Speakers/Headphones/Headset Split Setup - How To?

Hey guys,
I am looking to build an audio setup that allows me to easily switch (either hardware or software switch is fine) between Speakers, Headphones and Headset.
My current headphones setup also involves a DAC/AMP (which I am willing to upgrade if need be). Since I use my headphones to listen to music I’d like to be free to experiment with hi-fi gear on that line.
I want to use Speakers mostly for ambience or for workout music, and my headset for Sales calls and meetings so they don’t have to be connected to a dac/amp (I don’t mind if they are if that would make switching easier, but I don’t need them to be).
So I am looking for a setup that would allow me with one or two clicks or just by turning a knob to be able to switch between those audio components.
I am using Arch Linux on a Thinkpad T14 laptop with a docking station. I also sometimes disconnect the laptop from the docking station when I am on the move and I plug the headset directly in.
I don’t have Speakers yet, and I am willing to buy another Headset if that will help solve this issue.
Please let me know your ideas.
Thanks :slight_smile:

1 Like

I have a setup pretty much just like you have described except I’m running W10 on a desktop PC.

I use the Arctis Pro Wireless from SteelSeries. The base station has an analog audio pass through that I have plugged into a desktop amp. I repurposed a couple satellite speakers from an old Infinity surround sound system along with it’s powered sub for desktop speakers. The audio switches over to headset automatically when they are powered on. The headset also has Bluetooth so you can receive calls from your cell phone. The base station/headset connection uses a 2.4Ghz lossless single. The headset has pretty good audio quality and is very comfortable. I would say the audio quality is on par with headphones in the $150-$200 range but you get a lot more features with Arctis Pros. It comes with 2 batteries that are charged in the base station so I pretty much never have to plug the headset in but still has that capability. So you could still plug them into your laptop with a usb cable if you want to move away from your desktop, but they are not meant to be a portable headset.

For HiFi audio, I just switch the audio device in Windows over to my Topping D7 dac and DROP+THX AAA 789 amp. I half a dozen pairs of HiFi headphones from various manufacturers. This should still with any usb dac though. I was using an Objective2 DAC/AMP before I scaled up to get the higher output XLR connections.

What do your 3 devices need source wise (RCA, 6.3mm/3.5mm jack, XLR, etc.) ?

Cheap but works
If all your devices need just 6.3mm jacks, then the ART SplitMix4 may be enough.
You can run your source(s) through the splitter (in reverse) and then through the mixer (also going in through the “output”) and then hook to the “inputs”.
(I own an ART HeadAmp 4 and have used the SplitMix4 in some less than conventional ways)

This way the mixer controls how much (if any) signal all your devices get.

Little Bear MC104 is another such device
Mackie Big Knob Passive only has 2 outputs, so you may need to split speakers/headphone amp off the same line.
(I have no experience either).

Probably the cheapest solution apart from DIY.

Monitor Controller
More elegant would be the ART SCC or similar monitor controllers.
These let you switch (multiple) sources to (multiple) outputs.
(I have no hands on experience with the ART SCC, just experience with ART in general)

More expensive than the first option (~$150).

The No Kill like Overkill:
Rack/Matrix mixer
Combines the functionallity of both above solutions into one unit. Lets you route select sources to select outputs and adjust volume levels for everything.
Completly pointless for home use, somewhat expensive (>$200)

(Don’t, the rabbit hole has no bottom…)

1 Like

I don’t want to use anything that’s wireless.

They do make a cheaper non-wireless Arctis Pro but I’m not sure if it has the same auto switch over to the auxiliary output like the wireless version. The headset design is basically the same so the comfort level should be identical. I definitely prefer the wireless. I’m a software implementation consultant so I spend a lot of time in conference calls sometimes especially when we are doing end-to-end testing so it’s good to be able to get up and walk around when I’m on calls that can last 4-6 hours. The audio quality is probably one of the best for a headset marketed for gamers but the wired ones should be just as good or better. They might have a little more volume since they wouldn’t be limited to the output of the batteries.