Hi, my name is Vadim, I have been repairing headphones for over 10 years and I manage a narrow-profile service center that specializes only in their repair.
The idea to write such a post finally came to lfe after I read on different forums from different users: “No service center will do this”, “Took it to the service center to replace the battery. I was told that it cannot be repaired, I should just throw them away, ” about the TWS headphones, which I am successfully repair. People themselves began to believe in this and continued to persuade others at the forum.
I want to find the roots of such stereotypes, bust some myths about headphone repair and tell you whether headphones really cannot be fixed. People do not know that headphones can be repaired. When they hear what I’m doing, they ask, “What can you repair there?”
In short, a lot. From the banal replacement of a plug, ear cushion or wire to the replacement of BGA chips (ball grid array – a type of chip in which the pins are made in the form of solder balls under the chip body).
Each headphone model has a set of potential problems. They can be due to a feature of the design, factory defect, engineering miscalculation or simply aging. Theoretically, any spare part can break in the headphones. In practice, after a certain period of operation of mass models of headphones their inherent, typical, causes of failure become known. Whether it can be repaired depends on professionalism, experience, “straight hands”, and, most importantly, desire of the engineer to help the client.
Every second person with a soldering tool will be able to replace the plug. With more complex repairs, it’s not so easy, and there are a lot of nuances.
It is also a mistake to think that repairing headphones is expensive. It depends. This requires diagnosis. Network and regional service centers, as well as service centers “repair from washing machine to IQOS and Starlink, and between them phones and laptops.”
I saw a lot of broken headphones and poor repairs after other service centers. In my opinion, in the priority of large SC headphones take the last place.
There are several reasons for it:
- Managers are interested in success through the prism of financial performance, and headphones are not always about the high profitability of each repair;
- Lack of highly specialized specialists. Headphone repair is not taught anywhere. Self-teaching, getting experience through mistakes and sometimes broken headphones;;
- All the same stereotypes about headphone repair;
- High staff turnover;
- Lack of spare parts and knowldge of where to look for them.
The cost of repair in such SC is two or three times higher, even for basic repairs, such as plug replacement, and the quality of repair is consistently low. Sometimes it is difficult to call it a repair. Well, that is, it works, but the appearance, the quality of soldering is just awful. In such cases, you want to shout: “Why? Why spoil headphones? ” After all, repair is not only about efficiency, but also aesthetics, right? And an especially unpleasant situation for me. The service center specializes in headphones, but says that TWS headphones are a disposable toy.
Therefore, this is the case when a narrow-profile service will always be better than a broad-based one. You do not treat your teeth at the therapist, but go to the dentist, don’t you? The network service center is the last place I would entrust my equipment to, same as the kiosk near the subway.
Myth: Headphones are a disposable device
Yes, almost all manufacturers do claim that headphones are not a serviceable device. The number of manufacturers that do not supply any spare parts for repairs is approaching 90%. Sometimes they don’t even supply ear cushions.
However, this does not prevent us from successfully repairing them. We use a variety of repair technologies, such as printing parts on a 3D printer. We spend hours looking for the right part.
At the same time, of course, not all headphones can be repaired. Not all problems can be solved. Also, not all headphones should be repaired. Repairing some of them sometimes can cost 50% of their price or more. Some may not have spare parts at all.
To sum up: most headphones can be repaired.
Myth: Headphones can’t be disassembled
There are headphones that are very difficult to disassemble. For example, Apple AirPods and the like. The curcuits are tightly packed, and everything is filled with a strong compound inside. As a pro, they rarely break. Do you know the most common fault in AirPods 1/2? They are clogged with earwax and one earphone plays quieter. There are also AirPods Pro with their rattle, which are not repaired, and they are subject to an exchange program from Apple.
The myth is untrue. Headphones are disassembled. Earbuds, TWS headphones and models completely covered with epoxy resin can be diassembled. However, traces of disassembly may be visible. I try to warn customers about this when it comes to their model. And the nature of the traces of disassembly and in general their presence directly depends on the professionalism of the engineer.
Three stories from the life of the service center about misdiagnosis:
1. My friend Oleksandr, also the owner of a service center for repairing phones and laptops, was visited by his friend with Marshall Mid Bluetooth headphones that did not turn on. I got the headphones with the same fault, but with a replaced battery (because I thought there was a problem). Although there was a completely typical problem for these headphones – a broken arc wire.
2. Customer with expensive Noble Audio Falcon TWS headphones. The sound in one of the headphones began to disappear. The client decided to disassemble the headphones himself, thinking that the wire had just come off. He was not stopped by the fact that the headphones were still under warranty. The problem really was in the wire, but in the speaker wire. It was necessary to replace the speaker, which we did successfully, although it was not easy to find.
3.The latest story, the latest, is about the Jabra Evolve 75. The customer took the headphones to a well-known service center in Rivne with the problem “do not turn on and do not charge.” The service center reported: the problem is in the motherboard, repair is impossible. The client has already asked us about the cost of repairing the motherboard. I was immediately skeptical of this verdict of my predecessors. And not in vain. In fact, the headphones in the previous service were not even disassembled, and the problem was in the broken Micro-USB and torn contacts.
Every time I become more and more convinced that everyone should do what they know best.
Instead of a conclusion
Where do these myths about the disposability of headphones come from? Although there is some truth in this, but first of all it is the fault of the service centers and the masters themselves, who are differently (un) aware of the issue. People do not question this, do not turn to other specialists, and the word gets around. So, trust your equipment to professionals.