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Poor Man's Splitter

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Wadge, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. I know that when splitting a signal for FOH and monitor mixer you would ideally need a transformer isolated splitter (ideally with groundlifts on each channel) but I was wonder whether anyone who has used passive Y splitters at gigs regularly (such as the poor Man's splitter) has encountered problems at actual gigs.

  2. G00D+~VIBES


    Nov 21, 2008
    Kansas City
    I don't know much in this regard, but I do know that you will experience a signal degradation to the extent that each mix will only receive 'half' of the original signal.

    I don't know if this will be a problem in your application.

    I use a passive Morley 'y' box after my pedal board to run two amps at the same time. After a bit of gain compensation at the amps, I perceive no problem.
  3. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    I've used a passive Y splitter on an XLR connector that takes the DI out signal and sends one line to house and the other to a solid state record. It works fine. The cable looks like this:


    To illustrate sonic quality, I used the splitter in a DI test comparing Jules Amp's Monique's DI with REDDI. The rest of this post contains info I posted elsewhere on the test.

    I played a short syncopated arpeggio through the cycle from bottom to top of the neck of a Rob Allen Solid 4 (similar to an early 50's-style P bass) strung with ground wounds, tone knob on full. All Monique knobs were set to the noon position to make its DI signal as neutral as possible (i.e. equivalent to REDDI's "pre-EQ" setting).

    For best results, load the files into your DAW, which makes it simple to jump back and forth between the tracks to compare tone.

    ZIPed files from Dropbox:
    WAV files - 121MB
    MP3 files in 192Kbps bitrate - 37MB

    For immediate gratification, here are the MP3s (each about 4MB):

    DI Tests - Monique - cabled - single DI
    DI Tests - Monique - cabled - split DI - a
    DI Tests - Monique - cabled - split DI - b
    DI Tests - REDDI - cabled

    DI Tests - Monique - wireless split DI - a
    DI Tests - Monique - wireless split DI - b
    DI Tests - REDDI - wireless

    DI Tests - Monique - wireless cable sim - split DI - a
    DI Tests - Monique - wireless cable sim - split DI - b
    DI Tests - REDDI - wireless cable sim

    • Recorder is a Zoom H6 solid state
    • Raw files packaged with Presonus Studio One, NO EFFECTS applied other than a -1dB limiter to the master output bus (as mentioned, the standard wireless setting slightly overdrove the 2 Monique tracks, but not the REDDI)
    • Monique rack mount has Demeter 800D power section
    • "Cabled" means the bass was connected to the gear with high quality cables
    • "Wireless" used a Line 6 G55
    • "Wireless cable sim" used the G55 "Cable Tone" effect
    • "Split DI" means I used an XLR female to dual-XLR male connector out of Monique's DI
    • All DI connections used identical 25' XLR cables to the Zoom H6

    Caveat: in the cabled tests, a Sonic Research Turbo Tuner ST-200 was in the chain. It was excluded during wireless tests. Sorry about that. The device has "true bypass" so don't make a big deal out of this one.

    My impressions are that both of these DIs are superb. I wouldn't hesitate to use either in a critical recording situation. The recording quality with wireless is also very good, better than I though it would be. The non-sim wireless signal was hot compared to the cable sim setting; I left the Zoom H6's input volume the same as the wired settings so you can see how much hotter in a DAW. I liked the wireless cable simulator better than the non-sim setting. I also couldn't tell the difference in recording quality between plugging a single XLR into Monique's DI versus using the dual XLR splitter. The results are here so you can decide for yourself whether Monique or REDDI "won" the test. I like 'em both!


  4. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    For the record, there is a MASSIVE difference between splitting a passive bass/guitar output and splitting any active instrument/DI/preamp output.

    With almost any active device, any cheap Y splitter will work fine. It's with passive instruments that you run into trouble, and where an isolated splitter (more expensive) is recommended.
  5. Whirlwind, Rapco, Galaxy, Rolls, etc, etc all sell little isolated DI's and microphone splitter boxes with ground lifts for so cheap its really not worth wasting money trying to save a buck on something that doesn't always work as well for the job.
  6. you can also just pickup one of them really small mixers that has like 2 channels. Plug into that and use the outputs of that to route to whatever you want.
    I found a 4 channel rack mount mixer thingy on my local craiglist that would totally do the job.
  7. I realise that I might not have given enough information. What I am looking for is a 24 channel splitter snake to feed FOH and a 24 channel monitor mixer.

