How Long Do Headphones Last?

Do you agree with me that all headphones break? Of course, they do! These devices come with several delicate and complex internal components that will get manhandled and wear out with time, which then leads to an unavoidable malfunction. You can only delay or postpone it; you cannot avoid it.

Listening devices have become a necessity and a fashion statement with lots of users willing to spend hundreds of dollars to listen to high-quality sound in styles. And since there are so many different types of headphones with different price range and quality available on the market, the next question that probably comes to the mind especially when shopping for a great pair of listening devices is “how long do headphones last?”.

In this edition, we will discuss some factors that affect headphone’s longevity. We will also explore the types of headphones available on the market today and how long they are expected to last.

How Long Are Headphones Expected To Last?

Types of Headphones

The type of headphone you choose can affect its durability. But before we discuss which type of headphone has the longest lifespan, let us take a deeper look into the different types of headphones available in the market today.

Wired Headphones

This type of headphone connects to a media device or audio source (such as smartphone, MP3 player, portable cd players, iPod, laptop, etc.) using a wire. Wired headphones come with a lot of advantages which include cheaper cost, brilliant sound quality, and do not require the use of batteries. However, their cord is exposed to physical stress which can easily get them damaged.

Wired headphones are available in different styles which include the following:

Open-back Headphones

As the name implies, the ear cup of this type of headphones come with an open back that allows leakage of sound into the environment. The sound produced by this type of headphones is open and airy, just like listening to music from speakers in a room. Their open construction that allows sound to escape into the surrounding makes them the number one pick for audio engineers when it comes to accurate mastering and mixing in studio settings.

Generally, open-back headphones create less pressure on the ear, little wonder why they are more comfortable to wear for a longer period of time. They are also available in both on-ear style and over-the-ear versions.

Closed-back Headphones

This type of headphones blocks out any noise in its user’s surrounding to rid the music of any outside interference, irrespective of the user’s environment. It also creates an isolated listening experience, so only its user can hear the sounds.

This type of headphone is great for people who want a very private listening experience or those who want to engulf themselves in their music and hear every little detail of it without disturbing others.

Musicians in a recording setting mostly use Closed-back headphones because of their ability to block out all peripheral noises as well as the notes in the vocalist or instrument.

They have little or no noise leakage so, little or no sound escapes into the environment (which can cloud up a track if they leaked into the microphone). In terms of design, this type of headphone is available in both the smaller on-ear and the bigger over-ear style and are usually larger than other available types of headphones.

Related: Open-Back vs. Closed-Back Headphones: Which is Better?


Earbuds can be described as small speakers that stay on the outer ear and do not enter deeply into the ear canal like their in-ear brothers. They are portable and have a slim design but are larger than in-ear headphones and allows for sound leakages-giving its users the benefit of listening to flat sounds.

This type of headphones struggles to produce true sound isolation and can fall out with moderate body movement since they do not grip the ear well as their in-ear counterparts.

So, if you’re looking for a pair of headphones to use at the gym or to listen to your favorite music without the interference of external sound, this type of headphones might not be what you need. But if you are looking for a portable version that you can easily carry around, then this would be a great choice.

Related: How to Fix Bluetooth Earbuds When Only One Side Works?

In-ear Headphones (Also Known As Canalphones)

This type of headphones is the most popular, portable, versatile, and convenient. This type of headphones goes a little deeper into the ear canal (close to the eardrums), unlike the earbuds that stay on the outer ridge of the ear. They work as closed-back headphone version with the benefit that includes factors like sound accuracy, sound isolation (very little sound leakage) and comfort (at least for some).

Generally, this type of headphones has silicon ear tip for more protection and comfort. These silicon ear tips fill up space in the ear canal to prevent sounds from the surrounding environment from gaining entrance into the ear while allowing sound from the headphone to enter directly into the ear. In-ear headphones are great for those who love to listen to music on the go, as they travel, run or even at the gym.

