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 for recording two mics independently.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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This means you can alter the levels of each participant independently, if one person was a bit too loud or a bit too quiet.
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.
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.
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.
For a deeper dive into the lake of recording techniques, have a look at The Podcast Host Academy. There, you'll find tons of courses, resources and videos about how to make your podcast sound better.