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May 10, 2016

Bowers and Wilkens B&W P5 Audio Cable

The Bowers and Wilkens P5 is a luxurious looking portable headphone with some nice comfy pads. Unfortunately B&W did not make replacing the cable with something custom very easy. First, finding a plug to fit into the jack inside the cavity behind the ear pad requires trial and error, ordering small connectors from overseas and hoping that they fit when they finally arrive. The second matter is getting the wire to fit in the tiny little tributary that leads to the bottom of the unit. However, if you are patient, it is possible to overcome these obstacles. Below you will see the unit with a single pad removed and the dis-connectable cable exposed, note the silver area where the cable feeds through.

Bower and Wilkens P5 headphone cable

The first task was to find a small bodied 2.5mm connector that would physically fit in the unit. For this you pretty much have to spray and pray, ordering generic (no name brand) connectors by eye from AliExpress or eBay and hoping you end up with one that fits a couple weeks later once it crosses the pond. I found a unit with a set screw on the barrel that fit perfectly. Do note that the extended slim barrel typically used for mobile phone case clearance was necessary here to go through the "pinched" area near the jack.

Narrow bodied 2.5mm connector

You could also use a connector with a larger barrel, but leave the barrel off and use heatshrink over the area the barrel would normally cover. Be very careful with the amount of heatshrink used and the length as the cavity doesn't give much room for error. The below images will give you an idea of how much I used, and even then, when the barrel was screwed on, I needed to reheat the heatshrink to give it a mild angle downward to fit.

Small bodied 2.5mm plug with barrel

Three runs of 24 gauge Trebuchet wire were used, and there actually was not enough clearance. The dielectric needed to be heated and pressed several times to fit into the "tributary" that leads to the bottom of the 'phones. You can click the image below to zoom in and observe the tight clearance. I'd recommend 26 gauge wire with thin dielectric if you have the option.

Once all is said and done, a big bottleneck is removed from the P5 and your ears will thank you for it.

If you'd like a custom cable built for your B&W P5 (or any other custom audio cable) please visit Zynsonix Audio.

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