Comm headset splitter

malex

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Location
Tampa, FL
I thought this would be a common question, but couldn't find anything in a search.
Is there any reason building a 4pin XLR Y cable wouldn't work to put two headsets on one beltpack? I'm guessing there's plenty of power, since any headset I've used (when working properly) is capable of causing severe hearing damage. Assuming it works, I would expect that both earpieces would get the same reduced output level and both mics would pickup at the same reduced input level?
I'm thinking in terms of followspot operators. They don't have much to say anyway, just need to hear back from one of them in case of any issues. I could certainly save a bundle by pairing them up.
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
I thought this would be a common question, but couldn't find anything in a search.
Is there any reason building a 4pin XLR Y cable wouldn't work to put two headsets on one beltpack? I'm guessing there's plenty of power, since any headset I've used (when working properly) is capable of causing severe hearing damage. Assuming it works, I would expect that both earpieces would get the same reduced output level and both mics would pickup at the same reduced input level?
I'm thinking in terms of followspot operators. They don't have much to say anyway, just need to hear back from one of them in case of any issues. I could certainly save a bundle by pairing them up.
@malex Rambling thoughts as they occur to me.
Would you be pairing 600 Ohm ear pieces or 4 Ohm?
Two double muff headsets or two single muff? Keep in mind the impedance you'd be asking the belt pack or wall station to drive.
Both users would have to agree on a common listening level. I'm seeing a problem if one wants more level than the other.
What are the impedances of the two microphones AND are they both the same impedance?
Headphones often suffer handling abuse in the hands of end users. Any shorts in one headphone's wiring could take down both units. Redundancy is normally a good thing.
Muting one mic would be muting both.
Opening one mic would be opening both.
True, you could use headsets where the mic is muted when physically raised above a normal operating position but, again depending upon how this is achieved within a given headset, you'd most likely be simultaneously muting both by muting either.
Which brand of belt pack or wall stations are you speaking of? ClearCom, Production Intercom, Telex? Belt packs, wall or rack mount stations? What model numbers? Full size 4 contact XLR connectors or something less robust?
A few initial thoughts for you.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 

malex

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Location
Tampa, FL
@malex Rambling thoughts as they occur to me.
Would you be pairing 600 Ohm ear pieces or 4 Ohm?
Two double muff headsets or two single muff? Keep in mind the impedance you'd be asking the belt pack or wall station to drive.
Both users would have to agree on a common listening level. I'm seeing a problem if one wants more level than the other.
What are the impedances of the two microphones AND are they both the same impedance?
Headphones often suffer handling abuse in the hands of end users. Any shorts in one headphone's wiring could take down both units. Redundancy is normally a good thing.
Muting one mic would be muting both.
Opening one mic would be opening both.
True, you could use headsets where the mic is muted when physically raised above a normal operating position but, again depending upon how this is achieved within a given headset, you'd most likely be simultaneously muting both by muting either.
Which brand of belt pack or wall stations are you speaking of? ClearCom, Production Intercom, Telex? Belt packs, wall or rack mount stations? What model numbers? Full size 4 contact XLR connectors or something less robust?
A few initial thoughts for you.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
Looking at the RS-701 basic single channel pack and the 110-X4 semi-lightweight headset. I would have the exact same headset paired. I hadn't thought about the mic boom muting, that would actually make it even better. I'm not too worried about the operators not liking the levels. This would be two pairs of undergrad volunteers. They'll get what they get.
I think I'll build the adapter and give it a try. I can barely justify spending the money on new headsets for two shows a year. I certainly can't justify the expense of 2 new packs for spots 3 & 4 for probably only once every other year. Eventually, I would move the older packs to the spots and replace the backstage and FOH with new, so this would only be a stopgap for maybe 2-3 shows.
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Looking at the RS-701 basic single channel pack and the 110-X4 semi-lightweight headset. I would have the exact same headset paired. I hadn't thought about the mic boom muting, that would actually make it even better. I'm not too worried about the operators not liking the levels. This would be two pairs of undergrad volunteers. They'll get what they get.
I think I'll build the adapter and give it a try. I can barely justify spending the money on new headsets for two shows a year. I certainly can't justify the expense of 2 new packs for spots 3 & 4 for probably only once every other year. Eventually, I would move the older packs to the spots and replace the backstage and FOH with new, so this would only be a stopgap for maybe 2-3 shows.
@malex Do think about the mic boom muting. If you find that raising either mic boom mutes both, it could become an annoyance when both users need to lower their mics in order for either to speak / acknowledge. Also, wire your adapter with a shielded single conductor for the mic input and a separate pair, NOT within the shield, for the earpieces. As usual, you'll have to keep an eye open for folks pressing non-shielded scroller cables into service as headset extensions. Many folks assume if the connectors mate, they MUST be using the correct cable.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 

