How do I handle only being able to use earphones with one ear?

by einpoklum   Last Updated February 24, 2018 16:01 PM

I have low-grade Microtia - meaning that my ear canal is congenitally blocked (and the external ear somewhat under-developed). Over the years I've used mostly over-ear headphones: I can hang them on both my ears fine, and I either mix both channels together, or change the balance to favor the right ear and increase the volume (although, frankly, that creates a distortion, since I pick up the frequencies that pass through the bone at normal levels).

In recent years, in-ear and 'button'-type earphones been gaining in popularity, and often those are the only ones you have, say, on an airplane. Now, I can manage to use these - just putting on side of the earphones in my left ear, and letting the other side dangle. But that's annoying and they sometime fall off if I'm not careful.

My question is: Assuming there are no "single-ear-earphones", and assuming you want something as compact as regular in-ear/button earphones, what would you suggest I do? Does it make sense to cut off one of a pair of earphones? can they be disassembled (at least in some models) so that you only get one side? Is there a way to get a downmix-to-mono effect? Maybe there are other ideas I haven't thought of?

Answers 2

Some ideas:

  • "On-air talent" (like newscasters and talk show hosts), use a single earpiece similar to this:

single earpiece

The earpiece is often acoustically coupled via tubing to a transducer clipped somewhere else. These can get expensive, but you could accomplish a similar result by using just one of a pair of earphones, and use a simple mixer to feed both channels to the one earpiece.

  • There are headphones that operate through bone conduction.

bone conduction headphones

This article goes into detail and reviews a number of specific products:

  • A new product, that may still be in the Kickstarter phase, is a device built into a watch band. You put your finger on your head and hear the sound via bone conduction through your hand.

smart strap

October 15, 2016 08:15 AM

Many of us haven't use bone conduction headphone yet, but heard a lot about it. I read some where that it is an Open-ear bone conduction headphones is that true? or it was just some marketing tactics.

February 24, 2018 15:41 PM

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