Audiophiles love big chunky headphones that they can really let rip. But sometimes you just need some cheap and cheerful earbuds.
These work well enough for speaking on the phone and listening to music on the bus. And they can be rolled up and slotted in your pocket much easier than enormous over-ear listeners.
But these cheap earbuds do have one massive problem – they are incredibly prone to breaking. If you have ever owned a pair of these earbuds, you’ve probably owned a broken pair as well.
Even expensive earbuds, like Apple’s 3.5mm Airpods have some truly terrible online reviews.
Fear not though. You don’t need to be held hostage by cheap Chinese technology. Heat shrink tubing provides a very simple fix that you can use to repair or reinforce your headphones so they never break again.
Fixing your headphones
A lot of people hate wired up headphones. Not only do they break all the time but they also get knotted up very easily.
Wired earbuds could soon become a thing of the past. Wireless headphones have started taking off in a big way and Apple has even ditched the free 3.5mm dongle converter that you used to get with new iPhones.
One of the biggest issues with these cheaper products is the joints between the wire and the headphone jack and the wire and the earbuds themselves can come loose or snap off. This is one of the big areas of weakness that can be extenuated by constant use and tangling and detangling.
This is the area of weakness that we'll focus on with this heat shrink fix.
The most important thing you'll do with this fix is find the right piece of heat shrink. We have an awful lot of choices on our website, but of rthis job standard single wall heat shrink tubing should suffice.
Most cheap headphone cables are thin - only a few milimeters - so you'll need to make sure that the recovered inside diameter (I.D.) is small enough to fit snug over the thinnest point of the wire. You'll also need to make sure the heat shrink's expanded diameter is wide enough to fit over the headphone jack.
Heat shrink tubing also have different recovery ratios. For this purpose, a 2:1 ratio should be fine.
To apply the heat shrink tubing, we recommend using a heat gun. Simply put the heat shrink in place and gently pass back and forth until the whole area is covered. If you don’t have a heat gun you can use a lighter, just be careful not to damage the cable. You may also need to gently prod and squeeze the heat shrink to make sure it fits down.
Other ways to use heat shrink tubing
It’s not just headphones that have a tendency to break – how many times have you scuppered your smartphones charging cable?
Charging cables don’t feel like they are built to last. If Apple and Samsung had their way, you would be buying a new cable every 18 months.
Fortunately, you can use the exact same heat shrink fix to increase the lifespan of your charging cable. Just check out the video:
Indeed, this method will work for a whole variety of the cables that you have lying about your house. Whether it's a laptop charger, a TV cable or the aux cable in your car, just make sure you get the right sized heat shrink tube and apply carefully.
There is a whole range of other things that you can do with a little piece of heat shrink. Use it as a key ring silencer, a stationary gripper and everything else in between. Just check out this blog post on creative things to do with heat shrink at home.