Vintage headphones mod

Two years ago at work, I saved those French brand LEM DR80CR headphones form the bin (I work at an airport).

LEM DR 80 CR Headphones Senheiser modded

After opening them up and checking the available space in the earcups, I decided to upgrade them for Hi-Fi. The original earcups contained crappy 8 ohm speakers, like the ones in cheap alarm clocks, impedance-balanced with a small transformer. (The primary purpose of the headphones was to listen to air traffic radio, not music).

LEM DR 80 CR Senheiser modded

Then, I bought Sennheiser HD205 headphones. They have a good quality sound with compact and comfortable earpads. (Unfortunately, I don’t have any photo of the teardown, but the build quality is good, lots of screws and superior moulded hard plastic). They’re more than enough for music listening. Any headphones above $200 are just a rip-off (unless they have other features than just music reproduction)

Sennheiser HD_205_II

The LEM headphones have removable imitation leather earpads. Under them, I found an aluminium gird plate where the speakers were attached to. The gird was riveted to the earcups plastic.

LEM Headphones Sennheiser

First, I removed the speakers, the transformer and all the original parts, leaving only the wires running from one earcup to the other. I cut out an opening in the aluminium gird where I could fit the Sennheiser earcups. I had to cut off some plastic, but I could leave the screw wells and the leather/foam ear cushions plus the plastic assembly that is volume-matched with the speakers.

LEM Headphones Sennheiser

I made holes for screws in the aluminium gird, to be able to attach the Sennheiser speakers to. I had to make small pieces of soft plastic to link the speakers to the gird. They also act kind of springs and cancel vibrations.

LEM Headphones Sennheiser

I also left the Sennheiser wire and jack plug. I’m still looking for a nicer one, that would be spring-shaped with a fabric ext. insulation (if someone have brand names…).

Was it worth it?

Totally! The LEM headphones have a unique vintage look (I did the mod before the vintage-headphones-signed-by-famous-douchebags started to be sooo popular), combined with the great Sennheiser sound quality. Plus, they now have a greater noise isolation due to the double earpads (it’s almost dangerous to walk on the street, as I barely hear cars coming) and stay pretty comfortable to wear, even several hours in a row.

On a more electronics-focused side, there’s plenty of room in the earcups to fit batteries and circuits to make for example, a Bluetooth version.

In conclusion, except for the jack cable I still have to find, it’s a complete win!

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