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Are expensive mic splitters worth it?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Head
 
GMRod's Avatar
Are expensive mic splitters worth it?

Hello!

I'm in need of a signal splitter for my live rack.
I'll be running an Ui24R in it.

Now, I'm having trouble understanding why there's such a crazy price difference between units, given that it's basically just a big Y cable.

For instance, these two:

https://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer_...ink_ms8000.htm
https://www.thomann.de/gb/art_s8_mikrofon_splitter.htm

So they both do exactly the same thing. 8 XLR in, 16 out.
Both have ground lift.
Both allow linking of each channel pair.

Then the two differences I can spot are:
- The ART has a pad
- The ART has a "transformer isolated" out for each channel.

The price difference is 4.4x (!!!).

Now, if I understand this correctly, that increased price is because of the pad, and the isolated outs? Meaning, the Behringer is perhaps wired in a way where the second out of each channel is connected to the first copy, whereas the ART has each out separately wired from the input?

Is that worth that much more money?
If yes/no, why?

Thanks in advance!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

of course an active split is much more expensive than a passive split (for obvious reasons: the transformers) - question is though whether you'll need an active split and imo the answer these days is mostly no - different story with long analog multicores...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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GMRod's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
of course an active split is much more expensive than a passive split (for obvious reasons: the transformers) - question is though whether you'll need an active split and imo the answer these days is mostly no - different story with long analog multicores...
Ok, this helps already.

So the question then, becomes, WHEN would you need active ones?
Like in what situation?

And of course, moreover: Would that necessity justify spending 4.4x more?

Last edited by GMRod; 2 weeks ago at 12:00 AM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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you need isolated feeds with (analog) desks running on separate power feeds with no common ground or if you cannot live with the effects of the inevitable impedance mismatch of passive splits - now some folks cannot live with an additional transformer in their signal path...

i just posted a pic of a passive split in another thread: Cheapest and best way to split from mic to 2 different signal chains?
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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cheu78's Avatar
deedeeyeah is right!
I'd like to suggest to stay away from the art or the elcheapo splitters.. These harms your signal!!

I had to use one in a venue.. I compared it with the direct signal.. The performance of the splitter was terrible.. it eated the lowend and introduced some phase shift as well..

A good passive split will do well IF the xformers are quality pieces. (and you don't have extremely long cable runs, but nowadays you shouldn't with digital console/stageboxes).

I had good experiences with the EMO (I believe they used the sowter xfrms at that time, I believe they use Carnhill now).

https://www.canford.co.uk/EMO-MICROPHONE-SPLITTERS



Cheu
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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GMRod's Avatar
Ok so, a little more research on this.
The two opposites seem to be Behringer and then Palmer stuff. The ART is what most people seem to be using, but I’m finding it hard to justify £250 on a splitter. And I’m also wary of getting the cheapo Behringers. So I found this middle ground option:
https://www.studiospares.com/Microph...800_458950.htm

Anyone familiar with them?
Cheers
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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cheu78's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GMRod View Post
Ok so, a little more research on this.
The two opposites seem to be Behringer and then Palmer stuff. The ART is what most people seem to be using, but I’m finding it hard to justify £250 on a splitter. And I’m also wary of getting the cheapo Behringers. So I found this middle ground option:
https://www.studiospares.com/Microph...800_458950.htm

Anyone familiar with them?
Cheers
Quality and buzz free sound HAS a price.
There's no other way around it unfortunately. You might get some whirlwind passive splitter used for less if you look around.

None of the elcheapo options mentioned in your previous post are imho worthed a consideration, unfortunately.

Might be renting an option?

Good luck with your endeavours.



Cheu
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Gear Nut
 

There is a loss of sound level on the transformer outputs. You may need to push the gain up 6 db, maybe more or less depending on design.

On top of that a cheapo transformer made to operate well at mic level may no work well at instument or line level. If you, for some reason are feeding a line/insrtument level into a transfomrer made for mic level you can get some NASTY crazy distortion that ruinds everything.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DownTheLine View Post
There is a loss of sound level on the transformer outputs. You may need to push the gain up 6 db, maybe more or less depending on design.

On top of that a cheapo transformer made to operate well at mic level may no work well at instument or line level. If you, for some reason are feeding a line/insrtument level into a transfomrer made for mic level you can get some NASTY crazy distortion that ruinds everything.
levels depend on the type of transformers being used and are not an issue since one will go into preamps from each leg of the splitter anyway.
of course one better uses a line level splitter for line level signals but some mic splitters can take fairly hot levels in - and they better do so 'cause some mics can output amazingly high levels (up to 'line' level)...
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
levels depend on the type of transformers being used and are not an issue since one will go into preamps from each leg of the splitter anyway.
of course one better uses a line level splitter for line level signals but some mic splitters can take fairly hot levels in - and they better do so 'cause some mics can output amazingly high levels (up to 'line' level)...
I've seen and heard enough issues to know that common sense isn't always common.

