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Synths - Balanced or Unbalanced?
Old 7th February 2007
  #1
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teknosmoker's Avatar
 

Synths - Balanced or Unbalanced?

I'm wiring together a couple of balanced tt patchbays for my studio and need to know which synths to wire with TRS/XLR connectors. I need to order a lot of connectors and want to be sure I use the most appropriate ones.

Most of them are unbalanced, but there are a few that I'm not too sure about:


FS1R - cannot find anything in the user manuals that says the FS1R has balanced TRS outputs. I assume that they are unbalanced, but was curious as to whether anyone knows for certain.

Jupiter 6 -Is the Jupiter 6's XLR output truly balanced? Many old pieces of gear had XLR connectors with the ground attached to nothing - not sure if this is the case with the JP-6.

Microwave 1

K2000VP --- believe it or not, I think it's unbalanced - I got a much hotter signal going through a TRS to TS cable (with the ground soldered to cold on the TS end) than a TRS to TRS (same length of cable).


Any help is appreciated!

-T
Old 8th February 2007
  #2
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that last example is baffling, because if you plug a TRS cable into a TS socket the "cold" will be shunted to ground anyway. I always through Kurzweil were one of the companies that put balanced outputs on everything piece of gear?
Old 8th February 2007
  #3
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your jupiter 6's xlr output is balanced but you might want to use the 1/4" unbalanced output because the H/M/L switch affects that one only.
Old 8th February 2007
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DISCERN View Post
that last example is baffling, because if you plug a TRS cable into a TS socket the "cold" will be shunted to ground anyway. I always through Kurzweil were one of the companies that put balanced outputs on everything piece of gear?
Nope - I made the above cable as per recommedation of a friend. All my synths/samplers that I know for certain are unbalanced have a considerably hotter output with the TS to TRS cable than they do on the TRS to TRS one. The truly balanced gear (for example, my e6400 Ultra) has hotter output with the TRS to TRS cable.

I too thought that Kurzweil used all balanced I/O throughout their gear. In fact, I thought that all "relatively current" samplers were balanced throughout. But my Akai MPC200XL Studio for example, only has balanced inputs. All 10 of the outputs are unbalanced 1/4" jacks.



Quote:
Originally Posted by synth.ignition View Post
your jupiter 6's xlr output is balanced but you might want to use the 1/4" unbalanced output because the H/M/L switch affects that one only.
Thanks for the info on that!thumbsup





Anyone else have additional info?
Old 8th February 2007
  #5
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amino's Avatar
Microwave I and FS-1R both have unbalanced outputs. Like about 90% of all synths.

If I were you I would use DI's to make sure everything is truly balanced in the patchbay. Sooner or later an unbalanced output will mess things up for you, especially if you have some old synths that no one ever thought of using with balanced gear directly.
Old 8th February 2007
  #6
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amino View Post
Microwave I and FS-1R both have unbalanced outputs. Like about 90% of all synths.

If I were you I would use DI's to make sure everything is truly balanced in the patchbay. Sooner or later an unbalanced output will mess things up for you, especially if you have some old synths that no one ever thought of using with balanced gear directly.
DI's take the signal down to mic level though-

Ebtech make some passive boxes that will convert an unbalanced signal to balanced though-

charles maynes
Old 8th February 2007
  #7
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14thetrouble's Avatar
Balanced synths... hmmmm

memorymoog
jupiter 8 [upper and lower]
superjupiter mks80 [also upper and lower]
jupiter6

yep that's the few i know of.... I've thought of using di's on some of mine as well - definitely helpful with a clavinet
Old 8th February 2007
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 14thetrouble View Post
Balanced synths... hmmmm

memorymoog
jupiter 8 [upper and lower]
superjupiter mks80 [also upper and lower]
jupiter6

yep that's the few i know of.... I've thought of using di's on some of mine as well - definitely helpful with a clavinet
Great thread, I was just pending with this question myself! On my Memorymoog, a LAMM, only the original mono XLR output is a real balanced output. All others are unbalanced outs and ins. The only other synth I'm sure of is unbalanced. It's the Sequential Circuits Pro-One (it doesn't give sound if you put in a balanced jack).

Maybe someone could help me a bit and knows for sure which of these synths are balanced/unbalanced: OSCar, SH-101, EMS Synthi A, Moog the Source, TR-808, TR-909, MS-20, Prodigy.

I'm thinking of using balanced cables for all of the synths to the patchbay and change the layout of the of the wires at the end of the cable for the unbalanced synths (by removing one of the wires and put one of the others there). Would this solve the balanced/unbalanced issues?
Old 8th February 2007
  #9
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charles maynes's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Siem View Post
Great thread, I was just pending with this question myself! On my Memorymoog, a LAMM, only the original mono XLR output is a real balanced output. All others are unbalanced outs and ins. The only other synth I'm sure of is unbalanced. It's the Sequential Circuits Pro-One (it doesn't give sound if you put in a balanced jack).

