you understand how long headphones last and why they break so easily.