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Some laptops - in particular my Dell Studio XPS - have two headphone ports.

Photo of XPS showing dual headphone ports

Under Windows 7 currently the last pair of headphones plugged in begins to accept the output.

Is there something special that needs to be configured to allow both headphones to operate simultaneously?

Windows 7 Control Panel

What I have tried:

  • Setting both as "default" - not an option (can't multi-select).
  • Toggling the "default" - it just switches the active headphone.
  • Toggling disable and enable - didn't help.
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I have a similar laptop (studio 17), and it has two headphone jacks also. Currently running Vista, I can stream audio to both headphone jacks/devices. Try updated drivers from Dell, especially the IDT Audio Control Panel Driver...I have no problems, and it didn't require any set up...Is your machine an upgrade from Vista?

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Yes it's an upgrade from Vista, but I don't have a lot of native Dell drivers left on it, will try the official dell drivers and comment on the outcome. – Nick Josevski Feb 12 '10 at 22:06
would appreciate that. – studiohack Feb 12 '10 at 23:26
Thanks this worked great, the drivers I downloaded "Audio 92HD73C1 Drivers" worked great. – Nick Josevski Feb 14 '10 at 9:10

Try updating your audio drivers; on some laptops it appears to be represented as a single device.

Independent Dual Headphones

What kind of audio hardware is in the laptop? Any device ID or driver version may help locate a fix for your problem. However I would see if newer drivers for Windows 7 for your audio device exist that may correct the problem right away.

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Is there something special ... to allow both headphones to operate simultaneously?

A Speaker and Headphone Splitter lets you connect two stereo headphones or speakers to the same mini-stereo jack.

alt text

alt text

Of course, if you're skilled with a soldering iron, you may disconnect the 2nd jack and split the connection of the 1st jack internally. :)

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Doesn't this defeat the purpose of having two headphone jacks built-in to the laptop to begin with? – Jake Wilson Feb 12 '10 at 17:18
+1 to Jakobud, this isn't a fix. – Urda Feb 12 '10 at 17:51
Of course this is a 'fix' ... those two headphone jacks were never meant to be used simultaneously by the same source to begin with. you can drive a set of speakers with your media player, and still use a headset with Skype for example, but you cannot use both at the same time for the same application. hence the splitter is the perfect fix for the problem at hand. – Molly7244 Feb 12 '10 at 18:06
Your solution, Molly, does allow two headphones to be connected but the underlying issue is to have the two jacks in the picture both work independantly. – Craig Feb 12 '10 at 21:28
@Craig - they do work independently, and that is exactly the problem, you can drive them with different applications (by design!), but you cannot have the same signal on both, and that's where you need a splitter. – Molly7244 Feb 12 '10 at 21:35

Virtual Audio Cable (30$) have an audio repeater that let you do that (32 bit only)

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This is a restriction in Windows 7 (and also Vista, as I remember). You cannot output to more than one physical device at the same time. Internally, your headphone sockets are wired as two discrete devices, so Windows will not allow them both the operate at the same time.

The Virtual Audio Cable solution mentioned by fluxtendu is the only solution I have found that works. It does, however, cost money, and is a pain to get working on a 64bit system.

I'd stick with a cheapy headphone splitter instead :)

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