Headphone Connectors MTBF

Question for the general population regarding headphone connector reliability:

Is it preferred to leave your headphone cables plugged into the headphone constantly, or is it better to unplug the headphone cable from the headphone after each use?

I would assume headphone connectors like 3.5mm or 2.5mm would be more susceptible to wear from either leaving the cable plugged in constantly (plastic deformation of spring clip) or constant mate/de-mate of the connector (material fatigue). So, what is the failure mode that has a higher mean time between failure (MTBF)?

I would also assume that connectors that utilize pins (mini-xlr, or HD800) would probably benefit from being constantly connected.

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It depends mostly on the quality of the socket in question, the socket type and whether the insertion point is supported in a manner that prevents flexure of the plug within the socket.

The plugs are generally MUCH more durable than the socket, and are typically rated for >10,000 mating cycles (and usually achieve FAR more than that).

The sockets can vary dramatically. A simple spring-clip 3.5mm TRS socket might be as as low as 250 mating cycles (and that would assume no flexure), though they can be rated much higher than that (1,000 cycles is typical). Really good 3.5mm TRS sockets use what amount go pogo-pins, which can have ratings in to the 10,000 or so region and are MUCH more tolerant of flexure.

The Lemo connectors on the Utopia are good for 5,000 cycles.

But without specifics, it’s just a guessing game, and my preference is to leave cables connected, and unstressed whenever possible.

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I do the same as you. I keep cables connected to my headphones and store headphones on Silverstone headphone stands with cable coiled in a relaxed state.

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