First, let me point out that I'm illiterate when it comes to sound design and only learned of the terminology just now, but to sum this up: I have an old mp3 player, a Creative Zen MX, that doesn't seem to support TRRS plugs, which hasn't been a problem until my favorite earphones stopped being sold. So I tried putting in some other phones into it, Koss PortaPro, with a mic, so with a TRRS plug. It didn't quite work, and only parts of the track played. So I decided to retire that old player and got a newer one.

However, I happened to try and listening to a track that ended up sounding really cool when played through a TRRS plug on that old player. I can link to the song in question if that's helpful, but it was mostly the guitar and drums that sounded clear, with bass and vocals almost undetectable in the background.

Now, I want to recreate that. One person I asked said that it was probably the result of one of the stereo tracks not coming through, but I'm not sure. I tried opening the file in Audacity (using Windows 10), splitting the stereo tracks, and silencing one of them. I tried doing that with both tracks, and neither had the desired result.

Does anyone know what is happening, and more importantly, how I can recreate this? I tried connecting the old Creative Zen MX to my computer with a TRRS male-to-male, but Audacity can't seem to pick anything up, although it can when I use a TRS male-to-male. Also, for some reason, Windows 10's sound panel picks up something when I plug it in with the TRRS cord and check the mic test, the bar bobs up and down, but I can't tell what that something might be.

  • 1
    use your audio editor to flip the phase of one channel
    – user23353
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 3:48
  • That mostly recreates it, thanks. Although it adds quite a bit of white noise as well, which I didn't get when I did played it with my mp3 player. It sounds a bit like someone trying to make ambient beach of wind noises on a Super Nintendo. Perhaps my headphones has a white noise reduction quality I didn't know of. Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 21:26
  • well that is unusual.
    – user23353
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


The TRRS plug likely does not connect its rather slim S to the S of the socket. The result is that on your left headphone, you hear the difference between left and right signal, and on your right headphone, the difference between right and left signal (namely the same difference signal but with reversed polarity).

That's likely what you are looking for, though it's usually more pleasant if you don't reverse the polarity of the difference signal on the other side. Just output the same difference on both channels.

  • As another pointed out, that does indeed seem to have the intended effect, although as I said there, there seems to be a lot of white noise, like an old Super Nintendo effect. You said it's usually more pleasant if the polarity of the difference signal on the other side is not reversed, and to just output the same difference on both channels. Can you clarify what that means, and is that something that can be done in Audacity? Thank you. Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 22:16
  • 1
    to be clear, this is unbalanced signal here, so there's no "difference" signal. if you flip the phase of both the left AND right channels the net result will essentially be no different than if both channels were normalled. the "out of phase" state is achieved by reversing ONE channel with respect to the other.
    – user23353
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 23:17

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