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Old 5th January 2011
Lives for gear
myles's Avatar

Originally Posted by E.rOk.stA View Post
I literally was just contemplating this today. I was tryin' to see if I would get a better signal runnin my 1073 DPA into 003 at -10 or +4? I just wanted the best gain stage.

I'm still not clear which setting I should have on the -10/+4 switch of the line ins of my 003 to have the lowest noise floor.

Look, the whole thing is based on machines being similar. +4 is a professional, high-level standard. Used to be, all the stuff you'd find in a studio was +4, it all played nice together.

-10 came into the studio in the 80's with the first home recording stuff. Manufacturers realized that home recorders didn't want to pay pro prices, and that 97.3% of the time, they wouldn't notice if all their equipment used RCA plugs because everything would operate at -10, with input sensitivities and output levels matching up. Noise was demoted in importance.

The problem now is that manufacturers started placing +4/-10 switches on things to help interface equipment that used different operating levels, and everyone's confused.

Now - is the 003 rated at +4 or -10? Is the 1073 rated at +4 or -10?

You'd want to use +4 on the 003 unless the 1073 is rated at -10, which is doubtful.

+4 on output = more voltage, stronger output

-10 on output = lower voltage, lower output

+4 on input = less sensitive, but capable of handling much greater voltages, hence more headroom - it can take more level before distorting

-10 on input = more sensitive input, coresponding to the lower output of -10 equipment.

So, the danger in going from a -10 device to a +4 device is raised noise floor as the +4 machine makes up for the feeble output from the -10 machine.

The danger in going from a +4 machine into -10 is distortion on the input of the -10 machine because it can't handle the larger voltage swings from the +4 machine.

Now, if you don't understand the difference between voltage and current, and how something could be referenced to a certain voltage, please, you really should grab a basic electronics book and read it. You'll lose a couple of days of your life, but then you'll actually begin to understand what your equipment is doing, and everything you record the rest of your life will be better.