System L/R sound permanently(?) messed up by Audacity

Audacity version: 3.1.3
OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (Surface Pro 4)

Hi all, a few posts like this came up when I googled so you may be sick of hearing it, but I couldn’t find helpful conclusions to any of them so here I am. I installed Audacity about half an hour ago to edit two tracks together, one into the left ear and one into the right. I quickly found that changing the sound to the right made it go silent. I thought this would only be an issue in the program, but soon found out even when audacity was closed I now had an issue where left-side audio will play through both sides of my headphones, and right-side audio will be silent.

Using the LRMonoPhaset4 file I’ve seen posted here as a testing tool as an example, I’ll be able to hear the ‘this is my voice on the left’ audio through both left and right headphones, and not hear the ‘this is my voice on the right’ audio at all. The ‘this is my voice in the center’ audio also plays through both headphones, and the ‘out of phase’ audio sounds normal.

Sounds on the right become audible again just fine from my computer speakers, but not my headphones.
I have tried uninstalling audacity, restarting, uninstalling my headphone driver, restarting, checking the L and R sound balance settings in the windows settings device properties for my headphones (they’re both equal), resetting various things to default, all nothing. I really don’t want to have to factory reset my computer. Help!

(Sorry if I’ve done this wrong. First post, and none of this is meant to come across as demanding or angry! Especially the word ‘permanently’ in the title - I couldn’t think of a better way to word it succinctly)

Windows audio enhancements can introduce crossover between left & right for a enhanced stereo-effect.
You should turn off audio enhancements, see …

So, this also happens with any media/audio player software, not just Audacity, right?

Sounds on the right become audible again just fine from my computer speakers, but not my headphones.

That seems like a weird hardware problem (maybe your motherboard).

I don’t think you can those exact symptoms from defective headphones, but do you have some other headphones or earphones to try? Or external computer speakers that you can plug-into the headphone jack?

If it is a problem with the sound chip/circuit on your motherboard, a cheap & easy fix is a USB soundcard. I like having one around just for this kind of troubleshooting. You can order one from Amazon for less than $10 USD. Or, you can find them cheaper or you can spend more if you want a “better one”. (A cheap one won’t necessarily sound bad but it might be less reliable.)

Hi, not sure if this is the right way to reply but fingers crossed! Unfortunately my device doesn’t have an enhancements tab. Thank you though!

Thank you, I think I saw something like this on a previous similar question. However, it is definitely Audacity that has caused this and not any hardware flaws on my part as everything was working fine down to the second I set up and opened Audacity. I really would prefer not to, and really don’t think anyone should have to, purchase an additional item to fix this.

Any media/audio playing is affected, yep. Youtube, media players, etc. I will try another pair of headphones and see what happens. Thank you!

However, it is definitely Audacity that has caused this

That’s unlikely. As far as I know, Audacity can’t mess-with the Windows settings. Usually we see the opposite problem where some other application changes something and then Audacity has problems that have to be fixed “manually” because Audacity can’t change it back.