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Recording Two Mics Independently With One 3.5mm Plug | HosaTech YMM-261 Stereo Splitter

Thanks to Peter B who, in the comments section of our article Recording Face to Face, In-Person Interviews for a Podcast, recommended we check out the Hosa Technology YMM-261 Stereo Breakout cable.

Update: April 2018 – We're getting some reports from users who're having trouble getting this splitter to work with the Zoom H1. To see the ones we've checked it with, you'll find a list of confirmed compatible recorders at the bottom of the post.

We frequently recommend the use of splitters in various podcasting setups which involve two or more people.

A traditional headphone splitter takes one signal and splits it into two. This means you can have two pairs of headphones connected and listening to the same source, or you can connect two mics (with 3.5mm plugs) and feed them into the same recording.

The downside of recording with a standard splitter is that both microphones essentially become one single mic. This means there is no differentiation from one mic to the next. Even if you record in stereo, the left side of the track will be a mirror image of the right – there's no separation at all between the participants.

Two mics running into the YMM-261

Splitting in Stereo

The HosaTech YMM-261 Stereo is designed with the above problem in mind.

I ran two ATR 3350 lav mics into the splitter, and this time there was a clear distinction between both mics.

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When you record in this manner, in post-production you can split the sides of your stereo track into two mono tracks in your recording/editing software.

This means you can alter the levels of each participant independently, if one person was a bit too loud or a bit too quiet.

Two mics running into a standard splitter

My first choice for using two lav mics simultaneously is to run them into the Zoom H5‘s XLR/TRS combo ports, using 3.5mm to 1/4″ mono adapters.

This gives you full control over both mics, and you can set the gain of each independently before and during the recording.

But if you're using a smaller model of recorder that only has a 3.5mm port for external inputs, the YMM-261 gets you as close to two-channel recording as you're likely to find with this type of setup.

Four Track Recording

If you're using a recorder with two XLR/TRS combo ports, as well as a 3.5mm input (such as the Zoom H4 or Zoom H5), then you can use four microphones at the same time.

The two mics feeding into the combo ports will record on independent channels, while the YMM-261 will split its mics into a stereo track.

These can be separated into two mono tracks in post-production. All tracks can then be processed independently in your editing software.

This setup is like having a mobile radio studio with you at all times, and it's a fantastic option for shows, or 'roundtable' recordings of four people.

Summary

At a cost of £4, or $6, it's an easy decision to add the Hosa Technology YMM-261 Stereo Breakout to your equipment bag.

It's an incredibly simple piece of kit to plug in and use, and will turn your lav mics into a stereo pair if you're recording into one single 3.5mm port.

For more audio gear reviews, check out our full podcast equipment guide.

Zoom H1 Issues: April 2018

Whilst we look into potential issues with the splitter and the Zoom H1, here are the recorders we've successfully tested it with recently.

Discussion:

  1. Peter on 27th September 2017 at 11:42 am

    Great Info! I was looking for something like that because I want to record two independent channels simultaneously. I would like to use this setup for interviews (two lavalier or dynamic mics) and for backup purposes when I record skype interviews. I hope the splitter is working the same (recording two channels independently) when I want to record two sound sources from my PC/mixer to digital recorder. Altough I will be using Tascam DR 05 via Mic/ext in so I have question. It’s the same way like Zoom H1 I suppose so my question is can I alter the levels of each sound sources coming in by splitter independently while recording or I’ll be able to do it only in post production?

  2. Scott on 3rd March 2018 at 4:47 am

    Bought this splitter, but it doesn’t work with my zoom h1.

  3. Sascha on 13th March 2018 at 4:46 am

    I wonder if you are not concerned about any sound bleed if the talents are sitting across from each other? Would’t each lavalier microphone pick up the sound from the other talent in addition to their own sound? Hosa YMM-261

  4. Wesley on 28th March 2018 at 3:34 am

    I bought this item (Hosa YMM-261 stereo breakout cable), at your recommendation. However, it is NOT working for me. I also purchased two lav mics (Movo LV1 – which look identical to the BOYA BY-M1 on your site), but when I plug both my lav mics into the YMM-261, it doesn’t pick up the signal from either mic (all recordings are from the laptop mic – I’m using a 2012 Macbook Air). BUt when I plug just one lav mic in, it works fine – obviating the need for a splitter. Can someone please help?? I hope I’m doing something wrong and not that the recommended product is a dud…

    • You can't have my name on 25th May 2018 at 4:56 pm

      Without seeing your exact setup, it’s hard to say for sure, but you seem to be describing the exact same symptoms I am having. I also bought the Hosa splitter and 2 lav mics this week on the recommendation of this blog post, and have the same issues. Some things I’ve found that might explain why:

      – My computer (2016 Thinkpad) has a “combination” jack that can do both mic input and sound output. The male end of the Hosa splitter is a single stereo plug that I think doesn’t jive with the input of the computer.
      – If you take a look at your two lav mics, I’m betting that they are TRRS (they have 3 black rings on the connector rather than 2, which would be TRS). The Hosa splitter takes 2 TRS (note the single R, i.e. the 2 ring kind) inputs on the female end and outputs a single “TSF” signal. I can’t find TSF anywhere except on Hosa branded websites, so my best guess says it’s a proprietary connector type they made up, but which is basically just a normal stereo output. The two lav mic’s I bought each came with a TRRS to TRS adapter which would presumably allow my mic-to-Hosa connection to be working, so I’m pretty confident that the issue is that my Hosa-to-computer connection is the thing causing the issue. If your computer works like mine, I’m betting that if the computer doesn’t recognize the device plugged in to the mic input, that it pretends there’s nothing and defaults back to any onboard mic.

