Want to split headphone signal from my audio interface

Discussion in 'Your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)' started by cultmethod, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. cultmethod

    cultmethod New Member

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    Mar 15, 2019
    I have a RME HDSPe AIO card (PCIe) installed that I currently use to drive my headphones. My music production workflow revolves around two pairs of headphones: Denon AH-D5000's, and a pair of Audeze LCD-X's. I love both of them, but for different applications.

    Since I produce bass heavy EDM, I really like the boomy sound signature of the Denon's when mixing, because it allows me to really dial in my sub bass levels and actually "feel" the sub bass. It's almost like having a subwoofer on your ears.

    But I also use the LCD-X's for it's superior midrange, sound stage, resolution, and extreme neutrality. I typically use these later on in the mixing / mastering process.

    My end goal here is to be able to run both concurrently so I can have the best of both worlds. I was thinking about purchasing a simple 1/4'' splitter and running that into the HDSPe AIO headphone breakout, but I'd really like a way to toggle and independently control levels for each headphone so I'm not constantly re-adjusting levels every time I switch cans.

    So my question is, what solutions are out there? Is there a simple interface I can buy that will take in one 1/4'' input (from my sound card) in to an interface of some kind that will allow me to plug in two 1/4'' inputs and control their volume independently? I basically just want a small splitter that will give me gain control and possibly a way to toggle each input on/off. (The HDSPe provides plenty of amplification so I don't really need a heavy amp, just something very transparent)

    Any help is HUGELY appreciated.
     
  2. rrichard63

    rrichard63 Perpetual Novice

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    There are a lot of headphone distribution amplifiers for this purpose, including inexpensive ones from Behringer and Mackie. Take a look at the Presonus HP4 as a mid-priced, very clean amp.

    It would be best to connect any of these to the line output from your sound card rather than a headphone output.
     
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  3. OP
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    cultmethod

    cultmethod New Member

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    Mar 15, 2019
    The HP4 looks perfect! Except for one thing, and I'm sorry in advance if this is a stupid set of questions. It looks like the HP4 takes separate left and right inputs, whereas my audio interface (HDSPe AIO) only has a single headphone stereo out in the breakout cables. I also have no idea what the "line output" is on this interface cable wise. I've tried to add a link and image to to this post but the site keeps saying my message is spam, unfortunately.

    If you could help me choose the correct set of breakout cables or configuration that I need, it would be an incredible help!
     
  4. OP
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    cultmethod

    cultmethod New Member

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    Mar 15, 2019
    Also, the AKG HP4E 4-Ch amp looks really nice, and looks like it supports four independent outputs and a 1/4'' stereo input (if I'm not misreading). Do you think this would be a good option? My only concern is introducing distortion/color in the signal chain. I want an amp that is as transparent as humanly possible.
     
  5. rrichard63

    rrichard63 Perpetual Novice

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    In addition to the headphone output, the RME interface has a separate "stereo analog I/O". When I say "line output" I'm referring to the output half of that. What cables you would need depends on which breakout cable you already have. This page:

    http://www.rme-audio.de/en/products/cables.php

    lists two for your card. Either will work with the Presonus and many other headphone amps. If you have model #BO9632CMKH, then you need a pair of RCA male to 1/4 inch TS male cables. If you have model #
    BO9632XLRMKH, then you need a pair of XLR female to 1/4 inch TRS male cables.

    The RCA and TS connectors are "unbalanced" and the XLR and TRS connectors are "balanced". One helpful explanation of those terms is here:

    https://mackie.com/blog/balanced-vs-unbalanced-connectors

    For your purpose, assuming the headphone amp is located less than about 10 feet/3 meters from your computer, unbalanced circuits are usually just fine.

    EDIT: the AKG model you mentioned would also be fine, assuming its distortion and noise specifications are as good as the Presonus. It's inputs are unbalanced (TS) where the Presonus inputs are compatible with both balanced (TRS) and unbalanced (TS) cables. Another difference is that the Presonus has outputs to feed monitor speakers, if you have them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
  6. OP
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    cultmethod

    cultmethod New Member

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    Mar 15, 2019
    Awesome. Thank you so much for your help again. You know your stuff.

    I have the #BO9632CMKH breakouts, so according to what you said I need "RCA male to 1/4 inch TS male cables". But then the cables ultimately are unbalanced. I read on a random forum and on that mackie link that this can introduce noise, though as you note if the amp is very closely located there should be no problems.

    I'm kind of nervous about that route though because I definitely don't want ANY perceptible hiss or discoloration to the sound. I was also looking through the HDSPe AIO manual and on page 42 (on manualslib dot com), it states:

    In case the headphone output should operate as Line output, an adapter TRS plug to RCA phono plugs, or TRS plug to TS plugs is required.

    Is there any reason why I couldn't just get a TRS to 2xTS cable and run that way? Would that result with a less colored sound?
     
  7. rrichard63

    rrichard63 Perpetual Novice

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    RME's manuals all say that (I have a Multiface II and a Digiface). And people use headphone outputs for line level signals all the time. But the circuits are a little different (specifically an electronic characteristic called "impedance"). If one has noticeably less coloration than the other when used to drive an amplifier rather than headphones directly, it will be the line output.
     
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  8. OP
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    cultmethod

    cultmethod New Member

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    Mar 15, 2019
    Got it. So, last question! Hopefully. Would it be better for me to get the BO9632XLRMKH and then XLR female to 1/4 inch TRS male (balanced connection) than the current BO9632CMKH I have now (unbalanced)? Or will the difference be imperceptible?
     
  9. rrichard63

    rrichard63 Perpetual Novice

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    The cables you need are pretty cheap. I would try the unbalanced breakout you have first, and pay RME for a balanced one only if (very unlikely, in my experience) there turns out to be a problem with hum.
     
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