We’ve all been there. You find a great pair of headphones that you absolutely love, and then something happens, either the sound quality deteriorates, they develop a poor battery life, or just stop working altogether. There are many ways that a wired headphone or a wireless headphone can break. Maybe the coating on the wired headphone splits, or the ear pad falls out, or something inside stops working altogether. That said, there are some aspects to build quality that you can look for to make sure you get the most durable headphones on the market.
1. Choose a well-known brand.
We’re not saying that there aren’t inexpensive brands out there that aren’t well-made, but if you want the best chance of getting a durable earbud or over ear headphone that lasts, a well-known brand is a safer bet. There are many reasons for this. First of all, any company that’s been in the business for a long time has put the time and research into figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Secondly, any company that has stood the test of time has likely done so because they know what they’re doing. If Sony made poor quality headphones that broke quickly, everyone would know about it. Trustworthy companies know how to make a durable earbud with good sound quality, noise isolation or noise cancellation, and a solid build quality. So, well-known brands are a good way to go.
It is tempting to go with a little-known brand because they’re often less expensive, and it’s certainly possible to find a brand that isn’t popular but still produces high-quality equipment. In this case, take the time to read customer reviews. If there are hundreds of four and five-star reviews raving about the product and people are commenting that they’re durable, it’s worth the gamble. Going with a less-popular brand is a great option, especially if you’re hoping to get a good deal, but it requires a little bit more research.
2. Look at the materials.
One of the things to look for when choosing durable headphones is the materials, especially the material of the headband. Many lower-quality products use lightweight plastic, but if you want something that lasts, look for an adjustable headband that’s made of durable materials like lightweight aluminum or other durable metals.
If you’re looking for a pair of headphones with a padded ear cup, make sure it uses high-quality leather or vegan leather and not a thin plastic material that will quickly tear or come apart at the seams.
There are things to consider about the inner workings of the headphones, too, but believe it or not, the headphones and inner ear cup are important indicators of durability. It doesn’t matter how good the audio quality is, if the headband breaks and the earcups split, you won’t be able to use them anyway.
3. Pay attention to the cables or go with a wireless pair.
Wired headphones have their benefits, but if you go with a wired option, pay close attention to the durability of the connection. Anything with wires, whether it’s your smartphone charger or vacuum cleaner, is at risk of having the covering split or crack, exposing the wiring underneath. Ensure that the pair of wired headphones you choose is durable where it connects to the headphones. Braided wires are generally a little more reliable as they move more easily and resist breakage.
Another option is to go with a wireless headphone or a pair of wireless earbuds. Wireless does not eliminate the risk altogether because you still have to charge them, but since they don’t have an aux cable, they do lower the risk of damage. Be careful when charging your wired pair to make sure the cable isn’t bending or weakening, making it susceptible to tears and other damage.
4. Look for a good warranty.
Nothing ensures your headphones will stay in good shape and last a long time better than a good warranty. There are a few reasons for this. First, any company that’s willing to stand behind its product with a warranty is demonstrating that it believes the product will last a long time. Second, if something does go wrong and you have a good warranty, the company will repair or replace the product. At the bare minimum, this should give you some peace of mind, especially when investing in headphones that are on the high end of your budget.
Most well-known brands offer decent warranties on their products, which is another reason why going with a popular name is a safe bet. That said, there are plenty of smaller brands that offer great warranties, too. Again, just make sure you do your research and know what the warranty covers before making a purchase. Most warranties come with a lot of fine print and you don’t want to assume that something is covered only to discover it isn’t when you’re trying to get something fixed.
5. Get a pair of headphones with replaceable parts.
If you want a pair of headphones that will last for years and years, look for one with replaceable parts. Say you have a great pair of wireless headphones with a durable aluminum headband, and one day you notice the earpads are splitting. If you can order a new pair of aftermarket earpads and use them to easily replace the old one, you can extend the life of your headphones by years.
Some brands have really latched onto this idea in the spirit of sustainability and make options where every part of the headphones is replaceable. If you get a pair like this, you can conceivably use them for a decade or longer. Again, do your research and find one that works for you.
Durable Headphones and How to Find Them
Looking at the factors we mentioned above will help you find a pair of durable headphones, but the best way to determine whether you’re getting a great pair is to look at customer reviews. Not only does this help you figure out whether an unknown brand is worth the investment, but it’s also worth considering with name brands to make sure they live up to their reputation. To save you time, we’ve put together multiple buying guides to help you find the best products without having to spend time hunting through customer comments and reviews.
A passion for writing and ongoing research projects gives Catherine an incredibly broad knowledge of all things. She has authored an incredible number of articles and can be found in the wilderness when not attached to technology or listening to podcasts.