For pricier models like these, headphone repair is a cost-effective solution when products fail.

Headphones can fail for any number of reasons, from frayed wires to a broken charging port. When a problem arises, your first impulse might be to start shopping for a new pair. But it could be a lot cheaper to get your headphones repaired.

Not all issues can be fixed for a reasonable price. Though some services may charge more depending on parts and labor, most typical repairs range from as little as $30 to around $70.

“Most of the time it's worth it to just go ahead and fix the problem,” says Mike Gattshall, owner of Mike Check Audio, a repair service in Los Angeles. 

More on Headphones and Electronics

Many audio and electronics shops will do headphone repairs. If you can't find a local place to do the work, you can look into shipping your headphones to the manufacturer or an independent repair center for a fix. And depending on the problem, your headphones may be covered by a warranty as well. You'll find more details below.

Here, Consumer Reports will help you diagnose what's gone wrong with your headphones and give you an idea of how much you'll need to pay for a repair. Depending on the problem, you might even be inspired to do a simple fix yourself—if you're comfortable using a soldering iron, that is.

Diagnosing the Problem

Here is a list of symptoms, what they probably mean, and what the headphone repairs could cost.

Note that over- and on-ear headphones are usually easier and cheaper to repair than earbuds or in-ear models.

Audio on Wired Headphones Cuts In and Out
The problem is probably a broken or disconnected cable or the jack, the metal tip that plugs into your phone or other devices.

These are the most common problem areas by far, according to technicians we talked with. They’re also the easiest to fix, and the parts are essentially universal.

“You really shouldn't get charged much for a couple of solder connections,” says John Rutan, owner of Audio Connection, a store in Verona, N.J. Rutan says you should expect to pay somewhere around $35 to $65 for the repair.

Sound Is Quieter or Distorted on One Channel
Odds are that you’re looking at a busted driver, which essentially is the tiny speaker inside the headphone. Damage from water or dust, physical abuse, or a manufacturing flaw is the most likely cause.

Drivers for many models can be replaced, but parts aren’t always easy to come by. The manufacturer should be able to help. In addition, some repair services salvage parts for popular headphone models.

The repair price will depend on the model. We were typically quoted prices between $55 and $75 to replace a driver, but some quotes were close to double that, depending on the model involved.

Powered Headphones Won’t Turn On
This situation is tricker, because it can be caused by a number of different issues.

The first step is to see whether a different charging cable solves the problem. Most headphones use micro USB cables, which are cheap and easy to come by.

If the charging cable isn't the issue, the problem may be the battery. All rechargeable batteries fail eventually, though performance usually drops off gradually. Broken charging ports are also potential culprits.

Again, the feasibility of a repair depends on how hard it is to find the parts.

Joe Pilat is the owner of Joe’s GE, an online electronics repair service that fixes a lot of Bluetooth headphones. As an example, he says his company will replace the battery on beats by dre Studio 2 headphones for $45 and a charging port for $70.

A worst-case scenario is a failed circuit board. Technicians we spoke with say that it's not worth it to try repairing a circuit board, but that replacements are sometimes available.

“If they're a higher tier product, we might be able to just order a new controller board and swap that out,” says Justin Taylor, a technician at Pro Show Sound, a store in Cleveland.

Other Physical Damage
If you have earphones, rather than headphones, and the rubber tips that fit in your ears get lost or damaged, or if the foam pads that sit on or over your ears start to deteriorate, you don’t need to get a professional involved.

Do a quick search online and you’ll often find replacements for as little as $10.

If the plastic case that holds together your headphones breaks, you may be out of luck, though a repair service might be able to swap it out if parts are available. Or you might also be able to effect a workable, though unlovely, repair on your own with a product like Sugru, a moldable clay.

Finding a Repair Service

Name-brand headphones typically come with a one-year warranty. These warranties often exclude failures due to wear-and-tear or improper use, and batteries often aren’t covered. But no matter the problem, don’t be afraid to ask for a fix—even if you're past the coverage period. Companies may extend their coverage as a courtesy.  

And if your headphones are no longer covered by the warranty, the manufacturer may still be a good bet for a repair. Well-known manufacturers—including Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, and Bose—all maintain repair centers. Jonathan Grado, vice president of marketing at Grado Labs, a company with a reputation for repair-friendly products, says his company will fix anything other than ear pads, even on headphones that are half a century old.

There aren't any particular reasons to privilege the manufacturer for a repair if you can find another option you're comfortable with. Other services may even be cheaper and just as reliable.

Some local businesses steer clear of complicated jobs, but we called services around the country and the majority said they would be happy to fix a cable or a jack.

Do some digging. We found a few small businesses, like Gattshall’s Mike Check Audio, that specialize in headphones and will repair almost anything.

You can also try an online service. Joe’s GE, for example, offers free diagnostics and free shipping both ways, even if you decide not to have any work done. The company also sells refurbished headphones and has a trade-in service if repairs are cost-prohibitive.

And Joe's also sells parts to shoppers who want to try a repair on their own. "We never want you to send anything in if you can fix it yourself," Pilat says. 

But keep in mind that many headphone repairs require soldering, and a botched attempt could ruin your headphones for good.

Before you pick a service, get an estimate on price and how long a repair will take—and don't be surprised if you have to wait a few weeks. Ask whether they use original parts (though that doesn't matter with jacks and cables). And make sure they'll stand by their repairs. A guarantee of a month or two should be plenty of time to ensure that you're not dealing with shoddy work.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that most rechargeable headphones use USB-C.