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Question: iPhone headphones keep breaking/sound quality awful

I have had my iPhone since for about 5 months now. For some reason, I have had about 3 pairs of headphones and after about a month of use, they start sounding really bad. I have to turn volume up all the way to hear the music at a comfortable level and the quality itself is just awful.

This has happened to me three times, and has happened to my partner's iPhone twice, yet I can't find a single other person that is having this issue. I don't want to keep having to make trips to the apple store for them to replace, please help!

Let me emphasis how bad the sound quality it. There are four iPhones in my household. When I think one headset sounds bad, I try my roommates headphones and I am blown away by how good they sound because I am used to my bad ones. It is not the phone itself, as when I use new/not broken headphones everything sounds great. The difference in sound quality is very obvious, it is not just a little thing I have noticed. Any prudent person would have a hard time denying the difference in sound quality.

Is anyone else having this problem?

iPhone 8GB

Posted on Mar 14, 2008 8:44 AM


Mar 14, 2008 11:34 AM in response to beargeek In response to beargeek

I've had 3 ipods and now an iphone. It is VERY easy to blow out your headphones. Normal listening volume won't do it, but if you are like me, I sometimes have the volume up all the way without noticing - and when I turn it on ... WHAM ... there goes the headphones. I've bought a few apple replacements, but now I switched to V-MODA ones, and on top of sounding better, I think they can handle loud sounds better too.

I recommend getting replacements ( apple or another brand ) and just be more careful with your volume. Note ... this happens with consumer speakers too, if you are not careful.

Mar 14, 2008 11:34 AM

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Mar 14, 2008 11:38 AM in response to Tamara In response to Tamara

It does, but ears are pretty good at handling a split second of loudness ... I usually just yank the phones off my head real fast. ( I keep it at full volume when connected to my stereo for better signal to noise ratio ) and sometimes forget to bring them down.

Now I have an ipod always on the stereo, and my iphone is my new ipod, so I won't be making that mistake again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mar 14, 2008 11:38 AM

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Mar 14, 2008 12:06 PM in response to beargeek In response to beargeek

More than just loud volume can damage/destroy headphones.

I'm assuming that when you make a trip to the Apple store and they replace your headphones, the new ones sounds good, right? At the point of your headphone exchange, you now own a pair of 'known good' headphones.

It is at some point after you leave the Apple store that the headphones fail. I'm assuming it's not an outright short in the wiring, you would probably have noticed and mentioned here if the sound was cutting out completely in one or both channels.

At this point, I would suspect that something is causing damage to the earbud parts themselves. Are they getting banged around in a pocket, or by something else in a pocket (keys, change, etc)? Are they coming into close contact with some kind of magnet or powerful electronics? This wouldn't be some kind of obvious thing like being dropped or stepped on or a big accident, since this is something that's happened to you repeatedly. But something your headphones are coming into contact with is causing your trouble.

Good luck sleuthing it out ๐Ÿ™‚

Mar 14, 2008 12:06 PM

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Mar 14, 2008 12:59 PM in response to trilobyte In response to trilobyte

Thanks for all the info so far! I think them being blown might be the most likely possibility, but it still doesn't explain everything. I really have only had the "way too loud" thing happen once, maybe twice yet I have had 5 headsets with bad speakers.

**When I leave the store, they do sound great. There has to be something happening between then and now that causes the issue. I think I treat my headphones pretty normally. I carry them in my pocket, but they have never been abused at all and I try to make sure they're the only thing in that particular pocket.

As far as a magnet, I have a lot of electronics in my house. What kind of contact with a magnet would it take to de-magnify the buds?

Mar 14, 2008 12:59 PM

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Mar 14, 2008 1:16 PM in response to beargeek In response to beargeek

I didn't mean to imply you're treating the headphones poorly, just trying to identify what's making them go from good to bad. I'm not sure how powerful a magnet/power source would have to be, I just know it'd have to be close. Sitting on top of a TV or a speaker could probably cause damage over time.

Speaking of which, I forgot to ask... is the transition from good to bad something that happens quickly (one day they're fine, the next they're crap) or is it something that happens gradually over time? If it's gradual I'm more inclined to think they're being affected by exposurre/interference from some other electronics which affects them gradually (day-in, day-out).

Mar 14, 2008 1:16 PM

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Mar 20, 2008 8:40 AM in response to beargeek In response to beargeek

Do you just wrap them together to put them in your pocket? Do you wrap them around the phone? I notice the wiring in these earbuds to be quite thin. I had an issue with my daughter's iPod and the earbuds. Kids, and I'm not making any inference here, I found wrapping the earbuds around the iPod, and sometimes were wrapping them quite tight. I believe it was causing the wiring to break, and that could be what happened to my daughter's. I took them back to Apple, and they gladly replaced them. No problem since, but I've made sure she was a little more careful with them. I agree they should be a little more durable, but I think that aftermarket ones might be in order. Personally, I've never been able to get those things to fit in my ears and stay anyway! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mar 20, 2008 8:40 AM

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Mar 20, 2008 8:51 AM in response to beargeek In response to beargeek

Lord help, I'm not electronics major, however I know the case I referred to caused the music to do all sorts of things, especially cut out ocassionally. Like I said, given the size of the wiring, anything is possible. I hope you get it straightened out and continue to enjoy your iPhone. I know I do mine.

Mar 20, 2008 8:51 AM

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Question: iPhone headphones keep breaking/sound quality awful