Is this a dumb idea? It appears that we've been doing this for ages and so far none of the musicians have complained. My understanding is that you'll just get an out of phase signal which sounds like it comes from each ear individually, not a phantom centre in the middle of your head. But does that bother people? Do people do this and not bat an eyelid?

Update: Signal goes from impedance balanced line level out from the desk to headphone amp, plugged in with a TRS. However input expects unbalanced stereo signal, not balanced. IEM's get plugged into the headphone amp.

  • Live & loud, I can't see anyone complaining - it might even help with separation[though I've never tried it]. If I got mono, split L/R, 180˚ phase-reversed, on cans in an otherwise interference-free environment, it would make me feel ill within 5 minutes. I'm tempted to say it might work live a little bit like the "adding 10 - 50ms [depending on singer] delay to their foldback to keep them in tune" trick.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 18, 2014 at 20:32
  • That delay trick -- does that really work in general? Nov 19, 2014 at 12:08

1 Answer 1


Have you considered just striping the balancing then? It should be simple enough to do by removing one end of the cable and wiring on a mono 1/4" jack. That would give the same feed to both (since sleeve and ring contacts will both touch sleeve on the mono jack) instead of an inverted feed on one side.

Alternately, you could place a device like a Reamp (not sure if someone makes one that does more of a headphone level type setup) inline to transition back from balanced to unbalanced and give you the advantage of a cleaner signal run to the headphone amp.

  • Would a DI box in reverse do the same thing? I've not had a chance to try it yet. Nov 26, 2014 at 14:22
  • I don't recall. I thought about the same thing. I believe that they only work in one direction because of how the electronics in a direct box work, but I also don't believe it would break anything, I think it just flat out wouldn't work, but that's also a bit of a guess on my part.
    – AJ Henderson
    Nov 26, 2014 at 14:52

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