Dealing with unilateral hearing loss/Looking for a good mixing down solution for my headphone based listening
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NotMuchofaMuse

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Hello Head-Fi, I lurked around these forums several years ago when I was looking for a good portable listening solution, and I settled on some Etymotic ER-6is, which to my ear sounded very lovely for being powered by an iPod.
 
Recently I had brain surgery to bypass a rather large aneurysm in my right vertebral artery. As an unforeseen consequence of this surgery I can no longer hear out of my right ear. Besides not being able to easily locate sounds in my environment, this has not been particularly troubling to me, except when listening to music through head-phones. 
 
The first question I have is, is there an easy (possibly hardware based solution) for mixing down my music into mono? I have a 120gig iPod Classic (Which as I understand it can not accommodate the rockbox firmware due to some encryption on apple's part), and sadly the ipod does not seem to have a "balance" option. When I push the balance all the way to the left on my Macbook, it seems to condense both channels into one, which is nice. The other option I have considered is reprocessing my mp3 collection into mono, which is not particularly desirable given that my collection is rather large (300+ gigabytes) and maintaining duplicates seems like an annoying storage task. I feel it necessary to maintain the stereo mixes for lending to people/listening to through speakers where I do experience some stereo effect/in the off-chance that my hearing recovers. The last thing I can imagine working is some sort of hardware solution. Ideas? 
 
My other question/problem is this. Recently my Etymotic headphones ceased working on both sides. I have had problems with them before where one side would go out, but I either had them repaired or replaced. Now it appears the problem is located somewhere almost immediately above the 3.5mm jack, which seems to me difficult to solder. What I am wondering is, rather then spend full price on a new set of headphones that I will inevitably only enjoy half of, is there some way I might be able to purchase someones broken or old headphones? Or might I be the recipient of some sort of charity? I'm not sure if this is an inappropriate request for this forum or not, if it is I'll happily edit this post. In the interest of full disclosure if you saw a similar post on Craigslist Tacoma a few weeks ago that was indeed me. I received only one response that was not helpful.
 
Thanks for your help over the years Head-Fi!
 
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JxK

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You have two options that I see. One is to get a player that lets you install rockbox - I recommend the sansa clip. Rockbox has both pan/balance and an option to automatically convert stereo to mono.
 
Your second option is hardware based. Look at the Ultimate Ears UE1. It is a quad-armature IEM that goes only into one ear. It is designed to give the illusion of stereophonic sound despite that limitation, so far as I am aware. Of course, the downside is that because only one ear has the IEM you will have effectively zero isolation (unless you stick an ear plug into the other ear.)
 
As for soldering the 3.5mm plug, that is very easy. Just purchase a new neutrik plug (only a couple of dollars), clip the wire a little above the plug and attach the new plug. It will take you longer to warm up the soldering iron than it will to complete the procedure.
 
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NotMuchofaMuse

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JxK - 
Ah thank you, all of the options you propose are most helpful. The UE1 looks great, but it's a bit more money than I want to spend right now. And isolation is not an issue as I can't hear out of my right ear. So I can have isolation from only one IEM. The Sansa clip looks like an excellent player as well, though like with the iPod touch my work gave me to test our website, 8gb seems rather restrictive. I will think about it.
 
In soldering a new plug, how does the signal get split between left and right ears? Theoretically, is it possible for me to solder the plug on in such a way that I remove the separation?
 
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JxK

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The sansa clip plus comes with a microSD slot, so with a 32GB card you can have 40 gb of space.
 
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YuniHeadphone

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I realize this is an old thread, but anyone looking for a single-sided headphone solution should check out the Yuni..you can find it on Google, YouTube, or Kickstarter. The two channels are in a single earpiece, but there are two separate speakers in that earpiece, one above and one below the ear, so you get true stereo space and panning.
 
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