XLR Splitters and cables for BHK Pre

Splitting BHK via xlr for subwoofer

My system:
DSD > 1m Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference II > BHK Pre > 2m Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference II > Focal SM9 active monitors

I’m adding 1 (for now) JL Audio F112v2. I will need a stereo 3m run to reach the likely optimal subwoofer location (a corner).

My intention is to use an XLR splitter like this Mogami or the quite expensive Purist Audio Design splitter. Splitters are preferred in my mind because they a) don’t require a third cable as would a separate splitter box and b) aren’t another ugly box I have to hide.

QUESTION: does it matter what 3m xlr cable I use on the second branch of the splitter over to the subwoofer? (I’d prefer to use something less expensive than the Acoustic Zen)
What characteristics should I prioritize in choosing this second run?

My default choice is Gotham Audio, a pro audio outfit in Pennsylvania who do custom lengths of well-shielded and well-priced cables I enjoyed, before upgrading to the Acoustic Zen. Open to other options.


Would you mind clarifying what you’re planning and correct me if the following has completely missed. Since the BHK preamp only has one set of XLR outs, the only ways I’m seeing the sense in your question is if you’re planning to use a splitter on each preamp output and then a 2-to-1 combiner from them for the sub, or run the Focal’s through the sub. I’m guessing not the latter. The general rule is that the signal SQ the Focal’s get can’t be any better than the what the sub gets. In which case, it would pay at least to use the best splitters you can handle. But that can get expensive. In which case maybe the alternatives are worth considering.

One alternative is still running the speakers in parallel, i.e., the sub from the BHK’s unbalanced outputs with a Y-combiner (or whatever it’s called) for one channel. That is, if the preamp can handle using both sets of outputs without noticeable degradation. Paul advises against that with the DS dac because of greater impedance, but user reports on these forums say it’s not been an SQ problem with normal length runs. In the RCA scenario, it still would probably pay to use a good 2-to-1 combiner and a good cable to the sub. It might be worth comparing something cheap, such as a Neutrik or Mogami or ? with the Purist or one from another cable developer (check with Cardas, for example).

Instead of splitting the BHK XLR out, you might consider using a speaker level to line level converter.
I use the Jensen Iso Max SP-2SX converter.
In my application the subs sounded substantially better connected this way to my amps outputs.
I tried most of the available XLR “y” splitters before going with this converter.

A transformer is not a bad idea, although it does add another set of IC’s, which the OP is trying to avoid. In that scenario, trying something like DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 might also be an option, which then adds room correction. Beyond that, JLA sells an excellent crossover, CR-1, which has tuning software for the Fathom, but that adds a pretty penny, even used.

I purchased four of this type of XLR Splitter cables from Blue Jeans Cable. Belden 1508a. They work great and wont break the bank…


Chris_y, In theory at least, that should work, you will be getting half the output voltage of the BHK to your sub and the speakers so your signal to noise ratio will suffer a little bit. At least it will still be balanced for noise rejection.

Just a thought, you might be able to have your 2m Acoustic Zen modified with a pigtail of another cable, or an XLR so you could attach what ever cable you wanted. That would eliminate the additional XLR to XLR connection in the run to your speakers.

The other option is to use the balanced ins and outs on the sub, placing it in line between your BHK and your speakers. You still have an adapter in a sense but without the signal level drop of a Y connector.

mrderrick, he does not have a speaker level output to do that with. His speakers are active, which means the amplifier is built into the speaker, and the outputs are inside the box.

highstream, his subwoofer has stereo inputs, so he does not have to combine the signal to mono.

Good point. Still, it will take a pair of splitters from the preamp and it’s counterproductive to use good cables to the Focal’s but not match that with the adapters.

Yes, I agree. Unless he gets a custom pigtail style cable made, or runs it thru the balanced in/outs on his new subwoofer.

Thanks, all for the ideas.

