… because I forget simple little things too soon …
Resurrecting Bose QuietComfort 15
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Right speaker of my QC15 had a heart attack one morning last
week. I tried my best to revive it. I helped it breathe for hours more
than it otherwise could have. And then, I took a screw driver and
trashed the hell out of it. Only then did I think of it. All the time we
had together, all the happy songs he played and I listened, all the good
shit. I never thought I could replace it. Only if I sold house and
forked another $400 out of my pocket. Thank goodness I wasn’t that
On the morning of heart attack, I observed the following symptoms:
After turning the headphones on, I’d hear a loud white noise from the
Following a few seconds of playing a song, the song would start to
cut out intermittently and eventually stop.
Tilting my head to sides would improve the situation a bit.
After completely cutting out, blowing into the right speaker (having
removed the cushions and the fabric cover), would bring it back to
life for a short period of time.
I figured the nylon drum had lost its movements or that the coil had
moved as to touch the walls of the center ring. Cleaning and air dusting
it didn’t help. I then started looking online to see if anyone sold
replacements and boy are these rare! I did finally find something that
could possibly work, a replacement speaker for Pioneer
headphones. Same spec, 32Ω impedance, and 40mm
diameter. It looked the same too. So I ordered one and it arrived today.
I soldered the speaker, throw back on the cover and put some music on.
What a disappointment. Annoying high pitched playback and lack of noise
cancellation — utter waste of money. Just as I was getting ready to head
out and buy a whole brand new QC15, I remembered that the original
speaker was glued and sealed up (which made the disassembly very
annoying). So I grabbed some cheap electrical glue and circled the
speaker with some generous amounts. Let it dry for 20 minutes. Stripped
of hope, tried them on again and holy mother of all cows, it was like
day one again. And then I learned something important about advanced
noise cancellation — excellent noise isolation (duh!)
Steve, a reader from hackaday.com, has mentioned that Bose
would exchange a broken pair for $100. It is worth calling Bose before
continuing. Also Ekoce in the comments said that they managed to get a
QC25 (newer model) for 199 USD trading in their QC15. QC25 was selling
at 299 USD at the time, saving them $100.
In case your headphones have suffered the same fate, here’re the steps
to heal them:
Get your soldering iron, flux, safety glasses and the will to heal
up and ready.
Take out the audio jack and the battery too.
Take the cushion out by pulling on it away and inward toward the
Peel off the oval shaped fabric cover.
Unscrew the four screws that hold the plastic covers on the other
Desolder the two wires on the speaker, very gently. They are very
Use a very small flat head screw driver to slowly
scratch off the yellow glue around the speaker. You need to be
patient here. Also, be very careful of slippage of your screw
driver. You could severely damage the circuit board or wiring
Use the screwdriver to lift the speaker up and out. This
part can be easy or hard depending on how much glue you could
scratch off previously.
Test your new speaker using a multimeter to:
Find out which solder pads are connected to the coil and;
to verify the impedance (ie use the ohm meter function).
Once the old speaker is out, put the new one in and solder the
wires to it.
Do a preliminary test with all the guts still spilled to make sure
sound is coming out of the new speaker.
With the help of electrical glue (such as Star Brite Liquid
Electrical Tape or other thick kind like PVA — avoid super
glue), fill the gap between the speaker and its socket, all round.
Let it dry for however long it needs to.
Reverse the steps 5 to 2.
Put some music on and if everything went well, you should now reach
for your phone, turn on the front camera and watch your happy face
on it. Snap it while you’re at it.