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How to (Maybe) Repair a Headset

Several years ago, I bought a headset from Amazon, specifically to use for gaming with my Xbox 360. Turtle Beach was the go-to premier gaming headset at the time, and it worked really well. I liked it a lot. It was comfortable, it had really good sound, and the mic worked well for party chat.

Then I skipped a generation of Call of Duty, and decided to switch to using the headset on the PC. It worked perfectly, and I ended up wearing it for something like 8-12 hours a day while working, gaming, and everything in between.

The one drawback to this particular headset, the Turtle Beach X11s, is the incredibly long cord. It’s not wireless, but the cord is a ridiculous 40’ or so long. I honestly haven’t measured it, but I have gotten up from the couch and gone to the kitchen without running out of slack, so that counts for something.

Long cords rule

A few days ago, tragedy struck, and the cord started to fail. There’s a break in the cord that cuts out sound. I ordered a replacement headset, but I decided to experiment with repairing this one.

WARNING: I am not an electrician. I am not a technodoctor. I am not a semiconductors expert. I am not anything other than a nerd with a box cutter and some electrical tape. This experiment may go horribly awry, and the only reason I’m attempting it is I have a replacement headset on hand, and this one doesn’t work as-is. Well, that, and I have an excess amount of cord to play with. So uh, you know, don’t try this at home unless you know what you’re doing or you have nothing to lose.

Step 1: Locate the Break

I’m lucky. The break for this isn’t anywhere near the plugs, so it should be an easy cut-and-splice job. You know, if I’m not completely making all of this up as I go, which I am.

Marked Break

Here, I marked the break with the one tool I have on hand for doing so: electrical tape.

Step 2: Unplug the Headset

I don’t know how much voltage or amperage a USB port carries, but rule #1 for working with electrical anythings is to have it unplugged, so I’m unplugging it.

Step 3: Cut and Strip

This is where my expertise goes out the window. I’ve stripped wires before playing with electrical toys as a kid, but it’s been years, and I don’t have tools on hand for it now. So, let’s see what I can screw up with a box cutter!

Cord cutters

I may or may not have immediately fucked it up by cutting a lot of the loose copper strands in my attempt to strip the wires. I think those are ground wires, so I should be fine.

Reading up on this online, it looks like the color on the wires is insulation, so I can’t just twist, tape and go. Instead, I need to remove the coating somehow.

Step 4: Remove the Coating

In this case, I read that sandpaper works. I don’t have sandpaper, and I’m doing this all in one session as I write this, so I’m using what I have on hand; an emery board.

Tiny wires

This does nothing but pull off more of the copper ground (hopefully) wires and reveals the actual incredibly tiny wires I’m actually working with. Anyone have a microscope?

Tiny, shredded wires

With very careful cuts, tugs with a needle, and a bit of sanding, I expose one of the wires. Only seven more to go!

Step 5: Do all of that a lot

Potential success!

Break a lot of little copper strands, hope the tint still on them isn’t non-conductive, and proceed to the next step.

Step 6: Splice

Most guides I see online, this is where they bust out the soldering iron. I don’t have a soldering iron. I poked around to see if I could get one, but no one I know has one and I didn’t feel the urge to buy one when I had the potentially mistaken belief I could fix it without one.

Are you feeling the suspense? I’m writing this as I go, even I have no idea if it’ll work!

What I’m doing here is twisting the tiny ends of the wires together and wrapping a bit of electrical tape around them.

World's Worst Splicing

I’m sure anyone at all experienced in this sort of thing is laughing their ass off at me right now.

It’s not pretty, and it probably won’t work, so let’s find out.

Moment of Truth

Does it work?


The important bits

Maybe this has something to do with it?

Oh well. As I said, I’m no electrical engineer or microsurgeon. Someone could come along and tell me where I fucked up, or maybe I’ll never know. For now, I have my replacement, and I have plenty of time for another attempt. If I make one, you’ll probably see it here.

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