• CommentTimeNov 1st 2011

    So I've had my Shure E4C headphones for nearly 6 years now - and I have no intention of buying a new set any time soon. The sound quality is still great and I just don't think I could go back to sub £200 headphones. Equally, I don't want to spend £200 on headphones.

    So the right piece finally started cutting in and out often enough that I had to do something about it. Anyone with a keen memory will remember me repairing these previously by attacking them with a scalpel, resoldering and then gluing together. It really wasn't the neatest of mods and as it turns out - could have been avoided because the unit can actually be opened up.

    I apologise now for taking these photos on my phone. They looked fine on screen, but...

    For those who own a pair of E4Cs - don't do it this way - instead unscrew the outer ring and then simply sliding a scalpel across the seal is enough to prize it open.

    In my case however - I decided I was going to try a different approach that should be applicable to other types of headphones, as most are not user serviceable!

    So I cracked mine open and this is what I found - in my case the grounding wire had split apart and was shorting out the connection. Quite possibly poor soldering on my part during the last repair (my soldering skills are greatly improved now!).

    So I unsoldered the wires to the drivers, and cleaned up anything that looked a bit dirty. Here are the drivers with the ring that holds the, well the white bit in place (the thing the ear bud slots over), removed.

    Now in some cases - the wiring of the headphones as a whole can get easily damaged - I have other cables that have unfortunately been chewed by cats, or been caught under the wheel of a rolling chair - and in these cases, you might want to consider replacing the wiring as a whole - perhaps through a sacrificial pair of headphones.

    In my case however - I'm not sure it's down to me, or Shure - but my wiring is in excellent condition - bar the ends. So I just snipped off an a centimetre or so, making sure that both wires were the same length. My grey/white wiring was a little dirty too - so I took this opportunity to give them a scrub down in the kitchen.

    After that I went through the normal soldering stages - stripping it, tinning it, dab of flux to make my life easier and soldered it nicely back on the driver. This time (which I possibly didn't do last time?) I made sure that the entire wire had solder on it, to reduce the chance of it fraying off like it just did.

    A fairly neat job - although I could have made the wires a little shorter. The next stage is the fun stage. I came across a product called Sugru - if you skip to about a minute through this video you will see briefly what I'm talking about.

    Sugru comes in these little sachets and feels like blue tac - once it dries, it's like a firm, but flexible rubber. Which is an ideal use case for this. So I took a single sachet and used half for each headphone. As it turns out - I could have got away with using much less.

    I rubbed it between my fingers until it was warm and then just moulded it around the driver, making sure I ran it somewhat down the cable as well. Left it over night just to be sure and here's my final work...

    I think you'll agree - a much neater product! As I say, I could have used less material, but equally I could have done a better job of making them both look the same (I took a phone call half way through doing them which I don't think helped!).

    However, it's definitely strong enough and it's flexible too - so the rubber won't crack against the wire as it needs to flex.

    I've been told (although not tried this myself) that it is possible to tear all the Sugru away - it's not as strong as say a resin - which means I could re-do the process if necessary.

    If you fancy getting some Sugru - it's on Sugru.com. My house mate informs me that Sugru quite literally means "play thing" - which is rather apt. Downside to Sugru is that it has to be used up within 6 months of purchase :(

Copyright Andrew Miller (Spode), 2008