You're Using Headphones Wrong

5 Ways You're Using Headphones Wrong

Published 12th April 2021
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Okay, okay, we know… ‘ways you’re using headphones wrong’ seems fairly obvious, right? Perhaps. But we’re all still guilty of these common acts that can contribute to an early grave for many pairs of headphones. Although very rarely done on purpose, these frequent faux pas can lead to costly bills over time, not to mention the annoyance of having to replace your cans every few months or so. 

The non-audiophiles among us may question whether it’s worth investing in a premium pair of cans, and the answer is simple: yes! Just think about it, investing more money into a high-end pair of headphones may seem an unnecessary expense at the time, but it’s likely to be well worth your while in the long run. After all, if you buy a cheap pair of cans, you’re less likely to take proper care of them. Or at least not as much care as you would if you’d spent a pretty penny on them. Failing to keep your headphones in tip-top condition can lead to torn wires, blown speaker elements and snapped headbands, rendering them completely useless and in need of a potentially costly upgrade. By ensuring you don’t use your headphones wrong, you can make sure this cycle never happens again for you. Luckily, there's a multitude of ways to prevent your headphones demise, so let’s get into the five ways you’re using them wrong and how you can easily fix this.

Getting your wires in a twist

tangled wires

Probably the most common way to damage and ultimately break your headphones is by carelessly mistreating the wires. Stuffing them into pockets, cramming them into a bag or even just leaving them lying around in your bedroom can all lead to fatal damage for the cable - and you won’t notice until it’s too late. The real shame here is that, in most instances, the driver within the headphones is fit as a fiddle, so with a fresh working cable, your headphones would carry on blasting the tunes for a fair while longer. Don’t fret though: if mistreating headphones is a crime you’ve committed in the past, there’s a very easy solution.

Although many headphones unfortunately don’t allow you to detach the cable and replace it with another, there’s a range of quality cans that do, and these are perfect for those of you that are always rueing yet another torn cable. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Studio Headphones provide powerful bass and crystal clear high tones while also allowing the consumer to detach the cable, meaning no matter how much your cable may get damaged, you’ll be able to replace it! What's more, if cables are proving too much of a burden for you - go wireless! Wireless headphones are a fantastic option if you want to enjoy superior sound without the stress of worrying about any tangling wires. 

If you really don’t see yourself ever purchasing a pair of headphones without wiring, then follow a couple of key rules to make sure they’ll always be kept safe and in tip-top condition. First, make sure your cable is never turning at a 90-degree angle from where it’s plugged in. This will help to manage the tension and minimise the risk of building up damage over time. Second, when storing your cable, try to make sure the wire is wound up in loops, as this is naturally how the cable will want to be, meaning you won’t be bending it too much and distressing the cable. If you follow these tips and remember to take care of the cable at all times, you should see a huge difference in the long run. Not only will this ensure that your headphones live their longest life, but it should also help to maintain that box-fresh sound quality, saving you pennies while making sure you enjoy the ultimate listening experience every time.

Shabby storage

headphone case

Most headphones you buy will likely arrive with some sort of pouch or headphone case designed to store and protect them. As we mentioned earlier, cables need to be stored in circular loops and, conveniently, what shape do most cases tend to be? Circular or semi-circular! This is no coincidence - these handy storage boxes are supplied as they’re crucial to protecting the headphones, but many neglect the cases and never use them. 

If this is something you do, don’t feel bad - constantly remembering to use the case can be a bore, leaving many people to trust the durable nature of their headphones while chucking them into their backpack. This is a fine tactic, until you get home from a long, stressful day of work, carelessly launch your bag into a corner before realising you’d left your headphones in there and they’re now split in two. If you no longer have the case that arrived with your headphones, be sure to get yourself any case or pouch that will protect your headphones and ensure their longevity.

