September 18, 2011

Tips, Tricks and Recommendations for the Headphones enthusiast

This is a transcription of this thread in
Don't sit on them.
Don't let others sit on them.
Don't let pets use them as toys.
Don't spill food or drink on them.
Don't let children use them as toys.
Don't wheel over the cords with your chair.
Don't let the cords get snatched by a branch or obstacle.
This can be solved, mostly, by keeping them on your head at all times.

Hang them up when not in use.
Never put weight on the headphones.
If the headphones are collapsible, collapse when not in use.
Never put them under direct sunlight or warm places.

Learn how to coil the cable properly.

Don't leave them on the ground :p (like me)

Buy dust covers for the earpieces when not in use? Honestly, if you simply treat headphones with reasonable care I don't think much is required that isn't self-explanatory.

For some obvious but actually some miss(I did):
Adjust your headband, extension and clamp.
Adjust placement on/around/(in) ears. (in for IEM)
By adjust I mean really experiment with different settings.
This can make a huge difference on both sound and comfort.
I use "dust cover" for my Grados when not using.

For modding:
-never. ever. touch your driver. it is very delicate. very.
-use high quality solder and flux. makes tinning easier as well as getting good strong solders.
-using tech-flex or nylon sheathing is generally recommended, and can help in extending the life of a cable.
-should be obvious,but be careful where you put soldering irons/gun. they will ignite things.
-get a helping hands. wonderful little thing.
-be careful when dissasembling an amp or pair of cans. make sure power is disconnected too.
-remember to put techflex/nylon, heatrshrink, and the barrel for a connector on the cable before soldering on the termination itself. this can get very annoying.
-Most Importantly - Invest in a multimeter. Check leads constantly.

.Dust your headphones with a paintbrush if you're picky. Otherwise, badger hair shaving brushes should work well.
.Take extra cord length and coil it up, then put a little strap (like the little velco cable-tie ones), so you don't roll over extra length with your chair.
.If the cord gets in the way and you're on a wheely desk chair, swing the cord between the vertical arm-rest support stick thingy and the back of the chair.
.Don't be afraid to use gaff tape for cord management!

If you're using Grado flat pads - be careful of lint. Those things are magnets for the fluff.
Everybody has a favorite 'fan boy' house sound but remember variety may surprise you!.

If you're wearing an expensive set of headphones out, that look similar to Beats, don't go down that dark alley.
Seriously. Not speaking on my behalf, but I've heard the stories.
Only you can prevent headphone jacking.

Store them in cases or their boxes when not in use, to prevent dust getting inside. (specially for very open headphones)
Dry your hair, clean your head before using them (goes specially for the AKG K601 ... whitish pads...)

Remember: There is always something better. If you ever have the feeling that your headphone is not good enough, it isn't. Your amplifier is never good enough and neither is your source. After you understand that, just give up and just listen to the dam music.

Attend a meet! Probably the most time- and money-saving move that a serious Head-Fi member could make, even if you have to travel to get to one.

-If you use headphones with a long leash as portables then it is a good idea to let the wire through the belt loops on your pants. Depending on your "equator" you can cut about 80cm of the overall length. When done properly you can also avoid any hanging wire that may hook onto things.
-Headphones with longer jacks and thicker cables tend to mangle up the sockets of portable units if used in a mechanically rough environments as pockets and tight bags.
-When using portable solutions always check to avoid any sharp angles and points of bending in the wire, when appropriate use angled or straight connectors.
-When setting up a home rig try to avoid letting the wire to hang and put tension onto the jacks. Especially if it's a laptop connection that gets frequently unplugged.
-Grado users must keep in mind that the flat pads easily pick up hairs that poke through the pad into the driver, it is evident as a rattling at low frequencies. A temporary remedy is to turn the pad, but the lazy and their headphones are soon parted. Also check from time to time if the wires going from the Y splitter to the drivers are not twisted.
-To IEM users- keep in mind, when sharing the fun of good sound, that not everyone is as hygiene conscious as you.

And what is the proper way to coil the cord? Same way with a guitar cord? When you use a velcro strap do you coil it into a small circle or go back and forth and pinch the cable with 5'' or so switchbacks? I usually just throw it around my head, but this is at home with no accidents.
The wires at the Y splitter already came twisted on my SR60...........
When the battery is dying on your Amp you should just replace it right? With mine i had to turn the volume all the way up and i'm sure the instructions said not to do that.
I learned the thing about the portable jacks a while ago.


