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No, I’m not going deaf!

September 12, 2010

Vista busy cursor If there is a downside with in-ear headphones it is that ear wax accretes on the speaker mesh over time, and it can be difficult to clean them without making things worse.

Twice now I’ve made the mistake of trying to scrape surface wax particles off with my fingernail.  All that happens is that the wax gets pushed into the holes in the mesh, effectively blocking the sound.  The impact can be far more dramatic than you might imagine.

About 18 months ago, I ditched one pair of Sennheiser earphones because I thought one channel had failed.  It had not completely failed but the volume level was a fraction of that from the other channel.  I noticed the effect just after trying to remove ear wax with my finger and assumed I must have somehow damaged the speaker physically by applying too much pressure.

I then acquired my greatly beloved Sennheiser MM200 A2DP stereo bluetooth earphones and they were fine for over a year.  After that I became aware output levels were somewhat reduced and noticed a build up of wax on the speaker surfaces.  As before I tried a simple scrape clean with a fingernail, this time being extremely careful not to apply physical pressure down into the speaker.  But once again the result was to reduce output volume still further and quite severely, particularly in the left channel. The only possible explanation was that in trying to remove the wax I had only succeeded in almost completely blocking the speaker mesh.

I put up with it for weeks until I decided to Google for a solution and found this comment in a forum.  It reads:

I have been having the same problem for the past week, I have just fixed it, reading your post gave me the idea to clean them and it actually worked

What i did was to “heat them up” with a hair dryer so that any wax from my ear that had gotten inside would “melt”, then I cleaned them with alcohol and a q-tip and I made sure I let a bit of alcohol to get inside the ear bud, then I dryed it with the hair dryer again very carefully and tested to see the results and WHALA works just fine

I tried the method and it was a total success. My earphones are back to full volume.  Literally as good as new.

So a big thank you to zkitz, whoever you are.

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One comment

  1. By way of a slight cautionary note, the left channel seems to have developed a little bit of ringing. It is not much of a nuisance – very faint and quickly tuned out. But it may have resulted from slight overheating with the hair dryer. I think I used less heating on the right channel which is also back up to full volume but with no trace of ringing.

    If you try the hair dryer method I suggest you go easy with the heating and see how it goes. You can always start with mild heating and, if that does not fix things, turn up the heat in small increments until you get the required result.



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