What splitter cable for Apple earbuds AND speakers into a MacBook?
August 14, 2018 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I have a Macbook. For Skype I use Apple earbuds. For music I have speakers with a normal 3.5mm jack. I'd like a splitter cable that lets me plug both the speakers AND the earbuds into the MacBook's headphone/mic socket at once, so I'm not forever swapping them. What splitter do I need? Most seem to split the cable into separate mic + phones.
posted by dowcrag to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I suspect you want something like this TRRS splitter. You want to make sure that you have a TRRS (not TRS) splitter so it will pass the additional mic signal from the earbuds. I'm not 100% sure that this will work, though -- if the computer tries to sense whether there is a microphone attached to the port, the splitter might confuse it.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:59 AM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

The only other option I can think of is connecting your speakers through bluetooth audio to your macbook, while directing your communications stuff through your headphones. I do this in windows 10 but I'm not positive how hard it is to do on a macbook. On a google, it looks like it is possible.

Another option would be to use a usb sound card to add another 3.5mm jack to your pc. I've done this before, again with PC, and it worked great.
posted by bbqturtle at 8:46 AM on August 14, 2018

If you have them both on the same socket at the same time, won't your Skype calls go through both your ear buds AND your speakers, creating a background echo?
posted by jillithd at 8:57 AM on August 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

What uncleozzy said, but I've personally found it's often a lot easier to just use a simple USB audio interface for situations like this. They're ~$10 and typically plug-and-play with MacOS. They usually have separate mic/speaker outputs though instead of a TRRS jack so you'd want to use that for the speakers, not the earbuds. (btw, you can easily change audio interfaces in MacOS by option+clicking the volume icon in the menu bar.)

This would also avoid the situation jillithd refers to.
posted by neckro23 at 9:02 AM on August 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

A simple TRRS splitter probably wouldn't work because the TRS plug on the speakers would short the mic ring to the sleeve, causing the mic to not work. A breakout adapter like this one would do the job - it has two TRRS jacks and a normal TRS jack. Plug the speakers into the TRS jack and the headset into one of the TRRS ones. But I have a feeling that neckro23's suggestion above of using a small USB audio interface would work the best.
posted by zsazsa at 9:58 AM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil software (free trial, US$29). This lets you automatically assign audio input and output by application (including "system default").
posted by Jesse the K at 1:08 PM on August 14, 2018

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