    The difference in price between a passive 24 channel splitter such as the poor man's splitter and transformer isolated splitters from the likes of whirlwind and Rapco are massive. The former are about $400 whilst the latter run in excess of $2000.

    As I mentioned, I know the benefits of the more professional splitter types but they are certainly out of my reach financially. They are just too expensive to justify for the 10 times in the year where My band would actually use it.

    I have the suspicion however that in the vast majority of cases, a plain and simple 24 channel passive splitter such as the one frpm EWI (Poor Man's splitter) would do the job. I was looking to hear from people who actually own and use them to see if they had any horror stories when used in a live setting
  8. scowboy

    scowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Sacramento area
    I think you are in living in reality with a passive split. There are probably more PA's of your caliber that use a passive split than an active one. They are VERY common.
  9. Wait and save up your money until you can afford to buy a real mic splitter box, and if you need one for a job before you can afford to buy your own - just rent one for that job.
  10. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Is it an actual monitor mixer? If it is you won't need a splitter; each channel will have XLR outs to FOH.
  11. No, it is a Presonus 24.4.2 - we use that as our board for FOH and our own IEMs/Wedges for the majority of our gigs. We have got used to controlling our own IEM/Wedge mixes through ipads and have things set up on scenes. It would be nice if we could use the mixer to control just our stage mixes when we are playing big stages and using a third party FOH.

    A splitter is the proper way to go.
  12. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    You are correct, sir. Y cables might do the job if everything is balanced. The signal strength will be lower but with balanced inputs you may have a low enough noise floor that you can just turn up to compensate.
  13. This is unfortunately the typical response I generally find on the net - comments from people who have no first hand experience of the product.

    I have read a comments of a few people who use them and who say that a Poor Man's splitter has served them well. Seeing how I like to be thorough I was wondering whether there were also people who experienced problems/issues when using them.

    Again, purchasing a 'real' mic splitter box is not feasible - I'd rather make do with what the FOH can provide by way of monitoring than spend in excess of $2,000 for a splitter that I will infrequently use. A $400 investment is easier to justify.
  14. Back when I worked sound we had many nice large mic splitters, and even now I personally still own two little 4ch mic splitters - and they were really cheap.

    Why not just buy three cheap secondhand 8 channel mic splitters - one at a time as you can afford them - it should cost about the same as the Poor Man's Splitter or just a little more, but would be much better.
  15. TIP: Here's something you really need to consider. A union run stage will never allow a Frankenstein hookup job and neither will most semi-pro soundmen - on the other hand, they may allow you to tap into their system if you have the proper gear for the job.
  16. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    If it were my stage it might be OK if they were the only group on the bill and they showed up really early to set up and they seemed to know what they were doing and they didn't expect me to set it up for them.
  17. Barisaxman

    Barisaxman Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    In short, for most gigs a poor man's splitter, such as what can be bought via Audiopile.net (EWI branded) will be fine in this application. My band uses a passive split snake frequently with one of the larger sounds systems we hire out and it's never really been an issue, HOWEVER we generally have the stage/FOH/and backline all tied into a single power source, where minimal ground loop issues/etc. can happen. If you're trotting this out to bars/clubs on multi-band bills, just make sure you advance the show with the house tech so they are aware you're rolling your own monitors, and you may have to deal with less than ideal power issues where you end up with some nasty ground loops. Not ideal, but it can work.

    Now, another option if you have maybe 16channels or less, would be to buy rack-mount splits like these: http://audiopile.net/products/Electronics/MST-412_rack_splitter/MST-412_cutsheet.shtml

    Inexpensive, ground lifts, etc. and you could do 16channels for little more than a 16 channel poor-man's splitter of the same make. Just something to think about.
  18. musicman7722

    musicman7722 Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2007
    Hampton, NH US of A
    I have used the 16 chunnel version poor man from audio phile for at lease 4 years. No issues.
  19. Thank you. I really do need all 24 channels though. I was looking at the ART S8 units which have 8 Channels each. A bit more expensive but maybe that is the right way to go.
  20. Hi.


    When the manure hits the propeller everyone will still blame YOU for it.
    IMO better to take blame when it's warranted ;).

    Easiest anyway.

    You can make/have it made, an OP amp based splitter that could perform a bit better than the passives, but without the transformers the pretty important galvanic isolation will not happen.
    Takes a lot of soldering though, and quality connectors, chassis, PS, etc. ain't cheap either.

    Back in the day I made a "poor mans" splitter with resistor dividers and while it worked, it wasn't very good performance-wise. They never are.