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I have a set of custom earbuds. The right earbud has quit working. Rather than throw it all out, I decided to attempt to fix it. I succeeded and discovered it wasn't very difficult.

First, I sliced open the back of the earbud and extracted the speaker contained within. The first image (fig1) shows the empty earbud and the "balanced armature driver" as removed. The black wires are wrapped around the driver as a sort of strain relief; the sound emits from the circular opening that can be seen. The second image (fig2) shows the armature unwrapped and unsoldered from the wires. But where can one buy such a thing?

Turns out that once I discovered what the speaker was really called, it was easy to source. As an electronics hobbyist, my go-to source "Mouser Electronics" (seriously!) actually carries Knowles Electronics balanced armature drivers. They make many different sizes and variants of these things. I measured the one I had extracted and managed to exactly match it to a size they manufacture, and then I selected the flattest frequency response in that size and ordered one. Regardless, they all seem to cost around $30. Not cheap, but much less than starting the custom earbud process over again.

I soldered the wires to the new driver, wrapped the wires around the driver as I had originally found it, and inserted it into the earbud. I super-glued the opening shut, being extra careful to keep any glue away from the hole from which the sound emits. Finally, I applied a spot of clear silicone caulk to smooth over the slit which had not quite pulled to a smooth close. The result is the image shown (fig3).

It works! I am a happy camper.


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