Headphone extensions have been the bane of many a sound engineer’s existence. The cables on IEMs are never long enough to get from the musician’s head to the Aviom or M-48, which means we need to provide some sort of extension cable. In the past, I’ve tried buying 1/4” headphone extensions and used 1/4” to 1/8” adapters, but those cheap, off-the-shelf adapters are very stiff and the adapters don’t always work.
Recently, we’ve tried making our own. I found some super-thin cable and put a 1/4” TRS on one end with an 1/8” cable end on the other. Those worked well; at least until the 1/8” ends started failing—which was about week 3. We then switched to regular cable (Mogami 2792) with a TRS on the PM end, and a locking 1/4” cable end with 1/4” to 1/8” adapter on the other. We even zip tied a carabiner to the musician’s end so they could clip to to their belt loops. Those work OK, but we’ve still had issues with the adapters (usually the left side cuts in and out).
While walking the trade show floor at WFX, I was tipped off to a possible solution. My friend, John David and I had just been talking a few weeks earlier about building a small belt pack with a locking 1/4” panel mount connector on the bottom and 1/8” panel mount connector on the top. With some type of belt clip, this would be a perfect solution. We’ve both found panel mount connectors tend to be a whole lot more reliable than cable end connectors.
John David pointed me to the Elite Core booth and said they had made exactly what we had talked about. Sure enough there it was.
It’s a model of simplicity; a roughly 1” square box about 3” long with a XLRF on the bottom and a 1/8” panel mount on the top. A simple spring steel clip attaches the box to your belt. It’s made from an aluminum extrusion with metal end caps and lists for $20. Sold.
You can also buy cables to go with them; they stock 10’ and 18’ with a right angle 1/4” on one end and the necessary XLRM on the other. I was told by Chris Ward of Elite Core they went with an XLRM on the cable because you can’t accidentally plug anything into it. That’s good thinking; you don’t want to have to troubleshoot a mic that’s plugged into a headphone output.
This is not a flashy, exciting product. But we’ve been using one on our stage for a few weeks now and the guys love it. The belt clip holds the pack securely, the cable is flexible and the RA 1/4” is neater than the straight ones we used. If you are using Avioms, M-48s, MyMix’s, Momentums, or headphone amps, this is something your musicians will really appreciate. The cost is reasonable, and they are well made. I just ordered 3 more sets.