@hlg3 - I’ve just re-verified - the F112/3 don’t have line level outputs … they only have a single (presumably summed mono) output for a slave sub. This pigtail arrangement sound interesting… but if nothing else leaves you with a very expensive piece you can neither upgrade nor easily sell. : / I think I’ll try my luck with splitters first.

@netspecht-2 - thanks for the recommendation. I’ll consider that as well as the mogami. I have a couple recommendations from the pro world as well.

@Highstream - I was unable to find any XLR splitters from Cardas. Are you aware of any?

Anyone have any advice on which cables to use?

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I’m still confused. Why would it matter if the the F112 has line level outputs, unless you planned to run the Focal’s through them, which as you imply is not possible with that sub, and if it were would require an extra long IC to get to the speaker on the other side. So you’re stuck with either using something in-between, such as a crossover or a transformer, or two splitters coming out of the BHK to the sub’s inputs; or you could use the BHK’s XLR and RCA outputs in a parallel run.

Cardas: http://www.cardas.com/adaptors.php (do a google search for best prices). But if you don’t see what you want at Cardas, contact them. I don’t know Cardas, but cable companies like that put together custom connectors all the time. Also do a search for “XLR Y splitter” and see what comes up. Several months ago, I found a Cardas adapter that way at substantial discount (can’t find the darn thing now).

Sorry, my bad, I JL confused with another brand.

With the increasing number of customers who could take advantage of dual main outputs. I wonder if PS Audio will consider dual outputs on the next generation of the BHK preamp? As far as space goes, the input side could be reduced to 5 from 6, and the rear panel layout could remain the same.

We have previously discussed this. As I recall, the majority would prefer not to lose the input.

I think @hlg3 was considering the option of running a single pair of xlr to the sub, and using an XLR output from the sub to then run to the Focal monitors. Some subwoofers (lower-end JL Audios if I recall) have something like this, so that users with small speakers could run a high-passed signal back to their amp.

Anyway to your point: you’re right, this kind of arrangement even if it were possible would require a really long run from the sub to my monitors. It’s not practical.

To further clarify my system: normally JL recommends that this kind of sub be run with full range speakers, running a full-range signal; you would use the sub controls to blend crossover point, curve and level to blend in. I may do that. However, the SM9s have a high-pass switch, which allows me to neatly roll off their output at 45, 60, or 90 hz.

I would then, in theory, have a more tidy roll-off curve to blend with the sub controls. I would then, in theory, locate the sub in a spot that minimizes room interactions (I.e., a corner) and locate the monitors (which might not be doing anything under 90hz) to optimize, say, upper midbass, imaging, etc.

I’m trying to design my way out of the speaker room interaction whereby the speaker location optimizing imaging may activate a room mode in the bass, and the optimal location for bass isn’t optimal for other characteristics.

Will be interesting to see what works best.

I’m not advocating for any changes necessarily… It is possible after the fact to buy splitters; but not very possible to add more inputs.

With that said: how many people actually have that many inputs? It seems to me that the vast majority of people have lots of digital inputs (all going into their dac), but precious few analog inputs:
Phono stage
Surround processor (assuming it doesn’t go into your dac)?
Reel-to-reel tape deck stage?

I had to be creative to get to 4. Even though the addl xlr out provides a function that can be added after the fact, it’s a function that perhaps a lot more people would value and use than a 5th analog input.

Anyway, I know these decisions are thought through carefully, and that changes cost money. But if we’re voting (again?) my vote is for another xlr output.

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In taking a closer look at the back of the Fathom (photo) and the specs yesterday, I was surprised, given the place in its line and the cost, that it doesn’t include line level outputs. Those are included in their lower end e-110/112 models, although only RCA’s (as is common on the lower end subs almost across the board).

Yes… As I mentioned my understanding is that JLA is pitching these top-line subs as part of a system where the main speaker is already full range and does not need a high-pass filtered signal.
If you want to do that, I believe JLA is happy to sell you their separate line-level crossover. :slight_smile:

That was a significant factor in my recent pre-amp purchase. The two per channel XLR outs were something I needed.

Does something like this work, it is active