my ipod hates the left channel
August 29, 2006 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Is my iPod messing up the left channel of my headphones?

My iPod Photo has performed admirabley over the course of one year. Yesterday, the left channel of my headphones stopped working. I tested the headphones on my computer, and the left channel was gone. Today, I tried another set of headphones. At first, both channels were working, but an hour later, the left channel ceased functioning. Is it possible that plugging a pair of headphones into my iPod destroys the left audio channel. I don't want to buy another pair of headphones if the iPod is just going to wreck them.
posted by sswiller to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Seems unlikely that the ipod is doing this - electrically, it shouldn't be able to deliver enough power to blow the coil without also blowing your eardrum :) and the potential for dirt or something inside the earphone socket damaging the plug seems like something you would have noticed.

My guesses are either
1. You wear your earphones in a way that puts more strain or flex on the cord to your left ear, and this is wearing them out in a uniform fashion.
2. Your second pair was cheap or defective to break so quickly. Chances are 50/50 that the break would be on the left side.

Summary: Don't worry about it, earphones (especially cheap ones) often break quickly, as there is often only a couple of strands of copper in them - return the ones you bought for a refund, buy another pair, different brand.

Take care not to bend/crush/tug/strain the cables. If they also blow on the left within days, then maybe something is up, but I think the more mundane explanations are far more likely.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:34 PM on August 29, 2006

Oddly, I have gone through two sets of iPod earbuds due to failure of the left speaker. Both times, Apple quickly replaced the earbuds.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:52 PM on August 29, 2006

As I recall, a friend of mine had to return the headphones from his iPod shuffle due to a busted left channel. Weird.
posted by antifuse at 1:11 PM on August 29, 2006

are you sure it's the speaker? What I can think of is that, IIRC, the left-signal part of the connector is the one nearer to the rim of the plug. Somehow this, combined with the bending that happens while having the iPod on the pocket/backpack/whatever could cause the connector-cable junction to break. If you're going to throw away the phones, before discarding them, try cutting the wire, and connecting them reversed (left-hand wire to right-hand bud). This way you can check if the problem is in the plug (left should work and right should fail) or in the earbud (left should fail and right should work).

For the record, I've had some busted left earbuds too. most of them were caused by broken connector.
posted by qvantamon at 1:30 PM on August 29, 2006

Actually, the exact same thing happened to my iPod, and it turned out to be the iPod itself, not the headphones. Mine was less than a year old, and was replaced by Apple (sounds like yours is more than a year old). The guy at the Genius Bar said he'd never seen this problem before.
posted by dshargel at 1:30 PM on August 29, 2006

I don't recall correctly. the left-signal part of the connector is the tip.
posted by qvantamon at 1:54 PM on August 29, 2006

My left i-pod earbud is also slightly defective. Sound does come out but around a quarter the volume of the right. I think I chalked it up to blowing the little speaker after having it turned up to 11 for the better part of a day. Maybe it's something else.
posted by fantastic at 4:58 PM on August 29, 2006

Update: According to a sound guy friend, left channels of earphones tend to fail first as they are not the primary channel. (I would attempt to esplane more but all of that is really beyond me)
posted by fantastic at 5:02 PM on August 29, 2006

I've had three pairs of headphones used with an iPod go on the left channel. I'm certain I've come across web pages detailing this too, but I'm buggered if I can find them now.

The headphones were sony in-ear ones (relatively expensive), and I wonder if there's something there too. I knew someone with a pair of Shures that went on the left channel.
posted by bonaldi at 6:43 PM on August 29, 2006

I've had two pairs of Apple in-ear phones die on the left channel. Spooky!
posted by myeviltwin at 7:41 PM on August 29, 2006

Update: According to a sound guy friend, left channels of earphones tend to fail first as they are not the primary channel.

I'd say this is wrong. I don't think there's much of a meaningful sense of "primary channel," but the left channel always comes before the right in terms of inputs, and so if you only have one input to a stereo track, it comes into the left.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:32 AM on August 30, 2006

posted by tdreyer1 at 10:11 AM on August 30, 2006

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