Maybe someone could help me a bit and knows for sure which of these synths are balanced/unbalanced: OSCar, SH-101, EMS Synthi A, Moog the Source, TR-808, TR-909, MS-20, Prodigy.

I'm thinking of using balanced cables for all of the synths to the patchbay and change the layout of the of the wires at the end of the cable for the unbalanced synths (by removing one of the wires and put one of the others there). Would this solve the balanced/unbalanced issues?
If your machines are like the ones sold in the US, I think the only one which MIGHT be balanced would be the OSCar- the others were all unbalanced line outs.

charles maynes
Old 9th February 2007
  #10
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So it seems that all my synths/samplers are unbalanced......with the exception of my Jupiter-6, Wavestation A/D and E6400 Ultra.

This is for my personal studio. As I'm not making long cable runs, I don't see much of a need to connect DI's to all my synths just yet (I have a good number of synths - that would cost a lot). Ultimately, I'd like to pick up a couple of nice DI's/pre's to add some color....


Quote:
Originally Posted by Siem View Post
I'm thinking of using balanced cables for all of the synths to the patchbay and change the layout of the of the wires at the end of the cable for the unbalanced synths (by removing one of the wires and put one of the others there). Would this solve the balanced/unbalanced issues?

That's similar to what I'm doing. With each cable, I plan on soldering 3 pins going to the patchbay and soldering the ground and cold together on TS connectors connected to each of the unbalanced synths. That was I can always replace the TS connectors with TRS/XLR when I get new gear.

I did a test using a TRS to TS cable (contructed as detailed above) and a normal TS cable. I connected the 2 cables to streo outputs of an unbalanced synth. Each cable was connected to a separate channel on a mixer. I played a monophonic tone and found no real difference between the signals passed by each respective cable.



For the most part, my synths & samplers will be normalled to the balanced inputs of a Speck Xtramix v5. As I still don't have enough inputs on the Speck for all the synths' outputs, I will just patch them in as needed.
Old 9th February 2007
  #11
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I'm pretty sure if you're following a star grounding scheme with your balanced patch bay as the center you would want to disconnect the ground at any unbalanced synth - just connect the hot and the cold to TS. Otherwise you have ground loops that can creep in since your different synths can have slightly different grounds.

Someone more knowledgeable feel free to correct this if it's wrong!

cheers
Old 9th February 2007
  #12
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An interesting note from the JP6 service manual:

On serial numbers 290905 and up, changing R15 across IC4 pins from 15K to 30k doubles the amplitude at OUTPUT and HEADPHONE jacks.
Old 12th February 2007
  #13
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Great description of grounding and studio wiring from geoff tanner here:

http://www.auroraaudio.net/aa_html/tech_tips_04.htm
Old 12th February 2007
  #14
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On a similar note, though maybe I should put it on it's own thread, does anyone know whether the sherman's inputs and outputs are balanced or not? I can't seem to find that tidbit anywhere in my manual or on the internet.
Old 18th February 2007
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As noted, most synths are unbalanced. I use all unbalanced cords and patchbays for my synths. I keep the runs short, however. And I have no problems.

My rig includes a Kurzweil PC88, which has unbalanced outs.
Old 22nd June 2012
  #16
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ootini's Avatar
 

Hey Sorry to dig up an old thread.
I was wondering if I could ask some advice, along the lines above.
I have a Roland A90 which specifically states on the body that the 2 main outputs are balanced, I have a Kurzweil K2000 which I believe is unbalanced and a Yamaha CS1x which I know is unbalanced. All three of these synths get plumbed into an Ashly Audio LM308 mixer which I'm sure has balanced inputs. Could someone explain if I've got the wiring right in my head before I go and make up a load of cables.

  1. Roland A90; Mixer
  2. Tip Tip
  3. Ring Ring
  4. Sleeve Sleeve
So a basic TRS - TRS jack lead for each, left and right.
  1. Kurzweil K2000VP; Mixer
  2. Tip Tip
  3. Sleeve Ring
  4. Sleeve Sleeve
So a TS jack at the synth side, to a TRS jack at the mixer side, with the Sleeve connected to the ring? Is that right?
  1. Yamaha CS1X; Mixer
  2. Tip Tip
  3. Sleeve Ring
  4. Sleeve Sleeve
Again TS jacks at the synth side, to TRS at the mixer side with the sleeve connected to the ring?
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