Converting Proprietary Bose Link Connectors to Standard RCAs

Thread Starter

Spades45

Joined Oct 7, 2014
5
my parents have a Bose lifestyle 5.1 all inclusive system. i want to replace only the AV receiver in the system, keeping the speakers and hopefully subwoofer. the problem is since they've bought into the bose ecosystem, everything is proprietary.

the receiver connects to the subwoofer - and only the subwoofer, it doesn't connect to the speakers directly - by a proprietary "Bose Link" cable. it's actually just a Mini DIN 9-pin connector, with a nonstandard pinout and a $60 pricetag. each speaker is wired to the subwoofer through a two-wire cable that ends in a generic RCA plug which plugs into the subwoofer, and then their signals go through the proprietary bose cable to the receiver.

what i want to do is hack off those RCA plugs and then plug the speaker wire directly into a new receiver. is this possible? the negative of the speaker wire should be connected to the outer ring part of the RCA plug, and the positive should be connected to the center pin, so it should be pretty easy to remove the plugs and label the wire + and - myself and run that to the new receiver. copper is copper, so this should work at least in theory, no?

and if this is true, then the same should be possible of the sub and its bose link connector. i found a diagram online that says the RCA signal and ground should be pins 3 and 4, or 5 and 9. i can get a multimeter on amazon for under 20 bucks, can i somehow connect that to the bose link connector wiring while the system is powered on, and find the sub pos and neg with the multimeter?

or can i just use a 3.5mm to RCA cable to output music from my phone and test it by connecting the copper from the bose link cable directly to the RCA output? i know the center pin of RCA should go to pos, and outer ring should go to neg. to find pos and neg i can try switching the copper cable from pin to pin and back and forth from RCA ground and pin. shouldn't take too long, but does this risk damaging the sub? especially since it won't be through a crossover, will the sub be trying to produce high frequency sound and blow itself up? or will it just not make noise since it'll be going through the puny headphone amp of my phone?

thanks in advance.
 

lmarklar

Joined Apr 23, 2015
24
I don't know much about Bose systems in particular. But if I was designing a proprietary audio system using a custom connector, I would send the audio in a digital format to the sub woofer and have it decoded / amplified and sent out from there. I'm pretty sure that Bose speakers have quite a bit of signal processing going on due to their unique designs. You might be better off selling the system complete and buying speakers designed to be run from a normal amp. Once you hack the cables it starts getting harder to sell them for their value and I'd bet you'll be disappointed in the sound quality without the Bose signal processing.
 

Thread Starter

Spades45

Joined Oct 7, 2014
5
if that's the case, then i would have to replace the subwoofer but not the other speakers right? since the digital output would go through the bose link cable to the subwoofer, get processed and then sent out as analog to the speakers.

if i'm stuck with it i'm stuck with it, but it's worth trying. i'm not selling the whole system because the surround sound is already wired with cables running through the walls and whatnot- and i don't want to do that again.

worst case scenario, i can just solder a new RCA plug on the end and go back to debating the cost of a complete new system. i've been meaning to learn to solder anyway.

it should work though, right? i don't know much about electrical wiring but it seems logical to me.
 

lmarklar

Joined Apr 23, 2015
24
If they were normal speakers, yes it would work. The problem you are going to run into is again, signal processing.

"The Lifestyle system (speakers and acoustimass module) are not designed to separate out the speakers from the rest of the system. The speakers need the feed from the acoustimass module. He says u can TRY and use the speakers with another receiver, but no guarantees it will work or how long the speakers will last."

Found that on another forum. In the same thread a guy said he put a yamaha receiver on some Lifestyle speakers and they just didn't sound right.

Replacing the entire system wouldn't be bad, you would not have to re-run wires through walls /ceiling ect. Just replace the speakers, if the wiring is hard connected... You can always tie a new speaker line to the ones you are pulling and have it fish through as you pull the old speaker wire out (I left kite string in my walls after I fished the wiring, just in case I wanted to add more wiring or replace it someday).

