This post focuses on what sorts of adaptors or connectors you’ll likely want to have handy in your production studio.
It’s usually cheaper and more flexible to have raw connectors and cable than it is to have a ton of pre-made adaptors. Tomorrow’s post I’ll go into how to make your own cables.
1/8 inch TRS – this connector is the standard headphone and line-out connector for portable consumer gear. Sometimes it becomes important to interface an iPod or laptop with your audio interface. I recommend having an unterminated 1/8″ TRS connector that you can solder onto any cable of your choosing in a pinch. I recently built a 1/8″ TRS to XLR adaptor cable for just this purpose (of course it’s unbalanced, leaving pin 3 of the XLRs unconnected).
RCA to whatever – RCA connectors are the round cables with the thick pins in the center that you’ll find in consumer audio and visual gear. This is a very important connector to have. I recommend a couple of RCA to XLR adaptors (which can also be used for adapting SPDIF to AES/EBU. XLR AES/EBU is 110 ohm cable and RCA is 75 ohm, but this adaptor is so small that it generally works fine as long as your clock is solid).
1/4 inch TRS to 1/8 inch TRS – the standard headphone adaptor. Most pro gear uses the larger size but many headphones use the smaller.
XLR to 1/4 inch TS – a transformer or two for bridging high impedance to low impedance can really come in handy.
XLR to XLR – a female/female turnaround can be really handy for odd situations where the sexes just don’t line up (in strange breakout box situations, for example).
Basically, if you have these basic connectors: XLR, RCA, 1/4″ TRS, and 1/8″ TRS plus some basic two conductor and three conductor cable, you can make just about any adaptor you’ll need.