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Balanced or Unbalanced cables for synths Rackmount Synthesizers
Old 6 days ago
  #1
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Balanced or Unbalanced cables for synths

Hi guys, I know there's hundreds of threads regarding this I have gone through and read a fair few of them but I'm still completely lost. Whether I'm being dull or not I don't know but I cant seem to grasp it.

Essentially what I want to know is what cables I need to connect my synths to my audio interface, do I need balanced or unbalanced cables?

The equipment I want to connect is a TR8, a System 1 and a Korg Minilogue.
I want to connect these upto my UMC1820 audio interface.

My synths are quite far from where my audio interface is and I read distance can have an affect when using unbalanced cables?

Any help would be appreciated as I'm currently stumped

Cheers Guys
Old 6 days ago
  #2
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MarkF48's Avatar
If the synth has 1/4" (6.3mm) jacks for outputs, they are very likely unbalanced and using balanced cables will not be of a benefit. Just use good quality TS to TS type cables.
Some higher end synths may have XLR output jacks which are balanced and balanced cables are what would be used.
Old 6 days ago
  #3
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I subscribe to this rule where if I consider it an “instrument” i used unbalanced cables. Once i hit mixer im balanced out from there to wherever.
Old 6 days ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justek98 View Post
Hi guys, I know there's hundreds of threads regarding this I have gone through and read a fair few of them but I'm still completely lost. Whether I'm being dull or not I don't know but I cant seem to grasp it.

Essentially what I want to know is what cables I need to connect my synths to my audio interface, do I need balanced or unbalanced cables?

The equipment I want to connect is a TR8, a System 1 and a Korg Minilogue.
I want to connect these upto my UMC1820 audio interface.

My synths are quite far from where my audio interface is and I read distance can have an affect when using unbalanced cables?

Any help would be appreciated as I'm currently stumped

Cheers Guys
I don't know why, when some people see the words "balanced" and "unbalanced", they freeze. What do they think is going to happen if they make the wrong choice? I'll help: they won't electrocute themselves.

The first thing you need to do is look in your instruction manuals and see whether all of your units have balanced jacks. If they don't, you don't want to use balanced cables.
Old 6 days ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctothej123 View Post
I subscribe to this rule where if I consider it an “instrument” i used unbalanced cables. Once i hit mixer im balanced out from there to wherever.
What's the point of this rule if you can make balanced connections between the instrument and the mixer? You'll avoid a lot of pitfalls with balanced connections, especially if you have a long cable run.
Old 5 days ago
  #6
HSi
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I'd say always use TRS if you can. Obviously XLR is always balanced.
Old 5 days ago
  #7
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Murky Waters's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by justek98 View Post
Hi guys, I know there's hundreds of threads regarding this I have gone through and read a fair few of them but I'm still completely lost. Whether I'm being dull or not I don't know but I cant seem to grasp it.

Essentially what I want to know is what cables I need to connect my synths to my audio interface, do I need balanced or unbalanced cables?

The equipment I want to connect is a TR8, a System 1 and a Korg Minilogue.
I want to connect these upto my UMC1820 audio interface.

My synths are quite far from where my audio interface is and I read distance can have an affect when using unbalanced cables?

Any help would be appreciated as I'm currently stumped

Cheers Guys
Device dependant. Check the specs for your devices. If they have unbalanced outputs, use unbalanced cables, and vise-versa.

Regardless of length, using balanced cables on unbalanced outputs (or inputs) will achieve nothing advantageous.
Old 5 days ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poinzy View Post
I don't know why, when some people see the words "balanced" and "unbalanced", they freeze. What do they think is going to happen if they make the wrong choice? I'll help: they won't electrocute themselves.
No but if you somehow use unbalanced cables for balanced things, you can get some serious noise. I think this is probably a concern only for TRS cables, which can be balanced and unbalanced. Otherwise it seems cables are pretty idiot proof.
Old 5 days ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bill5 View Post
No but if you somehow use unbalanced cables for balanced things, you can get some serious noise. I think this is probably a concern only for TRS cables, which can be balanced and unbalanced. Otherwise it seems cables are pretty idiot proof.
My point is that the worst result would not be catastrophic, and the problem could be easily resolved anyway by consulting the instruction manuals. I think pouring through forum threads is pretty over-the-top for something this basic.
Old 5 days ago
  #10
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You have to read the manuals on each piece of equipment. It will tell you. If it does not, you have to test both for yourself.
Old 5 days ago
  #11
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MarkF48's Avatar
Using a balanced TRS cable plug in an unbalanced TS jack may not work well, if at all. Note in the image below that the ring connection of the TRS plug makes no connection when inserted into a TS type jack which typically would be found on a synth or similar instrument. If the other end of the TRS cable goes to a balanced input of a preamp or interface, half of the balanced circuit at the preamp will be open ended/floating with no signal connection. This may result in loss of signal and/or noise.
Some unbalanced output jacks may have an extra contact which makes connection to the ring which then would connect back to the sleeve/ground so if a TRS cable is used the low signal side input of a preamp would not be open ended at the instrument. It still does not make for a balanced connection between the two devices. There is no easy way to tell if a manufacturer uses this type of jack configuration.
Attached Thumbnails
Balanced or Unbalanced cables for synths-trs-jack.jpg  
Old 5 days ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poinzy View Post
My point is that the worst result would not be catastrophic, and the problem could be easily resolved anyway by consulting the instruction manuals. I think pouring through forum threads is pretty over-the-top for something this basic.
Read manuals? Are you insane?

Any I.T. geek will tell you, if you have to read documentation, it was poorly designed
Old 5 days ago
  #13
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M.Retra's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by justek98 View Post
The equipment I want to connect is a TR8, a System 1 and a Korg Minilogue.
I want to connect these upto my UMC1820 audio interface.
I know for a fact that the TR-8 has unbalanced outputs. However, you may use either TRS or TS cables. There is no difference.

Sometimes when balanced TRS cables are used on devices with unbalanced outputs, a 6dB reduction of volume occurs. This is not the case with the TR-8.

System 1 shares the same lineage/tech as the TR-8. Therefore, it most likely will exhibit the exact same behavior.

Korg Minilogue, I would bet is unbalanced outputs but will work with either TRS or TS cables. I'm basing this on the behavior of a Korg MS2000R, which is happy with either type of cable.

Your audio interface most likely (like 98% sure) has balanced inputs and outputs. It would have to be a pretty cut-rate interface to only have unbalanced connections. The beauty is that the the interface should be, again, compatible with either type of cable. Some manufacturers refer to this as auto-switching or "servo-balanced."

Within my studio, I've tested every single piece of gear I have. Only a few pieces of equipment were unbalanced-cable only.
Old 4 days ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poinzy View Post
What's the point of this rule if you can make balanced connections between the instrument and the mixer? You'll avoid a lot of pitfalls with balanced connections, especially if you have a long cable run.
PRetty much every instrument I ever had was unbalanced out...and most effects boxes/pedals etc....avoid the decibal drop you get. Check specs of what you have but my guitars/synths/keyboards are all unbalanced out so I just use it on all instruments. Once I get to the mixer then signals are balanced and keep it that way from then on out. Also try to run everything off 1 circuit if I can. I gotta a pretty low noise setup. Mogami helps too hehe.
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