If you are set on replacing the Bose receiver, give it a shot, you can always replace the speakers later! But I doubt you will be able to drive the sub direct, you will probably have to replace that at a minimum.
 

mrzopo

Joined Jan 14, 2016
1
Hi Spades, I've got the same problem and had exact same idea as you for some time. How did you go about it? Did you manage to hook your own receiver to the Acoustimass? My acoustimass is probably one of the oldest and worst using an RJ-45 telephone-style audio input.
 
Last edited:

Kermit2

Joined Feb 5, 2010
4,162
I have had the privilege of working on bose equipment, or was it a curse. (Damn conformal coating)
The audio going into the speaker is actually a modulated ultra high audio signal. The scope display is not a dancing sinewave but something identical to a scope view of a modulated rf power envelope. Clamshell like shapes on a string that shrink and swell to the music.
 

Thread Starter

Spades45

Joined Oct 7, 2014
5
Hi Spades, I've got the same problem and had exact same idea as you for some time. How did you go about it? Did you manage to hook your own receiver to the Acoustimass? My acoustimass is probably one of the oldest and worst using an RJ-45 telephone-style audio input.
Purchased a standard subwoofer and AV receiver, hacked off the RCA plugs on the Bose speakers and connected them to the receiver and everything works perfectly! Plus I made $100 selling the old Bose sub and receiver on craigslist.

I can confirm there is no weird distortion or adverse effects. Sound quality is improved due to the new sub. Replacing the receiver saved me a lot of headache thanks to HDMI among other things.
 
Last edited:

mixmastab

Joined Jan 12, 2017
1
Thanks so much Spades for posting this....and verifying it works with the main speakers. I am in the same boat as your parents. I just purchased a new AV reciever after having my lifestyle for 15 or so years, and I have a JBL subwoofer laying around, so I really just wanted to know if I could connect the speaker directly to the new reciever, bypassing the bose subwoofer. Can't stand all the anti-Bose noise on the web, when people are just asking a simple question.

Really appreciate it!
 
Purchased a standard subwoofer and AV receiver, hacked off the RCA plugs on the Bose speakers and connected them to the receiver and everything works perfectly! Plus I made $100 selling the old Bose sub and receiver on craigslist.

I can confirm there is no weird distortion or adverse effects. Sound quality is improved due to the new sub. Replacing the receiver saved me a lot of headache thanks to HDMI among other things.
HI
I am trying to do the same thing to my BOSE Lifestyle 48 system. Can you help with some detailed instructions on what you did to achieve the same? Would be very helpful!
Thank you.
 
Purchased a standard subwoofer and AV receiver, hacked off the RCA plugs on the Bose speakers and connected them to the receiver and everything works perfectly! Plus I made $100 selling the old Bose sub and receiver on craigslist.

I can confirm there is no weird distortion or adverse effects. Sound quality is improved due to the new sub. Replacing the receiver saved me a lot of headache thanks to HDMI among other things.

Hi spade45, can you help me doing my diy 8 pin din to rca's AND 3.5 plug, I Will apreciate much
 

sgtwhoop

Joined Jan 28, 2020
1
Hi Everyone!, Does anyone have the pinout for the Bose 13 pin square interconnect cable? It's for my PS3-2-1 subwoofer so I can wire it to my Onkyo receiver. Thanks in advance!
 
I have had the privilege of working on bose equipment, or was it a curse. (Damn conformal coating)
The audio going into the speaker is actually a modulated ultra high audio signal. The scope display is not a dancing sinewave but something identical to a scope view of a modulated rf power envelope. Clamshell like shapes on a string that shrink and swell to the music.
Okay, from reading this, the rj45 input is to give a more accurate audio signal by sending nonlinear waveforms. Giving a more dynamic sound compared to the unprocessed but seemingly more common ways to send a digital signal. This would explain the reason behind expecting a lower-quality sounding response. Now, this is all that I have put together from your post along with research, so please, correct me if I'm off. I have one of these older bose lifestyle 48 sound systems, but I know this applies to the lsps I and II style bass modules. I tried to repair my burnt media center head unit, but the circuitry is beyond me and my multimeter testing. Damn conformal coating! So after opening up my bass module, the amp consists of 3 mainboards. The first board looks like an audio processing board because of the specific chips, which is where the rj45 plugs in. It is obvious that the audio signal is being processed here but we know the audio already comes in from the media center head unit already treated this "enveloped" and ultra-high audio sound. I am curious to see what this board is responsible for, as audio processing is already done. The second board is the actual amplifying part of the circuit. This is evident with the long row of transistors and all 5.1 outputs. The last board is tied into the ac wall power and joins the two previous boards. In addition, this board has two large capacitors and a transformer so I am assume this board is all about the power supply. This all being said, there is a few ways I am thinking about tackling the project.

