Sounds corrosive? - Shure 535

When not listening to my Naim system I get my music via a FiiO M11 and Shure 535, mainly while working out on my exercise bike (roughly 130bpm for one hour, not bad for 69). Sound quality is excellent BUT I am frequently getting intermittent connection between headphone cable and in ear units. There appears to be ongoing copper corrosion at the mating surface between these two items, see pics

I think the corrosion is mainly on the cable side, so replacing it might solve the problem.
The existing headphones have no environmental seal to keep out the inevitable sweat, there just seems to be a star washer which is a bit odd! Having had a career designing many electronics units for harsh environments on both civil and military aircraft I have always used connectors incorporating silicone face seals.
If anyone could recommend a better quality replacement, preferably one with the fourth connection for remote control, I would be much appreciated.

Hi Paul - Interesting pics. I just looked at my own (SE846) and no green on mine (apologies for crap iPhone pic). I’m assuming over time as the plug is free to rotate in the socket with movement, the gold plating starts to wear off in places and corrosion occurs in the material under the plating (possibly Nickel as it’s green ?). It sounds like extra moisture from salty sweat isn’t helping (mine have had an easier life). Have you contacted Shure for comment ?

As for aftermarket cables, I did have a balanced Moon cable but this eventually went intermittent at one of the headphone capsule connectors so I went back to the standard Shure cable.

The pics aren’t clear enough to be sure, but given that gold is unreactive it would seem probably that the thin plating was either imperfect or has worn through with repeated use. Simply replacing with new gold plated plugs/sockets that mate well should resolve the issue for some time to come, even without weatherproof sealing, though a weatherproof design would indeed be beneficial if you cand locate any.

I don’t use my 535’s much but will check, just as soon as I can find where I left them!

Hi James, yours do look a lot cleaner than mine. I have taken your advice and contacted Shure support, I expect the response will be “they are not intended for the abuse you are giving them” or similar.
They will clean up with a cotton bud dipped in contact cleaner and they work perfectly for a week or two after.
I don’t think that the contact surfaces themselves are degrading, my gut feeling is that the sweat is wicking down the cable until it finds bare copper wire and that is the point of corrosion. From there the “green gunge” works back up to the contact points and causes the intermittency.
Having just recleaned the contacts I have applied a thin coat of Vaseline around the assembled joint and hope that will provide some water (and sweat) repellent. If that doesn’t work I’ll apply Vaseline to the mating surfaces before assembly to see if that is better.
I have used Hylomar on some of my aircraft designs, to achieve similar water repellent requirements (between equipment case and connector receptacle, for EMI bonding purposes) and have confirmed it’s effectivity after 20 years of extreme environmental use. My concern there is that over time Hylomar starts to go like doe and harden up.
My suspicion is now that the copper cable is contaminated and brittle hardening will be followed by fatigue failure. Then I will have to replace the cable - not the end of the world.

When I owned shure 425s and 315s the green started creeping right up the cable, clearly visible through the transparent jacket. This wasn’t a major concern. What was a major concern was half the earphone staying in my ear when I removed them as the glue joint that holds the two halfs of the shell failed. They refused a warranty claim on water damage grounds.
I think Westone IEM cables use the same connection (MMCX) as Shure, they look flimsy but I’ve had them 4 years in continual use and they are still as new. Once your 535s disintegrate check out their UM pro 30 buds, they are excellent.

Hd my 425’s for over two years and no sign of corrosion , but I dont exercise in the them but my partner has used them exclusively for running for the last 7-8 months or so and they seem fine. I have just orderd a pair of 535’s as they are on offer atm to replace these as I wont get them back anytime soon and fancied an upgrade.

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