The only thing better than improving your quality of life is being able to do so while not busting your budget. All of these goodies cost less than $50—some much less—and provide elegant solutions to common studio problems.
Nuke the Buzz
No one likes ground loop-induced hum and buzzes. Although there are a lot of isolation transformers that help prevent ground loops, the Rolls HE18 is a compact stereo box, can convert unbalanced signals into balanced signals (and vice-versa), covers 20 Hz to 70 kHz with a ±0.5 dB variation, and has better than -97 dB crosstalk. And don’t forget that a lot of people feel that putting a transformer in the signal path adds a subtle, warm, tone mojo you can’t get any other way.
Tame Your Cue Mix
You’ve met these kinds of people: “A little more level, please…okay…no, a little less…almost there…a little less…no, now that’s a little too soft, try splitting the difference…I think it’s okay now…well, maybe a little more…” Don’t twist their necks! Instead, give them a volume control to twist. Whether for a cue feed, discreet mounting under a podium, quick attenuation, muting a mic, or any one of a zillion uses, Sescom’s SES-MKP-29 is a simple, mono, inline volume control that comes with Super Velcro so you can mount it semi-permanently in the studio or onstage. (Note: The A15AS isn’t compatible with phantom power devices.)
Space: The Final Frontier
We’ve all been there…plugging a ¼” plug into a back panel sticks out too far. So you have to pull the thing you’re plugging into forward, and when patching, it’s a PITA to access the connection. Hosa’s GPP-273 is a simple solution that plugs into a phone jack, then provides a right-angle turn that makes it much easier to plug in your cable of choice.
Come on Over to Mic Pad
Your mic doesn’t have a pad switch? Or only one position that never seems to be quite right? Audio-Technica’s AT8202 solves those problems with an in-line attenuator for XLR cables, and switch-selected options for 10, 20, or 30 dB of attenuation. It has an XLR male on one end, XLR female on the other, and passes 48V so you can even use it with high-output condenser mics.
Oh Snap! The Cable Isn’t Long Enough!
It’s long enough now, with a Planet Waves PW-P047T. This is a simple ¼” female stereo to ¼” female stereo adapter, so you can connect two cables together to extend the overall length. Aside from being cheap ’n’ cheerful, you can be a hero to the guitar player who uses a super-long cable on stage, and then wonders why the tone sounds “different” in the studio. It’s because of the extra capacitance from that long cable, so just string cables together until the guitar player is happy. Mission accomplished!