Native Instruments has ticked a box in its product range by launching a "DJ cable", otherwise known as a mono splitter cable. It gives DJs (especially those who've downloaded the company's own Traktor DJ iOS software) an alternative to using a four-out sound card when DJing in situations where it may be undesirable to carry a "full" set-up with them. An old trick, this cable lets you use headphones for pre-cueing while still having a separate master output, without the need for additional hardware, and can be used with Traktor DJ on an iPhone/iPad, Traktor Pro 2 on a laptop, or indeed any DJ software that offers "mono split" or equivalent in its settings.
You set the cable up by plugging it into your headphones output on your computer/iOS device and then plugging a pair of headphones into one of the cable's sockets, and some powered speakers (for instance) into the other. The Native Instruments take on this concept is pretty standard, having an 1/8" stereo male jack on one end, and two 1/8" stereo female jacks on the other.
The "trick" with such cables is that the left-hand channel from the music feed is fed to both left and right stereo channels of one of those female jacks, and the right-hand channel to both left and right of the other - hence "mono splitter cable" - because it "splits" the incoming stereo signal into two. Therefore you can now plug in headphones and speakers and feed independent audio to each - with compatible DJ software, of course.
The trade-off with DJing using such a cable is that you lose true stereo, and you're relying on the quality of the sound card built in to your computer or iDevice. The plus point is you don't need to have a controller or audio interface to do headphones cueing - just this tiny cable.
And let's be honest - when DJing from an iOS device at an impromptu hotel room party, who cares about club quality audio? I DJed for five hours in my garden the other night using Traktor DJ and just such a cable (the Griffin DJ splitter cable, actually), and it was great fun. And - hush - I've heard of DJs playing with such a set-up in much, much bigger venues…
• The Traktor DJ Cable is on sale now, price US$19.99 / €19.99
Do you carry a mono splitter cable, either as a backup or to complete a portable DJ system? Let us know your experiences and thoughts in the comments!