Show 202 – Mic splitters and combiners and more

In this episode we talk about mic splitters and combiners, why you shouldn’t use Y-Cables and how to make some of these on your own, the right way.

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15 thoughts on “Show 202 – Mic splitters and combiners and more

  1. Man, I hate to be a downer… Impeadance at times seems to get thrown around a lot in genereal talk( Thanks Ryan and Jon for keeping it clean) BUT…I just want to say, as an Electrical Engineering student, you should take some time to see what Impeadance really is… Where a lot of people say its just a number, it really is the opposition of current flow when a voltage is applied. Also, the longer you cables are, the more Inductance and capacitive reactance you have to deal with. My Electronics teacher, always says… “it looks like this(Points to a picture of an audio cable), but what does the circuit see!” Honestly, the circuit can see the capacitvie and Inductive elements of the wires…Your signal loss at one frequency might be ok, but at another, it might be insanely bad! This can also get into Phase….Check out the wikipedia article on “electrical impeadance” to get a taste of this. My entire course this semester in school is over Phase, Impeadances and Filters… Im no slouch, but if I have to say, I am going to school for this and
    -it does not always make perfect sense. It is very difficult to understand

    *note, have you seen the formula to figure out the inductance of an audio cable?

  2. Excellent segment on splitters and combiners guys, but you left out what I would consider to be one of the biggest uses for splitters: splitting the signal between a FOH console and a monitor console for a live show.

    Otherwise known as “splitter snakes”, these are large, multi-channel versions of the splitters you discussed on the show. Everything you talked about comes into play here too. There are simple “Y-split” versions of splitter snakes (sometimes referred to as “Poor-Man’s Splitters”) that run a few hundred dollars for a 24 channel snake, as well as transformer-isolated splitters that can cost thousands for the same 24 channels.

    What’s interesting is that when simply connecting most live mixers together using a “Y-split” snake, you really don’t run into any big issues. That is until you’re connecting 4 or more mixers together. But for most purposes the cheaper version does just fine. However, if you really want to be safe, or when you start connecting big recording rigs into the set up, you’re definitely better off with something transformer-isolated.

    Whirlwind has a really nice article about splitters here:

    Anyway, sorry to continue a topic that neither of you wanted to discuss ever again, but I thought it would give everyone something else to think about. Keep up the great work!

  3. Hey Guys TFAGS! As for others, your show really helps me not loosing it at my proletarian-factory job, and I am greatly grateful (try to say it fast) for that.

    This is my first comment! I am writing to you about a problem I recently had with a mix who seems to be magically anti-loud: it’s a sine-wave-based house/hip-hop track who just won’t take dynamic range reduction in order to get loudness… I am pretty familiar with the equal loudness contours, the EBU and the ITU tech documents, as I am doing a master degree on loudness, dynamics and distortions. However, I can not explain why this track won’t take the usual loudness-aimed strategies: I tried compression, limiters, an Inflator and harmonic exciters, but the fucker won’t get loud! Instead, it will get all muddy (the low mids are controlled in the mix) and crumbled in the 800 Hz, 1 600 Hz and 3 200 Hz…

    My questions are the following:
    1. Do you have any ideas on how I might manage to get the track louder without completely destructing all the smoothness generated by the sine-based sounds?

    2. Would you be willing to hear the track and maybe even try to wrestle with it (where would I be able to send my mastering attempt and my original mix)?

    3. If you haven’t already done it, would you be willing to have a show on loudness and the problems related to dynamic reduction (I am still making my way up in the HRS archives)/ and how it is possible to avoid them and still obtaining a loud mix? I would be really happy to talk about it in my thesis!

    Thank you again for all the shows. I spent some corn money on Amazon; I hope it helps a bit!

    Beat the crap out of that douche chicken!

  4. Although tom mics are lower down on the list of importance in the mix, they have been nagging me, and so I invite your comments gentlemen…
    I rigged some clips to mount 57’s to my toms, but they don’t stay in position and seem to need to be closer to the middle of the drum than my occasional Keith Moon style allows. Therefore, I am currently eyeballing the Sennheiser E604 clip-on-mics for toms. However, clip-ons seem to have been regarded by you guys in the distant past as cousins of the D112 and Behringer gear.
    Unlike an Apex model, I like that the E604’s don’t need phantom power, but wonder if they reach into the drum far enough to capture a tone that rejects the slightly ringing overtones of the edge of the drum.
    I’ve seen clip-on-mics bouncing away in live situations and they seem to sound fine regardless of their movement, and they definitely do a great job of eliminating stands, but for rock drums in a home studio, wonder if they are the ticket.
    At $339 for a pack of four E604’s, it’s tempting, and I can definitely find a use for some spare 57’s.
    Bring it.

