thoughts and decisions for a creative edge

DIY

Fix that Faulty Shure E3c – No soldering needed!

My broken Shure E3c’s been sitting in its case for more than 2 years now. It’s been my ticket through audio engineering class in ’04 before I owned my decent Genelec nearfield monitors. Yeah, that makes it an 8 year old vintage piece. I usually fix small electronics myself, like my Canon EF-S 17-85 lens, thus I thought this thing should be no biggie unless if its the connecting cables that snapped in their rubber shieldings. Heck I don’t mind giving it a surgery if it needs to. It got tucked away in the dark cold cabinet instead.. almost forgotten.

Fast forward today, I thought I give it another go before I toss it off into the bin.We all know Shure makes great audio gears. I own a couple of SM57s and they’ve survived being thrown onto brick walls. But for this in-ear, I almost mailed it back to Shure, with a NO THANK YOU NOTE for suggesting buying a new pair of in-ears. They claim that its ‘irreparable’. Or.. was it some EU70 to have it fixed. Well you get the drift.

The Symptoms

You first notice that the audio from either side of the in-ear begins to become softer or certain frequency range seemed to be ‘filtered’ off. I instantly thought, ok cable is slowly getting busted. Thus I kneaded some parts of the cable wire to see where that fault might be. I couldn’t find the ‘breakage point’.

Next thing I thought, maybe one of the audio drivers’ gone faulty. There’s 2 microdrivers in the E3c, similar to that of your HiFi speaker but in miniature sizes, lower registers and the tweeter. Listening to it, I only hear bits of highs, but its intermittent, thus the thought of DIY repair got a little bit trickier I thought.

Crack It Open And What Do I see. Oh What Do I Hear!

Shure E3C earphones - Cracked open.

Shure E3C earphones – Cracked open. The black rubber is the driver coil. This reverberates air / sound which is channeled into the extended tube that was twisted open.

The problem with mine lay on the Right in-ear.  I noticed there’s a small possibly glue-joined crevice on the ear-piece from where the ear-funnel protrudes. I held it carefully with rubber gloves and twisted it anti-clockwise with some force. Be careful not to snap the elongated ear tube. It was my lucky day! Probably due to age, the glue might have worn down. It seems to be designed with a 3 point snap-on bayonette mount (look diagram above). There’s no wiring from that front tip, now if you plug in the earphone jack voila! You’d gloriously hear full frequency audio again. It was working all this time!! SO what caused the audio to be ‘blocked’ then? That was the clue.. Too much ear wax?? No. Stopping is blocking the audio out.

THE PROBLEM? Faulty design of the ear-wax filter itself!! 

The small green cellophane diaphragm less than 2mm wide may have got pushed a little bit too far than its supposed to that it blocks the auditory canal. This explains the the higher frequency leaks, but no bass. Bass frequencies will only be re-produced when the bass-ports are wide open as they need more room to travel.

Shure-Wax-Filter-Jammed

After multiple cleanings with supplied cleaning pick tool, one might have pushed the diaphragm a little too far from its nestling space causing audio blockage. Originally, the diaphragm should be on the brown grilled section, where air / audio is allowed out and simultaneously keeping debris (ear wax) out from the speaker chamber.

What’s the ULTIMATE Shure E3C Repair?

You got to thank me for this!!

Since that filter is plunged too far blocking the audio canal tube, there’s only one thing to do, take it out and place it back it to its proper position.

Shure-Wax-Filter-Shoving

Using a fine blunt object carefully push the diaphragm out completely. Careful not to tear the diaphragm. It’s your golden ticket for this fix.. Once you got the filter out. Place it back in again from the front port and stop when you feel it resting on the metal grill. It should be something like what’s shown in the last illustration below.

I used a blunt-edged copper wire. A paper clip might work too but make sure it doesn’t have a sharp end. Push it completely through the audio tube and you’d see a tiny small green plastic cap. That’s your golden ticket. 😉 You should now be able to see through the audio canal now without anything blocking your sight of path. The grill or spring coil would still be intact in the tube. Now here’s your opportunity to clean those audio grills! I used a cylindrical interdental brush and gave it a good spin and even a quick wash and self-dry before replacing the green ear wax filter.

Once clean and dried, now its time to place the diaphragm back in place. Very gently push the filter into the tube again. I can’t tell you exactly how far it should go. But comparing the visual distance from the working in-ears, I’d say it’s good as long as you have it seated on the grill. Do A-B monitoring between the Left and Right in-ears. I’d suggest using a Mono Signal of various audio frequency to to be sure that all frequencies are coming through on same amplitude on both Left and Right side. If you did it right. Voila! You’ve fixed your expensive in-ears with a paper-clip. Next – the glue.

Correct Position For SHURE E3C Or E2c Ear Wax Filter

Shure-Wax-Filter

There’s a spring-like material that rails half the inner length of the ear tube. The green diaphragm (ear wax filter) should sit on this rail blocking debris from entering the speaker chamber. This grill allows air to be pushed through. At the same time it serves as a resting space for the ear wax filter. Smart design Shure!! NOT

Right, the glue. I used quick drying industrial glue. Even if you’re an expert on glueing, I’d suggest applying the glue on a toothpick first before dapping the plastic directly onto the glue tube. You don’t want excessive glue on this in-ear. Any added material weight would increase the mass of the reverberating unit and may cause faulty frequency re-production. Keep it as minimal as possible. Dab a tiny bit of glue, twist in back on and away you go. Let it cure fully over couple of minutes. And if all is placed correctly, you should be ready to blast off those good in-ears again.

There you have it! Tell your mama you fixed your hundred of dollars worth of in-ear yourself and be proud of it!

So how you should care for your in-ears matters. Drops or sudden shocks could shake the movable driver magnets, or possibly in this case re-locate the ear wax filter to a point that we think is irreparable. That cleaning pick that Shure provides should not be used.. or if necessary, only used minimally.

You don’t need no screw drivers to fix this. And I don’t understand why Shure say it’s non-self-reparable. Well look at what I just did today. And look what you can do today with your ‘bad’ Shure E3c.

Hasan Ismail

www.rastAsia.com

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