Wednesday, 22 February 2012


As I’ve said before I have an “iffy” ear (the left). It just doesn’t function as well as the right. There are a lot of sounds at either end of the spectrum that I just can’t seem to pick up.

It is too be blunt a feckin’ pain.
It is worse when listening to music through headphones. Unfortunately listening to music through headphones is something I want to do - a lot.
The problem is, believe it or not, “stereo”. I seem to miss out on a lot of what goes on in my left ear.
For example: say I was listening to a duet by Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. While both could be heard in either ear, the way stereo is mixed one would be dominant in the left ear, while the other would be dominant in the right. All hunky-dory if you have good ears, but it means the right is dominant with me. I might end up missing bits of Desmond or Brubeck, depending on who was in my left ear (and I don’t want that).
So, I've been thinking..... Could it be that what I need is to revert to “mono”?
First thing I looked at was a software solution (rip my music to mono). Two problems here. “A” I have a shit-load of music already ripped in glorious stereo, and “B” while I have a problem with my ears, it is just that – my problem, not fair if you share music to expect others to put up with second best.

So. I thought, “firmware”? Sadly there is nothing in my players firmware that allows you to muck about with stereo/mono settings. Yes, you can fiddle about with EQ settings (which I don’t), but not mono/stereo.

So. It’s got to be hardware. New headphones? A quick look on the ineterweb reveals that there is very little in the way of mono headphones these days – and what few there are make the wearer look a tad, shall we say, “special needs”.
So. I did a bit thinking. And I appear to have come up with something….

I found an adaptor that takes a stereo signal and converts it to mono – it takes left ear channel1 and right ear channel2 and combines that into left ear channel1+2.
All good and well. BUT while one may not work perfectly I still have two ears. I don’t want all the music coming into my good ear and my left ear being “polluted” by weegie banter on the train, for example. Likewise, I don’t want to be wearing a single ear piece.
So. I got another adaptor that takes a mono signal and splits it into two channels for stereo… BUT not “true” stereo, its more “dual mono”. In other words in right ear you get channel1+2 and in left ear you get exactly the same channel1+2….

And you know what? It bloody works a treat. It looks bizarre – it looks a bit like a “Christmas tree” fitting that you’d find on an oil well (as I believe they are called). In fact it looked so stupid coming directly from the mp3 player that I have added a small extension lead with this gubbins in the middle.

I fully accept that mono is a step backwards for most. But for me it’s an improvement. In other words for me good mono is better to listen to than hissy stereo. I'm still not picking up everything in my left ear - but at least I know that what I miss in the left is now still in the right.
Listened to a few recordings on it already and I’m aware that I’m picking up on bits that I’ve been missing.
The futures bright – the futures mono.

1 comment:

Yak Hunter said...

You are to music what Billy the Shoe is to shoes...well kind of. I just heard about my Percy the Pigs today - Kevin says unfortunately his children have eaten them - bet he ate them himself - we're not the Portobellies for nothing...anyway a big thank you. Hope the black dog has taken himself off.