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Microphone Month

The Best Way To Split Audio Outputs (To Two Devices)

inSync reader Robert B. asks, “I was wondering how much integrity an audio signal loses when split via a Y-connector. My dilemma is that I have stereo outs from my mixer that I want to send to two separate stereo amps. What are my options in this situation?”

The quick answer is that as long as all of the gear involved is relatively current you should have no significant problems. If you are an audio purest then you will be best served by buying a high quality DA (see WFTD archive “Distribution Amp” ) because there always is some minute amount of loss in these situations.

Other places people commonly run into this issue is making cassette dubs across multiple machines all being driven by one machine, and setting up PA systems where one output of an electronic crossover must drive several amplifiers at once.

For those who want a little more background, the issue really boils down to the match between the input and output impedances (see WFTDimpedance“) of the devices. A general rule of thumb is that if the net input impedance of all of the devices does not fall below two or three times the output impedance of the outputting device then things should work reasonably well. Getting into how to calculate all of this is, unfortunately, beyond the scope of inSync, but the information is readily available in many audio and electronics books. Since most modern equipment has input impedances in the mega-ohms, and output impedances in the kilo-ohms you can usually drive several devices from one output. Obviously you need to consult the specs of the devices in question to verify this. Or you can do it my way which is to simply try it.

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