TimMc

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Premium Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
Follow spots should be on a private line that hears only the LX calls; this way they can talk to each other... how many gigs where there is no rehearsal for spot operators? I'm thinking local awards dinners and the like where there a 2 spot ops and they decide who picks up which persons, etc. I've also done children's theatre where the spot ops came in at dress rehearsal (budget savings) and the ops make most of the decisions about which operator does what.

The dismissive tone of the original poster - they're volunteers.... who get what they get - is just plain wrong. Buying one more belt pack is going to break the bank? If this is a campus event I'd say raise the fee $50 and in 3 years you'll pay for the pack. If you can buy used gear (I know many/most schools and municipal PACs can purchase only new stuff) you can be paid off in half the time. Or the alternative - just give them soup cans with string...
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Follow spots should be on a private line that hears only the LX calls; this way they can talk to each other... how many gigs where there is no rehearsal for spot operators? I'm thinking local awards dinners and the like where there a 2 spot ops and they decide who picks up which persons, etc. I've also done children's theatre where the spot ops came in at dress rehearsal (budget savings) and the ops make most of the decisions about which operator does what.

The dismissive tone of the original poster - they're volunteers.... who get what they get - is just plain wrong. Buying one more belt pack is going to break the bank? If this is a campus event I'd say raise the fee $50 and in 3 years you'll pay for the pack. If you can buy used gear (I know many/most schools and municipal PACs can purchase only new stuff) you can be paid off in half the time. Or the alternative - just give them soup cans with string...
I hear you @TimMc , but then they've got to keep the string taught when they want to chat. The same lack of forethought would apply to "He's only pressing a 'Go' button." That's true until something goes wrong and you need to know enough to press 'Stop' before the auto-follows change the 6" square glass slides in the Pani's and won't simply back up without humans going out to the balcony rail.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Aaron Becker

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Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Location
US - East Coast
The dismissive tone of the original poster - they're volunteers.... who get what they get - is just plain wrong. Buying one more belt pack is going to break the bank? If this is a campus event I'd say raise the fee $50 and in 3 years you'll pay for the pack. If you can buy used gear (I know many/most schools and municipal PACs can purchase only new stuff) you can be paid off in half the time. Or the alternative - just give them soup cans with string...
Took the words right out of my mouth. If I was on the party-line, I wouldn't want to be hearing extra sounds of mic booms going up and down as people acknowledged, etc. If it was a matter of not being able to spend 50 bucks on seemingly necessary equipment, it makes me wonder what other shortcuts are being taken. Will it work, probably... but the results will be less than ideal.
 

RonHebbard

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Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Took the words right out of my mouth. If I was on the party-line, I wouldn't want to be hearing extra sounds of mic booms going up and down as people acknowledged, etc. If it was a matter of not being able to spend 50 bucks on seemingly necessary equipment, it makes me wonder what other shortcuts are being taken. Will it work, probably... but the results will be less than ideal.
@Aaron Becker I'dve heard "the words right out of your mouth" if your associate's mic boom wasn't also muting your mic. I haven't Googled up a schematic but I'm still thinking most headsets where their mic mutes by rotating the mic boom overhead achieve their muting by shorting across their dynamic mic. Thus if the OP's adapter is basically a four contact XLR two-fer with 3 connectors hard-wired in parallel, either headset muting its own mic would equate to muting both mics. Both users would have to lower their mic booms in order for either to speak / acknowledge / promptly sound an alert to a perceived problematic situation. @TimMc what're your further thoughts?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
 

Aaron Becker

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Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Location
US - East Coast
@Aaron Becker I'dve heard "the words right out of your mouth" if your associate's mic boom wasn't also muting your mic. I haven't Googled up a schematic but I'm still thinking most headsets where their mic mutes by rotating the mic boom overhead achieve their muting by shorting across their dynamic mic. Thus if the OP's adapter is basically a four contact XLR two-fer with 3 connectors hard-wired in parallel, either headset muting its own mic would equate to muting both mics. Both users would have to lower their mic booms in order for either to speak / acknowledge / promptly sound an alert to a perceived problematic situation. @TimMc what're your further thoughts?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
Point taken.
 

