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I recently brought the Marshall Major II headphones, which come with a two-way unprotected 3.5 mm cable.

According to the manual, you plug the straight end into the headphone, and the right-ended end in the smartphone. When I do so, I hear distorted audio.

However, when I reverse the direction of the cable, i.e., plug in the right-ended end in the headphones, the audio sounds amazing.

Why does this happen? Will the headphones get damaged if I keep using the cable reversed?

I suspect it's probably because my current phone (Xperia C2104, CyanogenMod 11.0) probably doesn't support two-way audio playback. Since I'm planning on getting a new Android phone in the coming months, would you please recommend one that supports two-way audio?

EDIT: Two way audio cable looks like image shown below

Two way audio cable

  • What do you mean by "two-way audio playback"? – Dan Hulme Sep 6 '16 at 8:15
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My guess would be that one of the plugs on the headphone cable is slightly off-spec and isn't making good electrical contact in the socket. Swapping it around means the dodgy connector is in the other socket, and maybe that connection is slightly more forgiving. (Of course, it could just as easily be one of the sockets that's slightly off-spec. The symptoms would be the same either way.)

If this is the case, then having the cable "reversed" is a lot better for it than letting it spark across a poor connection. Sparking damages the metal surface of the plug and socket, so it would get worse over time.

The only reason they recommend having the cable a particular way around is that the right-angle plug sits better against the phone. It's a lot harder to accidentally pull it out of the phone, or knock it (and maybe damage something) against a table edge or your pocket. It also protects the conntector against wear caused by wiggling or pulling on the cable.

Unless there's some inline play/pause buttons on the headphone cable, the only disadvantage of having it reversed is that you lose this mechanical protection from the right-angled connector.

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    Right-angle plugs avoid wearing out the connector part, i.e. where the wire meets the plug. With straight plugs, that part gets strained whenever the wire is not perpendicular to the plug, eventually destroying the protection layer and exposing the metal wires. Otherwise, +1. I guess OP should just get another 3.5mm cable. – Andy Yan Sep 6 '16 at 8:31
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    @AndyYan That's a good point. I've added it to my answer now. – Dan Hulme Sep 6 '16 at 8:45

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