Don't forget to up-vote the question or answer if you find it helpful! If it's your own question and you're very happy with an answer you can accept it as best answer.
I'm thinking of adding an XLR Y-cable into my setup when I'm only recording with one mic to allow me to have a back-up recording at a lower level. This should be particularly useful when recording sources with a strong dynamic range as they increase the potential for clipping.
I was just wondering if anyone has any expereince with this or currently uses a similair signal chain? From what I've read, with the singal being split only once there wouldn't be any negative effects and if there were these would be minor and not of real concern. Would you agree?
Just for reference, an example of my signal chain would be:
Rode NTG-2 Shotgun
XLR (Y-cable or with Y adapter attached)
2x Zoom H4n XLR inputs - One 'hot' and one at a lower 'safety' level
You shouldn't have an issue with one split off of a mic. You should probably use the battery power option on the NTG2 , just to keep things simple. In general, this method will probably work better with a set of higher input impedance pre-amps. That's just a general observation, as I don't know what the input impedance on the H4n is off the top of my head.
Of course, you can always to a quick test record before trying to use this method out in the field. You're not going to damage your mic or the recorder.
Please note: When commenting on someone's question or answer, you will not receive notification on follow up comments unless you are mentioned with @Username. So for Andrew Spitz, you only need to use @Andrew
I've once rented a Tascam 2-chanel recorder and the rental service gave me an Y-Cable for the reason you mentioned.
Actually it would be really nice to have, but I was (and still am) unsure about what happens once phantom power is applied. I was a bit afraid that it may cause a short-curcuit or something else that would harm the recorder.
Al, it sounds like you're getting a little more serious about recording audio. It may be time to look into a small 2 or 3 channel field mixer - the Y-cable is not a solution most sound mixers would suggest. For a few hundred, not only will you be able to run a safety without possibly messing up your mic or H4n, but your recordings will sound richer from the mixers mic-pre, you'll have limiters to prevent distorting your recorder, and a High Pass Filter to give you more control of the ambience.
Go out and rent a mixer, I think you'll be surprised how much better your mic sounds.
If you can only use a single mic then the Y-split is a good backup plan for extreme dynamic ranges.
There is sometimes a slight drop in sensitivity when you power a mic by its battery rather than by phantom, some mic manufacturers list the difference. If you want to run the mic off phantom, which is usually the best option, make sure that you get an inline phantom power blocker for one of the split channels.