broken bose triport headphones
April 12, 2006 5:10 PM   Subscribe

I broke the plug on my bose triport headphones and i'm trying to fix them myself. I bought wirestrippers and a stereo headphone jack but when I tried to attach the wires I realized I have no idea what im doing.

The wires are red wrapped in gold and blue wrapped in gold. The stereo jack is the standard gold plated one from radioshack. What should I be doing?
posted by pwally to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
do you have a soldering iron? here are some instructions. that talks about three wires; if you have two and some outer shielding treat the shielding as the third wire.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:21 PM on April 12, 2006

Here's more.
posted by IronLizard at 5:25 PM on April 12, 2006

Red generally means right-channel, if that helps. If you're guessing, guess that first.
posted by flabdablet at 5:28 PM on April 12, 2006

the gold is most likely shielding, you will want to minimize the amount of exposed unshielded wire.

like the link above said attach the ground reference and then the insulated wires. It really doesnt matter *THAT* much which way you attach the insulated wires unless you think you will able to tell if the left and right channels are reversed.

additional tips: it helps to lightly sand the wires after you strip them as they often have a thin layer if urethane coating them. ALso i would go purchase some heat shrink tubing in various sizes to use when you are all finished. You should really also use flux (but you dont have to) when making the solder connections so the wire impedence doesnt get too screwed up.
posted by I_am_jesus at 5:32 PM on April 12, 2006

most modern headphones use wires so fine that you probalby won't be able to repair them. If these are older phones or use larger gauge wire, you should be okay with the other advice given here.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:14 PM on April 12, 2006

Good luck, I hate headphone plugs and have never succeeded in creating a stable and useful repair for this problem. Anyone know of a good headphone brand with a lifetime warranty that includes the cord and plug?
posted by Embryo at 6:14 PM on April 12, 2006

Anyone know of a good headphone brand with a lifetime warranty that includes the cord and plug?

No, but some of manufacturers make the cord and plug replaceable, with a jack on the headset.
posted by mendel at 6:19 PM on April 12, 2006

You should really also use flux (but you dont have to) when making the solder connections so the wire impedence doesnt get too screwed up.


Flux or no flux has nothing to do with "wire impedance" - it has to do with whether the solder wets the metal surfaces or not i.e. whether the solder joint actually works. AFAIK you can't buy electronics-grade solder without multiple embedded flux cores. It's vaporizing flux that makes the solder smoke when it gets hot and gives the soldering process its characteristic resiny smell.

It's only if you're doing stuff like reflow-soldering surface-mount components to PC boards that you need to use a separate flux. Totall overkill for a simple wire-to-socket job, IMO, and just one more thing to clean up.

If the wires are extremely fine, just work extremely carefully. Use a loupe if you have to.
posted by flabdablet at 9:38 PM on April 12, 2006

I_am_jesus is right -- a lot of wires do have coating on them.
Yours probably will as well, if one wire is wrapped in the other. I made the mistake of rewiring a plug, finding that it didn't work, and throwing the headphones away for good.

Sand the wires down, or you can do what I did; pass the wire through a flame, and the coating will burn off (careful, it burns quickly!). Then you can rub the soot off on a piece of paper -- voila! Conductivity.
posted by provolot at 12:56 AM on April 13, 2006

As a theatre technician who works in schools, I've had to repair way too many of these things. Sometimes it's easy, other times, it's a major pain in the....

The other links look good, but here are more generic instructions for some of the many different possible situations you may encounter.

First, the plug. It will either be 1/4" in diameter, called a phone plug, or 1/8" in diameter, called a mini-phone plug. Phone plugs come in two flavors: two conductors, tip/sleeve, or three conductors, tip/ring/sleeve. A stereo plug will have three conductors. The size depends on what you are plugging into. Just get the same size as the one you are replacing.

The tip will go to the left channel, the ring will go to the right channel, and the sleeve will go to the common, likely the gold wire on both sides. Just combine the two commons. Odds are the red wire is the right side, but there is no universal coloring scheme. You can temporarily hook one side up to test which side is which if you need to.

Do you know how to solder? If not, I have seen 1/4" phone plugs that have very small screws in them that let you hook the wires up with out soldering. They don't make as good connection as soldering, but they do work. You might need to call around to electronics stores to find one.

If you do solder, then just solder the wires to the appropriate terminal. Sometimes the plug's leads are obvious which go to tip/ring/sleeve. If not, use a VOM or continuity tester to figure out the configuration.

There are many different configurations of plugs. Every manufacturer has there own, and some even have several. Just use common sense about how much insulation to strip. Ideally, there will be no, or very little, exposed wire when you are done. Shrink wrap is a good idea if you can get it to fit. It will keep dirt out and act as a strain relief.

As for strain relief, some jacks use a crimp style that gets crimped around the cord. Be careful with that style, it is easy to over-pinch and pierce the insulation to get a short. Some plugs use a two part plastic sleeve that will tighten around the cord. Neutrik makes good plugs.

Here is a link to a 1/4":

Here is a link to a mini:

There are several vendors you can buy them from, but I like Full Compass.

The wires from the headphones also come in many different configurations. Hopefully, it is just a matter of stripping back the insulation and soldering. Sometimes there is extra stuff either around the wire or wound with it. If possible remove any non-metallic material. Sometimes, I've had to heat the wire with the soldering pencil to melt the extra crud. Again, use your judgement based on what you find.

Good luck. If you make a mistake, you can always cut off the plug and try again, within reason, of course.
posted by tbird at 1:09 AM on April 13, 2006

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