New Member With Question About Vintage 4-Channel Headphones


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New member
Feb 13, 2023
Houston, TX
Hello everyone! I inherited a JVC 4-channel headphone (model 5944). A friend in college (1970s) had similar headphones along with a 4-channel receiver and turntable. All his buds were quite jealous.

I also have a 2005 Sony receiver (model STR-K670P) which has some great sound effects for music using built in Dolby Prologic and Digital Theater System. For surround sound it has 4 speakers of the same size (for L,R and F,B) a larger “middle” speaker and a subwoofer out (to an unpowered subwoofer speaker). There aren’t any unpowered outputs of these 6 channels.

I’m interested in finding a way to drive/connect this type of stereo to the 4-channel headphones that would let some of the surround sound effects pass through. I'm not an electronics buff but am a retired engineer who understands fluid flow. Total speculation on my part, but it seems there ought to be a way to separately route the L,R.F,B outputs from the stereo to the four speakers in the headphones, and then for the subwoofer output route it via a splitter to the two "back" speakers in the headphones, and finally for the output meant for the middle speaker, route it via a splitter to the "front" two speakers in the headphones. [Or some variation of that arrangement if that would be recommended by experts in this area.]

If the above isn’t practical, is there a device that can take unamplified 2 channel analog music (like from a turntable or a CD player), then apply something like Dolby Prologic/Digital Theatre System to create surround sound options, and finally provide two 2-channel headphone jacks (called 3-pole plugs on the box for my vintage JVC 4-channel headphone, and which are about 1/4" thick)? Alternatively, I have a spare Techniques CD player from the 1990's that has a digital optical output in addition to the stereo RCA output jacks. Might there be a device that could convert that digital signal to surround sound and also provide the two jacks needed for my 4-channel headphone.

Many Thanks in advance for any insight and suggestions that you can provide.
Your question has no simple answer but there are a lot of threads that could provide useful information for you.

I'm not sure why you would want to route sub-bass to the rear drivers. That idea might produce better bass (or not) but would not sound much different than using regular stereo phones.

It's sad that modern AVR's don't have headphone jacks or only have one for the front or stereo pair. A headphone amplifier is one way to go but you need pre outs from the receiver, which you don't.
At one time you could purchase adaptor boxes to connect to your speaker wires to feed a pair of headphones. Such an adaptor typically had a selector switch, to select speakers or phones and headphone jacks fed through dropping resistors.

A very basic quad decoder can sound very nice via quad phones. The out of phase information that they supply greatly expands the stereo image. Phones don't produce the same surround effects as speakers, the sound images more from the sides back and above your head but not from in front. Still quad phones can produce a very pleasing effect. It is a richer sound than you get from simple stereo!
The 5944 headphones has phase switches for the rear channels, they can be used to expand the stereo image. Feed stereo to both front and rear drivers, then switch phase with the switches on the earcups. That is a simpler version of the idea behind the Koss Phase 2+2.
In 1974 I had a full quadraphonic setup. A friend lent me the headphones you mention. The sound quality and spatial positioning was a joke.
In 1974 I had a full quadraphonic setup. A friend lent me the headphones you mention. The sound quality and spatial positioning was a joke.
The JVC 5944 isn't the ultimate in sound quality but aren't that bad either. The phase switch diffuses the sound making is sound bigger much like being inside a large room. Don't expect it to focus sounds into specific positions. Headphones are not like speaker listening.