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How to convert balanced xlr signal to unbalanced signal?? Bal. Output --> Unbal Input
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refae
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#1
27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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How to convert balanced xlr signal to unbalanced signal?? Bal. Output --> Unbal Input

I have a portable monitor rig I'm trying to troubleshoot...

What I'm basically asking is:

How do I take the balanced xlr output from a DI box, or a mic splitter, and convert it to a 1/4" TS unbalanced signal, so that it can be fed to a mixer that only accepts unbalanced input.

The trouble I'm having is:

Using a Rane SM82 line mixer which only accepts unbalanced inputs, in conjunction w/ DI box & mic splitter which only output XLR balanced. I thought an XLR to TS cable would work to convert the balanced to unbalanced signal, and I do get output from the Rane, however the levels are WAYYYYY too low.

When I use the Parallel 1/4" out on the DI, or plug an unbalanced source directly into the back of the mixer, I have perfectly normal levels. But when I patch using the XLR to TS from the DI or splitter, I have a level drop, and it's annoying!

Can someone please explain why this is happening?

What I've arrived at is I need the reverse of a DI box-- I need to take the output of a DI, or the transformer out of a mic splitter, and turn it into an unbalanced signal to be fed to the mixer so that the levels are not too low.

If this doesn't work, would adding a pre-amplifier between the Rane output and the speaker work? I mean I'm using a Mackie 350 and the levels are wayyyyy too low and the speaker & mixer are literally at MAX!

HELP!!!!!!!!
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27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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why are you not using the 'thru" of the DI box to send your signal? this should be a TS unbalanced output.

what instrument are you using this for? what is it ultimately feeding signal into? what is the Rane going to?
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27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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refae
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27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by always_ending View Post
why are you not using the 'thru" of the DI box to send your signal? this should be a TS unbalanced output.

what instrument are you using this for? what is it ultimately feeding signal into? what is the Rane going to?

What I'm trying to do is connect an EWI FDB-404 4 ch DI box, and a EWI MST-412 4 ch. transformer iso mic splitter, both to the Rane SM82, all in a 2U case, for ease of portability and to save space. Portable monitor rig.

The reason I don't use the parallel out on the DI box is that the parallel out is on the front of the unit, I wanted it internally wired, the XLR out is on the back.

I can definitely use TS to TS cables to patch the DI in & I won't have any problem.

However, that still doesn't solve the problem of running my splitter into the line mixer, that has only XLR outs.

Have I just made a foolish mistake in buying a line mixer & trying to run mics into it? Or is there a cheapish/easy solution for running 4 mic splits into a mixer that accepts only unbalanced inputs??

To answer your q's, the signal chain is:

ipod/guitar/any line source TS ----> TS in on DI box ----> XLR out to TS in on Rane Mixer ---> TS out on Rane Aux send to TS in on Mackie 350v2

(of course, I can get around the XLR-->TS problem for line sources here by using the parallel output as mentioned, so half my problem is solved)

mic XLR ---> mic splitter XLR ----> transformer iso XLR out ----> TS input on Rane Mixer (this is where I'm having a level drop, w/ the XLR to TS cable between the XLR out and the TS input of the Rane) ---> TS out on Rane Aux Send to TS in on Mackie 350v2

This is the problem I'm not able to get around.

Really, the XLR-->TS cables actually DO work, I am able to balance & mix everything on the Rane & the Main Outs, while not as hot as when running unbalanced sources directly into the Rane mixer, are still loud enough to montior when I pump the rane & the Mackie to *max* capacity (which isn't very loud).

However, the Aux Send is still too low to be useful, and I need to use it sometimes. So I'm wondering-- if there is no solution for properly wiring the mic splitter to the line mixer, would an alternate solution be to use some kind of pre-amp between the line mixer & the active speaker? I just need to get every thing like 10-20DB LOUDER!!!! I have zero headroom & that doesn't work for a monitoring rig!

Thanks for staying engaged w/ me on this one.
refae
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27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Lau View Post
Thanks for the input, I did read the thread & check out the diagram you posted, however I'm having a hard time understanding it. Would simply re-wiring my XLR-->TS cables a different way be a solution? Basically what I want is for the balanced signal that's coming to the XLR side of the cable to become unbalanced on the TS side of the cable so that I can input it into the Rane line mixer.

Right now the Rane gives me a very low level when I use the XLR-->TS cable to patch into it, however when I patch TS-->TS directly in to it, the level is normal.

Thanks for your help
refae
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27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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I called Rane, apparently it is a low-impedance-->high impedance problem.

Any source coming from the XLR outs on the transformer iso on the splitter (or the XLR outs on the DI for that matter) are balanced & therefore low impedance.

Therefore what I need is a low-z --> hi-z transformer like this:

Audio-Technica CP8201 Transformer at zZounds

Actually, I need 4 of them.

