Repairing My Audio-Technica ATH-ANC1

I withdraw my endorsement of Audio-Technica's ATH-ANC1 headphones.

Fatigue failure of first one, then the other earphone support

Barely a year after I bought and first wrote about them, one earphone broke free from the headband; when I temporarily fixed this with electrical tape I was rewarded with about two weeks of additional service before the other earphone failed in exactly the same way. More galling than Audio-Technica's lack of attention to fatigue design, however, was their lack of attention to customer service—representatives of the company refused to make any replacement parts available and, since I was just outside of the warranty period, insisted I send them my headphones and pay more than half the price of a new unit to have them repaired. Nonsense!

Instead of dealing with Audio-Technica anymore, I took this as an opportunity to try out a technique I read about in Make magazine: fixing delicate plastic parts, such as the broken bridge of an eyeglass frame, by wrapping the joint with thread and coating it in epoxy, making a kind of thread-reinforced composite.

Fully repaired headphones

First I glued the fractured surfaces on both sides back together with a bit of epoxy and let this set overnight. Then I tied a bit of black thread onto the headband (using a constrictor knot, although a surgeon's knot is probably the best choice) and proceeded to wind this thread over a length of about 3/4 inch, making sure that many of the windings passed back and forth diagonally across the fracture. Once done I tied the other end of the thread tight onto the headband and coated it thoroughly in epoxy.

A closer look at a repaired joint

The repairs don't strike the eye too obnoxiously and so far they're surviving well. My only complaint, aside from the replacement-parts policy of Audio-Technica, is that I had to sacrifice the foldability of these headphones to make the repair, since both sides failed so close to the hinge. No matter, I'll just remove them from traveling service; I mostly use them in the office anyway. Many thanks to Dmitri Monk for sharing this useful technique in the pages of Make; please don't hold him responsible for the relatively sloppy job I did!

Two Comments So Far

November 27, 2014
Jay says:
Great post - I also need to use this technique to repair my head band. I've had nothing but trouble with these things since I bought them. I almost want them to die completely so I can replace them with something better.
January 31, 2015
Eiki Martinson says:
Ah, but that did happen to me eventually! This repair held for some months but it too failed. I replaced them recently with two pairs of headphones, in fact, the sweet over-the-ear and very effective at noise-cancelling Bose QuietComfort 15s, and the wee Beyerdynamic MMX 102 ear buds that are a lot easier to carry and work great when running with your smartphone, for example.

These Audio-Technica's fell sort of awkwardly in between the over-the-ear and in-ear sizes, so I'm happy not to compromise in that way anymore too.

Thanks for commenting!

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