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3D Printed Headphones

by shannonley, published

3D Printed Headphones by shannonley Feb 20, 2017

Educational Thing

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Summary

Here is a set of great looking and awesome sounding headphones you can print yourself.

The parts that cannot be printed (drivers, cushions etc) are all readily available and will cost around $25 (plus shipping).

How I Designed This

Unlike loudspeader enclosure design, there is almost no publicly available intormation on designing great sounding headphones (that I could find anyway!). Therefore I had to do a heap of development and testing to understand how the design variables affect the sound. If you're interested, details of my work can be found here: http://homebrewheadphones.com/design/detailed-design/

Info on the test rig I built for sound development can be found here: http://homebrewheadphones.com/closed-back-test-method/

Overview and Background

Recently there has been a lot of hype about 3D printing being the way of the future, including how it will replace store-bought items.

With this project, I set out to expore two aspects of this: firstly whether people will readily 3D print things they are likely to otherwise buy, and secondly, how mass manufacturing and 3D printing will realistically have to coexist for the foreseeable future (as some things such as the magnets and mylar film in the driver cannot easily be printed yet).

Lesson Plan and Activity

The lesson can comprise of two elements:

  • a hands on demonstration of 3D printing, how it works and what it can do
  • a discussion exploring the implications of 3D printing, including implications on existing industries and the consumer (eg increased personalisation of products etc)

Materials

Parts to purchase:

2x drivers: http://bit.ly/Dayton-ce38mb-32
Cushions: Bose QuietComfort QC15 QC2 replacements http://ebay.to/2lvb5vd
Cable: Sol Republic Master Tracks HD V8 V10 V12 X3 replacement http://amzn.to/2kAyrkb
2x 2.5mm female audio jacks http://amzn.to/2niNn8n
Hookup wire. These come cut and stripped http://amzn.to/2jv59Qk
Gel consistency glue for plastic http://amzn.to/2liPTXh
Plasticine http://ebay.to/2kAvIai
Solder

Parts to print:

2x covers
2x baffles (printed with the driver mouting side facing up)
1x headband

I made mine from ABS using the printer's default settings, except for reducing the headband infill to 5-10%.

The parts

Assembly Instructions

Step 1: Solder the hookup wire to the 2.5mm jacks

Solder two sets of hookup wire to the 2.5mm jacks as per the photo.

On the jacks we used, the negative (black) wire is the large tab and the positive the small round one.

The red arrow indicates the positive terminal

Step 2: Attach the driver and jacks to the baffle

Mount the jacks into their holder. They will screw in snugly.

Being careful not to damage the mylar film, place the drivers into the baffles with the terminals on the driver 90° from the jack, oriented towards the wire retainers (yellow circle in the picture below).

Glue the drivers into the baffles with four 1/4″ (6mm) length spots of gel glue, placed at 90 degrees around the perimeter of the driver (blue arrows). DO NOT glue around the full perimeter of the driver, as this will adversely affect the sound.

Let the glue dry.

Attach the driver and 2.5mm jack to the baffle

Step 3: Attach the wires to the drivers

Solder the hookup wire to the drivers, with the red wire going to the solder tab next to the red dot. You can solder the wire on just by melting the tabs and inserting the wire, ie without adding any solder.

Make sure the wires are in their retainers so that they don't get caught by the headband.

Step 4: Tune the sound

Now for step that took me tons of testing to figure out! In a closed back design, the Dayton Audio CE38MB-32 drivers are too bass-heavy and lacking in high end detail. To even things out a bit, we need to reduce the mids/bass to make them more equal to the treble. Don't worry, there will still be plenty of bass after this step!

Using plasticine or similar, roll a small amount into a sausage then block all except one of the holes under the black fabric on the back of the driver. The black arrow below shows the non-blocked hole.

Apply plasticine over all except one of the holes on the rear of the driver

Step 5: Assembly

Press the baffles into the covers, making sure the headband end of the baffle corresponds to the headband end of the cover (ie the two square holes line up). It may take a bit of force to assemble them – they are deliberately a tight fit so that they don’t require glue and can be disassembled.

Using the double sided tape which comes on them, attach the pieces of fabric to the baffle.

Fit the cushions to the baffle.

Insert the headband and cables. They are handed, so make sure you put them on the right way around!

Crank up some tunes and enjoy!

Please share pics of your build, I would really love to see them!

Press the baffle into the cover

Fit the cushions

Your done - now enjoy them!

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Hi there! I am working with your project too and I was wondering where I could find the cut up and stripped hookup wire and the 2x2.5 mm female audio jacks online? The links that were uploaded to buy those parts are not available anymore. Thank you I am so excited about this project!

Hi

Thanks for pointing that out. These look similar:
Hookup wire: http://amzn.to/2jv59Qk
2.5mm jacks: http://amzn.to/2niNn8n

I'll update the instructions now too.