  5. GSAA

    Had a good facepalm moment after the comments about the monitor controller episode. i totally get that obnoxious noise at full volume every time protools chrahses… so i get it quite frequently… I also have a presonous HP4 and if you put it in the the opposite place of where i put it, you have a monitor controller. It was one of those moments when you realize that you had the solution in front of your face the whole time, though it does leave me with some knob envy. So if some one needs a head phone amp and a basic monitor controller you can pick them up for around $100 but i would recommend RTFM and don’t overlook a very useful feature like i did.

    RE splitter: i spent a lot of time looking for a splitting type thing for my guitar rig a while back. I was about to pull the trigger on the radial but decided that i would just use my Boss CH-1 chorus pedal to split (I think jon mentioned that) and send out a really dry signal. It worked really good, but they rarely miced both cabs/speakers so it was pretty much twice as much crap to carry around for no reason, but it sounds really cool in the band room.


  6. Love the show, I’ve learned a lot listening to the back episodes over the last few months.

    Any tips for achieving clarity in a dense death metal mix? And I mean the really crazy fast stuff full of blast beats, multiple tremolo picked counterpoint guitar lines, growled and vomited vocals, and creepy samples and sound effects ala: Cryptopsy, Origin, and Nile.

    The drums were recorded in a studio a few provinces east and left a fair bit to be desired sound wise. I have replaced all of the acoustic kick drums with a suitably “clicky” sample from one of the EZ Drummer’s metal specific sample packs, and have got the velocity consistent. In a couple of the crazier tracks I even replaced the snares save for rolls and fills (oddly I found that one of the samples of an old Roger’s or Slingerland snare from a “vintage” sample kit sounded best, or at least sounded more like the acoustic snare). The main rhythm guitars are high gain, but aren’t as overly distorted as one may expect within this style. The main guitars have been panned hard right and left. Additional guitar harmony lines, solos and accent parts have been panned all over the stereo spectrum. All of the instruments have been subtractive-ly eq’d to with in an inch of their lives. I have tried some transient shaping to get the toms to cut through a little better as they sounded pretty lifeless.

    As far as performances go, the drums weren’t played to a click and there are enough tempo/time changes as to render trying to grid something out as too time consuming. The guitars and bass could be tighter at times, but overall it’s good.

    There’s a lot of automation to accentuate certain instruments during certain parts and to kill others (like unnecessary cymbal/hi hat bleed through the tom mic’s when the toms aren’t being struck.)

    I was thinking of trying to side chain a compressor (just ran into that in back episode recently) to further help the vocals cut through the guitars… Any other suggestions?

    Thanks. The show has been truly helpful.

    • Oh yeah, please send a Diploma to the above hotmail account as I have listened to all of the episodes thus far.

      Thanks again guys.

  7. Hey guys! I just finished listening to the show. Yesterday I stayed up until 4 AM building something very similar to the mic splitters and combiners you described. The idea came when a client complained that a headphone extension cable was cutting in and out, so I figured I would just build my own extension cable.

    After realizing that I did not have any cable mounted female 1/8″ or 1/4″ TRS jacks, I figured I would use panel mount jacks and just build a female TRS to TRS box (yes John, a female box). After looking through the various panel mount connectors I had purchased years ago for an unfinished audio snake project, I decided to add extra functionality to it.

    I ended up with a box that can basically connect anything to anything. I used two XLR – TRS “combi” jacks, two female XLR and two male XLR connectors all wired in parallel. I mounted the whole thing in a plastic box about the size of a boutique guitar pedal and presto! No more scratchy headphones, and a pile of new routing possibilities.

    Thanks for the awesome content. Keep fighting the good fight.

    P.S. What the hell does TFAGS mean? I’ve listened to most shows, but this eludes me.

    Marc Landry

  8. Hopefully a quick question for you. I was planning to to get a new interface in the next few month. I had pretty much settled on the something like Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 (firewire), then the new Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 (USB 2.0) was announced at NAMM. From what I can tell they seem to be mostly the same except for the connectivity. I know the conventionally thinking is that FW has always been the better option. But it seems that the 18i20 is supposed to be capable of basically the same number of simultaneous ins and outs. Am I missing something here? If they are suppose to be capable of the same thing, is one any better than the other?

    I run PT on both a desktop and a laptop.I would like to use this interface on both. I already have USB 2.0 on both. If I go FW, then I need to add a FW card to my desktop. I heard plenty of stories about FW compatibily if you don’t use the right ones. USB 2.0 is clearly the easier choice here. But is it the better one?

    Any help would be appreciated. I plan to purchase it through the Amazon link if possible.

  9. Hey guys,

    Have you guys seen Sound City the doc by Dave Grohl? I saw this weekend and thought is was awesome! What a great story, and the jams at the end rock. Keep up the good work!

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