Every once in a very rare while, a new pro audio product appears that is extremely well designed and fills a very obvious need, yet somehow, the product didn't exist earlier. When you finally get your hands on one of these products, your first reaction is, "OMG, why didn't anyone think of this sooner? This is genius!" I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the Sonic Nuance HEXT headphone extension cable is one such example of genius work and elegant simplicity.
Recently, engineer Scott McDowell and I were shooting the shit at my Panoramic House studio and bemoaning those pain- in-the ass 1/4'' to 1/8'' headphone adapters. Half of them never seem to work well, and 80% of them end up wherever your missing socks are. I told Scott how I'd considered opening up our Furman personal headphone mixers (in all my spare time) to wire an 1/8'' jack parallel to the 1/4'' one, thus eliminating the need for the adapters. Then a few days later, Ted Burmas from Sonic Nuance reached out to me about the TDI, his combination tuner and DI (look for a review in a future issue), and I stumbled across the HEXT cables on his website. Simply put, these are headphone extension cables with a 1/4'' male TRS plug on one end, and a 1/8'' female TRS jack on the other end. Genius. The waters parted in a metaphoric manner, and I ordered a half dozen of the cables in various lengths. Sonic Nuance offers 10, 15 and 20 ft versions, all hand-assembled by Ted. I was already predisposed to love these cables, but when they showed up, I was even more impressed. These are built like a tank and use very high quality components. The terminations are Switchcraft, and they make a very solid, reliable connection on both ends. The wire is Mogami. Both ends have very solid, four-level strain relief. A Velcro cable wrap is even included. (Sure, these wraps only cost a few cents, but the thought behind them is what counts.) More impressively, the wire itself is wrapped with heavy-duty Techflex nylon braided sleeve, increasing the chances that it will survive an amp or piano rolling over it. Finally, the assembled cable comes with a limited lifetime warranty, as defined by your or Ted's life, whichever is over sooner. Damn.
I wish more folks would make things this well built and this well thought out. My one minor complaint is that my cables were assembled with right-angle 1/4'' plugs, but when I mentioned this to Ted, he sourced some straight plugs and now offers both options. (After I completed this review, I searched the web for similar cables, and it turns out that ProCo makes one for half the cost, but it doesn't look nearly as well made, and it lacks a multilevel strain relief.)
$49.95-$54.95 direct; www.sonicnuance.com