1st idea: I have a thunderbolt 3 mac, and it has compatible hardware to support avb audio output. (which from my understanding, avb at its most basic form is a way to send digital audio signal through rj45) The thought is to configure this connection as avb and to give the bose the signal it is yearning for. It seems pretty simple but then again bose's proprietary components might make this difficult. Because i don't know what information exactly the 9pin mini din is supplying, I can't be sure the computer and sub would even recognize each other. Would the signal need to be boosted with something like a digital preamp if it did work? I figure I could emulate the bose audio processing with an enveloper-type software in the chain. Is any of this feasible???

2nd Idea: Now, this wouldn't be nearly as cool or have the same audio quality capabilities but would it be possible to literally wire in audio input by getting rid of the 9pin mini din and wiring a more usable audio input? I cut off the 9-pin mini din and we are left with 5 wires. The cable breaks down into two separate cables with their own wire coatings joined into one main cable that all is fed into that 9pin. Now one of these two cables has three wires (red, white, and just straight copper after the other). The other cable has two wires and is identical, except that it doesn't have a red wire (just white and copper). Again these 5 wires total lead to the 9-pin mini din connecter, which is interesting. In my understanding, the 3 wires can give you a left and right channel, and the two others would give you the sub-input. I figure the audio processing board would be able to build the center and surround channels to give you the 5.1 system. (which would explain the reasoning for having the second audio processing board) This begs the question of whether the subwoofer gets its crossover (low pass filter) from the first or second audio processing board. This would change how I would splice into the system. I'm not even sure if this is the actual function of the 5 wires again, this is me attempting to reverse-engineer it and learn. Would the signal be strong enough in a passive input configuration? If not, maybe I could use one of those high-impedance headphone amplifiers to boost the signal (active input). The biggest question is would the bose even be able to comprehend the signal sent in this format.

3rd Idea: The last idea would be to cut out the audio processing board entirely. Other than receiving power and sending usable audio signals to the amplifying part of the sub. Therefore, if I just wired each of the 5.1 channels individually to the connection points where the sound processing board is, I could get the speaker system to simply just work. This would cut out the gain control and various other things found on the audio processing board, but they are an entirely different can of worms. My questions for this part are, is it even worth it to go to this extent seeing as I lose any level of control except for the strength of the input signal? I don't even know if the signal would carry over correctly. Now that I put the stray input in a weird spot in the system, could there be a backflow of energy potentially damaging the input device?

If all else fails, I'll just buy a fresh, top board for the receiver and see if that fixes the problem. There are many red flags with the receiver, but I would be attacking the biggest problem first. Buying parts is costly, time-consuming, and doesn't teach me much. This all started when the cyber Monday deals on receivers weren't good enough. I got patients and enough cables to sacrifice. Let me know if you guys have any ideas, thoughts, or if there is anything I am missing/ have incorrect. I can attach pictures if needed. I appreciate the insight in advance.
 

AHunter18

Joined Dec 4, 2022
1
Okay, from reading this, the rj45 input is to give a more accurate audio signal by sending nonlinear waveforms. Giving a more dynamic sound compared to the unprocessed but seemingly more common ways to send a digital signal. This would explain the reason behind expecting a lower-quality sounding response. Now, this is all that I have put together from your post along with research, so please, correct me if I'm off. I have one of these older bose lifestyle 48 sound systems, but I know this applies to the lsps I and II style bass modules. I tried to repair my burnt media center head unit, but the circuitry is beyond me and my multimeter testing. Damn conformal coating! So after opening up my bass module, the amp consists of 3 mainboards. The first board looks like an audio processing board because of the specific chips, which is where the rj45 plugs in. It is obvious that the audio signal is being processed here but we know the audio already comes in from the media center head unit already treated this "enveloped" and ultra-high audio sound. I am curious to see what this board is responsible for, as audio processing is already done. The second board is the actual amplifying part of the circuit. This is evident with the long row of transistors and all 5.1 outputs. The last board is tied into the ac wall power and joins the two previous boards. In addition, this board has two large capacitors and a transformer so I am assume this board is all about the power supply. This all being said, there is a few ways I am thinking about tackling the project.

