View Full Version : Headphones Problem

27-03-2012, 02:38 PM
Hey guys, wondering if anyone can provide guidance on this weird issue...

So I was playing Operation Arrowhead and went to change the volume on the in-game music, since it was ridiculously loud. After doing that, the music cut completely (even though I only reduced it by half). I fiddled with a few settings including the number of voices (from the default 32 to 64), but nothing worked to bring it back. It's then that I noticed that the "centre channel" in OA simply wasn't putting out sound... or when it was, it was incredibly quiet. I should mention that I'm using headphones (Sennheiser HD 215) and a Xonar DX. I then noticed that it was doing this in Windows 7 as well; there was no differentiation between the left and right channels at all, everything just sort of mixed together, but clearly anything that should be between both left and right wasn't playing. I tried using onboard sound, fiddling with drivers, blah blah blah, and nothing changed.

Finally I tried the headphones on my iPhone, which I know has no audio out issues... and the exact same problem occurred, so obviously it's the 'phones. I've tried jiggling the cable to see if there's a bad connection but there's no improvement. Plugging in another set of headphones works. Thus, my questions are as follows:

1 - What the hell happened?! The problem occurred while I was playing OA, right after I changed the music volume. I wasn't doing anything else at the time and I'm not aware of any other defects which might have damaged the headphones.

2 - Can I fix it? Any ideas where I might start looking for the problem?

Other system specs: i5 2500k, 6GB RAM, Win7 x64. Not sure what other information I can prove which would be helpful.

27-03-2012, 05:23 PM
My knowledge of electronics is pretty minimal so I might be totally wrong, but if you're losing the stereo image that would imply that the left and right channels are being crossed somewhere along the way (the connector seems the likely culprit). That you seem to lose the "center channel" could be because the left and right channels are in opposite phases, so that the frequencies they share get cancelled out and only what's unique to each remains.

I don't think this would happen because of something in the headphones themselves, so fixing it would probably be as simple as changing the cable and connector.

edit: Forget the above bit. I was expecting someone to tell me I'm wrong and stupid, just didn't expect it to be me ;)

Giving it some actual thought, it seems most likely that the headphones have simply lost their connection to ground. Here's an ugly picture I drew to illustrate:
Disconnect the ground at some point before the cable splits to each ear and the circuit still connects, just between the left and right channel rather than left/right and ground. That would explain the left and right channels cancelling each other out neatly as well. Dodgy soldering or severe abuse to the TRS connector seems like the most likely cause.

If it's one of the old-style TRS plugs that can be screwed open you could have a look and see if the cable has come off where it's soldered on and if that's the case soldering it back on should be easy enough. If that's not an option any electronics shop that does service should be able to change the cable and connector quite easily, or you could of course get a new TRS connector, cut the cable and solder it on yourself (though it might be the cable that's broken somewhere along the length rather than something with the connector).

27-03-2012, 11:24 PM
Are they out of warranty? If not, I'd get the repair/RMA process started before it does run out. The Sennheiser product page says that the cable is removable though, so if the warranty's already out you might try looking for a replacement cable. Chances are very good that there's a break somewhere along the cable's length, though it could also be a problem at the connection between the cable and the headphones.

28-03-2012, 01:15 AM
Thanks for the suggestions guys. At midnight apparently my abused and sleep-deprived brain entirely forgot that they also plug in at the headphones themselves. After unplugging the cable to test it and then plugging it back in at the headphone end, they're working like normal again. I can only guess that I accidentally knocked the cable out ever so slightly on the headphone end and it never occurred to me that it might be on that end.

Skalpadda - That's actually a fairly good description of what it sounded like. I guess the closest I can describe it is like one of those terrible karaoke settings which tries to cut the vocals but leaves the "wider" part of the sound.

Geez, I feel really stupid now. Crawling under rock, BRB.

28-03-2012, 08:26 AM
If it makes you feel better, I once didn't notice a soldering iron had fallen on my chair. I felt stupid for two weeks until my buttock healed. Shit happens :)

The Tupper
28-03-2012, 11:59 PM
I felt stupid for two weeks until my buttock healed. Shit happens :)

Not for two weeks, it doesn't.

29-03-2012, 05:21 AM
Umm... Skalpadda got burnt by the soldering iron and felt silly for two weeks afterwards because he/she sat on the burn over and over again. The soldering iron wasn't plugged in and sitting on the chair for two weeks.

And oh yeah, glad your cans are working again soldant. It's always nice to find a free fix that only takes a few seconds of your time versus the 8-10 (or more) weeks for a warranty repair. ;-)

29-03-2012, 07:14 AM
Thanks guys :)

Umm... Skalpadda got burnt by the soldering iron and felt silly for two weeks afterwards because he/she sat on the burn over and over again. The soldering iron wasn't plugged in and sitting on the chair for two weeks.
I thought the post meant that Skalpadda would have trouble um... voiding for two weeks while the burn healed. But if the burn was in such a location to do that... wow that'd be a wound care nightmare.

29-03-2012, 09:57 AM
Wow, that took a weird turn, it was more like this: