How to Make a DJ Splitter Cable
Just starting out as a DJ? Don’t have a dedicated sound card, and don’t want to buy one until you’re sure DJing is for you? Or maybe you’re DJing from your iPod or iPad using one of Algoriddim’s djay software programs? Or perhaps you have a sound card, but it’s having technical difficulties just when you’ve got a major event scheduled.
Whatever the reason, there are times when you don’t have access to a DJ sound card or controller but you still need to do a professional job as DJ. And in order to do that, it’s obvious that you need to have two audio outputs from your music player – one that the audience is hearing and a second one for your headphones only, which is usually the next track so that you can find the proper starting place and check the track for speed, EQ and other factors.
Fortunately there is a relatively cheap and simple solution to this problem. If you have dedicated DJ software like Virtual DJ, Traktor Pro, DJ for iPhone, DJ for iPod Touch or DJ for iPad, it is fairly easy to find splitter cables that allow your DJ software to send the audience signal (also known as the master signal) down the left-hand channel of the music player’s stereo headphones output, while sending the signal for the next track (also known as the monitor, cue or headphone signal) down the right hand channel.
Once the signal is split, you use a special lead to take the left-hand master output and connect it to the speakers for the audience to enjoy, while at the same time sending the right-hand monitor output to your headphones so you can cue up the next track properly. In other words, you are using a single stereo audio output to deliver 2 separate mono outputs.
You can easily buy a dedicated splitter cable for DJing on Amazon or other music sites. Or, if you’re handy, you can also make your own splitter cable by using an 1/8″ stereo headphones (TRS) plug to two 1/8″ mono headphones (TRS) jack lead, and then two 1/8″ mono headphones (TRS) plug to 1/8? stereo headphones TRS jack leads, for a total of three leads.
The main disadvantage of this setup is that you’re relying on the quality of your music player’s in-built sound, whether that player is an iPad, computer, iPhone, or other device. So of course if the player is producing a poor quality sound, your DJing sound quality will obviously be sub-par as well.
Another possible problem is that the audience signal that you are generating using a splitter is in mono rather than stereo. However, this is less of an issue than you might expect because most club and bar PA systems are actually mono anyway.
Finally, you do need to keep in mind that the audience signal will only be half-power due to the splitting. If possible you would want to have a mixer or PA system available to boost your signal again so as to give the audience the best music experience.
However, even with these limitations, a splitter cable is certainly a practical and inexpensive tool every DJ should be aware of for those situations when a dedicated DJ controller or sound card simply isn’t available.