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Skullcandy Smokin' Buds + Old iPhone Headphones = Headphones of Win & Awesome

So, I’ve been reading on the internet about people who have been modding their iPhone headphones with new earbuds. There is even a company who will do it for you. Where is the fun in that? There is none. Real men take care of it themselves. They get out their soldering irons, wire cutters, and drills and get down to business.

I didn’t take pictures during the bulk of the process. To be honest, it was very frustrating and, in hindsight, a different set of headphones would have been much easier. Explanation to follow.

The Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds were chosen because they:

  • are very comfortable.
  • were under \$35.
  • are white.

The iPhone case on my phone managed to tear apart my old headphones, so those were already provided. In case you didn’t know, 3rd party headphones with a mic and button on the cords are fairly hard to come by, and expensive even if you can find them.

The Skullcandy ’phones came apart after cutting around the rims with a razor blade. Their are epoxied together, so some sort of glue is needed to put them back together after they are separated.

Most headphones (like the iPhone headphones) simply tie the wires in a not to make sure the wires don’t easily get pulled off the buds. The Skullcandy wires were glued in-place inside the ear piece. This was the beginning cause of frustration during this part of the process, as we’ll see next. Pulling the wire out of the headphones will leave some of the wire jacket still in the shaft. This gets cleaned out later.

When preparing the iPhone headphones, it works well to cut the wires right under the knot. The unknotted wire doesn’t work so well when trying to push it through the rubber part on the Skullcandy headphones.

There is no picture for this, but the wire that comes with the Skullcandy headphones is quite a bit thinner than the wire on the iPhone headphones. WIthout modification, the iPhone wires would not go up the rubber part and into the earpiece. The jacket bunched up and was a real pain to get up there.

To get around this, part of the rubber on top of the earpiece (you can see it pulled away in the picture) was pulled back and a 1/16th inch drill bit was used to drill a hole pretty much straight through the headphone and through the rubber. This cleaned out any of the extra left-behind wire jacket that was glued, and also made the shaft big enough to accommodate the iPhone wire.

This step is extremely important, and great care should be taken to make sure you don’t ruin the jacket. Go through it once with the drill on low, and once it goes all the way through, then speed it up.

Soldering is pretty easy. Just match colors. A quick burst from a lighter or a match can burn away the jacket on the very small wires in the iPhone headphones. In the right earpiece, there will be 4 wires. Don’t worry about them. You can safely not solder them to anything and have your mic and button still work.

When they’ve been tested, you can reattach the buds to the ear pieces with super-glue. You can also glue the top rubber piece back over the drilled holes. This makes them louder, too.

Great success! Finally, headphones that are comfortable, sound great, and work flawlessly with the iPhone.