Belkin RockStar Headphone Hub


Belkin's new "RockStar" is a simple star-shaped minijack hub to which multiple headphones can be connected, allowing one music player to send music to up to five pairs of headphones. An additional port is a dedicated input, while the other five ports can be toggled from input to output. That seems unnecessary to me—far easier to just switch the one dedicated input cable to the next player in the rotation.

While I can count the number of times I've wanted to get a group of people to gather around and listen to music on headphones on no hands, I still think it's a clever idea. I think there's a reason the hands in the stock photo are attached to children. Plus, it's only twenty bucks.

Belkin RockStar [iLounge]

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  1. Joel – I think you’re missing some major uses for this, that NEED the multiple, switchable inputs. I’m assuming that you can have multiple inputs “on” simultaneously.

    Some people have long wanted a way to use of multiple audio sources with only one set of headphones. I can see someone plugging their audio player in one input, and plugging a radio – perhaps a scanner – into another. And then you could plug in your child monitor as well. If you don’t actually use the dedicated input, and instead put all of the sources on the switchable inputs, then you can quickly cut off the other sources just using the switches on the Rockstar to allow you to focus on one source, without having to find and fiddle with multiple sources. Or – use it work to hear both your audio player and your work PC.

    If Belkin had only built this to allow “one in to five outs”, it would have only moderate value. But this way – a bunch of jacks plus switches, there’s all kinds of potential for this gadget.

    Think of it as a simple 5-channel on-off mixer for your pocket.

  2. Um, how does it switch from being an input to being an output? Is this device amplified (and, hence, would not amplify if you switched the port to “input”?) Neat trick: any headphone can double as a low-gain microphone. What sort of isolation would it include? Not to say unamplified/unisolated would be interesting, but you’re likely to get some odd crosstalk/feedback.

    Oh, and what’s to prevent folks from connecting two inputs and producing sound loud enough to blow their eardrums (or their headphones, preferably?)

    Definitely could be an interesting product, but I’ve been luke-warm over Belkin products in the past…

  3. OT:

    I think there’s a reason the hands in the stock photo are attached to children

    I think the photo is a custom product photo rather than a photoshopped “stock” photo. The geometry of the product in use and the hands is a little too specialized to be practical for a retouch job, unlike this photo, which appears to be an older photo with a new iPod stripped in:

  4. Man, I can see this being handy for a lot more than iPods; like those road trips with the three kids in the back seat and the portable DVD player…

  5. Man, I can see this being handy for a lot more than iPods; like those road trips with the three kids in the back seat and the portable DVD player…

    Given the size and price point of this device it most likely has to be a passive device with no amplifier. That means that each extra headset you add lowers the maximum possible volume, you also get into impedance matching issues. Additionally, different earphones (and people) have different sensitivities so you need individual volume adjustment to compensate–a feature the product seems to lack.

    If you want to split signals the “right” way, especially if the device you want to split doesn’t have a lot of volume, you are going to want to use an active splitter with an amplifier like one of the Boostaroo portable amplifier/splitters:

    Other passive splitters are available with independent passive volume control:

  6. SKEP said what I would say. A Boost-a-roo, or even a cheap Altoids tin amp with a bunch of jacks will give you DRAMATICALLY better sound, especially from an iPod.

  7. After doing some comparisons, it has occured to me – “switched” may mean “have an output cord switched for an input cord”, meaning there are no actual switches in this product. (Comparisons are tough when the product is not actually to be found on the company’s website.)

    I did find that Belkin makes a two-output headphone passive – at about $10. That suggests you won’t get 5 switchable outlets for $20 – you’ll just get a 5 port headphone hub.

    It still has some value, but you could do this with about $15 worth of parts from Radio Shack (cause their connectors are expensive!) or about $5 worth of parts from your discount electronics parts supplier – and THEN you could mod it with switches, and still be under $20.

  8. Face it, anyone buying this will be hunted down and sued by the morons at the RIAA.

    Sharing music?! Off to Gitmo for you!

  9. all details aside, the idea of having a 1:5 split would be a travel essential. sitting around the lap top on a long train ride watching movies with your neighbors and the entire row behind you…what a great way to meet people.

  10. Yes coop is right, these kids are criminals. Let’s hope the RIAA can nip this in the bud before they become full fledged terrorists.

  11. It would be nice if someone had direct linked to the Belkin page with the headphone hub. As it is I can’t find it & therefore can’t buy one 🙁

  12. coop & noen:

    What would be worse would be if they were gathering in malls listening to music using the hub. Anarchy would be quite literally around the corner.

  13. the addition of an rfid reader (to read passports/identity cards) and wifi connection would allow the hub to ascertain whether the users have valid licenses to the material they want to listen to.

    missed opportunity methinks.

  14. haineux: Not like the iPod’s audio quality is anything to write home about to begin with. 😉

  15. I would actually most likely use this for a) long journeys with friends, listening to all our different music players and b) plugging an mp3 player into several set of speakers / hifi’s at once, through the aux ports.

    Just for the hell of it, y’know?

  16. does anyone know of a gadget that could point from multiple music sources to multiple headphones? similar to the displays in Borders. Can someone buy a display like that

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