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Why Not Wye? When Combining Two Signals Into One Is Not A Good Idea
Anything that can be hooked up wrong, will be. You-know-who said that, and she was right...
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Termites In The Woodpile
Life is wonderful and then you stub your toe. The corner of the dresser lurking in the night of this Note has to do with applications where you want to sum two outputs together and you want to continue to use each of these outputs separately.

In other words, if all you want to do is sum two outputs together and use only the summed results (the usual application), skip this section.

The problem arising from using all three outputs (the two original and the new summed output) is one of channel separation, or crosstalk. If the driving unit truly has zero output impedance, then channel separation is not degraded by using this summing box.

However, when dealing with real-world units you deal with finite output impedances (ranging from a low of 47 ohms to a high of 600 ohms).

Even a low output impedance of 47 ohms produces a startling channel separation spec of only 27 dB, i.e., the unwanted channel is only 27 dB below the desired signal. (Technical details: the unwanted channel, driving through the summing network, looks like 1011.3 ohms driving the 47 ohms output impedance of the desired channel, producing 27 dB of crosstalk.)

Now 27 dB isn’t as bad as first imagined. To put this into perspective, remember that even the best of the old phono cartridges had channel separation specs of about this same magnitude.

Therefore stereo separation is maintained at about the same level as a high-quality hi-fi home system of the 1970s.

For professional systems this may not be enough. If a trade-off is acceptable, things can be improved.

If you scale all the resistors up by a factor of 10, then channel separation improves from 27 dB to 46 dB.

As always though, this improvement is not free. The price is paid in reduced line driving capability.

The box now has high output impedance, which prevents driving long lines. Driving a maximum of 3000 pF capacitance is the realistic limit. This amounts to only 60 feet of 50 pF/foot cable, a reasonable figure.

So if your system can stand a limitation of driving less than 60 feet, scaling the resistors is an option for increased channel separation.

Presented with permission from Rane Corporation.

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