I will also need 4 TS to TS patch cables (for the parallel outs on the DI box) & 4 XLR to XLR patch cables (for the outs on the mic splitter to the AT transformer adapters).

Also, my 8 XLR to TS patch cables are apparently totally useless to me. I'm trying to see if I can return them.

Note to self: ALWAYS BUY CABLES LOCAL, for this reason.

I feel like such an idiot, this is gonna cost me like $100+ more than I imagined.... ugh
#7
27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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Before you go and buy more stuff, let me tell you that your level problem is trying to run mic-level out of DIs into a line level mixer.

You need preamplifiers, either built into a mixer, or preceding a mixer with line level inputs.

I know you wanted rack mounted, but it doesn't exist with the number of preamps you need. External preamps will cost you more money and still take up space in the rack. You'd be better off with an Allen and Heath Zed 18 or Zed 16FX.
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27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M4-10 View Post
Before you go and buy more stuff, let me tell you that your level problem is trying to run mic-level out of DIs into a line level mixer.
Yeah, I understand that. So why wouldn't a Low-Z to Hi-Z transformer work?

That would take the mic-level and boost it to line level into the mixer, right?

I am going to try it, I can always return the adapters to the store.

The line mixer I've purchased will incur a 15% restock fee + S&H, if I want to return it, so I'm more inclined to solve it with transformers than mic pres, if that will work...

Actually, even with the XLR-->TS cables, the Main Outs are loud enough to monitor, even w/o using a Lo-Hi transformer. The main problem is that sometimes I will need to run my own sound (small coffeeshops, etc) and send one main out to a main room speaker, and the aux send to my monitor, except that the aux send using the XLR-->TS wiring isn't at a usable volume, way too low...

I can't afford another mixer or mic pres, etc., if this transformer thing doesn't work I'll have reconsider the whole thing, if it does work...
#9
27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by refae View Post
Yeah, I understand that. So why wouldn't a Low-Z to Hi-Z transformer work?

That would take the mic-level and boost it to line level into the mixer, right?

I am going to try it, I can always return the adapters to the store.
Hearing is believing so go ahead and try, but no, it won't boost the level. If I were you I'd test it in the store to save you a trip to return it!
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27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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If you can't afford more gear then just plug the crap in that you have and see if it works. Chances are it won't, but you're not going to believe us until you find out for yourself.
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27th March 2013
Old 27th March 2013
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Yeah, you guys are right, I ended up buying a sonic maximizer instead of the impedance plugs.

Still a little dissatisfied w/ that...
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28th March 2013
Old 28th March 2013
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Returning the maximizer. Also returning all the XLR-->TS patch cables. Also returning (well, re-selling) the Rane SM82.

Dumb mistake on my part to buy a line mixer for mic inputs.

I'm going to pick up something like a Mackie 1202 & have that sit on top of the 2U rack. Patch from the back of the rack, splitter & DI to Mackie, luckily both units have outs on the front of the panel, so cabling will be pretty easy.

I will never make this mistake again, thank you guys.

Wow, running a mic into a mixer without a preamp, wtf was I even thinking....?
#13
28th March 2013
Old 28th March 2013
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It should be plug and play, right? But unfortunately we have to match impedances, levels, etc....
#14
28th March 2013
Old 28th March 2013
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what you need to do is take the EWI Di box out of the loop, you are dropping those inputs down to mic level and trying to plug them into line level without reamping them, the only reason you should Di them is if you are going a long distance with their feeds, if going into a line level mixer there is no reason to DI them for regular length cables.
It seems to me you are overthinking what you need, and underthinking how it needs to be done.
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28th March 2013
Old 28th March 2013
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If your Di is passive, you are possibly losing level because of the impedance ratio of its transformer . If that is the case there little you can do beside re amplifying the signal between Di and mixer
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28th March 2013
Old 28th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by refae View Post
Returning the maximizer. Also returning all the XLR-->TS patch cables. Also returning (well, re-selling) the Rane SM82.

Dumb mistake on my part to buy a line mixer for mic inputs.

I'm going to pick up something like a Mackie 1202 & have that sit on top of the 2U rack. Patch from the back of the rack, splitter & DI to Mackie, luckily both units have outs on the front of the panel, so cabling will be pretty easy.

I will never make this mistake again, thank you guys.

