Many turntables have a headphone output that allows a DJ using the turntable to easily connect headphones with little hassle. But if you’re looking for something more portable, you can use adapters and make your own headphone cable with some basic tools.
The following guide shows how to make a simple stereo headphone cable from two iPod or iPhone charging cables, an old cassette adapter or an aux-in port for any audio player.
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Why do I need to Connect Headphones Directly to My Turntable?
The headphone jack on most turntables will give you a mono output when you plug in headphones.
This is perfectly fine when you’re in your home or in studio where you’re listening in stereo, but if your in the field DJ’ing this will not give you the true sound of your music without isolating one ear.
It’s really not that big of a deal to do this, but after years of breaking off the mono headphone plug that comes with most decks I got tired of it and looked into how I can make my own stereo output jack.
This is also good for transcription purposes, working on mixes or just need to focus, so you can use studio level headphones to listen to your music on the go.
I’m going to show you how I made a custom stereo headphone jack for my Technics 1200s, but these instructions can be used with any turntable.
I’m using a Technics 1200 because they have a nice screw terminal for the ground connection and make it easy to make a nice clean connection from the headphone jack. If you’re not into soldering this project may not be right for you.
Ways to Connect Headphones Directly to My Turntable:
1. Using Headphone Amplifier:
If you have a portable headphone amplifier you can connect your headphones directly to your turntables headphone jack. This is the easiest solution because it takes up less space, but will usually cost more than making your own cable.
If you want to go this route I would recommend getting an amp that has a ¼ inch headphone jack input. This way you can easily take it with you, plug in your headphones and listen to your vinyl wherever you go. There are also some great options on the market now that have built-in cross faders, which means no DJ mixer is needed which makes it even more convenient for live performance.
2. Using Bluetooth:
If you have an iPod, iPhone or Android phone that’s Bluetooth enabled then you can just connect your headphones directly with the headphones themselves.
This is good when using your mobile phone to DJ in the field because you won’t have to deal with a mixer or any additional cables. Some of these devices are also small enough to fit in your pocket with all of your DJ gear when it’s not needed. The problem is that they are usually not built for true hi-fi quality sound, normally only providing mono or stereo sound through a built in speaker or headphone port.
But if you’re just using them to practice mixing and not worried about getting a high quality audio signal than I would recommend this over buying an amp.
3. Using a Cassette Adapter:
The cassette adapter that comes with most tape decks and even some portable DVD/CD players has a 3.5mm headphone jack built-in. This is another easy way to connect your headphones directly to your vinyl without bringing any extra gear along with you, and it’s inexpensive and small enough to fit in your pocket or backpack.
The only downside is that these tend to be mono, so you will only be able to listen in one ear when plugged into the headphone jack on the back of most consumer grade turntables.
4. Using a receiver with a dedicated headphone output:
If you’re using a receiver with a dedicated headphone output to connect your vinyl to your mixer then this is another good way to get a stereo signal from the record without having to buy any gear or make anything.
You will need an RCA to ¼ inch stereo cable and an adapter that has two ¼ inch jacks on it, one for the left channel and one for the right. This will allow you do plug in your headphones directly to the back of the receiver and hear both channels at once giving you true stereo sound without breaking off any more headphone plugs.
But again if you want to go this route I would recommend getting an amp that has a ¼ inch headphone jack input.
Whatever you want to do, if you’re looking for the best sound quality I would recommend using a headphone amp. This will give you the best sound quality and it won’t require any soldering skills. And if you’re looking for something that’s portable with no extra gear required I would recommend getting an amp that has a ¼ inch stereo headphone jack input.
If you’re not into soldering or are on a budget the cassette adapter is another good option, but it won’t give you stereo sound without any adapters or cables. If your just DJing in your home or studio this may be the best option for your needs.
Q: Why can’t I connect headphones to my turntable?
A: The output signal from a turntable isn’t strong enough to drive headphones properly. And there will be no volume control. The right way to connect headphones to a turntable is by using a headphone amplifier or a receiver with a headphone output. There is however one caveat to this.
Q: How do I connect my turntable to a headphone amplifier?
A: Most people use the phono preamp built into their turntable or a standalone phono preamp. There are two ways to connect a turntable to a headphone amplifier. If your turntable has a built-in phono preamp (LINE output) you connect the LINE output on the turntable to the input on the headphone amplifier.
Q: Can you connect a turntable to a Bluetooth speaker?
A: As we mentioned above, a few turntables now incorporate Bluetooth wireless transmitters, which can stream audio directly to your wireless speakers or headphones. Examples include Audio-Technica’s AT-LP60XBT and Sony’s PS-LX310BT. With either of these models, you simply pair the turntable with your audio device, and you’re ready to play.
Q: Can you connect a turntable to Wi-Fi?
A: Connecting a turntable through Wi-Fi can be difficult and costly, depending on how you choose to set things up. The easiest and cheapest way to use a turntable with Wi-Fi–based wireless audio systems is to bypass the Wi-Fi and make an analog connection.