How to Fix a Bose Headphone Wire
By Fred Decker
With any personal audio device, quality headphones make the difference between mediocre and excellent sound. Many users opt for models from top manufacturers such as Bose, in search of better audio, noise cancelling and other high-end features. Unfortunately, headphones and their wires are delicate by nature, and even costly brands can perform erratically if they develop a break in the wiring. Fixing the wire to your Bose headphones is a reasonably simple process, once you've determined whether it's an inline break or a bad connector.
Finding the Break
Plug your Bose headphones into a stereo or MP3 player. If your headphones have noise cancelling, switch that feature off. Play some music, preferably something with little or no percussion. Wiggle the wire near the headphone plug and listen for any noises or interruptions in the music. Most breakage occurs in this section of the wire. If your plug seems fine, work your way slowly up the wire to the headphones. Bend the wire every inch or so, until you find the section with a break. Once you've located the trouble spot, mark it with a small piece of tape.
Replacing a Plug
Retailers such as Radio Shack carry a number of replacement stereo headphone plugs that can be soldered to your wire. Cut off your plug and the last two to three inches of wire, then strip the outer insulation with a wire stripping tool. Inside you'll find two color-coded wires and two bare copper ground wires. Strip a quarter-inch of insulation from the colored wires, then unscrew your replacement plug and drop the outer section over your wire. Underneath are three terminals. Solder your red wire to the terminal at the center of the plug, your second colored wire to the the terminal at the edge of the plug and your two bare wires to the long third terminal. Slide the outer section back into place and tighten the threads.
If the break is in the middle of your wire, cut out a section spanning the break, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. Remove approximately a half-inch of the outer insulation from the wire and then a quarter-inch of insulation from each of the colored wires inside. Drop a small piece of heat-shrink tubing over one length of your wire. Next, cross the stripped ends of each red wire. Twist each end around the other red wire to make a continuous length. Solder the wire in place and wrap it with electrical tape. Do the same for the remaining three wires, then slide your heat-shrink tubing over the splice and shrink it in place.
If your headphones are still within their warranty period, it's usually best to have Bose perform the repair, since DIY work voids your warranty. You might also opt to have a local electronics-repair facility do the work for you. Some Bose headphones, such as the Quiet Comfort 15, have a user-replaceable cable that plugs into the headset. Replacement cables are available through Bose or authorized Bose dealers. If the bad connection is within your headset, you might need to disassemble the headphones completely to locate and repair it. The headphone cups usually snap together, so if you break one it will need to be replaced or glued permanently.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.