Repair: Rewiring your Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

2 years ago I, with much excitement, ordered a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pro’s. Both Gleb and Matt has a pair, and after listening to theirs… Apple’s little iPod buds just didn’t cut it anymore. I loved my pair so much that their connector ended up being severely bent when i squeezed past a, um, slightly oversized person sitting next to me in economy class on a flight back to South Africa. Anyways, the deed was done and the headphones became pretty much unusable, since only the one channel was getting through the bent pin!

I finally got around to rewiring them, which was more tricky than i expected! So here’s a post for others trying to do the same thing.

On stripping the connector, you discover 4 wires, rather than the expected 3:

First thing’s first, TIN THESE WIRES WITH SOME SOLDER! I had no idea that the copper strands themselves were covered by a thin film of resin, which needs to be burned off with some solder. If you try to connect an alligator clip straight to the bared wire, you get no connection, causing much confusion.

The 4 wire mystery was solved when I peeked into the left earphone. The two drivers are separately wired all the way to the connector. Two wires per channel = 4 wires. The mapping I discovered is as follows:

White – LEFT, GROUND
Black – LEFT, SIGNAL
Blue – RIGHT, GROUND
Red – RIGHT, SIGNAL

As follows:

If you’re interested, inside the left headphone there’s a little splitter board:

I bought a nice connector from Radioshack and wired this up. Be really careful when soldering the wires to the connector and don’t use too much heat! The shielding melts quickly and you don’t want your cable all melted together inside. I connected the two grounds from the two drivers together, which worked just fine.

After doing this, I was rewarded with a fantastic set of cans working again!

8 Comments

  1. Ryan says:

    That’s so funny that you should post about this right now, as I am just in the midst of doing the same thing with my Etymotic ER6is…

  2. Niels Joubert says:

    That is a huge coincidence… Good luck with that, does those cans also come with the 4-wire core?

  3. Anonymous says:

    okay – so how do you get the cover off to expose the little splitter board?

  4. Niels Joubert says:

    To expose the little splitter panel, I pulled off the padding from the side with the cable running into it, and that exposes two screws. Once you’ve unscrewed these, that side of the headphones pops open to reveal the internal wiring.

    Pulling the padding off was not too hard, you just work from once side. Putting it back on was a little harder, but I got it back about half-way just by aligning and sliding the plastic back into the earpiece, and then ran a little stick along the edge of the rest of the open part, forcing the plastic to flip over the side. with some moving around of the padding it all slipped back into place.

  5. Anonymous says:

    perfect! thanks! I’m glad I didn’t force that plastic cover off!
    Found a weak spot in the wire on the right side.
    ~frank

  6. Niels Joubert says:

    Fantastic! Did you get yours working again? I’m listening to mine right now, and noticed that if I jiggle the connector I can still make the one channel die – I guess my soldering job wasn’t as good as I though! But they sounds fantastic once more.

  7. Anonymous says:

    the wire had gotten pinched in the pivot part of the headphones so I cut out the damaged part out.
    the cable between ears is made up of 16 very fine wires – 8 red and 8 copper. they are not separated and I assume only shielded from a coating on each strand(?). It took some time (and a magnifying glass) but I got them separated, tinned, taped so they wouldn’t short, and somehow got all that into the little slot that hides/protects the wire. The pad went back on pretty easily by slipping on about 1/4 of it and then rotating it (like putting a chain back on a bike) – tucked in the rest – plugged them into my NEW Zoom H4n – back in business!!
    thanks again!
    ~frank

  8. Anonymous says:

    I blindly followed this guide with my HD 515's and ended up with sound in just one ear. After investigating, I realized that the cable is assembled differently for my model (and possibly all 5xx-models).

    In my case the mapping was this:
    Red = right
    White = left
    and
    blue and black = ground.

    Just wanted to share.