Custom Headphones Solve Wire Tangles

One complaint we hear about often is ear-bud’s cables getting tangled within backpacks. [Andrew] was having this “spaghetti” wire problem, and also wanted to listen to his music with ear protection on – where ear-buds are usually uncomfortable. The latter problem is fixed by placing speakers inside of folding ear protectors, and the cable is managed with a 3.5mm disconnect.

For those who can’t make disconnect-able headphones but still suffer from tangled headphone wire, we recommend proper wrapping technique for your wire, and a small carrying pouch. With the combination of the two, we’ve never had a tangled cable.

27 thoughts on “Custom Headphones Solve Wire Tangles

  1. i am pretty sure there are multiple products on the market for the exact same thing- evlex makes something as well as other hearing- protecting mfgs. they even make ones with radios- so nothing impressive to see here

  2. And you’ve done what? As you say, “nothing impressive to see here”.

    I hate the lousy sound that comes from most earbuds, and have rebuilt my large, over-ear headphones a couple of times. I hadn’t thought of using a male-male mini-stereo cord. Good hack!

  3. What a tool. Just buy these:
    They sound great, and are legally sound blocking i.e. osha, i.e. your boss can fuck off if he doesn’t think they block enough sound to be safe. I’ve had firetrucks drive by me with sirens blazing, and not heard a god damn thing with these on. Best noise isolation on earth.

    For extra credit, but their cord at the volume pod, solder on a slim 3.5mm plug, and buy and one of these

    Total cost, under $40. Clip the a2dp receiver to your collar or let it dangle (the earbuds hold unbelievably well). Keep your bluetooth enabled ogg vorbis player in your pocket, and listen to music/oggcasts all day long nomatter how noisy it is.

    Either way it won’t look as shitty as Andrew’s “hack”. The 80′s are dead, I’m not strapping anything around my head unless its part of some fetish

  4. I made a pair of these for work, a few years ago, it comes in pretty handy, plus you’re not turning the radio up to drown out the air hammers, and impact wrenches, or what ever, the disconnect wire is nice too, when you aren’t listening to music, you can disconnect it. I used an old pair of headphones, a radio shack jack, and a cheapo pair of ear muffs, think I spent like 15 bucks or so all together.

  5. don’t buy any wire management garbage for headphones. Simply knowing how to wrap up and then tie the wire saves a lot of trouble. Use the rolling technique and then use a simple loop knot to tie it up in the middle. No more tangled wires.

  6. I always wanted to do this but then I got some nice closed cup phones.

    for a cheap isolating pair, this is great. the use of dual-ended plugs is brilliant, especially because he can make multiple lengths.

  7. So instead of having an attached cord to get tangled up, you now have a detachable cord to get tangled up and possibly lose?

    Don’t get me wrong; making headphones out of hearing protectors is great for yard work. (In fact I have that exact pair of hearing protectors; I just wear them over my earbuds, it’s fine.) I just don’t see how this solves the spaghetti-cord problem.

  8. etymotic ER4P. Problem of noise and tangling solved instantly. Not cheap…but well worth it. I’ve tested myself in our audiometry booth at work and had 40dB noise attenuation.

  9. Snarky commentary above notwithstanding, this is a good build and pretty good (and cheap) passive noise canceling. I’m a great fan of hardshell hearing protectors (ask anyone who wears David Clarks) – but in this instance I usually skip all the glue and soldering and just wear the hearing protectors over a regular set of ear buds.

  10. @rallen (and others):
    “I hadn’t thought of using a male-male mini-stereo cord.”

    Have you not bought a pair a decent headphones in the past ten years? Bose, Phillips, even a $10 pair of B-Tek (or something like that) headphones that I bought 5 years ago all have detachable cords like this. Not saying this is a worthless hack or anything, but it’s certainly far from a novel idea. If I’m spending more than $20 on a pair of headphones, not having a detachable cord is a deal-breaker for me, since the cord is always the first thing to go…

  11. Hmm, my post didn’t appear, oh well.

    Using a retractable 3.5mm cable might help eliminate tangles when not in use, those cables are dirt cheap so it’d be worth a try.

    @Urza9814, I always listen to music when I cycle and find the wire of my earbuds slowly becomes stiff right next to the buds, so every couple of months I have to cut the stiff wire off & re-solder it to the buds. The headphones plug into a wired LCD remote so length isn’t much of a problem.
    The earbuds I use were cheap and have excellent sound reproduction, Philips Eargear HE205, but long out of production so I grabbed a couple extra pairs for backup, and occasionally buy cheap crap buds to steal the wire from to keep the HE205’s going.
    So far so good after 7+ years :)

  12. I’ve been doing this, minus the detach cord, for a few years for my family any time a set of headphones died. I like this hack as it’s earth friendly (no trash/recycle) and cheap (dollar store if not super critical).

