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Is a Snake Directional?

This TTOTD, drawn from a question in our Forums, points out that sometimes, audio issues are simpler than they seem.

Q: “I need to buy a channel snake very soon but I also need to be able to plug headphones into 1/4″ inputs on the box, so now I’m second-guessing myself. Basically I want to run the signal through the snake to my board, then run the output of my headphone amp back through the snake to the box. Can I do this?”

A: Yes, provided each cable of the snake you use is properly terminated. If your box (the end of the snake that lives in the studio) contains all XLR inputs, you’ll need an adapter cable to turn one (or more) input into a 1/4″ TRS output for your headphone jacks. So the mic signals will travel one direction down the snake (to your mixer or audio interface) while the headphone mix will travel the other direction (back to wherever your musicians/singers are). The best way to send monitor signal through a snake is to use a balanced output from your board or DAW interface, sent through a channel of the snake to its “output” on the box; then connect that to the input of your headphone amp. This way you maximize the ability of the headphone amp to provide a strong enough signal to your phones.

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