Introduction: DIY 5.1 Surround Sound Headphones!
If you've got a PC with a soundcard that supports 5.1 surround sound via speaker jacks, then this is for you! An amazingly easy Instructable that gives amazing results.
Step 1: Get Ready...
I found a decent set of over the ears stereo heaphones with padding for $15 at a local outlet store. These will serve as the Subwoofer and Center Channel.
You'll also need two sets of cheap earbuds. One will serve as the Front Speakers, and the other as the Rear Speakers.
Now, before we go on, I will say that I fully realize that there is really no such thing as 5.1 Surround Headphones in the traditional sense of the word. This design does, however, closely match that of the high-end "5.1 Surround" headsets, such as the ones reviewed at http://www.extrememhz.com/ezonics638-p1.shtml .
Step 2: Get Set...
Now, take a pair of scissors and cut sits in the main headphones just below the center padding. Insert the left side of one set of earbuds through the left side slit, then do the same with the right side. Use a piece of colored tape to mark the plug of the earbuds for reference as the Rear Speakers. Now tuck the left earbud under the back side padding of the primary headphones. You can fix them in place later with a hot glue gun or other method, butyou might want to adjust the positioning for maximum effect before doing this. Now, repeat the process on the right side.
Now, do the same with the other set of earbuds, tucking them under the FRONT side of the padding. These will obviously be the Front speakers. Once you've placed these, you're ready to test them out!
Step 3: GO!
Now, pop in your favorite game or DVD and plug the seperate headphones into the proper front, center/subwoofer, and rear speaker jacks on your soundcard. You can either use a stereo to mono adapter on your main headset to combine the center channel and subwoofer into both speakers (otherwise, you'll hear the center on one side and the subwoofer on the other), or, just pull out the jack slightly until you hear them combined on both sides.
Now, open your sound control panel, and adjust the volume sliders until you get a nice, balanced sound. I was pretty amazed at how well this works, as I expected I would have to do a lot more testing of other speaker elements in order to achieve a good result. If your soundcard supports reverb settings, you can also set it on the basic "room" configuration and adjust the level to more closely simulate a true 5.1 surround experience!
Step 4: Notes
Although they appear as if they would be uncomfortable, they actually are quite the opposite. The earbuds do not come in contact with your ears, and I've enjoyed using these for hours at a time without any discomfort. The sound level is just right, as the speaker jacks do not put out the same levels as a headphone jack.
I'm sure that there are improvements that can be made, such as hard wiring these into a USB external soundcard, etc. Please feel free to ask questions, make suggestions, or comments.