malex

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Location
Tampa, FL
Follow spots should be on a private line that hears only the LX calls; this way they can talk to each other... how many gigs where there is no rehearsal for spot operators? I'm thinking local awards dinners and the like where there a 2 spot ops and they decide who picks up which persons, etc. I've also done children's theatre where the spot ops came in at dress rehearsal (budget savings) and the ops make most of the decisions about which operator does what.

The dismissive tone of the original poster - they're volunteers.... who get what they get - is just plain wrong. Buying one more belt pack is going to break the bank? If this is a campus event I'd say raise the fee $50 and in 3 years you'll pay for the pack. If you can buy used gear (I know many/most schools and municipal PACs can purchase only new stuff) you can be paid off in half the time. Or the alternative - just give them soup cans with string...
My dismissive tone is not wrong for our house. The third and fourth spot ops are never my A (or even B) list crew. They are in that spot because they are required to work on a show and haven't shown any initiative to be involved in any substantial manner. The relationship is one of necessity. Please speak for yourself and not for myself or my crew. When I run four spots for a show, spots 3 & 4 may get 6 cues at most. We've done plenty of shows where they don't even have headsets, as they are standing next to another spot op who can relay any needed info to them. They know their cues because we've rehearsed them and they get good documentation. Yes, buying TWO more belt packs ($600) WILL break the bank. We're talking about a small college production with an all volunteer crew, save for myself. No, there will not be recouping any of these expenses because we are not a rental house. I buy plenty of used gear, but I'm not interested in buying used Comm, as I've dealt with more than enough roughed up headsets and beltpacks in 20+ years in entertainment. Please read my question for what it is, not for what you would rather do if you were in my position. I'm seeking input for a good idea that works for us, not your good idea that you would rather do.
 

malex

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Location
Tampa, FL
@malex Do think about the mic boom muting. If you find that raising either mic boom mutes both, it could become an annoyance when both users need to lower their mics in order for either to speak / acknowledge. Also, wire your adapter with a shielded single conductor for the mic input and a separate pair, NOT within the shield, for the earpieces. As usual, you'll have to keep an eye open for folks pressing non-shielded scroller cables into service as headset extensions. Many folks assume if the connectors mate, they MUST be using the correct cable.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard.
Thanks! Good advice on the shielded conductors.
/Puts down old scroller cable/
 

malex

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Location
Tampa, FL
Took the words right out of my mouth. If I was on the party-line, I wouldn't want to be hearing extra sounds of mic booms going up and down as people acknowledged, etc. If it was a matter of not being able to spend 50 bucks on seemingly necessary equipment, it makes me wonder what other shortcuts are being taken. Will it work, probably... but the results will be less than ideal.
Took the words right out of my mouth. If I was on the party-line, I wouldn't want to be hearing extra sounds of mic booms going up and down as people acknowledged, etc. If it was a matter of not being able to spend 50 bucks on seemingly necessary equipment, it makes me wonder what other shortcuts are being taken. Will it work, probably... but the results will be less than ideal.
Again, this is another response that is placing expectations on our theatre that are not realistic. We are a small program with no technical students and only one staff member. I am incredibly proud of the work that we do. I came to this theatre because I had tired of the soulless corporate entertainment world and yearned for the opportunity to make something great from very little. New Clear Com beltpacks are not $50. They are $300. That's the cost of a new leko, a new wireless mic, a replacement power supply for one of our 3 movers. You don't have to wonder about all the shortcuts being taken in our house, because they are legion. DJ equipment, homemade everything, reusing lumber til its 6" long, Harbor Freight tools...You name it, I'm doing it. I'm the mayor of "less than ideal" and I'm doing some great work while I'm at it.
 

malex

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Location
Tampa, FL
Paralelling the speaker side of headsets probably will work out OK.
Ying the mics together on the other hand is no different to Ying any other mics together, and not a good idea.
Refer to Rane's Why not Wye note for the details: http://www.rane.com/note109.html
Thanks, It's been a long time since I've had to think about such an issue, but it's all coming back to me now. This splitter may just become a listen-only device for the second headset.
 

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