Share your build once it's done - I'd love to see it and hear your thoughts on it!

Thanks, Shannon for this great design - using them as I type this. I really appreciate the design effort you put into it. I made a system using colorFabb XT, printed at 60% infill - turned out beautifully. I cannot believe how nice they sound with my DAC/tube headphone amp. After trying plasticine, just playing around, I switched to a denser material to muffle the bass end - car clay bar normally used to polish car surfaces, very clean. As you recommended, covered all but one of the bass vents, very balanced sound. Stage presence is a bit flat, but response-wise, something very special is happening - maybe it is the denser clay. Nice driver impedance specification - works great on raw IPhone output or DAC/amp systems. I used yellow XT thinking it wouldn't be high performing - now kind of wishing I used black, brown, etc. Oh wait, I have a 3D printer! : ) Posted my build - yellow, hard to miss!

Hi Steve,

Awesome build and thanks for the comments. It's very rewarding seeing others build the design and like it. The yellow really stands out!

Do you have the brand/product name of the clay you used? I'd like to try it out.

Sometime in the future I'll do a version 2 that incorporates comments/feedback/learnings from V1. I'll reduce the diameter of the cusion mounting flange a bit to make them easier to fit. I've noticed in my builds that some seem easier to fit than others and released the design after only a couple of builds. Let me know if there is anything else you think I should change/improve.

I've also done a version with CNC machined aluminium covers and leather stitched over the headband. Check it out here: http://homebrewheadphones.com/3d-printed-headphones-go-luxe/

Hi Shannon,

I used a synthetic clay bar compound normally used to gently extract/clean embedded surface debris when used with soapy water during the first step of ultra polishing/waxing cars - in this case pulled off a piece from a Zaino Brothers clay bar (don't ask - I have a serious car waxing addiction). It can take a car finish to optical quality. You can get less expensive, but I'm sure identical, clay bars in any corner auto parts store for a few bucks in the car cleaning section. The stuff is quite dense, yet easily moldable. In addition to its normal car use, it will pull dirt up from keyboards and anything else it is stuck to.

The aluminum cans are really beautiful work - wow. Nice job! Keep designing!

It might be nice to round the cans a bit, but that would require either dissolvable PVA support, or a lot of sanding to remove support scars - perhaps could flip them on the print bed to put the support inside, for less damage after removing it.

Was doing some room presence testing on these headphones - recorded bell ringing at six feet, left, center, right - and same at eighteen feet. It's not anywhere near as good as quality open-sided phones, but it can hold its own in the $100 or less closed cans category.

Currently running the homebrew headphones through an obnoxious sounding burn-in audio track running in a continuous loop for a couple days used to accelerate the normal new equipment burn-in that for headphones can take up to 300 hours. Series of audio whoops full up/down - torture to listen to, have to close the door. They are loosening up nicely. The fact that I'm bothering to do this is motivated by the fact that I'm intrigued about what is going on quality-wise. Perhaps the XT's lower density than PLA printed at higher 60% infill, or the clay bar density - or, who knows, maybe by luck, the drivers lucked out to be extra hot quality-wise.

The removable can plugs is normally reserved to high-end designs to allow easy replacement and optional changing to balanced cables, etc.... Very nice.

Keep designing!!

These are sweet! I am waiting for my 3d printer to arrive but when it does, these are definitely on the list.

I am wondering about what it would take to remix these so that they use only a single aux cord to one ear and then send the signal to the other driver through a short wire housed in the headband. I have an old pair of headphones that take a simple aux cord and have come to love this feature.

Do you think that modification would work with your design? What would be the drawbacks?

Thanks!

Hi adanadhel,

Thanks! I look forward to seeing your build!

I have experimented with running wires through the headband for a bluetooth prototype, in this case both power and audio signal. I ran the wires through a slot on one edge of the headband, but with the headband being rather thin, they were prone to breaking along the slot. You also have to hide the wires somehow. Wrapping the headband in gaffa tape pretty much solved both issues, but made the headband look a bit mediocre.

Here are some details of the first bluetooth prototype http://homebrewheadphones.com/the-bluetooth-prototype/

I love this concept. I already have most of the parts on order, and I hope to contribute a bit of my own design stylings to this. Right now, I'm thinking about redesigning the headband and covers to accommodate a gimbal to improve the fit; but I'll definitely experiment with both your designs and my own. I'll also probably be playing around with materials - Do Woodfill headphones seem like an awesome idea to anyone else? Perhaps I can print my own cushions in TPU? The possibilities are endless. I also love the research you put into this, and that you made all of that documented and available.

I'll second the request for design files. You may also be able to create simple orthographic drawings of at least the critical dimensions, which can be almost just as useful for recreating the CAD models.

