Replacing The Ipod Shuffle’s Headphones

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With the recent announcement that the only controls for the Ipod shuffle will be on the headphones, many were let down. [James] has come to the rescue, showing that you can just solder new ear buds on the end of the wires. Though this may not be the perfect solution, especially if your cable gets damaged, at least you can get a little better sound. This is a great example of something to show kids. It’s not too difficult and teaches them that if we’re not happy with something, we can hack it.

29 thoughts on “Replacing The Ipod Shuffle’s Headphones

  1. it is better to buy a better pair.

    1. it is quicker than hacking.

    2. more reliable than hacking (some really cheap things are held together by fragile clips that can break off and the buds will fall apart (unless you glue them))

    3. more secure ( you are less likely to get mugged because the ipod earbuds scream out i am using an ipod).

  2. The ipod ear buds speakers actually sound better than any ear bud “type” head phones you can find cheap enough to risk breaking them by hacking them.. I would have liked to see him also swap the speakers and just use the JVC housings ‘with out jvc speakers’ if possible.. I ended up buying crappy ear buds sacrificing the sound quality of the better IPOD head phones.
    I eventually stopped using them and any form of ear bud internal head phones, I use 1980’s headphones with the head band and the little foam head phone speakers… yeah! Retro!

  3. Personally I’d just lop it off as close as I could to the shuffle and still have enough to solder an in-line 1/8 inch jack… then I can hook any headphones/speakers/etc up I want, including a 1/8 to rca cable if I so choose

  4. If you are worried about having to use specialized hardware and software, I would not recommend an iPod that requires use of iTunes and does not have easy access to the file system.

    There are dozens of generic mp3 players that are small and not proprietary.

  5. Ever heard of SharePod. I actually found an iPod lying in the street. (no kidding) Not being a fan of iTunes tracking my every music move I searched for something else. SharePod seems to be the solution. I have been using it for a while and while I am not the most software savvy user around, I think it solves the proprietary problem. With that said, I would not have otherwise bought an iPod.

  6. I don’t personally use a portable mp3 (have a Sony SR-83 that can pick up most stations within 90-miles).

    Buuut, I did set my brother up with a Sansa and Rockbox.

    I don’t buy the Apple hype, and the iTunes/Quicktime is a huge pile of crap that rarely works on the XP systems I build/repair. (endless “cannot install/un-install quicktime” loops).

    The only good thing about iPod is the large install base that almost guarantees hacks.

    I would rather install the new Shuffle into my headphones and integrate the controls, then have a switch to change over to the “input jack”, bonus would be lightweight all of a piece headphones (and if I could get a Sony radio into the other ear-cup I would practically never need a cord.)

  7. For older iPods (up to the iPod Video) just use Rockbox, it’s free. That gets rid of the propietary problem, works better than the Apple firmware, can be personalized and set up however you want, and you don’t even lose the Apple firmware.

    Also, see how Apple is announcing that VoiceOver feature? Rockbox has been doing that for a year now.

    Want something smaller? Get a Sansa c200. Rockbox also runs in those.

  8. Yeah, this is kinda lame.
    BUT I do believe that children nowadays are seriously underprivileged (or over, it depends on how you look at it).

    Any hacking that a kid can do (even needless hacking) is good. People take too much bull, being hypnotized by sex and violence on TV and the commercials, admitting the problem of kids being exposed to swearing on shows and then doing nothing. Every way we can show this generation that the choices are up to them is a step closer to a better world.

  9. People have been doing this for cell phones for a long time, although I admit, this is a great one to show the kids. :p

    I think the hope is to have other companies eventually copy apple. They do tend to be WAY ahead of the curve… (floppyless imac anyone?)

  10. OK – WOW. All these negative comments coming from fellow hackers? First off I agree with Kevin above not to buy anything Crapple makes in the first place. They are over priced and over rated. I will say though IF YOU MUST have a shuffle and you don’t want to spend EVEN MORE MONEY on an obviously planned “adapter” … Why not hack the current ones and save yourself some money?

    No, No…Why would anyone want to hack Apple gear when they could just BUY MORE CRAP TO MAKE IT WORK!

    Some of you should be ashamed.

  11. This is a great little guide. Not only is it applicable to iPod headphones but its also a great way to introduce people to fixing their headphones. My headphones are failing at the moment but thanks to this little video of inspiration I’ve just realised I could try to prize them open and fix them, maybe attach them to the end of the iPhone headphones that broke ages ago. If I can do that then it’ll save me a good £60 or so because I won’t have to replace my faulty headphones.
    Not all hacks have to be complicated, sometimes a little simple thing can inspire the masses.

  12. it should be illegal to publish this kind of info. apple designed the shuffle. large corporations know whats the best. the reason they only want you to use their headphones since they are the best. they want to prevemt other entities selling crap and ruining the omnipotemt apple

  13. I think I’d rather shorten the cable and hack an inline jack onto the thing as opposed to replacing the drivers.

    That way it becomes that killer generic dealie you really want it to be.
    Don’t like your earbuds? -buy another pair!

    To be honest, i think i’d just rather stay with a more open player that gives me what i want for my money instead of giving me what someone else wants for my money.

    think about it.

  14. … or just get a Nano or a real MP3 player. The headphones that came with my Creative Zen sound as good as my AKG monitor headphones.

    @barry: And you’re a fawning fanboy. You think Apple should be immune from criticism when they put out overdesigned proprietary junk with bad quality control?

  15. I’m sorry but this is the most “duh” thing I’ve ever read here.

    Now if it was about integrating the control pod into the Shuffle case, that would be completely different. But really, Hack a Day? “You can solder new drivers to the end of your iPod headphone cable!” is pretty basic stuff. The hardest part to get is soldering to the copper thread inside the cables.

  16. Well as Phil says above, this isn’t really a guide to hacking the inside of the headphones. It’s my simple solution to a problem that MOST people won’t think of on their own. A lot of people are afraid to crack open their electronics to hack them, this might give them the courage to see that apple’s headphones don’t have magic inside and you can swap out the drivers without much difficulty.

    I’m actually surprised at the response. Sure there’s a “duh” aspect to the modding of headphones, but I get A LOT of emails thanking me for clearly explaining how it’s done. Plus, I’m sure RadioShack sees a huge increase in the number of soldering irons sold… maybe they can sponsor the show… hmm…. gotta go!

  17. dude what the hell? if you don’t like the content on hackady don’t read it!! you guys who are commenting and complaining about things “Not being hacks” need to get a frickin life (or here’s a novel idea make your own website and put whatever the hell you want on it !! ) The creators of Hackaday can put whatever they want on this site They pay for the hosting you don’t !

  18. I bought one and found that the earbud didn’t fit my ear. I thought about hacking into the current pair but decided to buy the in-ear version that Apple sells for about the same amount of money as the Shuffle. Now my $79 Shuffle costs $158. Oh well.

  19. Kids, showing kids how to do it, well sorry to break this to ya but, im 15, i have been repairing electronics for years, whether it be a simple capictor replacement, a diy gpu reball, i can do it all, i have been for years, so kids are a lot smarter then you think, its up to you as parents to get us interested in electronics at a early age, and make sure they dont try cooking food with a heat gun, yes it works, but if you do it on a plate, dont pick up the plate, its hot xD

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