      I think the long and the short of it is that your best bet is to have the Hosa’s output go into a dedicated recording device rather than your computer, or at least channel it to a dedicated stereo input. After lots of testing, I’m thinking my computer (and maybe yours too) has TRRS inputs and so it might be necessary to find an adapter that can convert from the Hosa’s stereo (male end) output to the computer’s TRRS input, then it could all work.

      I am not an expert at all, in fact I know almost nothing about this stuff, just what I’ve found from trial and error and google in the last couple days, so take all of the above with a cup of salt.

  5. ZoomH1 on 29th March 2018 at 4:11 pm

    The cable splitter does not work

  6. dabiri oluwaseun on 20th June 2018 at 11:13 am

    can i use this to record straight into audacity using two lavalier mics recorded into one channel

    • Katy on 6th August 2018 at 1:26 pm

      Did you ever work this out?

      1) I have the same question as above.

      2) if using this device with, how can you also use headphones?

  7. Ian on 7th October 2018 at 12:48 am

    The Traktor DJ Cable works to split the right and left channels.

    I’ve been looking around for an alternative to the Hosa YMM-261 cable, and stumbled upon the Traktor DJ Cable. The Traktor DJ Cable is not specifically sold as an input cable, but it basically does the same thing as the Hosa YMM-26. I picked one up locally, and it works – independent right and left channel verified on my Zoom H1. The Traktor DJ Cable ($11) is more expensive than Hosa YMM-261 ($5), but it works.

    If you’re in Vancouver, Canada, Tom Lee music carries the Traktor DJ Cable.

    Here’s the Amazon link.
    https://www.amazon.com/Native-Instruments-22472-Traktor-8-Inch/dp/B00E411NG6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1538868807&sr=8-2&keywords=traktor%2Bdj%2Bcable&th=1

  8. RICHARD on 27th October 2018 at 1:55 am

    Any idea if this cable will support the plug-in power for a lab like giant squid?

  9. Peter on 5th November 2018 at 12:51 am

    With Hosa YMM-261 3.5 mm TRS to Dual 3.5 mm TSF Stereo Breakout cable… For Zoom H1(FW2.0), it was plug and play for me, it just works! For Zoom F1, at first only the Left channel works, the right channel is something like 90% muted. Eventually, what I figured out is that you have go into Menu, Record/Play, Rec File (NOT ‘Rec File Name’), and set it to L/R -> Stereo. The F1 defaults to Lch -> Mono! I suspect people having similar issues with other Zoom recorder may have to do something similar!

  10. Denis BEURIVE on 22nd December 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Hello,

    I found this article very interesting. I was looking for an affordable solution to record interviews using two microphones. This splitter “Hosa Technology YMM-261 Stereo Breakout” (http://hosatech.com/product/ymp-137/) seems to be the best solution.

    Before anything else : I am a complete newbie in the field of recording. My goal is not to produce state of the art recording. I want to interview people in France that are poisoned by fluoroquinolones, in order to alert the media. Thus, I need to produce “decent” quality recording while minimising the amount of work.

    I have read a lot of materials and I finally understand (or, at least I think that I understand) that to make this splitter work, we need a recorder with a “stereo mic input”.

    If I am correct, then the Zoom H1 or the Zoom H2n should be compatible with this splitter since it is written :

    * H1: (Mic/line input) 1/8″ stereo phone jack (Plug-in power supported)

    * H2n : Stereo ⅛” Mic/Line In mini phone jack with Plug-in power (2.5V)

    Note : I guess that 1/8″ = 3.5 mm. But I may be wrong.

    I am correct when I assume that this splitter works with the H1 and the H2n ?

    Can you point out a “simpler/cheaper” recorder that would work ?

    Thanks a lot.

    Denis

    • little J on 1st March 2019 at 8:28 pm

      Dennis– The Olympus VN721PC 2GB Digital Voice Recorder is definitely cheaper and simpler. I use it and can confirm that it works with the recommended splitter. At $49, currently, listed on Amazon, it is cheaper. I bought mine for $20. The price has gone up as it seems that it is supposed to be considered obsolete. You can get them on eBay as well. If you want the Amazon link, here it is — https://amzn.to/2NBXxuf

  11. little J on 1st March 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Add this one to the list of “tested and it works” field recorders: Olympus VN721PC 2GB Digital Voice Recorder

    I am using this very successfully with that recorder. 🙂

  12. Mayan on 9th May 2019 at 3:34 pm

    If you don’t need 4 track.
    You can use a Rode VXLR+ adaptor to plug the second lav mic into the XLR port.

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Written by:

Matthew McLean

Matthew is an audio drama writer and producer who enjoys talking about podcasts. He makes the tea at The Podcast Host, and is a loyal servant of adopted house rabbits.

February 27th 2017