Vintage headphones mod – The ultimate hipstery conclusion

I started this blog by modding some “vintage” headphones, replacing the original bad speakers by a pair of Sennheisers. It was almost two years ago.

Last month finally happened what usually happens to audio jack cables: “qsdfg#efdfg#jnd#qdfg#skdglcvnqse” instead of my usual music (which is almost the same, but without the “#”s ).

I decided to totally pimp the new cable by using one of those “fabric 220V cables”. I had the idea for a while, but I didn’t realise the fabric covering isn’t actually glued to the cable and you can use it on an other cable.

I got one on eBay, 1.99€/metre, plus a 5-metre long jack/jack cable of reasonable quality:

01-Fabric-audio-cableI cut the audio cable in half so I can still use the other half for something else (or as a spare).

The fabric covering is very easy to strip (it slides off) but more difficult to put back. It was a good idea to put tape on the cut end of the audio cable, so it could slide easier.

Then, I just glued the fabric to the jack plug and secured it with a cable tie when it was drying:

02-Fabric-audio-cable

Soldering the cable back in the headphones:

04-Fabric-audio-cable(you can see how easily the fabric strips off and also the tape at the end of the audio cable to help with the sliding-in)

After, I added some turns of thin electrical tape, to avoid the fabric fibres to strip out:

03-Fabric-audio-cable

Et voilà:

Headphones1(After testing the new cable, I realised it was the audio socket of my iPhone that had a problem, not the headphones’ jack.. )

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!