Introduction: Make Bose QuietComfort 15 (QC 15) Bluetooth Wireless

Bose QuietComfort 15's are a great pair of headphones, but they're not wireless. I have no idea why Bose doesn't make a wireless bluetooth dongle for them, so I hacked together one in less than 15 minutes. Here's what you need:

- Pair of Bose QC 15's
- 3.5mm Bose QC audio plug (this needs to be the Bose one, comes with the headphones)
- cheap bluetooth A2DP dongle from eBay ($15)

Tools:
- Soldering iron & a bit of solder
- 1" of solid wire, ~22 gauge (found on most resistors and solderless breadboard kits)
- Wire clippers or scissors
- Flat head screw driver

The first step is to take apart the bluetooth dongle and 3.5mm jack. You can pry the bluetooth dongle case apart with your finger nail. The 3.5mm jack takes a bit more work. I used a small flat head screw driver and it came right off. 

You should be left with exposed circuit boards of the 3.5mm jack and the bluetooth dongle.

Step 1: Solder 3.5mm Jack to Bluetooth Dongle

Both the bluetooth dongle and 3.5mm jack have aligning wires (red, gold, green). This makes it really easy for us.

The first step is to desolder the wires from both the 3.5mm jack and bluetooth dongle. Apply the soldering iron to one of the solder joints and pull gently on the wire. It will come freely when the solder is melted.

Once all wires are desoldered, it is time to use the 22 gauge solid core wire to bridge the two parts together. Cut 3x 0.5" lengths of wire. Apply some solder to both ends of each wire, and then solder to the bluetooth dongle first (the bluetooth dongle is more cramped). Solder all 3 wires to the bluetooth dongle first. Once done, solder the other end to the 3.5mm jack as shown in the picture.

Once all 3 wires are soldered, you're done! 



Step 2: How It Looks and Works

I personally don't care that there is a PCB with a battery sticking out of my $300 headphones, but you may. In that case, you can try and stick the bluetooth dongle case back on with a little modification.

To charge the bluetooth dongle you just have to pull it out and plug it in to the USB mini jack. My dongle lasts around 6 hours. The solid core wire is strong enough to allow the jack to be pulled out without a problem.

The audio quality is superb. I could not tell a difference compared with having the headphones wired. Having the headphones wireless makes life so much easier, you can get up and roam around! The bluetooth dongle worked without problems on my windows 7 computer and iphone. It should not have any problems on a Mac or android device. I have tried other bluetooth dongles that were more expensive and they sounded identical, and had the exact same chip in them. 

Enjoy wireless freedom!
-Michael Bell

Comments

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zach6480 (author)2014-01-14

Here is my rendition of this mod. Used a Sony Mw600 bluetooth adapter (had it laying around) and use the same instructions above. The mw600 has a female stereo jack.

The adapter does not look bad at all when wearing the headphones, looks like a microphone coming down the side, nothing bulky.

I plan on trying a bose bluetooth dongle and getting the same effect, basically a play on the new ae2w using a standard bose dongle.

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kevleee1 (author)2013-11-17

Hi Michael,

I have a pair of QC15 headphones that I love but wanted to mod it for Bluetooth compatibility.  I found your idea interesting but thought the connector was not robust enough so i went one step further.  I soldered a 3.5mm female connector to the bose minijack connector and crazy glued it in the cable hole.  Now it fits in like OEM and I can use a cord if I wanted to.  The picture shows some cable dangle but that is something I can live with.  Thanks to your great idea my cans now have a new lease on life.
-Kevin

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Coolman11 (author)2016-06-08

Hi. I didn't made it. I'm just curious if you are able to make calls with this? I use my Bose QC 15 mostly to call and no cable would be an advantage.

thanks

frank

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GodLoveMyGirl made it! (author)2016-06-02

I didn't made it,but can find on amazon.co.uk now,search QC15 bluetooth,we can see it.hope useful to you!

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Nate5b made it! (author)2016-05-20

Thanks for sharing. I like the crunch tech hack with the exposed wires and pcb!

Here's my take. I was lazy and tried to use the least number of parts. I was able to secure the Bluetooth module to the headband with the existing cord. So far it's working great!

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aflores34 made it! (author)2016-04-30

After several attempts, i decided to weld each cable and isolate with termofit, starting by the 3.5 mm plug (taken from the original bose cable) and finishing on the Stereo plug adapter (the one thats go inside the headphones) making a direct plug-plug adapter, then i connected this in a 3.5mm bluetooth stereo adapterb(i found it very cheap on ebay), and now i can use my old bose QC 15 wireless on my ipod, mobile phone and my macbook too!

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Richycol (author)2015-06-01

I connected the Bluetooth dongle directly into the headphone jack.. It's a much neater solution.

