Ever since the days of the Walkman, our headphones have been a staple of our backpacks. Here our our top 10 hacks for increasing their sound quality, making them more comfortable, and carrying them around hassle-free.This post originally appeared on Lifehacker.
Getting the most out of your headphones starts with buying the right pair--and that doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive. Whatever your price range, there are a lot of different headphones out there, and you'll want to look at a few before picking. For best results, make sure you know whether you want open or closed headphones before buying, and make sure to try new headphones with old music to accurately test their quality.
It's gross to think about, but the fact of the matter is your headphones (especially the in-ear variety) can get pretty dirty with all that earwax and oil you expose them to. You'll want to make sure your headphones stay clean, for both sound quality and hygeine purposes. There are a few different ways you can keep your headphones clean, whether it's something simple like wiping them down with some gentle soap or actually taking a toothbrush to the metal part, if it's especially dirty.
Whether you're on a noisy aeroplane or just want to spare the rest of the world from your music, you don't need to shell out tons of cash for a pair of noise isolating headphones. If you have a pair of in-ears, you can just use some foam earplugs to isolate the noise, though if you have an open pair of headphones you can use some industrial earmuffs instead.
One of the world's universal annoyances is that your headphones always seem to tangle themselves into a bird nest of cords. One clever solution is to run them through some paracord. You'll have to bust out some DIY chops for this, and you may experience some quality loss, but it's a pretty great solution to keep a cheap pair of earbuds travel-friendly.
Every once in a while, you find yourself in a situation where you want to listen to music from a pair of speakers, but all you have are your earbuds. All you need is a few paper cups, some tootpicks, and a bit of tape. It won't exactly turn your headphones into a pair of Boston Acoustics, but it will make your music a bit more audible in a pinch.
If you're a runner, you probably like to listen to music when you jog. The problem is, earbud-style headphones don't exactly like to stay in your ear as you bounce up and down. If you've got a few cable ties handy, you can fix this problem by fashioning a few over-the-ear wraps to keep them steady.
If you like the inline remote that comes with the iPhone headphones but don't like the headphones themselves, you can actually splice the remote with a pair of high-quality earbuds instead. Alternatively, you can also make your own inline volume control for any pair of headphones yourself.
If the above paracord method doesn't sound ideal to you, this remarkably clever method is another great alternative. With just a long zipper from some clothing and some sewing chops, you can wrap your cables in the zipper so that they not only stay tangle-free, but actually turn into a small case for your phone or MP3 player.
No matter how nice your headphones are, they can sometimes take a little wrangling to get the best sound out of them. Make sure you're using the right size earbud, and make sure to use the 'lobe tug' method of putting them in your ears for the best fit. If you're using the crappy iPod earbuds, there's a special insertion method to help you make the best of that, too.
The biggest annoyance we all have to deal with when carrying around our headphones is them constantly getting tangled up in our pockets. We've shared more cord-wrapping methods than we can count here at Lifehacker, but most of us are fans of the devil horns method, the over-under method, and the MP3 player method. Alternatively, you can get a little help by making your own cable shortener out of some foam, an old gift card, or even craft a retractable version.