“Wireless Headphones - Extended Use Modification”
13 September 2005
Updated: 9 August 2006
Updated: 2 January 2008
I own an AR (note I initially listed the brand as Bose), top of the line, wireless headphone unit and I like it. However, I bought it with the intent of not using the unit for its intended purpose, which is to listen to music or other media, sitting up. I bought the unit to watch and listen to television in bed before I go to sleep while my wife sleeps beside me. Unfortunately, like all wireless headphone units, the AR headphone is bulky and not very comfortable when you try to have it on your head and are resting on your side on a pillow. So I performed the following modification you might want to consider if you use a wireless headphone system as I do.
First I went to my local Radio Shack and bought a small 1\4 inch stereo phone jack. I then took part the side of the AR headphone, which has the volume control, built into it as I knew this was where the headphone speaker wires were located. To disassemble the headphone side, I simply removed the 4 screws, which are up underneath the foam ear pad. This allowed me to remove the back cover of the side of the headphone I needed to work on. Quickly finding where the wires came off the small circuit board and went to the left and right speakers, I found a location where the 1\4 inch phono jack could be installed and not hit the installed circuit board. I then used a very small drill bit to drill a small pilot hole in the side of the headphone case where I intended to mount the new headphone jack and then progressively enlarged the hole until the phono jack would slip into the hold and I then slipped the nut over the outside of the jack and tightened it up. With the phono jack installed, I now unsoldered the wires leading to each headphone speaker and routed them to the newly installed phono jack. In my case, I soldered the AR speaker wires to the new jack such that if no headphones were connected to the new jack, the AR headphone speakers would be activated. I then cut and insulation stripped some new, small wires and ran them from the AR circuit board to the new phono jack. With all wires in place, I used some silicon caulk to cover the wiring around the phono jack so there was no chance of a short circuit when I reinstalled the AR headphone back cover. I then used the 4 screws I had removed to reattach the back cover of the AR headphone.
Now, I can use any small set of headphones when I watch and listen to television in bed. I simply plug a small, walkman type set of headphones, which are ever so much more comfortable to lay on, into the small phono jack, hang the AR headphones over a bed post and listen and watch away.
Of course, when I began the process I knew I would be voiding my AR warranty but since the warranty had expired already, what did I have to lose?
Thinking that AR might be interested in my modification, I did send them a letter or email, forget which, describing it and suggesting with the modification; it might be a way for them to sell additional, smaller Walkman-type headphones. I did receive a letter back, which said that they could not consider any suggestions from end-users but if a product appeared on the market which reflected my suggestion, I was not entitled to any sort of royalties. I was not interested in royalties, but making the product more useful or at least to me and perhaps to others.
9 August 2006. The above modification to my AR wireless headphones has worked great but after a while I ran into another annoying problem and that is the constant changing of batteries in the headphone unit. Designed by AR with rechargeable batteries, the idea was to place the headphones back on the base\transmitter unit and let the unit recharge the batteries. Fine, but what a drag and no matter how often I placed the headphones back on the charger, right in the middle of watching some movie, the rechargeable batteries would die. Ok, just buy a rechargeable battery, battery charger and sit it by the bed so when the batteries die in the headphones, I could replace them with newly recharged batteries. But again, the rechargeable batteries always seem to die right in the middle of a movie: what a drag. So checking my stash of parts, I found an AC to DC power adapter with a 120VAC input and a 4.5VDC out. I then opened up the side of the AR headphones containing the battery compartment by removing the 4 screws under the ear cushions and then unsoldered the red and white wires connected to terminals on the battery compartment. I now took my cordless electric drill and drilled a hole in the side of the headphone case, which would allow the wire from the power adapter to be inserted. I put enough power supply wire into the hole to allow me to tie a knot in the wire right behind the wire hole and then soldered the power supply positive voltage lead to the headphones red wire and the headphone back wire to the other power supply wire. I then coated both wire junctions with liquid electrical tape several times, placed the cover back on and screwed it back down.
Sure enough, now when I press the power button on the side of the AR headphones, the headphones power up and I no longer have to worry about dead batteries or the headphones going out in the middle of a movie.
Oh, for sure, the AC to DC adapter is not as "clean" as the batteries, as I can hear some AC hum when the TV volume is turned down to zero but once the TV volume is up, even a little, the hum is not noticeable at all.
Finally, you might say that
between inserting a headphone jack and power supply wire, I have ruined the AR
for ever using them to listen to my computer or stereo and you are right, but
since I bought the AR, they have hung on my bedpost and now, for sure, will
for a long time to come.