The widespread use of headphones has created a variety of different types and sizes of earpieces, ranging from tiny earbuds that fit snugly in the ear canal to large, earmuff-like headsets that cancel other sounds. This vast array of headphones is sold at a wide range of prices as well, and the expense of owning quality headphones has led to many people building their own pairs.
A History of Headphones
The first headphones were constructed in 1881 for use by telephone operators who needed them to effectively listen to calls and make connections between speakers. By 1910, the first modern sets of headphones were built in the inventor’s kitchen and began to be used by the United States Navy. The success of these new listening devices directly influenced the creation, in 1937, of dynamic headphones, which continue to be the most prevalent type available.
The remainder of the 20th century and the 21st century have brought continued advancements in the realm of headphone technology, including stereo, noise-cancelling, and earbud options. As companies like Apple and Beats by Dr. Dre continue to gain market share, the style and technology of headphones will continue to evolve.
How to Make Personal Headphones
As the demand for quality headphones continues, many pairs are becoming more cost-prohibitive to users. In addition, there is a growing interest in personalizing headphones as much as possible. For these and other reasons, many people are interested in building their own sets of headphones. The process of creating a pair is not as difficult as it may seem. By following these simple steps, it's possible to make a pair of headphones:
1. Gather Tools and Parts
The process of building a homemade set of headphones begins by gathering the appropriate tools and parts. Although there are different ways to build headphones, these basic tools will be necessary in order to be successful:
- Heat gun
- Soldering iron
- Drill Hand saw
In addition to these basic tools of the trade, it will be also necessary to have a collection of appropriate parts and construction materials. These are the main basics that will be necessary:
- A sheet of plastic
- Strong putty
- Thick metal wire
- Headphone cable
- Old headphone earpieces or small speakers
- Electrical tape
- Wire cutters
2. Cut the Plastic Headband
By using the measurements of another pair of headphones or a decorative headband, it's possible to find the correct length for the headband of the new headphones. A width of at least an inch should provide enough stability for the headband piece of the headphones. Measure and outline the appropriate shape onto the sheet of plastic. Next, use the hand saw or a similar oscillating tool to cut the plastic into a strip. Finally, use the sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges.
3. Bend the Plastic Headband
Once the plastic is cut into the necessary size and shape for the headphones, use the heat gun to heat the plastic, so it can be molded. With the use of the vice, slowly begin bending the plastic and molding it to the correct head curve. Once the plastic has cooled sufficiently, it should be ready to use for headphones.
4. Create the Ear-Cups
If there are ear-cups from old headphone sets available, this is the easiest way to create the new earpieces. However, ear-cups can also be created from the plastic sheet in much the same way that the headband was formed. Use a heat gun to slowly shape the ear-cups as well as the vice and sandpaper to round and smooth out the textures. Covering the plastic with hard putty makes them even more durable.
5. Put Everything Together
Drill a hole in each ear-cup, and measure the wire to run from one side to the other. The wire can run along the headband edge to maintain a smooth surface throughout. The headband and ear-cups can be painted any color, and adding foam padding to the ear-cups will make them more comfortable. Finish all edges and connections with electrical tape for durability and appearance.
Finding Headphones on eBay
If creating homemade headphones is not a possibility, there are a number of pairs available for purchase on eBay. Begin by selecting the Electronics category from the main eBay website. Next, choose TV, Audio & Surveillance followed by Headphones. Using the search bar at the top of the webpage or the options on the left side of the page to narrow the search to a more specific model.
There are many reasons to wear headphones, usually to listen to audio files or podcasts privately or without subjecting others to the same sounds. Inexpensive and personalized options can easily be created at home using just a few tools and materials.