MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips

Piggyback Audio Cables

Tool photo.

My preamp mixer has too much stuff plugged into it. A pair of turntables, laptop PC, and portable CD player consume the four stereo inputs. Then there's the radio signal from my stereo amplifier, my MiniDisc recorder/player, and occasionally, various other devices with an audio out, like my Game Boy Advance SP. Plugging and unplugging isn't a valid option in the long run, and not just because it's a hassle. A limited number of inputs requires me to plan in advance what I want to use. Furthermore, you inflict damage on those plugs each time you yank them free, stretching the connector and loosening
the wiring.

So, what's a sound addict to do? Well, you can rig a reverse-splitter, but there's a more elegant solution: killer, gold-plated "piggyback" audio cables (catalog #42-2620 at RadioShack, but other variations are out there). They replace one of your standard audio cables with a set that allows for a second simultaneous input. The piggybacks look weird at first, like those mutant toads that grow downriver from nuclear power plants, but they efficiently double the number of inputs to your mixer or stereo. And, yes, you can piggyback a piggyback, but doing so welcomes sound degradation.

Available through many different manufacturers.