The use of splitters in the DJ and music production realms is very common. Splitting tracks into separate channels for simultaneous beat matching or mixing has been standard practice on equipment like the Technics SL-1200 turntables since their inception in the 1970s.
When you’re on stage, it can be difficult to keep track of which one of your decks is playing what, especially if you’re working with loops or cues, so it seems like there must be a good reason to separate tracks into different channels.
Headphone splitters also allow you to use a single output on your mixer, saving the cost of an additional 1/4″ jacks and cables.
But is it possible that splitting tracks into separate channels actually reduces their overall quality?
In general, splitting audio does not reduce or degrade audio quality. Audio splitters are designed to sample audio signals at high rates that are then divided into separate paths.
The main drawback to splitting audio, other than the additional cable clutter and expense, is that although levels can be matched almost perfectly (assuming all components are of high quality), phase relationships between channels may not match sufficiently over time due to inherent time delays in each path.
If the difference in phase between channels becomes significant, then undesirable comb filtering or phasing effects can occur.
For certain frequencies, the two signals may cancel each other if their waveforms are precisely out of phase, while at other frequencies they will combine and increase in level.
In the worst-case scenario where beatmatching is desired, such as with turntables, the music tracks may become slightly out of sync during mixing.
With regards to headphone splitters, you’ll actually be subjecting each ear to sub-standard sound quality since one channel will be sent directly to one ear while the other is routed through your head before reaching the opposite side.
The acoustic effects of your ears and brain on perceived audio quality are well documented, and the acoustical effects on each ear of splitting channels into separate paths can be significant.
Overall, splitting audio signals will not affect the quality of the signal in a negative way provided that all components involved are high-quality and well shielded.
But if you want to enjoy maximum sound fidelity without introducing phase issues between channels, then it’s best to simply use a mixer with multiple outputs.
Generally, the sound quality of the audio splitter will not be reduced when used with headphones. It is unlikely that a listener would notice any change in the sound quality when they use the splitters.
Changes in sound impedance caused by various kinds of end-use applications as well as the quality of the audio splitter materials have a greater impact on how sounds are affected by cord changes.
In order for an audio splitter to function, it must provide a second route for the electrical current to go through. Upon reaching the splitter, the stream flows via both pathways. In most cases, a splitter will allow you to connect two headphones instead of one, and you’ll be able to use the twin headphones connected to the splitter without any loss in audio quality.
Cheap and very effective, these typical splitters are widely used. The most popular version, which looks, divides a single cable into two. There are no restrictions on how the sound may be divided, quite the contrary.
How do Audio Splitters Work
Audio splitters do not significantly degrade the sound quality received via numerous headphones used (usually two). Knowing how headphones operate is necessary in order to get the notion of how splitters function.
Sound waves are a depiction of atoms vibrating in response to the effects of nearby particles on their own.
Because of the density as well as the composition of the material, sound passes through or resonates across various media at varying speeds. When it comes to sound propagation, the absence of certain materials means that no sound can be heard as a result of a lack of substance. The absence of sound in space may be explained as follows:
Furthermore, the quality of the sound is influenced by the material used. Generally speaking, noises made underwater are more pleasant to listen to than similar sounds made in the air. The final quality of the audio is affected by factors such as distance, temperature, as well as substance. It is possible that what goes in will not come out.
Headphones, speakers, as well as metal cables, operate on the concept of transforming sound waves as well as vibrations into an electrical charge that travels through the wire, as shown in the illustration.
Upon reaching your headphones, the electrical current exerts pressure on a diaphragm, which in turn forces air to vibrate at the frequency indicated by the electrical current. Vibrations, often known as sound waves, are produced by the diaphragm pressing the air.
What is the main purpose of a splitter?
An audio splitter is a gadget that allows you to play music on two devices at the same time, allowing you to make your friend joyful by doing so. It accomplishes this by enabling the electrical current to move via a number of different routes at the point of separation. Temperature, length, as well as material, have an impact on the quality of electrical transmission.
When utilizing a splitter, the loss of audio quality is dependent on both the kind and the quality of the splitter being used. Another element that might have an impact is the signal route that is being utilized to transmit the signal. As a result, you will still get audio that has excellent sound quality.
Sometimes there is a rise in impedance, and as a result, the sound splitting will not produce any discernible variations in sound quality.
Does a splitter affect mic quality?
Microphones use Y splitters to send the mic signal to separate channels on a mixer.
The worry for most audio enthusiasts is that the nature of this type of Y-cable is that it can introduce noise into the system due to unshielded cables, so the question on their mind is whether splitters affect mic quality.
As a general rule, splitters do not affect the quality of the mic. Particularly when you use Y splitters with transformers or balanced wiring which are needed in order to reduce noise and prevent degradation of audio quality.
Do RCA splitters reduce sound quality?
While RCA splitters are not as common as 1/4″ or XLR splitters, they are still very popular for splitting audio streams into separate paths.
As with all types of audio splitters, there is a growing concern as to whether the use of an RCA splitter can reduce sound quality. Generally, no loss in sound quality is expected when RCA splitters are used provided that the splitter is high-quality and well shielded to prevent noise from entering or exiting the signal path.
Having said that, if you use an RCA splitter with poor shielding or low-quality construction, there’s always the possibility that it may introduce noise into the system.
Since RCA splitters are not shielded like XLR connections, then there is a chance that external noise may be introduced into the signal path which can produce undesirable effects such as hiss, hum or other types of noise in the system.
Is a headphone splitter bad for sound?
Headphone splitters are inexpensive and compact devices that allow you to share your headphones between multiple listeners without having to invest in additional headphones.
There is a growing concern among audio enthusiasts as to whether headphone splitters can introduce noise into the system and affect sound quality.
Generally, there is no significant loss of audio fidelity when using a headphone splitter provided that all components are well shielded and constructed for maximum effectiveness in reducing noise leakage.
Splitters used for this purpose may introduce some small amount of signal degradation due to electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio frequency interference (RFI), but the effect is negligible and isn’t noticeable.
Is it bad to split audio?
When it comes to splitting audio, you should always take steps to ensure that there is no degradation in quality.
If your goal is to split a stereo signal into two separate mono paths, then the best option would be to run this through a mixer with multiple outputs.
The only scenario where you would want to use an audio splitter is when you need to send the signal to two or more devices that share the same input jack (e.g., stereo headphones, monitors).
Can buying cheap cables make your sound quality bad?
Even if splitters don’t introduce noise into the signal path, there’s still a chance that low-quality splitters and cables can affect the sound quality of your system.
Buying cheap splitters and cables is never a good idea because most of them do not have shielding to prevent noise from leaking into or out of the signal path which can cause interference in your system.
High-quality splitters and cables are typically shielded with metal braid, foil or braided metal to prevent EMI/RFI from interfering in the signal path.
The use of an AUX splitter will have no effect on audio quality. The wiring inside the splitters is intended to carry and divide the audio without causing any difficulties. It is possible that the quality of the headphones utilized will be an influence.
Nonetheless, audio splitters are important for a reason as well as tend to generate sound of reasonable quality. Splitters, as they are often known, are devices that divide an analog sound signal into two halves without interfering with the transmission.
However, in rare instances, the sound quality may actually deteriorate. This is due to the usage of low-cost materials. Cheaper resources imply a lower level of quality. WE highly recommend that you invest in a high-quality splitter to prevent any degradation in sound quality.