No Headphones Out? Use the Line Out!

It is a nice to find a headphone-out socket on devices like multi effects processors, guitar pedals, preamps for bass and guitar and sound cards. But you’re not lost when there’s none. Stick a few adaptors together and use the line out sockets instead.

I like to have a few adaptors ready that allow connections to almost all line out sockets that you usually find in devices, sometimes I need all of them, sometimes just one or two:

  • Y-splitter cable: two single 6.3mm mono plugs (left/right channel respectively) into 6.3mm stereo plug
  • 6.3mm stereo jack to 6.3mm stereo jack
  • 6.3mm stereo plug to 3.5mm stereo jack

This is a good set of adaptors to connect to stereo line outs.When there is only a mono line-out available (like on many guitar or bass preamps or when you plug your headphones directly into an active bass), then an additional mono-to-stereo adaptor is needed. Otherwise you will hear the signal on just one side of your headphone.

Consider this when you assemble your own adaptor kit:

  • Y-splitter cables come in two flavours: Some split the signal from stereo to one separate jack for right and left channel respectively (the one I used here, right marked with a red plastic) and some just double from one stereo jack to two stereo jacks.
  • 6.3mm connectors are also called ‘phone connectors’, ¼ TRS or ¼ TS connector. Or just jack. Or plug.
  • The 6.3mm connector is the one we find an almost any guitar.
  • The 3.5mm connector is the one we find on nearly every notebook and smart phone. Also called ⅛” connector.
  • The TRS connector consists of three connection parts: tip, ring and sleeve. Hence allowing two separate signals (stereo) plus grounding. It’s a 3 pole connector.
  • The TS connector consists of two separate connection parts: tip and sleeve. This allows just a mono signal connection. It’s a 2 pole connector. Some might call it a TR connector, which would be wrong as it is not made of a tip and ring connector; it is the ring that is missing. The sleeve is always there.
  • TRS connectors are also used to carry balanced signals. This has nothing to do with a stereo signal. Just the number of the wires is the same. But this is a different topic.
  • A jack is actually the ‘female’ part into which a plug is inserted. But you find many people calling both parts a jack. Maybe jack just sounds to male…
  • A ‘connector’ means either the ‘female’ or the ‘male’ part of a connector.