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Richycol (author)2015-06-01

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y2leon (author)2015-03-05

My black athm50x and my white athm50 with the Bluetooth mod

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MelA2 (author)2015-01-12

GREAT MOD!!! Can someone help me with figuring out the wiring of the QC15 Cord wiring??? I have the cord with inline microphone and have 5 wires. (Gold, Green, Red, Blue, Gold/Red). I'm trying to shorten a cable to a 4-pole TRRS male connector and only getting right channel and no mic button functions. My current wiring is from tip to base (tip/green; 1st band/red; 2nd band/gold & blue; 3rd band/Gold+Red). Is this correct??? Thanks for your help...

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508Parkour (author)2014-01-18

Out of curiosity, why do you need the bose cord? Is it proprietary? Is it standard 3.5mm?

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JeremyN2 (author)508Parkour2014-12-15

I believe it is because the 2.5mm side of the connector is very low profile and it is difficult to find cables that fit inside the headphone housing. I've heard that some Shure cables fit, but can't say for sure.

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evan.black.796 (author)JeremyN22015-01-06

I can tell you right now that the jack on the inside of the QC15 is not 2.5mm. It's a standard 3.5mm TRRS (but here's the kicker), it's a nonstandard pinout. There is no need for the original Bose plug when wiring custom cables, any 3.5mm with 4 channels will do as long as you're willing to sacrifice the cable.

For reference, the Bose TRRS plug pinout is Tip: N/A- none, Ring1: right channel, Ring2: left channel, Sleeve: ground.

If you're going to make a custom cable make sure to wrap a couple inches of wire in tape and use multiple layers of heatshrink to make it stiff enough to insert easily.

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aartiles mendoza (author)2014-03-09

Is not better this way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw__ipYOUBo?

author

Very nice! I think we may have the same desk as well - ikea?

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rmandarano (author)2013-10-29

Michael, nice work on the mod. I had a question that you might be able to answer:

I tried to modify my Bose cable in such a way that I could reduce the cord length to about 5 inches. I took the Bose connector apart (the one that sticks into the QC15's) just like in your mod. Then I took a standard mini jack cable and cut it to length. Desoldered the cable from the PCB on the Bose and re-soldered my mini jack with ground in the center. My problem is this: No matter how I solder the wires to the PCB, I can only get the left channel to come through the headphones.

Did you run into anything like this when you were hooking up the bluetooth?

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Michael Bell (author)rmandarano2013-11-04

Hi rmandarano,

Did you not use the bose mini jack connector? I believe there is circuitry in there that is required in the headphones for stereo. If you can add some images so I can see what you're doing.

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lucky72045 (author)Michael Bell2014-03-05

I'm having the same issue. Did y'all ever find the problem?

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metalshiflet (author)2014-01-19

I tried to do this, but the bluetooth I found had only two cables. Do I just solder the cables that are the same and leave the other one alone?

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BrokenArsenal (author)2013-08-25

Hey nice job been tryin to figure out a way to make my qc15s blue tooth ready

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Thanks!

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vli5 (author)2013-07-12

Hey Mike,

I recently just tried two different A2DP receivers bought on ebay, and they both generate a high frequency beeping sound while the music is playing and immediately after the music is paused. Does yours have the same issue?

Thanks!

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Michael Bell (author)vli52013-07-23

Hi Vli,

Mine don't have the same issue.. might it be from some sort of cell phone interference? Can you share which ones you purchased?

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vli5 (author)Michael Bell2013-07-23

Hi Michael,

I just tried with my iPhone in airplane mode, but the background noise is still there. I believe it's because of improper filtering of some digital signal on the output. Here are the two receivers I got: http://goo.gl/6iiec5, and http://goo.gl/d7VUYJ. Do you think I should try a more expensive module?

Thanks,
Victor

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Michael Bell (author)vli52013-07-24

Are you just using them out of the box? No hacking the bose connector or anything? If they are crap when you received them then I would try getting a different set. You could also try with them on another pair of speakers.. just to see if the noise issue is still there. Have you tried changing your transmitter (phone, laptop, etc.)? I used a receiver of similar quality and didn't have these issues.

Good luck!

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vli5 (author)Michael Bell2013-07-23

Hi Michael,

I just tried with my iPhone in airplane mode, but the background noise is still there. I believe it's because of improper filtering of some digital signal on the output. Here are the two receivers I got: http://goo.gl/6iiec5, and http://goo.gl/d7VUYJ. Do you think I should try a more expensive module?

Thanks,
Victor

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kent_tberapi (author)2013-06-13

I registered just for the purpose of putting a comment for this article :D

first of all, cool hack! And secondly, i was wondering how the sound's like?

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Thanks Kent!

The sound quality for me is good enough. If you're using pandora at 128kbps you won't notice any quality issues, but if you play music at higher quality you may notice a difference. The portability of wireless headphones is more of an importance to me than the sound quality. Your mileage may vary!

