You’ve previously told a reader who’s deaf in one ear how to rip his tunes in mono. I’ve got partial – and variable – loss of hearing in one ear. I’ve never found an MP3 player with a balance control, so I’m stuck listening on my laptop. Is there a way to do this?
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First, let’s update the ‘rip as mono’ advice. If you’re using an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, a third-generation iPod touch or an iPad, you can ask these devices to play all audio in mono. To do so, plug it into your Mac, fire up iTunes, select the device in iTunes’ Source list, then click the Configure Universal Access button in the resulting Summary pane. In the Universal Access window that appears, enable the Use Mono Audio option and click OK.

This advice doesn’t apply to you because you hope to change the balance of the audio so one side of the stereo signal is louder than the other. An inline balance control will do that for you. Sennheiser provides just such a feature with its £29.99 HZR 62 Universal Inline Volume Control headphones accessory (

This is a passive control, meaning that it won’t boost the volume beyond that of the device it’s plugged into. It also has a very long cable – 3.5m – so be sure to tie up the slack with a rubber band, or you might trip over it.