On-ear Headphones

This type of headphones goes over its user’s head and rest just on top of its user’s ears. The ear cups of on-ear headphones are a bit smaller (about the size of the actual ear). They behave slightly like open-back headphones in that they allow some amount of sound from their surroundings to get in and some to leak out from the headphone.

Generally, this type of headphones is comfortable for use as it does not cause its users to sweat as much as they would when the over-ear model is used.

However, the on-ear model rests on the ears, so it is important to find a pair with the right amount of clamping force that does not exert too much pressure on your ears or fall off your ears while you move.

Over-ear Headphones (Also Known As Circumaural)

This type of headphone fit over the ear and around the ear cartilage. The ear padding of the headphone rests over the ear so that the entire ear is covered — this help to limit noise leakage and block out external sounds. Its users will be able to listen to their music in isolation, making this model the superior headphones for noise reduction.

Over-ear headphones are usually available in closed-back style, but you can still get the open-back version of this headphone that breathes and allow sound to enter or leak out.

Over-ear headphones offer a higher level of comfort as they are mostly made of leather and\or velvet and do not crunch its user’s ears like some of their on-ear brothers. However, they are the heaviest and bulkiest headphone style and can cause its users to sweat due to the limited air circulation it allows.

They may cause fatigue on the ears and head if they are worn for a long period of time due to their weight. But if you don’t mind the size and love to listen to music in an audio-intimate and pristine environment, this type of headphone is for you.

Wireless Headphones

This type of headphones offers wireless connectivity via the transmission of radio waves from the transmitter (media source) to the receiver. The prevalent radio transmitter technology used in contemporary wireless headphones is the Bluetooth technology. These radio waves have their unique frequency instead of utilizing the outdated available radio frequencies that might cause disruptions with actual radios.

Bluetooth headphones come with a small computer chip that allows you to pair with various devices and listen to music just as you would with normal headphone styles but without the hassles of cords. This type is available in all styles of headphones (in-ear, on-ear, over-ear, open-back, and closed-back versions).

They offer a higher level of convenience and durability than the traditional headphone styles (since you won’t have to fiddle with the cord which is often the first part of a headphone that gets damaged).

However, wireless headphones are more expensive than their corded brothers. Another downside of these headphones is that they run on the battery which needs to be charged and recharged when the power runs down. If you want the cordless convenience and don’t mind dropping some spare cash or charging the headphone now and then, the wireless models would be a great choice.

Build Quality

The build quality of a headphone cable and internal components has a lot to do with its durability. Generally, headphone made of quality materials last longer but they usually come with a high price tag. When it comes to headphones, what you get is what you paid for. You can spend less amount of money and get a pair that will only last a few months or spend more and get a premium quality set that will remain a good partner for over a decade.

We recommend the later as you can get a high-quality set that will provide you with quality sound for years with a small investment instead of wasting money on headphones with a low-quality sound that won’t last long. Another advantage of high-quality headphone is that they usually come with a year warranty and can be replaced if they stop working. They can also be repaired for less than it would cost to buy an inferior quality headset as their new replacement.

Care and Handling

If you are still wondering how long do earbuds last or how long do wireless headphones last, you should know that their lifespan is a function of how you handle and care for them. Your headphones will last longer if you handle them well, take good care of them, and store them properly.

Earbuds and in-ear headphones are fragile and can easily get clogged with wax – keeping them clean all the time and storing them in a case when they are not in use will help to increase their lifespan. In the case of wireless headphones, proper storage and avoiding accidental falls, overcharging, and contact with water will help to extend their lifespan.


Spending your hard-earned money on a pair of headphones that soon call it a quit after a few weeks of use can be very frustrating. You need to know how long a pair of headphones is expected to last before you invest in one. When it comes to headphones longevity, there are some things you have to keep in mind, which this article has taken time to explain.

Here is our little recommendation. When shopping for a pair of headphones, ditch the cheap ones and always go for high-quality products since they have higher chances of lasting longer than the inferior quality products. However, the most important thing is to handle your headphone properly and take good care of them. Always remember that even a premium-quality headphone will get damage with improper storage and poor handling.

Audio Loli