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I'm really new to working with electrical components, so please bare with me here...

I'd like to make a sound distributor with 3.5mm audio jacks, so for example the pc outputs an audio signal and the distributor has say 5 jacks where headphones/speakers/second speakers etc. are connected. Every jack should have a switch to manually cut the connection of each of those 5 signals. Does it sound the same (or at all) if I just split the output cable to 5 and if not, how should I go about mastering this task?

I don't want to buy anything to experiment with to then find out half of it isn't necessary.

thanks a lot!

  • If you really want to build your own, that is really more a question for Electrical Engineering.SE. (There are in-fact a number of headphone amp related questions on Electrical Engineering.SE already.) – AJ Henderson Aug 15 '14 at 16:06
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Splitter cables for 3.5mm are pretty common. If you have ever used one with two pairs of headphones you know that there is a drop in the signal level because the headphones are splitting the available power to drive them.

I'm not sure what kind of audible changes would occur with passive connections (i.e. things that don't draw power). My assumption is that their would be some drop in signal level from impedance.

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  • thanks for the answer, is there any way to make the signal level stay constant? – willi Aug 15 '14 at 10:49
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    If you intend to have multiple devices that draw power you will need to build some kind of amp into your device, or insert one in your signal chain, to bring the level up. Passive devices probably won't reduce the level enough to matter much as your likely amplifying the signal after the fact anyways, i.e. with a pair of powered speakers. In the interest of experimenting I'd go buy a splitter or two and test it out under the circumstances you intend to use it. You can daisy chain the splitters to test as well. I suspect there are headphone amp kits out there that also do what you're after. – Bill Aug 15 '14 at 15:24
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If you are simply looking to meet your need and didn't realize that there are commercially available and affordable products to handle it already, what you are describing is called a headphone amp. They are used all the time in studios and sometimes stage performances in order to allow distribution and independent control of different headphone volumes listening to the same monitor feed.

They are pretty cheap devices, so you are unlikely to be able to make one significantly cheaper (if at all) than simply buying a decent quality one off the shelf. They also overcome the volume and quality loss from impedance mismatching issues that Bill described as a side effect of a passive splitter. Passive splitters work ok for two, maybe three pairs of headphones, but beyond that, they become very near unusable.

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