by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote,
I am almost deaf in one ear. I have trouble hearing music via headphones that play different parts in each ear piece—specifically when I am listening to my iPod with the earbud headphones. Is there a product out there for people who can only hear out of one ear that will play both stereo channels out of just one ear piece? I’ve searched the Internet and couldn’t find anything. Surely I’m not the only one with this issue.
Excellent question. You definitely are not alone. Fortunately, I have the answer you need.
What you want to do is feed both stereo channels into a single earbud that goes to your good ear. (You won’t be hearing true stereo—as that takes 2 ears—but you will hear everything on both stereo channels combined together into the one earbud).
Here’s how you do this. There are two options.
The neatest would be if you could find a single earbud wired to a stereo plug. I’m not aware of any so it may not be possible to find any. (However, if you were hard of hearing and wore a hearing aid in your better ear, you could switch to t-coil mode and use a single Music Link (which is wired to fit a stereo jack).
The other way is to get two things—a , and a stereo to mono adapter from Radio Shack (Part No. 274-374, $2.99). Then plug the adapter into your iPod and the earbud into the adapter. Now you’ll hear both channels in the one ear.
Note that there are two versions—the EAR 013 (above) and the EAR 013T. The EAR 013T has an extension tip that better fits into your ear canal. However, any single earbud with a mono plug will work if you happen to have one kicking around.
Addendum: For a more elegant solution—source of an earbud with stereo jack—see our article Hearing Stereo with One Ear (good solution).