Mistaking water-resistant for waterproof

water proof headphones

We’ve all felt that sinking feeling you get after confidently heading underwater with a piece of tech you believe is waterproof, and then realising it’s broken and clearly wasn’t fit to be submerged that deep. Don’t feel silly for mistaking a ‘water-resistant’ pair of cans for ‘waterproof’ - it can be difficult to distinguish the two definitions. To prevent any aquatic accidents happening in the future, let’s outline the difference between the two:

Waterproof: will be able to resist any reasonable amount of water (barring maybe a ginormous deluge) and most likely safe to use underwater. Typically, manufacturers will state how waterproof a piece of tech is using an IPX rating (an industry standard for waterproofing). Look for headphones with an IPX rating of IPX7 to IPX9 - any lower, and it’s likely they’re water-resistant rather than waterproof. 

Water-resistant: a few splashes or drops of water won’t harm the headphones and a quick drop in and out of a sink may be alright, but never expose them to a dunking. By way of illustrating, a run in the rain with water-resistant headphones should be fine, but a cannonball in the pool is a definite no-no!

Blowing the speakers

loud headphones

It’s rare, but occasionally the drivers within headphones can blow. This can happen when headphones have consistently been used at a high volume or after a sudden blast of music at high volume. This is both bad for the headphones and, as a consequence, not great for your ears either. The good news is, there's a simple way to combat this. Just make sure to listen to music at moderate levels and you’ll never have to worry about this issue. You’ll be doing your hearing a favour at the same time! 

Try to place the volume slightly lower every time you put your headphones on. After a while, your ears should adjust to the more moderate levels. As a general rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to follow the 60/60 rule, which suggests listening to music through headphones at 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes per day. By doing that, you’ll preserve both your hearing and the life of your headphones.

Holding back from high-end headphones

cheap headphones

Simply put, the more you pay, the higher quality of headphones you will receive. Of course, from time to time you’ll manage to find a bargain, but paying a low amount for a pair of headphones doesn’t offer much confidence to their quality. Poor sound quality, shoddy material that leads to a broken headphone jack and a flimsy exterior are all qualities you’d likely find in a cheap, basic pair of cans. Although at the time you may think it’s a shrewd move to bag yourself a bargain pair that’ll basically do the same job as one with a premium price tag, more often than not, it isn’t!

Sometimes, a lower-end pair of headphones is all you need and you won’t feel compelled to splash out on a pricey pair. However, if quality and longevity is something you’re looking for, a more premium pair will definitely fare better than a budget buy. Better parts, construction and audio quality are key factors here. 

Big hitters in the headphone game, such as Bose, Sony and Beats by Dre, are all sure to provide you with an exceptional listening experience, not to mention a sturdy pair that are built to last. What’s more, if you’ve secured a pair from one of these esteemed brands, you’ll want to show them off and make sure they're always kept in pristine condition.

Despite our recommendations, it’s always important to consider your budget and needs before purchasing a new pair of headphones. While avid audiophiles may prefer premium brands, casual listeners may be more than happy with a penny-saving spend. However, if you don’t want to be buying a new pair of cheap cans every few months, investing in a premium pair is certainly a sensible choice.

Ready to rock

ready to rock

So, there you have it - five ways you’ve been using your headphones wrong! As simple as they may seem, it’s easy to get nonchalant about taking care of our cans, especially in the hustle and bustle of daily life. With these reminders fresh in your mind, you can finally break the costly cycle and enjoy your headphones for even longer. 

For those that are prone to the torment of tangled wires, no matter how much care you take, don’t fret: thanks to the rise of wireless headphones, the common cable issue will most likely become obsolete in the coming years. If you’re looking to ditch the wires for good, check out our guide to the best wireless headphones for every budget. Packed with a wealth of handy information and a few choice picks to tempt you, the perfect pair of wireless cans are just a few clicks away… 

Alternatively, if you still can’t decide between wired or wireless models, we’ve got a whole host of headphones guides to help you pick the right pair for you, including a comprehensive guide into everything you need to know to make a well-informed choice. Whatever you choose, one thing’s for certain: you’ll be ready to rock in no time at all!

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