Clean connectors regularly
As well as any other parts in your audio chain
Turn on your tube amp a while before using it :)

When first using headphones for the day let them warm up by slowly raising the volume every ten to fifteen minutes til they're at the normal volume you usually listem to them with.
Make sure to keep the source hardware dust free to prevent any electrical damage etc.
Make sure to dry out your ears after bathing otherwise you might end up with some temporary muffled hearing or an ear infection.
When switching headphones always lower the volume to zero before disconnecting one and plugging in the other.
I also unplug my stereo reciever before going to sleep and when plugging it back in the morning i dont turn it on right away for five to ten minutes. Then i do as you mentioned leaving it on while i go cook up some breakfast.


A couple people mentioned the proper way to coil and store your cable:

Never lend some else your IEMs, unless you want to get a new pair of tips that aren't covered in ear wax. Its amazing how dirty someone's ears can get.

To clean velour pads and get rid of the odour I use this rug cleaner:

Fill up a jar or a can big enough to accept a pair of pads with warm or cold water. Pour some Vanish in and rub the pads against each other. Leave the pads floating and do the same procedure after an hour. Leave them in the water for at least 3 hours. Afterwards wash the pads and leave them to dry for week. Do not use any other drying procedure other than drying on room temperature.
If you wan't lots of radio stations and unlimited music with good quality without adds look up for some online premium radio stations which are really inexpensive considering how much music you can listen to.

Remove the headphones from your head before making any adjustments to the headband. This will reduce cracks.

- Keep your ears clean: go with a doctor to check them out, if you're like me with solid earwax, you should go every 6 months for a nice cleaning.
- Be sure to turn the volume all the way down when plugging your headphones to your amp. Turn the volume down before shutting down the amp and you'll never have a surprise.
- Keep your HP in a case, bag or stand, sounds stupid but you can save them from a lot of unwanted outcomes.
- Use a no-break UPS for all your equipments.
. I keep a small pillow a bit smaller than the size of my head so I can lay down in the bed with the headphones without them touching the mattress, my head is not that big.
. If you live in a hot town try to get velour pads for your HP, pleather or leather pads WILL make you sweat specially if you have closed cans
. Long cable + armrest in your chair is a bad combination, try to be aware of where your cable is, I have been very close to a disaster when the cable gets tangled in the armrest.
. Velcro straps for the cables in your AMP/DAC/Source/Power Source
. Keep a bag of silica in your headphones bag/case if you live in a high humidity town.
. Make sure you have in your browser bookmarks.
. When you travel: always get an extra set of batteries (if your portable rig uses them) most rechargeable batteries have 4 of them, so keep one pair charged and one pair in use, planes used to get delayed and batteries to run down in the worst moment.
. When using an amp, control the volume with it: put your player of choice at maximum volume as well as in your dac and use the volume knob in the amp (very simple but some people keep their source or dac in low volumes)
- If you are or not a Burn-In believer, use your headphones without EQ in the first try, that way you'll know "the beast" you're dealing with.
- Dont be afraid of EQ to fine tune your HPs to your taste
- Velour earpads can absorb a lot of smell so try to use your HPs after bathing, if you use them almost ALL day (like me) let them breathe by taking them out of your head, specially on places with warm climate.
- Get an extra pair of pads before trying to wash or clean the pads in your HPs, just in case you blow up things.
- Be sure that the cables in your system (amp - dac - hp - transport or whatever) have the right length and are not to tight, you can damage the cable or even the connection in the equipment.
- Try to listen in a quiet environment, that way you dont have to pump the volume too high, remember your ears is the most important asset when you love music and HPs.
- If you like to hear at high volumes understand that you need to lower the time of exposure to loud music, check the image below:

- Create a Test Song List (TSL) with songs you are very familiar with, so you can detect the big and small details between equipment.
- In your TSL You must have at least: Classical, Jazz, Rock, Vocal & Electronica. Of course you can add what ever genere that you like.
- Please use at least 320kbps MP3 files or FLAC/ALAC/WAV in your TSL.
- Take care of your cables, specially with the heaphones plug, avoid twisting or bending it too much, if thats the case you should get a 90 degrees connector.
- Look for music players beyond iTunes, like fidelia, Play, Vox, Audirvana, etc. they make such a difference.
- When using Eq for fine tuning lower freqs you dont want instead of boosting freqs you like.
- VTS, AU and fx chains are very useful if your player can handle. In my case I use a bit of panning because my left ear hears less than my right ear, using STTool I can center the sound.
- When a fellow head-fier lets you test his(her) HPs please be polite and dont use them at rocket level volumes, some people dont like to crank the volume very high.
- Its a good idea to get a surgery hat when you sweat too much, specially when using borrowed headphones.

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