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Help with Prophet-6 output cables (1/4" → XLR)
Old 14th June 2019
  #1
Gear Head
 

Help with Prophet-6 output cables (1/4" → XLR)

I have a new Prophet-6 module and the manual instructs to use for output: "Unbalanced, 1⁄4 inch audio outputs."

I would like to connect the P6 to my audio interface (Babyface Pro) which has two XLR Female inputs available – but I'm a little uncertain on what cables I can use; unfortunately I'm not so technical to be honest.

Should I use 2x 1/4" mono cables on the P6 end, and 2x XLR Male (3-pol) plugs on the other end [2x because of separate L/R outputs of the P6]?

I'm wondering, because aren't XLR Male (3-pol) plugs actually balanced – thereby going counter to the instruction to use something "unbalanced"? Or does that only matter on the P6 end of the cables?

Is there a better solution, like using two 1/4" mono cables that converge into one XLR cable (which would be unbalanced)? Just curious – since I'm doubting that it's the right way (again, I don't have the technical expertise).

Secondly, how do I know if a 1/4" cable/plug is unbalanced or not?
Old 14th June 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

The Babyface Pro also has two 1/4" inputs, IN3 and IN4, on one of the sides. Use a pair of 1/4" TS (not TRS) cables to connect the synth to those inputs on the interface.

If you must connect to microphone XLR inputs, perhaps the best method is to get a couple of direct boxes (or a single stereo/dual direct box, which is two of them in the same box). 1/4" TS (unbalanced) from the synth to a direct box, XLR balanced from direct box to the interface. Some direct boxes have an attenuator built in as well, which may possibly be necessary here...but likely you could get along without switching it in.
Old 14th June 2019
  #3
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewE View Post
The Babyface Pro also has two 1/4" inputs, IN3 and IN4, on one of the sides. Use a pair of 1/4" TS (not TRS) cables to connect the synth to those inputs on the interface.

If you must connect to microphone XLR inputs, perhaps the best method is to get a couple of direct boxes (or a single stereo/dual direct box, which is two of them in the same box). 1/4" TS (unbalanced) from the synth to a direct box, XLR balanced from direct box to the interface. Some direct boxes have an attenuator built in as well, which may possibly be necessary here...but likely you could get along without switching it in.
Thanks! The 1/4" inputs of the Babyface Pro are occupied, so I thought I'd try to use the XLR inputs.

I'll probably get one of those stereo direct boxes then and plug 1/4" TS unbalanced cables into them. Would I then use two balanced XLR cables for L & R for each channel respectively, or is only one XLR cable necessary to carry both L & R? Sorry for an obviously newbie question.

I'll be sure to look for a box with an attenuator. Is there anything else worth thinking about?
Old 14th June 2019
  #4
Lives for gear
 

One XLR cable for the left and one cable for the right, so a total of two for a stereo connection. Each XLR carries a single balanced signal.

Really good quality direct boxes are not the cheap ones. That said, I've had satisfactory experience with some not super expensive ones, such as various ART and Whirlwind models. I haven't done much if anything in the way of direct comparison with a line-level connection, so that's not to say they're perfectly transparent for audio.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Source: Unbalanced TS
Destination: Balanced Male XLR
Solution: A pair of cables like this:

https://hosatech.com/products/analog...nects/pxm-100/



You are correct that the XLR inputs on your destination (Babyface Pro) are balanced.
However, your source is distinctly identified as unbalanced.

Most gear like your Prophet-6 synth have unbalanced outputs.
And you can assume that the 1/4 inch outputs are TS (and not TRS)
Therefore you should use a TS plug in the source connector.

Using a TRS plug in the source connector is very likely to completely fail if you have a balanced destination (as in your case). Reason: Because the destination is dependent on a signal existing between the XLR pin 3 (hot) and XLR pin 2 (cold). So if the source has only a TS connector, then the Ring at the source end will be connected to nothing and you will get no signal. And using a TS plug at the source will still operate with a TRS balanced output (although without the benefit of a balanced connection).

Unless you know for sure that your 1/4 inch source is balanced TRS, it is always safer to use a cable with a TS plug.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Source: Unbalanced TS
Destination: Balanced Male XLR
Solution: A pair of cables like this:

https://hosatech.com/products/analog...nects/pxm-100/

Thanks Richard for the explanation and suggestion.

As using such Unbalanced Interconnect cables exclude the need get a Stereo Direct Box, I'm curious what are the potential downsides of using them over the box? The upside would be reduced logistics and costs. What about audio quality, etc? I need to cover a distance of 4-5 meters, so that could be a consideration.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 191919 View Post
As using such Unbalanced Interconnect cables exclude the need get a Stereo Direct Box, I'm curious what are the potential downsides of using them over the box? The upside would be reduced logistics and costs. What about audio quality, etc? I need to cover a distance of 4-5 meters, so that could be a consideration.
If you are in your fixed home studio where you have control over everything, you can probably get away from it. The possible disadvantage to using unbalanced interconnection are:

1) Ground Loop. If your source (synth) and destination (Babyface Pro) are powered from different mains circuits, there is a possibility of ground loop causing hum. The best solution is simply to power all your gear from the same mains circuit. Typically by using a power strip, etc.

2) Noise Susceptibility. An unbalanced circuit is somewhat more vulnerable to picking up noise from the environment. That is the major reason for using balanced audio interconnections.

OTOH, if you are talking about setting up on the road in unpredictable locations, then using balanced interconnections is an excellent insurance against hum, noise, etc.

So, there is no single, universal generic answer to your question.

The "audio quality" is only a function of added hum or noise. Otherwise, there will be no difference in the actual quality of the audio itself.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Are those Babyface Pro XLR female inputs for a line level signal or mic level signal? This is an important distinction. I'm pretty sure those are for microphones so you do not want to connect directly from your keyboard into those. I missed this at first and I think Richard may have as well.

Seeing that these are likely mic preamps, in this case you want a passive di box. This will take your line level synth signal and convert it into a balanced mic level signal, which you then want to connect to a mic preamp.

A microphone signal is lower level than the signal coming from your synth. Consequently the mic preamps will boost whatever signal comes in quite a bit. If you plug your keyboard directly into a mic preamp the results will likely be unpleasant and possibly harmful. If the mic preamps have phantom power turned on that could potentially damage your synth.

In this case I don't think you have much a choice if you're going into a mic input.



Quote:
Secondly, how do I know if a 1/4" cable/plug is unbalanced or not?
A TS/Mono plug has one ring. A TRS/Stereo has two. The second does not always mean the cable is balanced but it's usually a pretty good bet.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by carbon View Post
Are those Babyface Pro XLR female inputs for a line level signal or mic level signal? This is an important distinction. I'm pretty sure those are for microphones so you do not want to connect directly from your keyboard into those. I missed this at first and I think Richard may have as well.
Thanks, but I did not miss that. According to the Babyface Pro user instructions, the XLR inputs can be set for inputs up to +9dBm (pro line level) which is even higher than the consumer line level we expect from the source.
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