Introduction: Add IPhone Microphone and Controls to Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones

I listen to music from my iPhone with the Bose Quiet Comfort noise canceling headphones while working. They're great at keeping distractions down to a minimum in a somewhat noisy work environment. The problem is that when I receive a call I have to reach into my pocket, pull out the iPhone, answer the call and often adjust the volume control. Then, when the call is complete I have to hangup, adjust the volume again and put the phone back into my pocket. Wouldn't it be great if there was a 3.5mm male-female adapter that would add microphone, call/track and volume switches? 

After a bit of searching, I found that Bose sells a mobile adapter kit for their Quiet Comfort headphones which includes a microphone and a single control switch for answering calls or switching iPod tracks but no volume control. I found a few other adapters that add the same functionality but again, no volume controls. Time for a bit of cutting, splicing, soldering and heat-shrink tubing.

I'll show you how to add a microphone, control switch and volume control to your Bose or any other headphone by lopping off the earbuds of your latest generation Apple earphones with remote and splicing the left and right earbud wires to your Bose headphone cable.

I've purchased at least 7 sets of the Apple earphones with remote only to always have the left earbud fail at some point. I've taken to purchasing them from Best Buy, requesting the Apple Store price, and paying the $5 for the replacement warranty. Needless to say, I have a couple of sets around with defective left earbuds.

Step 1: Start Your Splices

Cut the right earbud off of the latest generation of Apple earphones with remote leaving about 2 inches of cable above the remote. Cut the left earbud off so that it's the same length as the right cable.

Strip about an inch of the outer insulation off each end of the cable. I used an X-Acto knife to score completely around the outer insulation. Pull off the insulation. One of the cables will have a copper/red pair and the other a copper/green pair of wires.

In addition, one of the cables (I think it's the left) will have a twisted red/green/white set of wires. Cut these off where they emerge from the outer insulation. I'm not sure what they are for, but I checked, and they do not connect to anything in the earbud itself.

Cut the cable coming out of your Bose headphones so that it is about 8 inches long. If you mess up, you can purchase a replacement cable for about $15 from the Bose online store. Strip about an inch of outer insulation from the end of the cable. This will expose 3 wires, a red, green and a copper.

Twist all three copper wires (1 from left iPhone cable, 1 from right iPhone cable and 1 from Bose headphone cable) together and solder. trim the end so that its length is about .25".

Step 2: Splicing the Left/right Wires

The red and green sets of wires have an insulation that will melt with soldering. Twist the two red wires together. Apply heat and solder until the insulation melts and the solder flows. Repeat this step with the two green wires. Trim the ends of the wires.

Apply heat shrink tubing to the copper (GND) splice, red splice and green splice. Shrink the tubing with a heat gun.

Step 3: More Heat Shrink Tubing

Cut a short piece of heat shrink tubing that has a diameter which will slide over the Apple 3.5mm plug and remote control. Slide the tubing up the cable so that it covers the copper (GND) splice on the black (Bose side) of the cable as shown on the photo.

Cut a short piece of heat shrink tubing that has a diameter which will slide over the Apple 3.5mm plug and remote control. Slide the tubing up the cable so that it covers the red/green (left/right splice) on the white side of the cable as shown in the photo.

Use a heat gun to shrink both pieces of tubing.

Cut another piece of heat shrink tubing long enough to cover the entire splice as shown in the photo and shrink.

Cut a few short pieces of tubing to keep the dual leads on the iPhone cable from separating, position as shown and shrink into place.

Plug the Bose end of the cable back into your Quiet Comfort headphones.

Step 4: Enjoy Your New Headphones!

Plug the Apple end of the cable into your iPhone and enjoy the ability to switch tracks, answer calls, voice dial and control volume with your Bose Quiet Comfort headphones!

Since the headphones are noise canceling, it may sound weird talking on the phone without hearing your own voice. I usually position the right headphone cup off my ear slightly while talking on the phone so that I can hear my own voice.