Klipsch S4i: Repair broken earbud headphones

Note: Please also read the comments as there are updates & fixes available!

Update: I’ve fixed the graphics showing how the different bundles of cables should be attached to the connector. A big thank you to Rock for correcting me on this!

I am a fan of good-sounding in-ear headphones and bought a Klipsch S4i for my iPhone 3GS. I am really impressed by its quality and they are not overpriced (around 80.- € when I bought them). Last month, the connector on the headphone cable began to loosen. I tried to fix it with cyanoacrylate adhesive but a few days ago the cable finally broke (resulting in a dead left channel and microphone).

I am pretty sure this type of defect is not covered by the manufacturers guarantee (another point: I purchased them over two years ago) so I didn’t bother disassembling the connector. The first thing I did was removing the plastic cover of the connector with a utility knife.

The soldering spots are enclosed in clear plastic. I tried to remove the plastic and gently desolder the cables from the connector, but the connector broke (actually it melted). At least I was able to identify the six bundles of thin twisted wires.

Corrected Cable Assignment for the Klipsch S4i Headphone
I separated the colors and twisted them together into four bundles (one for each contact on the connector) and resoldered them onto another spare connector. The fixed connector lacks the ‘stylish’ finish it previously had, but the shrinkable tubing makes a good protection for the thin wires. And the complete functionality is back, including the microphone and the control buttons.

Update: The new Klipsch S4i model has a revised (improved) kind of connector. Maybe I was not the only one with a broken cable…

 

Update for users of the Android version (Klipsch Image S4 II) headphones.
A big thank you to “WCSTUR” (whoever you are) for sharing this information per e-mail:

Changes to your wiring diagram for the Klipsch Android version:
TIP – green wire (always left earbud)
Band 1 – red wire (always right earbud)
Band 3 – the 2 earbud copper wires AS WELL AS the red and blue-green shield wires for the microphone. This band is the ground. (Your diagram shows the microphone red and green-blue shield wires connected to the earbud wires. Your diagram may also work since the earphone impedance to ground is only about 18 ohms for each of these earbuds.)
This wiring follows what I dissected from the original plug.

45 Replies to “Klipsch S4i: Repair broken earbud headphones”

  1. Same problem with the newer connector! Damn. The connective rubber between the sections at the top is just not thick enough. Thanks for the wiring diagram.

  2. I have replaced several pair of these headphones by buying new ones. I have extended the life of a couple of pair by shrink wrapping the connector. Eventually this too breaks. I don’t understand why Klipsch won’t address this design defect. They are also very difficult to deal with on warranty repairs. Still, I prefer these headphones so I keep using them. Thanks for the wiring diagram, will attempt to repair the latest pair.

  3. Thanks for the diagram. I ran into the problem with the new design also. I broke the fist one about 2 years ago with a rocking chair and the new set I have is white and with a different rubber piece on the jack just wore out. It is a shame. I soldered the first ones and improved them with shrink tubing but couldn’t find a wiring diagram and I had one channel bleeding into another.

    1. Sorry, I’m not repairing devices for others. But I’m encouraging everyone to at least try to repair broken stuff by themselves…

      Kai

  4. These headphones are so good I’m on my third pair! Not due to breaking mind you. First set was chewed beyond repair by a puppy. Second was lost one foggy night in Kyoto. (Night wasn’t really foggy but my memory of it is). Current set, of the revised style, broke at the connector. Hope to solder them back into service thanks to your diagram!

  5. Hi, great guide, just what I needed! I have the mark 2 S4i with flat cables. They have a dodgy jack which I’ve removed and the cables are slightly different. Looks like blue and red for left and right. Ground is the same but fourth wire for the mic only has red and the white plastic coated one (no green). What do you reckon? Also for people experiencing shorting after diy repair it might be be too much enamel coating burned off during soldering leading to a short. After soldering try coating all exposed wires with nail varnish. Isolates them nicely!
    Cheers
    Lawrence

  6. Really thanks for such a nice post, but can you confirm if I got it right:

    I am supposed to separate the red-green-white twisted wires and connect:
    red-red to 1
    green-green to 2
    copper-copper to 3
    white to 4
    Is this correct?

    1. If you’re referring to the cable assignment, yes, the cables should first be separarated and identical colors should afterwards be twisted together. The left channel (at least in my case) was left, red was the right channel, the copper ones were ground and the white one was for the microphone. – Kai

  7. Hi

    I noticed there are coating on WHITE, RED AND GREEN wires. Do I need to melt them (like by a lighter) before soldering on a replacement plug ?

    thanks for help !!!

