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I have a Macbook Pro (late 2012/early 2013) running OS X 10.9.4, and it's recently developed a strange problem when I try to play sound through headphones. Instrumental music generally still sounds fine, but speech is so distorted it's impossible to understand, and the vocal line on songs is sometimes OK and sometimes distorted or completely absent. Instead of intelligible speech, I get odd high-pitched tinny electronic noises. This applies to anything played within my browser (YouTube, Soundcloud, internet radio etc.), streaming apps such as Spotify, and music stored on my computer played through iTunes. It doesn't appear to be a problem with my sound card either, as everything sounds completely normal when played through the built-in speakers. Neither does it seem to be an issue with my headphones: I've tried several pairs as well as external speakers plugged into the headphone jack, and all of them produce the same problem. I've tried cleaning the headphone socket with a paperclip as someone suggested on another thread, but there's been no improvement; anyone have any other ideas?

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    do you have a BT or use headphones, to test the possible hardware problem with your 3.5 mm audio jack. – Ruskes Aug 28 '14 at 17:32
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    and in the future do not use metal objects to stick them in to the electric plugs, use q-tip soaked in alcohol (computer OFF), then use high pressure air can (computer accessory). – Ruskes Aug 28 '14 at 17:36
  • Thanks – as I said in my original post, I've already tried it with several different pairs of headphones and had the same problem with all of them. Forgive my ignorance, but what's a BT? – Owen Aug 28 '14 at 19:45
  • I know you tried it, but all the time using the same plug, not the BT or USB. BT = Bluetooth headphones, or USB headphones. I am pretty sure it is your plug (mechanical) but no way of testing it. The occasional high pitch noise during audio is a indication of loose contact. Since music has much higher output and it is continuous compared to speech you would hear it much better. If you were to listen to a vocal song (no instruments) does it work ? – Ruskes Aug 28 '14 at 19:55
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    You could look up in your Audio Midi (in your utility folder) to make sure the Output is set to correct frequency. (41000 Hz) – Ruskes Aug 28 '14 at 19:58

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