sound for film & video

Snake Charming

How to shorten a Sony headphone cable without surgery

Coiled cables — I hate them. They’re like snares, or invasive vines, or snakes. In theory they stay out of your way automatically. In practice they wrap themselves around things you don’t want them wrapped around and try to yank whatever it is you’re extending away from the extended position. When there’s two of them in the same bag they’re like mating snakes from hell — they will do their level best to wrap around each other into a tangled mess of inoperability. And they’re a reality, especially when you’re using gear that isn’t your own.

The Sony MDR-7506 headphones are pretty much industry standard gear, and for good reason — they’re rugged enough, they fold up, and they do a good job putting a spotlight on the midrange where the dialog lives. They also have a pretty long strip of coiled cable at the plug end and an equally long strip of straight cable at the can end. If you’re like me you end up stuffing most of that coiled section into some dark recess of your bag, where it gets in the way of all the other cabling you might need to manipulate on the fly.

But now there’s a solution that doesn’t require surgery, drugs or complicated procedures. It’s safe, effective, reversible, and it’s available without a prescription soldering iron.

I originally learned about this miracle procedure from this video, but that footage doesn’t show the actual procedure, and requires TEKAFP (“The Evil Known As Flash Player”). So I’ve taken what I’ve learned there and created my own how-to guide here.

Below we see the Sony MDR-7506, photographed in captivity. This specimen has survived numerous mixer bags, suitcases, falls, and at least one direct client trampling. As you can see, there’s a roughly 18″ section of straight cable, followed by a roughly equal stretch of coiled.

1-SonyStockPlug this into a typical field mixer and you end up with the coiled section in one of four places: (a) dangling below your waist looking for something to get snagged on (b) heaped on top of the mixer getting in your way, (c) coiled around your boom cable or (d) stuffed somewhere inside your bag.

The first step in taming this serpentes is to take the straight length and double it back towards the top, so that the start of the coiled bit is now up towards the earcups.

2-doubleBack

Next, start wrapping the coiled section around the doubled length of straight.

3-startWrap

Continue. When you get near the bottom end of the straight section, there will be a little loop of straight cable remaining. Run the plug through this loop and pull the rest of the coiled section through.

5-tuck

Result: a manageable 18″ or so of cable, the bottom 9″ of which is coiled — just about a perfect length from bag to ears.

6-Result

If you want a longer length, simply double less of the straight section and run more of the coiled section through the loop.

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