Y Cables

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About Y Splitter Cables

What is a Y Splitter Cable?

A “Y Splitter” is a common term used for any cable that has a single connector on one end, and a dual connector on the other. Be mindful that the use of “splitter” can be deceiving since a Y cable will duplicate the signal from the single connector end, while a stereo breakout will split a single balanced signal into two unbalanced outputs. Both of these are types of Y splitter cables but perform very different tasks. All Y splitter cables found on this page are Hosa Y cables. If you are looking for stereo breakouts, you can find them here.

Y Splitter Cable Benefits

Y splitter cables are lifesavers in the audio world. Sometimes your equipment only provides a single output to work with, or perhaps you require more outputs than your equipment allows. By duplicating that signal with a Y cable, you create an additional output. This may be needed if you want to send a duplicate output to two different sets of speakers. It’s also common for sharing headphones from a single device that has a single output, like a laptop computer or tablet.

How to Use Y Splitter Cables

When using Y splitter cables or Y adapter cables, begin by identifying the function you require from the splitter. Next, find the correct connector type for your output, typically ¼”, 3.5mm, or XLR, and determine the connector type you need for wherever it’s going. In the case of wanting to plug in 2 sets of headphones from a single laptop headphone jack, you’d need a Y cable with one 3.5mm TRS male end and two 3.5mm TRS female outputs to plug each headphone into, such as the YMM-232.

Types of Y Splitter Cables

There are three basic types of Y splitter cables: Y cables, stereo breakouts, and insert cables. And each of these can be found with multiple connector variations. The most common audio connector types are XLR, ¼” TRS, ¼” TS, 3.5mm, and RCA. Sometimes it is as simple as going from the same connector type to another, but it’s not always that simple. You may need a “male” to “male” connection sometimes, but other times a “male” to “female” connection. A good example would be the Hosa CYS-103, which goes from a single ¼” TRS male end to two ¼” TRS male ends. The Hosa YPP-118 is functionally the same, however it goes from a single ¼” TRS male end to two ¼” TRS female ends. This allows you to use an existing ¼” TRS cable with male ends. There are other times you may need to mix connection types, such as the Hosa YPR-124 going from a ¼” TS end to dual RCA. All of these configurations can be found with each end being either male or female.

Y Splitter Cable vs Stereo Breakout

There is a lot of confusion around these ubiquitous Y’s. As already stated, a Y splitter cable or adapter refers only to the category of cables consisting of a total of three connector ends. A stereo breakout is only one type of Y splitter designed to split a stereo signal from one connector to two independent connectors carrying each side. These two are commonly confused for one another, and one can understand since they look the same. Despite how they look, a Y splitter cable is a general term for a variety of adapter cables, including the Y cables found on this page. While a stereo breakout will actually split a stereo signal. Unlike Y cables, stereo breakouts tend to have different colors somewhere on the connector to differentiate between the left and right outputs. For more detailed information on the difference and different types of Y splitter cables, read our blog Y or Y Not.