Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Just Right Gadget Time

Every now and then I come across a really great idea or design that makes life just that much easier for me.  I'd like to share the latest: the Cables to Go Audio Crossplay.

SEMI-MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: I am not an employee or relative of Amazon or Cables to Go.  I get absolutely nothing from mentioning the product other than the satisfaction of passing along a helpful gadget.  I could sign up for an Amazon plan that gives me money for this but I'm not in that business.

That said, I run a rather bizarre and sophisticated system at work involving quite a few computers and more monitors than one person should have at his desk, unless his desk was in the control tower at the airport (and he was napping).  This system is not optimal for audio enjoyment, therefore I keep all audio on one pc and the speakers connected there also.  This causes a bit of a problem when I need to hear something from a different pc, which is unfortunately too frequent.

So I figured to myself that an audio switch would be perfect for this application.  Now the only mystery to solve would be is there any such thing as an audio switch?

Go ahead, try searching your favorite online retailer for audio switch... I'll wait.......

Told you so.  All you saw was a bunch of KVM switches (keyboard/video/mouse) with audio capability.   Since I had one already, I gave it a shot.  Nope - it will not work as an audio-only device; it wants to `see' a monitor before functioning.

After scrolling through the Amazon listings (I usually go with Newegg but they had nothing), I came across the aforementioned Crossplay.  Be careful when searching - you could wind up with all sorts of devices that would not work or were completely unsuitable for the purpose.  Beware of digital switches too - they won't work for this.

I felt good about the Crossplay after reading the brief blurb so I ordered one.  It arrived quickly and with a pair of 1/8" stereo patch cables (a bonus!).  It cost all of $27.02.

The device is actually quite small and his this lovely garish blue lit-up logo (I suppose you could cover it with black tape if it annoyed you).  You power it via a small wall wart or USB/mini USB cable.  It has two inputs and two outputs, which is the genius of the box (not to mention the crux of the biscuit).  Both operate simultaneously, if necessary.

What all of this means is that I can switch in an additional sound source (pc sound card, phone, tablet, etc.) to my main speakers or send the main feed to headphones or a different set of speakers.  The two buttons are labeled Output1 and Output2 and they switch one of two inputs to the outputs.

No, this device will not affect world peace, nor will it stop small skirmishes or even release hostages.  It's just a wonderfully handy piece of equipment (or kit, if you're from the UK) that should have been thought of a long time ago.  It's that obvious once you start using it.

How would I improve it?  Probably add more inputs and outputs.  I come from an audio background so I'm used to large mixers with plenty of connections.



  1. Looks to be a worthwhile hunk a' hardware.
    BTW - what's the reason for the "captcha" when leaving a comment? Truthfully, I've never understood their purpose anywhere, despite the fact that they're more prolific by the day, except to annoy the patience of a saint!! Couldn't I just force a square peg into a round hole or have a bar code tatooed to my fo'd?

  2. Seem's like there's only one choice. It would probably look good next to my USB fan.

    Captcha's supposedly make spammers enter messages one by one.

    It's sort of like spreading mayonaise all over your door to keep the elephants away. Try it. Let me know if any elephants show up.