What can I use to smash 3 sound cards together to go into the speakers so I don't have to swap cables? I'd like to hear all 3 at once
January 19, 2005 6:51 AM   Subscribe

I have 3 computers, each with sound cards. I have one set of speakers. What can I use to smash 3 sound cards together to go into the speakers so I don't have to swap cables? I'd like to hear all 3 at once. (more inside)

I already have a KVM which is very good but doesn't have sound switching. I don't really want to switch the sound anyways. I don't like hooking from one sound card to the next because it doesn't like it when I turn off computers in the middle of the chain.

This seems like it would be a common problem to me, so I feel kinda silly not knowing an immediate solution!
posted by cmm to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
When we needed to feed multiple PC sound outputs into our audible alarm system at work, we used a small, inexpensive mixer, like this one.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:04 AM on January 19, 2005

Another cheap mixer.
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:23 AM on January 19, 2005

Couple of these would be a low-tech solution for less than ten bucks.
posted by googly at 7:24 AM on January 19, 2005

Here's what I do at home: I feed the line out of one computer into the line in on the next with jack-to-jack leads, until the last computer, which gets plugged into the speakers.

This will only work while the next computer in the chain is switched on, so I have the speakers plugged into my primary machine.

Bodgy, but good.
posted by viama at 7:44 AM on January 19, 2005

I can't find it on their website, but Radio Shack makes a 3 to 1 adapter, kinda like the 2 to 1 googly linked to. I have one at home. All you would need is a gender changer or a cable with a female input on one end like an extension cable.
posted by internal at 7:54 AM on January 19, 2005

I have the same set-up you describe with three audios going into one set of speakers. I just daisy-chain two Y-adapters on top of each other (see Googly's link).
posted by skylar at 8:07 AM on January 19, 2005

Suggest you pick up a DJ mixer. The Behringer that AlexReynolds tipped would work (however each of the 8 channels is mono, so you would need to use 2 channels per output).

Try one designed as a DJ mixer like this. Anything made for DJs will have RCA inputs (instead of 1/4 inch or XLR), L&R stereo on each mixer channel and let you cue using headphones. Make sure that each channel has a line input.

I have found Behringer stuff to be a great value. I use an older one of their mixers and it sounds better than the Numark that I used to have.

For cheaper results, try this ebay category.

Then get yourself a turntable!
posted by omnidrew at 8:07 AM on January 19, 2005

If you're really, really, really ass-cheap try this.

You could get distortion if all 3 play at once, but each output should be protected from too much input from the other outputs via the current limiting resistors.

Enjoy and revel in the way $1 in parts (if you don't buy at Radio Shack and use an altoids tin) can make a $50 commercial product obsolete. :-D
posted by shepd at 9:03 AM on January 19, 2005

Rolls makes a bunch of little mixer boxes. They may be more convenient because they're about the size of a mouse, but they're kind of hit and miss in terms of signal quality. I've found some of their products to be very noisy. I would buy the cheapest Behringer board I could find on eBay, then you get muting control, EQs, etc..
posted by Jack Karaoke at 1:38 PM on January 19, 2005

I went to Radio Shack, bought five stereo 1/8" stereo audio jacks, eight 4.7K 1/4 watt resistors, a small project box and used my existing wire and tools to make a 1 to 4 splitter.

It goes like this:

I drilled 4 holes into the side of the box for the output jacks and installed the jacks. I drilled one hole into the top of the box for the input jack.

There are three connections to every stereo audio jack: right, left, and ground. Ground the longest stretch of exposed metal on the male jack (on your cables). This will be the connector closest to the threads on the female jack (in the splitter).

You will have 1 input and 4 outputs.

Connect all the ground connectors on the jacks together.

From the one of the other connectors on the input, connect one end of each of four 4.7K resistors (yellow violet red gold). Connect the other ends to matching connectors on the output jacks.

From the remaining connector on the input, repeat with 4 more 4.7K resistors.

On my splitter, I only needed wire to connect the grounds - there was enough wire on the resistors to span the gaps in the project box without interference.

This cost me under $10US and works juitteine.
posted by plinth at 6:20 PM on January 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

I swear that said "just fine" before I hit post.
posted by plinth at 6:22 PM on January 19, 2005

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