    Thank You for the detach idea, will use for my steampunk mod.

  13. Why not bluetooth?

    May have to think about universal adapter of some sort…

    Agree with poster who said that if cords must be used, just learn to wrap and tie them up right.

    Cool little project, tho.


  14. I did this Ages ago, a touch more extreme. Rebuilt a pair of ATH-M30s that a friend wore right down, out of part of the original cups, coathanger, carved wood, seatbelt and some twisted wire. Hocked off the end of a nice y-split 3.5 cable to dangle in place of the poor old cable and tacked on some foam for padding – the original stuff was greasy beyond rescue :b. They work great, but I’m rather wanting to find better padding.
    The Koss HV/1a cups I’ve picked up since sound great anyhow :D

  15. It figures, the one day I don’t check hack a day it the day they post my project.
    Re: NotTroel
    In the ear protectors like that don’t work for me because I fly a lot and it’s hard to equalize ear pressure with them in.
    Re: Jeff
    I use these on the road with devices that don’t have bluetooth, and juggling a receiver and keeping it charged is just one more headache.
    Re: other snarky comments
    I expressly said it wasn’t a completely new idea. I had a specific list of needs, built something to fill them and shared it.
    Re: other, non-snarky comments
    Thanks :)

  16. This is great! I’ve been looking for way to make a decent pair of Headphones (I go through more headphones then anything else I own) Hearing Protection Muffs, why didn’t I think of that!??

  17. I hate how everyone explains the correct way of coiling cables but misses the most important point:

    Over Under (the correct way) will cause more knots than over-over if uncoiled correctly, over over will not usually form knots (unless you pass an end over the coil and then through the far side creating a huge mess no matter what coiling method you use), but will severely twist your cable, over under does not twist cables at all.

    The reason over-under knots:
    When you pull an end through any pair of loops it creates a knot, at a rate of one knot for every two loops, if you try to throw a cable by holding onto an end that is through the center of a cable with 20 loops you will end up with 10 knots.

    In the event production business, my favorite practice is making sure the ends meet, connecting mating ends ON TOP of the wrap (not under) (if the ends mate such as XLR and Edison Power cables) and securely velcroing the cable. These two steps mean you unvelcro and disconnect the cable, the wrap can be thrown from either end because both of them are on the outside of the wrap and not through the center. If you are super paranoid, you can also throw the coil holding onto the ends with the ends still connected which will also lead you to have a perfectly laid cable that is still connected to itself.

    Long story short: Uncoiling cables is more vital than coiling it, if you aren’t paying attention to what the coil state is you can end up with knots regardless of how it was coiled. This is especially important if you are dealing with cables that you didn’t wrap yourself.

  18. I have a pair of Depthmaster metal detecting headphones from a while back that are this with amp circuit and independent volume controls. But again portable music is portable.

  19. i just made a set of these last winter for snowboarding!

    behind-head ear warmers with headphone speakers (minus pads of course) placed under the first layer of soft insulation. the set i used had slots just large enough to squeeze them though, so i soldered on a stereo jack and fed the wire through until it stuck out of the back, just above my jacket collar. then just a male-male cable is easy to tuck down your shirt.

    simple hack it may be, but once you do it youll really appreciate its usefulness and comfort. its great being able to hear music loud and clear without worrying about them falling off/out of your ears.

  20. I’ve got a project kind of like this going. I have an old set of wireless bluetooth headphones hanging around. They were some crappy LG things that the headband broke on after about a year.

    So far I’ve taken the band off and tried to extend the cabling between the two ears, but it seems like the left one doesn’t want to work even though the right one won’t power up without it turned on(I’m thinking the battery cell is in both sides). I’m just worried that I might have shorted out the right side when I accidentilly crossed the wires wrong.

    Anyways this is a good tutorial on how to run the wires if I ever get them working again. I bought some jack hammer type muffs late last year for just this purpose. They work very well at cancling out sound, and compared to my BOSS cancelation headphones, they are very comparible.

  21. I’ve stopped coiling small cables that get stuffed in bags – I fold them and stuff them in expandable mesh tubes/rings. My laptop cords, headphones, earbuds, etc. never behave and when I’ve got three different loops in the same backpack pocket, they get tangled up with each *other*. The mesh keeps the cable in a nice compact wad and doubles as a keeper for really long cords doing short jobs.

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