    1. Hi, I’ve used a lighter to slightly remove the isolation. But maybe sandpaper is a better choice as it does not carbonize (?) the wires… I’ve also dipped the wires into flux before soldering to remove these residues. Kai

  8. Same thing happened to me twice! Good thing I have my receipt and warranty but paying for shipping is a pain.

  9. Hi, had a go at a few of these and been successful but can’t seem to get a decent enough connection on the most recent pair. Just wondering why there is a left and right channel (red and green) twisted around the white mic cable. Is it likely these could be grounds for the mic? Just something I read somewhere else made me think for a second

    1. Hi, I would say the reason for the red and green cables twisted around the white mic cable is the remote control. These cables could be connected to the buttons. Kai.

      1. Hi, but in your wiring diagram you twist these up with the left and right channels, if I have this correct?

      2. Hey Kai, I’ve been dealing with Klipsch about the plug issue but with the previous model (S4). Thank Goodness it was within the warranty. They sent me the new S4 ii’s. A week later I sent them back. Again I got a new pair and I just sent them back again. wtf!

        I actually took apart the original S4’s in hopes to get the wires from not rubbing on each other. And solder them. Whoa! Lets just say it didn’t work out. lol Too tedious for me.

        Anyway, I’m waiting for the new pair to come in and I know it’s gonna happen again. /Straight plug in a pocket equals broken plug with dead sound/ I’m brainstorming hour after hour overloading my mind on what to do to keep it from breaking. So I’ll probably buy an extension with an L shape plug and just deal with an extremely long cable.

        If you have the problem again…..please please remember to YouTube your skills on this matter. I’ll need to see exactly how you soldier it. And what solder tip was used and so on.

        Wish me luck and a lot less stress

        Thx

  10. For a home made repair, this is a good job. It’s nice to see you have these up and running again. Klipsch are close to being one of the most difficult earphones on the market to repair today. This is due to them having very thin wires, not only that, but many of them too. Manufacturers chop and change all the time with their wiring, so for all the people out there that think one way is correct, think wrong. They are all different, varying in the amount of wires to colours. It is important to mention here that Klipsch require extra strengthening when repairing so that if they suffer any type of abuse by the jack being pulled out of a device, then the wiring will not come off the jack as well. Well done with your job here. We personally would have replaced the jack altogether at fixmyheadphone.co.uk however though with an issue like this then we would have used some tubing as well, like yourself.

  11. After messing with this repair for a week, I have figured it out and wanted to point out you have made a mistake. While your method of matching and combining all like colors will produce sound in your earbuds, the sound will not be optimum and will limit the highs and stereo separation. I have a new pair of S4i’s to compare to my repair pair and there is a huge difference. You may not notice if you didn’t have another pair to A/B test.

    The correct wiring should be as follows:

    After you clip off the plug and strip back some rubber sheathing you will see wires separated in to 4 twists. 1-Red, 2-Blue(or greenish), 3-Copper and 4-red+blue(or green)+white.

    Red = Right Ch
    Blue(or green) = Left CH
    Copper = Ground
    White = Remote
    Blue(or green) + Red that were surrounding white wire Need to be twisted together with the copper ground wire. This is critical!

    Once I did this the sound was exactly as the new pair I had, Bass, highs, stereo separation were back! Just wanted to pass this along.

  12. Thanks for breaking this down so clearly!

    I wasn’t able to find a TRRS plug, so I settled for a TRS plug, planning to leave the white wire out. Well, it worked, my headphones are back, but sadly, there must be some shorting somewhere, as the sound is mono only. Still, my S4i’s are working again, and I’m really only using them for audiobooks, so stereo is not required. BTW, TRRS plugs are now available online – just google.

  13. I am currently on my second pair due to the left side not producing any sound… after my first pair my second broke literally my fith time using them, i dont do anything rough at all with them yet the sound cuts off… very annoyed considering the price i paid for them. Anyone else getting this problem??

  14. Will it be a problem for you to explain WCSTUR’s advice? Maybe with pinout 🙂 I have klipsch sa4 first edition with one button and it’s difficult to find minijack replacing advice for klipsch s4android on www.

    Is tip not a band 1? What about band 2?
    thanks in Advance

  15. That sucks to hear about all of your warranty issues. I emailed them about my pair that stopped working in one ear, and they just decided to ship me a new pair free of charge. I must have gotten one of the better reps.

  16. Thank you for your massive help to solve my problem, which however, have resolved itself buying sony sbh80 which is superior headphone in every category.