A local church had really bad sound and it turns out they were using radioshack 1/4" to xlr barrel transformers instead of DI boxes for all the instruments. everything sounded like mush.

I just thought the OP should know, if he chooses to use the transformer isolated feeds from the splitter to the UI24r that he'll need to pump up the gain.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DownTheLine View Post
I've seen and heard enough issues to know that common sense isn't always common.

A local church had really bad sound and it turns out they were using radioshack 1/4" to xlr barrel transformers instead of DI boxes for all the instruments. everything sounded like mush.

I just thought the OP should know, if he chooses to use the transformer isolated feeds from the splitter to the UI24r that he'll need to pump up the gain.
i agree that there a bunch of idiots out there but saying transformer feeds need significantly more gain in any case is just not true either... - same for passive splits: the impedance mismatch mostly doesn't even get noticed!
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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GMRod's Avatar
Lightbulb

Right!

So this segways into another question I have about this setup then.

I'm attaching a picture of my intended setup for illustration.

The doubt is, if I have the following setup on stage:

CHANNELS

1 through 10 - DRUMS
11 - BASS
12 - GUITAR
13 - GUITAR
14 - VOCALS
15 - VOCALS
16 - VOCALS

So from 1 to 8 I have Dynamic mics, 9 and 10 are condensers (overheads).
The bass is on a DI.
The two guitars are SM57s in front of amps.
All vocals are Shure SM58s.

So, I do need phantom, but just on 2 channels.

Now, in this splitter setup situation, the splitters I get (whichever brand they are), are going to offer one direct out and one transformer out, right?

From what I understand, anything that goes in the transformer path won't be able to get phantom because the transformers block DC signals.

So, when I hook this up, which out do I connect to my UI24R, and which out do I send to FOH?

Because whoever gets the transformer out, can't do phantom... Or am I missing something here?

Old 1 week ago
  #13
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edva's Avatar
It would seem that your phantom channels would need to use the direct outs to FOH, with the Xformer outs feeding your recorder. Probably all your recording channels should be isolated, and FOH direct.

Last edited by edva; 1 week ago at 11:22 PM.. Reason: +
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Gear Head
 
GMRod's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
It would seem that your phantom channels would need to use the direct outs to FOH, with the Xformer outs feeding your recorder. Probably all your recording channels should be isolated, and FOH direct.
Ok so this means my diagram is backwards.

Wait. So if the FOH console is sending phantom to the mics, then any other splits should be fine right?
I GET IT NOW.

I even looked at 3-Way splitters, thinking they'd have 2 direct outs and one transformer-loaded, but it's the other way around. NOW I understand why.

Thank you!

Last edited by GMRod; 1 week ago at 01:24 AM..
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMRod View Post
Ok so this means my diagram is backwards.

Wait. So if the FOH console is sending phantom to the mics, then any other splits should be fine right?
I GET IT NOW.

I even looked at 3-Way splitters, thinking they'd have 2 direct outs and one transformer-loaded, but it's the other way around. NOW I understand why.

Thank you!
wait a minute:
with both passive and active splitters, i't doesn't matter which desk is providing phantom power: in case of passive splitters (or y-cables), any mixer could though.

the thing with active splittes is that there is (mostly) a transformer in the signal path and one needs to decide who shall get the 'clean' (direct) signal, which also needs to provide phantom power.
with passive splits, i usually let the the monitor engineer take care of phantom power. with active splits, it's mostly the broadcast engineer.

why don't you use y-cables? i'll take a passive split any day over a cheapo active split!
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
the thing with active splittes is that there is (mostly) a transformer in the signal path and one needs to decide who shall get the 'clean' (direct) signal, which also needs to provide phantom power.
LA Audio active splitters provide phantom power.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
thx but i don't need any splitter: i've either been using passive splits or then the klark dn1248 for ages and can't see any reason to switch! - possibly not what the op is looking for (although i can highly recommend it)...
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Head
 

I am confused....I have been using splitters since 1977..."active" meant that an active electronic balancing circuit (differential amplifier) is used and "passive" meant that a transformer was used. "Useless" was used to describe a splitter that used neither, basically a glorified 'Y'-cord because there is no CMRR protection. This is why I've always personally used a passive splitter because the transformer-balanced signal is typically better protected against EMI, especially in a live broadcast situation. And with Jensen transformers, audio quality is not such an issue.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samuraisoundman View Post
I am confused....I have been using splitters since 1977..."active" meant that an active electronic balancing circuit (differential amplifier) is used and "passive" meant that a transformer was used. "Useless" was used to describe a splitter that used neither, basically a glorified 'Y'-cord because there is no CMRR protection. This is why I've always personally used a passive splitter because the transformer-balanced signal is typically better protected against EMI, especially in a live broadcast situation. And with Jensen transformers, audio quality is not such an issue.
what you refer to as 'useless' (although their are quite practical imo and which indeed are nothing but glorified y-cords) are mostly called passive, at least around here (and in contrik-speech).
the klark i'm using has both electronically balanced output and transformer outputs: wouldn't wanna call it active and passive?!
my experience with broadcasters is a bit different too: they mostly want(ed) the direct feed without going through any transformers (as their pres have already a nice jensen, lundahl, studer or whatever transformer) - in my experience, it doesn't matter much unless someone is taking in a very hot bass signal.


