Can you have a 32-port splitter?

This is the Medusa, a mythical creature with a head full of snakes. A 32-port splitter would be just as ugly.

Our customer service department recently got a request for a 32-port splitter, to run the same signal to 32 TVs. We don’t carry such a thing, and neither does anyone else… because it’s a very bad idea. Let’s talk about why:

Two words: Signal Loss.
When you take a signal and split it 32 times, the math is just not on your side. Just in the splitting it, you lose about 97% of the signal strength. This could potentially mean that the signal is weaker than the noise that is just naturally present on the cable. When that happens with digital signals, you lose all signal.

It can get worse with amplifiers
You can add amplifiers to put back some of what you’ve lost, but amplifiers also add more noise, even the best of them. So it’s possible you effectively could lose 80% of the little bit of signal you have left, because as the noise builds up on the line, the signal could be swallowed up just that much more easily.

But… what about DIRECTV and their 32-port multiswitch?
A multiswitch is more than just a splitter. It performs very specific tasks and isn’t just taking a signal and splitting it 32 times, even though that’s the effect.

So… if you can’t do that, what can you do?

If you’re trying to get a signal to 32 TVs, we recommend a modulator and amplifiers along the way. The modulator will take the signal, reprocess it and output it on a specific channel at a much higher power level. From there, you can run lines to individual TVs, using taps along the way (a tap is a special kind of splitter designed for this sort of purpose.) As you need, you can add amplifiers to try to preserve the quality of the signal. With the correct setup and high-quality cables, 32 TVs should be absolutely no problem.

Of course that’s a much more expensive solution, but it’s a solution that works. That’s the bottom line here. You can buy a 1×4 splitter and feed four 1×8 splitters with it… that will give you 32 outputs. Chances are it won’t work, even if you amplify. If it does work, that’s great, but it’s still not something we can recommend for everyone. This is a case where there is a right way and a wrong way. We’re happy to sell you the parts you need to try to do it the wrong way, but we’re also here to advise you and it wouldn’t be really responsible of us to tell you something’s going to work when it isn’t.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.