Thanks! I was initially going to design them with a gimbal, but it got a bit complex for an initial try (especially around the headband adjustment mechanism), the opportunity for bits failing seemed high and it didn't lend itself as well to other people customising the design. If you do a gimbal version, please share it - I'd love to see what you come up with as I plan on revisiting the idea one day.

I'm in the process of getting some covers machined from aluminium and plan on making a leather wrapped headband to go with them. I've also got a bluetooth version about 80% done. I'll share both once they are working!

I have just published the interfacing dimensions at http://homebrewheadphones.com/customise-our-design/

I will share the source files in due course too, once I get familiar with OnShape - that way everyone can view/edit them.

These are awesome! I'm trying to put together a shopping cart on amazon because I'm impatient, but I can't find the speakers on there. Are there any other speakers I could get for these that would still work with the design?

There are some on Amazon sold under the brand Gotor. I have no idea how good they are and there's no feedback or detailed specs, so I'm a little sceptical, but happy to be proven wrong!

The diameter of any 40mm ones should be OK, but some look a little taller, so not sure if there is adequate clearance between the driver and headband. They haven't published the dimensions of them either:(

I would recommend getting the Dayton ones from Parts Express or elsewhere. From my experience they are pretty good and damn good value!

This looks awesome, like my next project. Can you please upload the files used during design, rather than the finalized STL files?

I am asking as I would like to make modifications to the external shell, adding in space for a small 3.7V LiPo, charging circuit and Bluetooth Audio chip plus controls without disturbing the excellent work you have done on the internal baffle and cover. Effectively making my own set of bluetooth headphones with known audio protocols, which only mid to high end cans will specify.

As a secondary goal, I would also love to adapt the headband to fit a hard hat ear defender mount point.

Thanks galorin!

I'm starting to scope out a bluetooth version too! Out of interest, exactly what components are you thinking of using?

I have another version in which the headband mounts to the baffle and the cover is just a cover (the headband mounts to the cover on this version), which is probably more suitable for your modification. It can be found at www.homebrewheadphones.com I'm not sure if my CAD files will be compatible with your software, but if you use the version on my website, just copy the interfacing dimensions of the cover. When I get a chance, I plan on publishing a drawing showing these dimensions.

I hope that helps! I'd love to see your bluetooth version when it's done!

Hey man, are you still working on a Bluetooth version of these?

I've done the first iteration and am slowly working on a version with a CSR8645 module mounted onto a homemade breakout board, instead of the amp (it was the easiest option to integrate in the first go - not the best solution).

Here are the details http://homebrewheadphones.com/the-bluetooth-prototype/

Those look great! I'm a very amateur hobbyist electronics tinkerer (Printed your headphones last night, wiring them will be my first DIY project), and I'm looking forward to attempting to put together a bluetooth model in the near future!

While I have you, are there higher quality drivers that you know of that I can throw in this build?

Thanks!

I'll share the bluetooth design once it is sorted.

There are a few no-name drivers that are more expensive, but I have no reason to believe that they would be better. The Dayton ones are pretty damn good - maybe it's a case of stuff you built yourself sounding better, but I really like their sound (with the plasticine on the back covering all except one hole).

If enough people seem to be interested in building their own headphones, I'll look into sourcing some great drivers from a high end supplier.

Once your build is done, please share it in the 'I made one' section - it's awesome seeing other people's builds:)

Will do mate, my time to completion is about a week right now, it'll be in the "I made one" section right after it's done

These are phenomenal, how did you account for the necessary space for the adjustable arms?
And how did you measure the headband?
I'm trying to do something similar (same sound drivers and all haha) and I just sort of guessed the headband.

Thanks killkong1211!

I based a lot of the headband design off a pair of Grado SR225i headphones I have. I tried to get as close as I could to their travel, notwithstanding packaging constraints (in particular the length of the 2.5mm jack). On my head, the Grado's are at about the midpoint in travel, so that was my aim with these too.

There was a lot of trial and error in the headband geometry - I think it took 10 goes to get right (for my head anyway!). to get the stiffness right, I initially did some rough force deflection tests of my Grado headband (simply using a force gauge and ruler), then using my CAD package, did FEM analysis of geometry similar to the Grado's to see if my intended headband thickness (3mm) was even roughly within the ballpark (which it was). I did a test of a print of vaguely the right geometry to validate this too.

Then using measurements of the width of my head (from ear to ear) and the distance between the centreline of my ears and the top of my head, plus my Grado's as a reference, did a best guess of the right geometry. After that it was print, evaulate, redesign and repeat until the cushion pressure was even around my ear.

Additionally, I splayed the cups about 5deg inwards (if I remember correctly). This was just a guess at the angle required, and ended up being about right.

If you go to my website http://homebrewheadphones.com/ I've created another design where the headband mounts to the baffle, that way anyone can adapt/customise the aesthetics of the design by simply changing the relatively simple cover and using my baffle/headband.

I hope that helps!

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