1st idea: I have a thunderbolt 3 mac, and it has compatible hardware to support avb audio output. (which from my understanding, avb at its most basic form is a way to send digital audio signal through rj45) The thought is to configure this connection as avb and to give the bose the signal it is yearning for. It seems pretty simple but then again bose's proprietary components might make this difficult. Because i don't know what information exactly the 9pin mini din is supplying, I can't be sure the computer and sub would even recognize each other. Would the signal need to be boosted with something like a digital preamp if it did work? I figure I could emulate the bose audio processing with an enveloper-type software in the chain. Is any of this feasible???

2nd Idea: Now, this wouldn't be nearly as cool or have the same audio quality capabilities but would it be possible to literally wire in audio input by getting rid of the 9pin mini din and wiring a more usable audio input? I cut off the 9-pin mini din and we are left with 5 wires. The cable breaks down into two separate cables with their own wire coatings joined into one main cable that all is fed into that 9pin. Now one of these two cables has three wires (red, white, and just straight copper after the other). The other cable has two wires and is identical, except that it doesn't have a red wire (just white and copper). Again these 5 wires total lead to the 9-pin mini din connecter, which is interesting. In my understanding, the 3 wires can give you a left and right channel, and the two others would give you the sub-input. I figure the audio processing board would be able to build the center and surround channels to give you the 5.1 system. (which would explain the reasoning for having the second audio processing board) This begs the question of whether the subwoofer gets its crossover (low pass filter) from the first or second audio processing board. This would change how I would splice into the system. I'm not even sure if this is the actual function of the 5 wires again, this is me attempting to reverse-engineer it and learn. Would the signal be strong enough in a passive input configuration? If not, maybe I could use one of those high-impedance headphone amplifiers to boost the signal (active input). The biggest question is would the bose even be able to comprehend the signal sent in this format.

3rd Idea: The last idea would be to cut out the audio processing board entirely. Other than receiving power and sending usable audio signals to the amplifying part of the sub. Therefore, if I just wired each of the 5.1 channels individually to the connection points where the sound processing board is, I could get the speaker system to simply just work. This would cut out the gain control and various other things found on the audio processing board, but they are an entirely different can of worms. My questions for this part are, is it even worth it to go to this extent seeing as I lose any level of control except for the strength of the input signal? I don't even know if the signal would carry over correctly. Now that I put the stray input in a weird spot in the system, could there be a backflow of energy potentially damaging the input device?

If all else fails, I'll just buy a fresh, top board for the receiver and see if that fixes the problem. There are many red flags with the receiver, but I would be attacking the biggest problem first. Buying parts is costly, time-consuming, and doesn't teach me much. This all started when the cyber Monday deals on receivers weren't good enough. I got patients and enough cables to sacrifice. Let me know if you guys have any ideas, thoughts, or if there is anything I am missing/ have incorrect. I can attach pictures if needed. I appreciate the insight in advance.
I don’t know how late I am to responding to this but I am also in the same boat rn. I’m 16 and don’t know a ton about specific audio software going into a Bose lifestyle from the 8 pin to 13 pin but I do know the basics and from what I’ve come to conclude is that there is more processing going on betweeen the head unit and the accoustamass than just simple audio transfer. (I have an accoustamass 30ii). I have seen videos where someone converts the accoustamass into a stand alone sun and plugs the jewel cubes (surround speakers) directly into their standard amp. I think is is basically the only option unless you have the even older style accoustamass with the flat plug where the audio processing is less complicated and you are simply able to by and adapter to plug it straight to the receiver leaving the jewel cubes still plugged into the sub. Idk if this helped or not but this is where I’m currently at with mine. Is there an easier way that anyone would know where you can simply take the 13 and convert it to speaker wires like the older units could or can I only dream? Thank you all who can help.
 
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