  17. Hello
    I have a problem with my iPhone 5 headphone. anything looks ok but the left channel is silent. I don’t see any broken part in te wire or near the jack.
    What can I do to fix it?
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hard to tell where it broke. In my case the point of failure was clear (the plug), but in your case I’d rather recommend to buy a new one. The only thing you could try is measuring the impedance/resistance of the channels and thereby deduce if the cable broke before or after the remote controls. — Kai

  18. I have a pair of x10i with faulty plug. I have 1 green, 1 red, 2 copper and a red/green wire. I need to replace the plug, but i am unsure what which wire are for. I would like a angled plug but its hard to find a trrs plug. Can i replace with a trs plug without loosing Sound quality. And which wires do i then use if possible?

    1. Hi Jan, by using a standard trs-plug you would at least loose the mic functionality. I’m unsure about the remote controls. They might be affected as well… If I were you I’d try to get a 4 pole jack plug. Even angled ones are available on eBay (especially directly from China). — Kai

  19. Thanks so much! Just fixed my S4i’s, it had the new connector, but failed anyway, one side stopped working.

  20. Hello Kai,
    I was looking to repair my Beats in-ear headphones and was curious if the connector diagram is the same for all models? I am planning to re-use the same connector that it came with and I needed to make sure the L and R connections would be the same. The wires for the Beats headphones are a little different but I think I really only need 3 wires (don’t need the volume control). I have Green, Green/Copper, Copper, Red/Copper and Red as the wires. So the Green would be Left, Copper is ground and Red is Right.

  21. Is nice, that somebody is trying to repair headphones by his own 🙂
    I just have question about your repair, because I’m repairing headphones and I know how it works, I see, that according your schematic it couldn’t work properly. If I’m wrong, please tell me, but everytime wire around MIC wire is GND (both colours), which you connect with two copper wires.

    I’m just asking you, if it’s working good, or you have problem with control and microphone? 🙂

    For better description I lend your picture, where is shown, what I mean.
    http://www.cull.cz/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/klipsch_s4i_cable_assignment_edit.png

  22. Thanks for this guide. My s4a ii also broke down. I ordered a replacement jack from eBay, doing this thing soon!

    1. I succeeded. Very happy with the result, it works perfect again. Maybe it is good to add that 4. Microphone is connected to the sleeve and 1. Left connects to the top connecter.

  23. Thanks, Kai! Your guidelines were perfect, I just fixed my S4i!

    My right channel wasn’t working due to a bad contact near the plug. Ordered a new plug from ebay: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/221921355248 and used your guide. My cable was slightly different, it was flat and the green colour was replaced by blue.

    Hint for users with the same cable that mine: the white cable is “hidden” inside the blue/red cable.

    Thanks again!

  24. That was exciting! Others will have figured this all out, but a few thoughts:

    A. Use a magnifier or you’ll go blind.

    1. Gently score and pull off about an inch of the rubber outer cord to expose the smallest wires you’re ever likely to mess with.

    2. Separate them and gently twist the copper braid and red/blue conductors together.

    3. Don’t bother to scrape the enamel from the wires. Just dip in flux and tin about 1/8″. Yes, I left all the same length so I had something to hold onto with tweeters.

    4. Slide on about 2″ of 3/16″ shrink tubing. Then the ferrule, then a little less than 3/4″ of 1/4″ shrink tubing. This can be trimmed after shrinking, but it’s going to have to fit under the ferrule so tailor it to the inside length of your ferrule.

    5. Be quick and use a reasonably small, hot tip to tin the 4 connections on the plug. Do not leave the iron on or the plastic will melt into a big lump; new connector.

    6. Set the connector in a vice or otherwise secure it (not in your player) and use tweeters to hold each wire in place while you very quickly flow the solder. x4

    7. Very gently, plug into a source, just to verify everything is kosher. If so, keep going.

    8. Slide the 3/16″ shrink as far as it will go and heat with an iron or heat gun.

    9. Slide the 1/4″ over the whole mess, up to the threads on the connector and shrink with your heat source.

    10. Slide and screw down your ferrule. Test and for gods sake, clean those ear tips with alcohol. They probably need it.

  25. I had problems with the remote of my Apple earpods 2nd gen. It didn’t work to connect the red/green wire to ground (3).
    After some frustrating time i made it, it’s working now.
    I separated the red/green wire from the white (at my Apple earpods it is copper) and connected it with the red wire (2). It also works by connecting it with the green wire (1), doesn’t matter. The white wire (or copper) i connected to mic (4).
    The volume and middle buttons are working. I just have a very short crackle after pressing the middle button, don’t know why, maybe it’s better to connect the red part of the red/green wire with the red wire and the green with the green, i didnt try, it’s too small, i m just happy its working now.

  26. My S5i died on my about a year ago after 6 years of service, toughest earbuds I’ve ever owned 🙁 Bought a pair of refurb S4i, the thing lasted 3 months… Now I’m thinking bout buying a micro soldering kit to bring back the old S5i.

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