Balanced outputs? On vintage synths?

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TRANSISTOR FACE
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Balanced outputs? On vintage synths?

Post by TRANSISTOR FACE » Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:30 pm

Hey guys,

I'm in the middle of setting all my gear up in a patchbay so that it's all nice and organised and that I'll basically never have to mess around behind my machines again.

The only problem is that I'm freaking out at the noise in my set-up. My speakers are pretty much broadcasting the the CBC all the time... and that's without anything plugged in to the soundcard! I know that there are many reasons that this could happen but right now my main concern is setting up my patchbay so that it's as efficient as possible.

So I guess my question would be... how do I know if something has balanced outputs or inputs? Does my 808/ms-20/all my vintage equipment have balanced outputs? Does my firepod have balanced INputs? I also have a hard time getting my head around the notion of "stereo cables"... I always thought that that was what those "balanced cables" were.

Anyways, all this has gotten me really confused... And a bit worried that I might have to spend a LOT of money on balanced cables...

Do they really make that much of a difference?

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Re: Balanced outputs? On vintage synths?

Post by johans121 » Wed Dec 03, 2008 9:19 pm

BF said it best. Look through the manuals to see if ins/outs are balanced or not. Older gear typically does not have balanced ins/outs.

As far as patchbays are concerned. I would get a patchbay with 'balanced' ins/outs, however MAKE SURE you use the appropriate 'instrument cables' for the instrument and 'patch cables' for the patch bay - else you may get unexpected 'bleed through' between different patch points, or unexpected response in general - ie sometimes the patches work, sometimes they don't. For example - if your instrument does not have balanced ins/outs, then get 2 conductor instrument cables to plug the instrument into the patchbay, and from the patchbay to the mixer, and then get 2 conductor patch cables to use in the patchbay. And for balanced ins/outs use 3 conductor (stereo) cables for the instrument/mixer/patchbay......

Ideally it shouldn't matter whether you use 2 or 3 conductor cables for non-balanced ins/outs, but the hard truth of the matter is that different manufactures have slightly different specks on their jacks - meaning the ground may be connected to the ring on the instrument side but ground is contected to the sleeve on the patchbay side, or vice versa. I've got 4 patchbays in my setup so I can assure you that that can happen.
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Re: Balanced outputs? On vintage synths?

Post by divineaudio » Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:51 am

very few instruments have balanced outs, kurzweil workstations and a few higher end digital pianos are the only ones that do afaik.

otoh, most studio gear (mixers, preamps interfaces etc) does have balanced ins, but usually accept unbalanced signals as well.

as far as the cables go, three conductors (trs and xlr) will help to reduce noise and interference picked up in the line because the third conductor acts as a shield and does not carry part of the audio signal. spending a lot of money on quality cables certainly isn't fun, but it is worthwhile.

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Re: Balanced outputs? On vintage synths?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:19 am

divineaudio wrote:as far as the cables go, three conductors (trs and xlr) will help to reduce noise and interference picked up in the line because the third conductor acts as a shield and does not carry part of the audio signal.
Actually, regular two conductor leads have one conductor for the shield which doesn't carry the audio signal as well, the reason three conductor leads pick up less interference is because the two non-shield conductors are carrying polarity-inverted versions of the same signal. The Hot signal is the same as the unbalanced one and the Cold signal is the same thing but phase reversed. When they get to the input of the next device the Cold signal is reversed again and summed back with the Hot. Any interference that might have been picked up on the cable run would have been picked up in the same polarity on both the Hot and Cold conductors, so when the polarity is reversed at the end the two versions of the interference cancel each other out.

Hmmm, probably not the best explanation ever but hopefully a little bit enlightening.

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Re: Balanced outputs? On vintage synths?

Post by pflosi » Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:28 pm

i think the firepod has balanced ins, at least the mic/jack combothing... but with most interfaces, u can use both balanced and unbalanced signals.

as for ur equipement, i would say none of those have balanced outs... im sure the ms 20 hasnt, the 303 hasnt...

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Re: Balanced outputs? On vintage synths?

Post by divineaudio » Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:19 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:
divineaudio wrote:as far as the cables go, three conductors (trs and xlr) will help to reduce noise and interference picked up in the line because the third conductor acts as a shield and does not carry part of the audio signal.
Actually, regular two conductor leads have one conductor for the shield which doesn't carry the audio signal as well, the reason three conductor leads pick up less interference is because the two non-shield conductors are carrying polarity-inverted versions of the same signal. The Hot signal is the same as the unbalanced one and the Cold signal is the same thing but phase reversed. When they get to the input of the next device the Cold signal is reversed again and summed back with the Hot. Any interference that might have been picked up on the cable run would have been picked up in the same polarity on both the Hot and Cold conductors, so when the polarity is reversed at the end the two versions of the interference cancel each other out.

Hmmm, probably not the best explanation ever but hopefully a little bit enlightening.


right you are, forgot about the phase cancellation properties. #-o

i have been reading up on cables lately (along with a bunch of other topics) and i guess i must have missed the part about shielding in two conductor cables.

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Re: Balanced outputs? On vintage synths?

Post by OriginalJambo » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:20 pm

Doesn't the Jupiter-8 have balanced outputs? Only one I can think of.

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Re: Balanced outputs? On vintage synths?

Post by Solderman » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:50 am

JP8 and Moog Voyager are the only two analogs I have that are balanced. The Voyager's balanced level is hot enough to overdrive my Mackie mixer with the "Bal" switch engaged. The Pro~One does something interesting with its audio input. It's still unbalanced and the Tip goes to the filter In, but the Ring part triggers the gate if the signal is hot enough.
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