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damianow (author)2013-05-07

I found a very small device on Amazon that looks like it could work without the large protrusion. http://www.amazon.com/Miccus-Mini-jack-RX-Bluetooth-Receiver/dp/B0038MA11U/ref=pd_sxp_f_pt#productDetails

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cooljamesx1 (author)2013-04-17

If you are going to try this project, at the very least get a good quality bluetooth set up to use. I did this hack and it works, but the audio quality is terrible, and I mean terrible, even with a high bit-rate set up on my computer's bluetooth. Honestly, there's a reason Bose doesn't offer a bluetooth jack for these headphones-- It's a waste of the quality.

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pipodeclown (author)2013-03-01

Great idea. I'm still a little worried about ripping the connection apart when (un)plugging, and/or ruining either of the circuit boards while soldering. Also, it seems the dongle ends up in an awkward position. Wouldn't it be simpler to cut off the female jack from the dongle and all but .5" of the Bose cable and simply solder those two wires together? My thinking is that by leaving a few inches of wire between the dongle and the Bose jack, you can plug it in, route the wire around the ear cup and duck tape the dongle to the inside (or outside) of the headband. Maybe it's the shape of my head, but I have loads of space between the headband and my head.

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shantzap (author)2013-02-03

Mike, thank you for your prompt reply. I screwed up my first attempt because I'm a total newbie at soldering. I fried the bluetooth circuit board and ripped off two of the connector nodes onto my soldered wires from putting two much torque on the wires during handing. I think I've got it down now, but had one more question for you. I'm hoping to use these headphones to wirelessly receive audio from my TV. I don't have bluetooth on my TV and only RCA jacks, no 3.5 mm audio port. Can the bluetooth receiver now in the Bose QC 15's automatically connect to a setup like this: http://r.ebay.com/nnglzD?
I just can't wrap my head around how 2 of these bluetooth adapters would automatically connect because there wouldn't be anyway to connect them manually with a digital display to confirm they are connected. Do you know how they would work or how to add a bluetooth transmission to an RCA ported TV that the Bose headphones could pick up?

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Michael Bell (author)shantzap2013-02-03

Shantzap -

Yes, that transceiver will work to send it from your TV. They should automatically detect each other when you have them both in detection mode.

Sorry to hear about your soldering job, practice makes perfect!

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shantzap (author)2013-01-29

Hey Mike,

I ended up with this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-USB-Wireless-Bluetooth-A2DP-3-5mm-Stereo-HiFi-Audio-Music-Dongle-Adapter-/350661647408?pt=US_USB_Bluetooth_Adapters_Dongles&hash=item51a5101c30

I know it has a male end, but I plugged it directly into the Bose QC 15 and paired it with my Iphone. It connected and played just fine, but obviously bose's proprietary connector is why we're doing this because it wouldn't stay plugged in. It should work though, right? How robust are either of these chip boards? I'm not great with a soldering iron and just have a cheapo 35 watt from a computer networking kit.

-Adam

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Michael Bell (author)shantzap2013-01-30

Adam, it should be fairly straight forward. Just make sure you have some solid core wire. I used the Bose connector that didn't have the music controls on it so I wouldn't waste that if something went wrong. Both boards are robust enough I think that anybody should be able to do it. Good luck! Share pics during your own hacking!

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Joshh864 (author)2013-01-20

Hey Mike,

I just read your instructions on the QC15 Bluetooth mod, they are really well done so thanks for that. I was planning on doing the mod with my QC2, I'd imagine it should work the same since the 3.5mm jack is the same and the headphones are essentially the same. The one thing that I'm unsure of is which BT Dongle I should buy, it looks like the one that you have has a female connector, which would make sense, but all the ones that I've found so far have only male connectors. For example, I was looking at this one: http://www.amazon.com/Bluetooth-3-5mm-Stereo-Dongle-Transmitter/dp/B008132PO2 , I'd be curious to know if you think that this one would work. Thanks for your help and take care.

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Michael Bell (author)Joshh8642013-01-20

Hey Josh -

You need a receiver, which has the female end. You were looking at transmitters. I got mine from ebay, and there are a whole bunch of them here: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=BLUETOOTH+HEADSET+A2DP+DONGLE+RECEIVER+&_sacat=0&_odkw=BLUETOOTH+HEADSET+A2DP+STEREO+AUDIO+DONGLE+RECEIVER+3.5MM+FOR+PC+LAPTOP+PHONES&_osacat=0&_from=R40

I couldn't find any on Amazon that were similar to the one I used. Those listings on ebay are identical to what I used.

Happy hacking!

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Cartermarquis (author)2012-05-25

Cool hack! Could the shell of the earpiece be modified to hold the bluetooth module, giving it a more "stock" appearance and offer a bit more protection for the module?

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I believe it could, but not with the PCB that comes with the cheap 3.5mm to bluetooth adapters found on eBay. The bluetooth chip itself it thicker than the shell of the earpiece, but the chip size can be shrunk (just costs more for them to produce). I wish Bose would make an earpiece that would just plug right in, and get powered from the on-board battery in the headphones directly. Maybe that's why Bose has such wide slots in the first place. Someone could also make a 3rd party accessory for the QC15's with that feature built right in. Could sell for maybe $40, $50.