When I purchased my Pioneer Monitor 10’s, I could only listen to them in my studio, because they were hard wired with a 1/4″ phono plug (as most vintage headphones are). Today’s headphones usually have a 1/4″ plug that can be unscrewed to reveal an 1/8″ underneath, so that the headphones can be used with modern portable devices (which almost always have an 1/8″ plug).
I always have tons of adapters lying around the studio for any combination you can imagine, but all of my 1/4″ (6.35mm/6.33mm) female phono to 1/8″ (3.5mm) phono male adapters have broken. This is the problem with a solid body 1/4″ female to 1/8″ male adapter. There is far too much strain on the connection (the 1/8″ plug), and if it doesn’t ruin the jack it’s plugged into, the tip inevitably eventually breaks off.
Thus the need for a cable adapter, but when I started searching for a good cable adapter so I could use my vintage Montior 10 headphones with my portable headphone amp (a Leckerton UHA-6S.mkII with a 3.5mm jack), I was surprised to find very few choices. In fact, there are pretty much only four viable choices readily available: Sennheiser ($16), Grado ($15), Cardas ($25), and a really cheap Hosa ($6). All of them are ugly and the most expensive one, the Cardas, is actually the ugliest. Not only that, but the Grado and Cardas have really large plastic housings around the male 3.5mm end, so they often cannot be used with mobile devices that have a smaller recessed 1/8″ port (virtually any phone or media player with a case).
There are some cheap Chinese-made versions of this adapter (Lemeng, Onvian, Benly-13, Raysun, etc.), but they all have pretty bad reviews, so it didn’t seem like they were even worth trying.
If you’re on a super tight budget, the Hosa will work (though it’s cheap, molded plastic and looks pretty awful), and honestly, I used it for quite a while without any issues (it works fine). The housing on the end of the Hosa’s L-shaped plug actually extends a bit farther than the Cardas, so it’s also actually more likely to work with your phone case, and though the Hosa is mostly plastic (there is a metal cap on the female end), it still isn’t as fugly as that Cardas.
Another budget option is to cobble together your own “vintage headphone adapter” with a 1/4″ female to 1/4″ female adapter, a 1/8″ male to 1/8″ male cord, and a 1/8″ female to 1/4″ male adapter. One is more likely to have these adapters lying around, or they will at least be in stock at most brick and mortar shops if you need a solution right now. Just be sure the 1/4″ female to 1/4″ female adapter is stereo. A lot of them are intended for joining instrument or speaker cables, so they will be mono.
Since I couldn’t find a single, good (and good looking) solution to this problem, a problem that I would think would be pretty common among vintage audio and especially vintage headphone fans, I decided to start making my own adapters.
So I purchased a whole bunch of different connectors and cables from various sources to see which ones would look and perform best. In the end, I am presenting two choices (for now), one with a Neutrik locking connector which is bulky at the 1/4″ female end, but very secure (it locks to your headphone plug!) and still cool looking. The other option is a more streamlined female 1/4″ connector (all metal). Both have a very narrow but sturdy 24k gold-plated male 3.5mm TRS connector to be sure they will fit with any device, even players and phones with deep case recesses. The male-end housing is also all metal (no plastic or rubber) for better looks and durability.
All wires are oxygen free copper, and the sheath is super sturdy while remaining soft and flexible. The cable is rated for 9,999+ bends and is reinforced at both ends where cable meets connectors. All connections are soldered and heat shrink tube covered with marine grade material, and then the entire connection area is tube heat-shrink wrapped again for the ultimate protection and durability.
I will likely add the option of a fabric cord sheath (paracord) in the near future, as I like the look and feel of fabric cords.