1/4" vs. 1/8" connections

for audio input/output, my impression is that 1/4" jacks are perceived as “professional” while 1/8" stereo is for sub-pro or toys or phones or laptops etc.

is this changing?

granted, with 1/4" you can have a balanced connection, but even most 1/4" gear is unbalanced.

1/8" being stereo is sometimes great (when you’re working with stereo) and other times annoying (if you want to be working in dual mono, whereupon you have to use splitters etc).

mechanical robustness clearly wins with 1/4". but 1/8" allows for astoundingly small form factors and portability.

so, if device with very high sound fidelity had 1/8" connections, how would that make you feel?

is a big bank of 1/4" jacks something that attracts you, or just seems same-old?

furthermore, i’m not talking modular. 10v mono cables getting plugged into 1/8" audio gear is clearly a concern.


ps. unrelated aside: my favorite is bantam/tt

i use both and won’t really care
as I’ve said in other threads:

  • affinity for broken/damaged gear makes pinpointing cable connector issues tough

  • a perfect world would only use banana connectors

I’m hoping that this thread is your online focus group for the new monome mixer :sunny:

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My home-made oakley modular system arrived in shipment from the uk last week. Kind of annoyed I decided on 1/4" and thinking to convert it to the smaller form factor to interface better with aleph & maybe some euro (enough space on the case I made for 2 x 19" rows of euro on there). For now unfortunately it’s a huge pile of phono cables and another huge pile of adaptors. urgh! 1/4" seems like the right thing for cables that trail down past your feet then round a stage (just due to the thicker cable itself) but I’d like to move all my synthesizer-y bits over to 1/8" for desk real-estate reasons…

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I’ve always viewed 1/4" as superior to 1/8". When I see 1/8" jacks on something like the MS-20 mini or Microbrute, it definitely doesn’t scream quality. At the same time if it sounds good, I don’t really care what kind of connections it has.

I don’t necessarily think this is changing, although my personal experience has changed with synths and fx units over the years as I’ve grown to only care about whether or not it sounds good/works in my setup.

If a very high sound fidelity device has 1/8" connections I would think “that’s kind of a bummer and I don’t really understand the manufacturer’s choice, but if it sounds rad… I’ll take it.” Although if this device was specifically built for portability, depending on the design and function, it might make more sense.

That being said, if the device is an audio interface or studio rackmount unit with 1/8" inputs or outputs, I can guarantee you I won’t be touching it.

A big bank of 1/4" jacks will catch my attention any day.

Well most of my gear is balanced I have to say (almost everything apart from my modular elements and guitar pedals actually)… So for me it is quite a big deal. Then again my studio is the expensive type with a Steinway piano, two drum sets, a B3 Hammond, many beautiful mikes, preamps and outboard gear in general, all connected with a Bantam patchbay. Plus most of my synthetic work is made with Kurzweil machines still… Even on stage I value cable quality and connector solidity a lot, so yes I’d go for 1/4", most definitely. I do understand the practical side of 1/8", but if I can have higher quality I’ll always go for it.

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I don’t see 1/8" as immediately “unprofessional”, in part because of Euro, and also because of instruments with those connectors that aren’t just the cheapest desktop boxes.

But: the thing that’s super, super-annoying is endless jack adaptors and converters, which these inevitably require. Nothing’s worse than taking your nice [whatever] and putting a £2 Maplin/Radioshack adaptor in to then put a wobbly cable in to hook it up to a mixer.

So honestly: if it came with decent quality adaptor cables, that’d at least be a start…

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ditto, but my studio is a tiny little room that most definitely does not contain a Steinway, no matter how hard I might wish otherwise. Life is so unfair. :wink:

I guess I don’t really feel very strongly either way for unbalanced cables.

I only use 1/8" for euro, so for any standalone device I’d probably have a slight preference for 1/4" (to avoid adaptors/splitters/etc.), but I’m not that fussed either way.

And +1 for @glia’s :sunny:

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I’d like to retract my earlier nonchalant/dismissive comment and say, greedily, I have more high quality 1/4" patch cables than 3.5mm right now so please use the larger format

ha

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1/4", because of mixers.
Also, i like making DIY cables. 1/8" cables are usually more painful to solder, and the good mechanical parts are less frequent.

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Another vote for 1/4". Maybe DB25 depending on what exactly you’re making… Roughly how many jacks are we talking?

I like 1/4 simply because of the tactile sensations. They click in nicely and sit just right in the crease of your fingers.

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Can you even buy good quality 3.5mm cables? Snakes? Take Mogami as a baseline…

it’s cleaner to adapt an 1/8" cable to 1/4" - so i’d say 1/4" connections are preferable.

however

if we’re talking about a super minimal, small and portable mixer… i’m down for 1/8"

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i’m just going to say this wasn’t prompted by the prospective mixer, but glad you all haven’t forgotten that prospect!

but i’m feeling the strong 1/4" vote. and definitely 1/4" for a mixer.

i mean, what if the aleph was all 1/8"?

I’d take a new aleph with any kind of connection. Proprietary monome 1/7" cables. Just take my money.

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If it would be interfacing with other music gear as an input and output device I’d totally prefer 1/4"
if it is the kind of thing that would mostly stand alone and mainly be outputting sound I think 1/8" is fine.

That being said, something like the op-1 which has input and output on 1/8" jacks totally doesn’t bother me because the design is so beautiful.

I have no doubt that whatever you decide to do with be beautiful as well.

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[quote=“marcus_fischer, post:17, topic:3029”]
terfacing with other music gear as an input and output device I’d totally prefer 1/4" if it is the kind of thing that would mostly stand alone and mainly be outputting sound I think 1/8" is fine.
[/quote] i agree

this is an excellent point

makes me think of the nocoast

The one big drawback to me about 1/4" connectors is the lack of stackability. You always run out of multiples. But that’s obviously not necessary for all applications.

Bananas seem to be the most solid and reliable and easiest to fix connectors.

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For standalone equipment I definitely prefer 1/4". 1/8" to 1/4" cables are a hassle, yet one more type of special cable to have to sort and carry around. All my Eurorack stuff has 1/4" outputs for this reason. 1/4" is just more friendly for connecting to patch bays, mixers, stomp boxes, Octatrack, and most other gear. I don’t mind 1/8" too much for patching modular or semi-modular. It doesn’t feel satisfying but I’m willing to accept that tradeoff for a reduced footprint.