(...and the reason i want the monitor engineer to take care of phantom power is that s/he is the person to replace mics if something goes wrong: i have my spare channel muted in order not to get a very loud plopp in the pa upon engaging phantom power)
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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edva's Avatar
In certain situations, a "direct" passive split works just fine. Even a Y cord many times is OK.
To cover all the bases, in many different venues and situations, over the long haul, for reliable and professional results it makes sense to use a splitter with good transformer isolation available.
But I have had good results with both methods, and they each have their place.
(Can't recall when I may have used an "active" splitter, but it's possible. I guess splits on the console might qualify).
Old 6 days ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
what you refer to as 'useless' (although their are quite practical imo and which indeed are nothing but glorified y-cords) are mostly called passive, at least around here (and in contrik-speech).
the klark i'm using has both electronically balanced output and transformer outputs: wouldn't wanna call it active and passive?!
my experience with broadcasters is a bit different too: they mostly want(ed) the direct feed without going through any transformers (as their pres have already a nice jensen, lundahl, studer or whatever transformer) - in my experience, it doesn't matter much unless someone is taking in a very hot bass signal.


(...and the reason i want the monitor engineer to take care of phantom power is that s/he is the person to replace mics if something goes wrong: i have my spare channel muted in order not to get a very loud plopp in the pa upon engaging phantom power)
I agree that simply connecting two inputs in parallel usually works just fine, especially nowadays when you most likely have two digital stage boxes that are grounded to the same point. Even with 2 analog consoles this usually worked just fine and even on the rare occasion when there were some hum, lifting pin 1 usually solved the problem.

You don't seem to quite understand the difference between active and passive splitters, though.

There are basically two ways to make a passive split:
1. Simply connecting the inputs in parallel (Y cable)
2. Using an isolation transformer

The fact that a splitter uses transformers has nothing to do with it being active or passive.

Active splitters always have an active (pre-)amplifier.
Each output usually has it's own line driver.
These outputs can be either electronically balanced or transformer balanced/isolated.

Klark Teknik DN1248 for example is active and depending on the version, it can have some electronically balanced and some transformer balanced outputs. In any case the signal still passea through active electronics first.

Most stage boxes with FOH and monitor outputs have the connectors simply wired in parallel.

Radial OX8 is an example of a transformer isolated passive splitter.

Passive transformer splitters usually use 1:1 or 1:1:1 transformers. Besides what some people believe, they don't match the impedances. The load seen by the microphone is almost identical to the Y cable situation, although in real world it's often even worse because the microphone is also loaded by the transformer itself (finite reactance of the primary coil ...). There are two advantages of a passive transformer splitter over a Y cable: galvanic isolation which allows for much greater potential differnces than a simple Y cable with a ground lift driving two electronically balanced inputs and greater fult tolerance. If one of the isolated outputs is short-circuited, you'll still get some signal on the other outputs, although there will be a noticeable level difference. There are also some disadvantages: transformers can saturate with hot signals and have a limited frequency response, they will always add some distortion and can even pick up more noise/hum if they aren't properly shielded. Transformers that have a high enough inductance that they don't load a microphone much, have a good frequency response and can handle high signal levels without much distortion are expensive (70€+/piece).

Active splitters load the mic as little as a single preamp which is even more important if you need to split the signal to more than just 2 ways. Shorting one output won't affect the others. If you don't need galvanic isolation, transformerless outputs usually perform better and are also cheaper. Good active splitters are also better at driving long cables than most microphones. Active electronics also have a limited dynamic range, though, therefore active splitters usually have some form of gain control to use them in the optimal range for the source. If you don't set them up correctly, they can clip really badly or add more noise than you want.
Old 6 days ago
  #22
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i was referring to samuraisoundman's somewhat misleading terminology...

besides the contrik passive without transformers, the palmer passive with transformers, the klark active with transformers, i'm using several other splitters from radial, bss, xta etc., depending on venue, and mostly don't care much...

...'cause more often these days, i'm using digital splitters: makes things much easier (and costs are lower) :-)
Old 1 day ago
  #23
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Yes, they are. Every cent. That´s my holy grail: Neumann V442 Active Mic/Line Splitter. 25 ! Haufe transformers inside + active amplification. You can find them sometimes on ebay Germany between 500-700 €.
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