High-End Headphones Get Flexible Boom Upgrade

It seems a reasonable assumption that anyone who’d be willing to spend a few hundred dollars on a pair of headphones is probably the type of person who has a passion for high quality audio. That, or they work for the government. We’re fairly sure [Daniel Harari] falls into that former category though, given how much thought he gave to adding a decent microphone to his Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

Not happy with the results he got from microphones clipped to his shirt or mounted on a stand, [Daniel] realized what he really wanted was a sensitive boom microphone. This would be close enough to his mouth that it wouldn’t pick up stray noises, but at the same time not obstruct his field of view or otherwise get in the way.

He found a few options on the market which would allow him to mount a boom microphone to his HD650’s, but he didn’t want to stick anything to them and risk scratching the finish so those weren’t really an option. [Daniel] decided to go the DIY route, and eventually settled on a microphone that would mount to the headphone’s existing connector which plugs in at the bottom of the cup.

To make his mount, he 3D printed a two piece clamp that could be screwed together and securely attach to the connector without making any permanent changes. Once he had that base component printed, he salvaged the flexible metallic neck from a cheap USB light and used that to hold the female 3.5mm connector. Into that he’s plugged in a small commercially available microphone that is usually used on voice recorders, which [Daniel] said sounds much better than even the larger mics he had tested.

Finally, he used Sugru to encapsulate the wires and create a flexible strain relief. The whole assembly is very light, easily movable, and perhaps most importantly, didn’t require any modifications or damage to a pair of headphones which have a retail price that could double as a car payment.

It’s been a few years since we’ve seen anyone brave enough to hack their pricey Sennheiser headphones. But in the past we covered a modification which gave them an infusion of Bluetooth and even one that reversed a sneaky manufacturer hardware limitation.

Improving headphones by voiding warranties

[Dan] had been wanting a pair of Bluetooth headphones for quite a while. Most of the reviews for wireless headphones in the $50-$80 range complained of tinny sound and dropped bass. Nevertheless, he stumbled upon a $20 pair of headphones with similar reviews and realized that he could switch out the driver and make a decent pair of cans.

The donor drivers came from a pair of Sennheiser HD 540 headphones. These are very respectable headphone speakers that cost about what you would expect for pro audio gear. To to get Bluetooth working with the Sennheisers, [Dan] removed the PCB and battery enclosure and attached them to the headband with velcro.

For his build, he had to cut the cable on the Sennheisers and solder them to the Bluetooth board. There was never any danger of ruining a good pair of headphones, though. If he screwed up he was only out a headphone cable. Now [Dan] has a nice pair of Bluetooth headphones that can reproduce bass. Not a bad deal for a $20 pair of headphones.

Uncrippling lower model speakers

It looks like this low-end Sennheiser HD speaker has the same internals as it’s better-brother but has been altered to reduce sound quality. It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to hobble a product in order to sell more units at a lower price that reflects less features. Linksys WRT54G routers immediately come to mind, or perhaps the more recent Rigol 100 MHz oscilloscope hack is a better example.

In this case, that black piece of foam on the left has been added to the 555 version of the hardware to decrease the sound quality you get from the much more expensive 595 model. Take it out and you’ve got an upgrade that would have cost you more than a hundred bucks. Don’t think this is the only difference? There is a bit of a difference in case design, but [Mike Beauchamp] also found that if you acquire a replacement driver for either model you’ll get the same part.