Wow, running a mic into a mixer without a preamp, wtf was I even thinking....?
Haha. Sounds like you're on the right track now. Sometimes you just need to talk it out and the light bulb will go off.
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28th March 2013
Old 28th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dettenator View Post
what you need to do is take the EWI Di box out of the loop, you are dropping those inputs down to mic level and trying to plug them into line level without reamping them, the only reason you should Di them is if you are going a long distance with their feeds, if going into a line level mixer there is no reason to DI them for regular length cables.
It seems to me you are overthinking what you need, and underthinking how it needs to be done.
The DI is functioning as a Y-split for my setup, keyboard goes in & patches out to the line mixer which is short yes & it's irrelevant if it is balanced signal, however I will also be running the split signal via a 20ft snake into whatever the FOH has, sometimes that's just a mixer sitting there so the run is only 20 ft, sometimes that's a full on 100+ft snake & the signal needs to be balanced, thus the DI.
#18
29th March 2013
Old 29th March 2013
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I think i am just confused as to why you have the rane mixer in the line, is it to sub mix those inst due to lack of channels on the Mackie that is used for monitors only and another console is used for front of house, I know you have decided to go with another mixer so this is a dead subject, but learning is a never ending process and I don't like being confused.
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29th March 2013
Old 29th March 2013
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Originally Posted by Dettenator View Post
I think i am just confused as to why you have the rane mixer in the line, is it to sub mix those inst due to lack of channels on the Mackie that is used for monitors only and another console is used for front of house, I know you have decided to go with another mixer so this is a dead subject, but learning is a never ending process and I don't like being confused.
I was thinking the Rane line mixer would be able to accept mics as well, which it is not.

The idea was: have one 2U rack case with 4 ins on a mic splitter & 4 ins on a DI. Signal chain would go:

Instrument--->DI---> Rane mixer ----> Speaker (monitor chain)
DI---> FOH mixer, etc.

This chain works.

However, I didn't account for the fact that the line mixer doesn't have onboard preamps:


Mic---> Mic Splitter ---(this is the weak link)---> Rane mixer ---> Speaker
Mic Splitter ---> FOH mixer, etc.

So, to boost the mic signal to a line, I would have to either use external preamps (like an art or something) which each have their own power supply & now it's more than 2U, etc. so that defeats the purpose. Or, use a sonic maximizer, which I tried, but it still didn't have that much headroom. So I scrapped the idea.

Instead I now have the splitter & DI in the 2U case, and I have two 4 channel XLR cable snakes in the back of it, that way it's easy to patch out to FOH.

And the Mackie 1202 mixer I have just accepted will need to stand alone, just sit it on top, patch 4 XLRs from the mic splitter, and 4 TSs from the DI, and that's all I need, 8 channels of split totally independent monitoring, 4 channels of DI to send to FOH, all in a compact portable durable situation, that was the point (this is a touring rig).

Hope this gives hope to others and helps someone else out! I had to learn the hard way. In fact there was a guy at the Guitar Center as I was returning the maximizer who was trying to run his mic into a line in and asking the guy about XLR-->TS impedance plugs, I just shook my head and laughed!

Now I've gotta unload this Rane SM82... ugh
#20
30th March 2013
Old 30th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by refae View Post
However, I didn't account for the fact that the line mixer doesn't have onboard preamps:
Uh, that would be why they call it a "LINE" mixer, and not a "MIC" mixer.

Here's one they call a "MIC/LINE" mixer, that might do the job, and still be just one space:

MLM82S Mic / Line Mixer

Geoff
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30th March 2013
Old 30th March 2013
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Originally Posted by cbc6403 View Post
Uh, that would be why they call it a "LINE" mixer, and not a "MIC" mixer.

Here's one they call a "MIC/LINE" mixer, that might do the job, and still be just one space:

MLM82S Mic / Line Mixer

Geoff
Lol, uh, did I NOT already beat myself up for running a mic into a line mixer? :P

Yeah the dude at rane did point this unit out to me, however I need an aux send for a monitor occasionally, this unit doesn't have it. I'm happy with the mackie 1202, it's not that big a deal to haul it. Eventually I might expand my case to a slant rack + 2U dealie, for now though this works.

I also should've bought 1 8 ch snake cable instead of 2 4 ch ones, let this be a lesson kids, say it with me now: assemble your unit before you buy your cabling, and buy everything you can LOCAL!!! Lol costing me a fortune here... :S
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30th March 2013
Old 30th March 2013
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refae
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30th March 2013
Old 30th March 2013
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#24
31st March 2013
Old 31st March 2013
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We all make these mistakes at some point in our careers - in the old days gear was relatively more expensive so we didn't have the same opportunities to leap of the dock into deep water.

It's not a bad idea to download the manuals before you buy any kit and have a thorough read of the technical specs - after the first couple you'll begin to get some idea of the key figures - so you have a better idea of what the kit actually does. A lot of the more recent manuals have little diagrams of what plugs in where, which is not set in stone but is a reasonable guide to operating the stuff within its design limits.

I'm fully with you on having a self-contained rack, but as you found out, once you stray off the narrow path of what most people do most of the time, it gets a bit hairy!
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