Desperate Repair of RHA MA750i headphones

I have found what I think are the most perfect headphones (MA750i from RHA). (Thanks Ritesh for the recommendation!) The cost/performance ratio is great. I paid £90 for fabulously durable headphones that sound awesome. I had them for months and they were great. Then they broke (see below for the stupidity on my part). So I bought another pair. Simply can’t live with out them. On my first commute with the replacement pair, I BROKE THEM! I thought I was going to burst into tears in Piccadilly Circus tube station. I didn’t even get to the office.

Sadly, I’m a software guy, not a hardware guy. Out of desperation I spliced the two busted headphones into one pair. I can get sound. Nothing else (volume, start/stop, microphone, etc.) works. That sucks, but it’s far better than nothing.

The busted connector on my original pair.
Figure 1: The busted connector on my original pair.

The first pair had a broken headphone connector, as you see in Figure 1. The replacement pair separated at the Y connector where the left and right lines join up as you see in Figure 2. So I have a working connector, and I have a pair of working earphones. So, can some duct tape, wire cutters and other things salvage this? Maybe.

The broken replacement pair!
Figure 2: The broken replacement pair!

Turns out that there are six little wires in there! Makes sense: there’s a lot going on in there as you can see in Figure 3. My plan is to basically cut back rubber outer insulation, expose the wires, and splice them.

The problem is that five of these tiny wires are individually insulated (naturally), but that means they are tiny tiny little wires and stripping the fabric insulation is much too fiddly for my hands. I have no tool that will work on those tiny wires. (And it’s a lot to ask of my old man eyes).

Figure 3: The six little wires
Figure 3: The six little wires

I’m so ghetto. I got out a match and basically burned the insulation carefully off the little wires, exposing the copper. Then I twisted them together.

You can see the splicing in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Spliced tiny wires
Figure 4: Spliced tiny wires

So then I isolated them with a bit of black duct tape (shown in Figure 5), and then I used a couple zip ties to act as strain relief.

Figure 5: a bit of strain relief and ghetto insulation
Figure 5: a bit of strain relief and ghetto insulation

Finally, the whole package is shown in Figure 6. You can see how much I love these headphones. I just wish there had been some manufacturing defect, and not my own stupidity, that caused them to break.

Figure 6: The complete, desperate headphone repair
Figure 6: The complete, desperate headphone repair

How I Broke the First Pair

So I was doing some recording with the headphones, and I had this handy iPhone to headphone adapter. It’s basically a 1/8″ to 1/8″ adapter, but it goes from the phones/microphone connector to just headphones. On the one hand, I don’t know why I bothered. I don’t usually need it. On the other hand, it shouldn’t have caused problems. It’s totally supposed to fit. Well the headphones got well and truly jammed in there. I had to pull using pliers on the metal collar of the headphones in order to separate them from this adapter thingie. Fine. But I messed up that little metal collar; it slipped off the connector. So I got out some pliers to push it back on there correctly, and instead I broke the tip of the connector clean off (as you see in Figure 1). Sigh. So stupid.

How I Broke the Replacement Pair

So the replacement pair, you can believe, I was taking good care of. I was listening to music on my iPad as I often do, going out of the station at Piccadilly Circus. I had my iPad in one hand and my Oyster in my other hand. Somehow, as I went past the gates, the headphone wires got caught. They yanked on the earpiece wire and it stayed in my ear. The long piece stayed attached to my iPad and popped out of my ear. And that was how we got to the state shown in Figure 2.

It was a bad week for headphones. At least I have the consolation of getting some music out of them.

Got any Better Ideas?

This was a pretty crappy repair. Got any other ideas how to get it all working? I’m all ears.