A breakout box is a device in which a multi-cable electric line is split into its component cables in order to allow for testing or signal enhancement.
There are two main types of breakout boxes. They include breakout boxes that are built to enhance or customize audio or visual signals and breakout boxes that are created to test electronic equipment.
Breakout boxes, commonly referred to as BoB's are generally small to medium sized boxes. The smallest boxes can easily fit in a computer's hard drive bay and are usually installed to enhance or customize the sound card in a computer. Other types of breakout boxes can be as big as a rack system made especially for musicians or fit neatly into a laptop docking station.
For the most part, a breakout box allows you to work with A/V connections away from the actual audio or video source. Mainly used by professionals or pro amateurs, a breakout box can give you a large degree of customization to enhance audio and video signals.
In many A/V devices, compound electrical connectors are used. Compound electrical connectors deny access to each single component – usually due to the small space available. However, a breakout box enables compound electrical connectors to be separated into component connectors – allowing an individual to easily access each connector – making it possible to customize or enhance the A/V signal. Breakout boxes are sometimes used by musicians or audio video editors to easily send signals to different components.
While enhancement and customization of audio and video signals is one of the main uses for a breakout box, the other relatively common use is to test and repair electronic equipment. Using a breakout box, a technician can easily analyze and test electronic equipment by specifically testing each component and its connection. Many breakout boxes are specifically created for debugging and repairing technical equipment.
Breakout boxes can vary in price, some breakout boxes for repair and analysis use can cost less than $40. For breakout boxes that are used for enhancements and customization of high end audio and video equipment, expect prices to be well over $100.