Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

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Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby synthmax » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:49 pm

Do synths pretty much all have unbalanced outputs? I am planning a cable purchase along with a audio interface that supports balanced and want to make sure I get the right thing.

PS: my list of synths is on my avatar.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby Alex Hamilton » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:16 am

Most synths are unbalanced. You can use balanced cables with no issues.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby novielo » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:58 am

do you have access to one balanced cable to try it out? my sh-2000 will refuse to work with a balanced cable pluged in. all my other newer synth do work tough.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby Stab Frenzy » Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:56 am

Alex Hamilton wrote:Most synths are unbalanced. You can use balanced cables with no issues.

That's not correct, there are a number of issues with using unbalanced outputs with balanced cables to balanced inputs. You're much better off using unbalanced cables to balanced inputs, and you won't notice and difference in signal/noise ratios at line level.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby JB » Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:38 am

As Stab Frenzy said, best to test first.

e.g.
Kurzweil K2600R has balanced aux outputs
Kurzweil K2500R has unbalanced aux outputs (but with TRS jacks to provide inserts for each only if a TRS cable is used)
The majority of (ahem) "cheaper" synths tend to have unbalanced 1/4" jacks but some break the norm.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby Alex Hamilton » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:08 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:That's not correct, there are a number of issues with using unbalanced outputs with balanced cables to balanced inputs. You're much better off using unbalanced cables to balanced inputs, and you won't notice and difference in signal/noise ratios at line level.


Sorry, you're right, I was thinking the other way round. God knows why, the question was obvious.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby Mr Knesh » Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:50 pm

The only synth that I have ever seen that had balanced outs on it was the Alesis Nano-Piano.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby Byrthfood » Sun Mar 29, 2009 6:53 pm

Mr Knesh wrote:The only synth that I have ever seen that had balanced outs on it was the Alesis Nano-Piano.


The only synths I can think of with balanced outs are the Moog Voyager Rack, Roland Fantom, Access Virus TI Polar, and Kurzweil stuff ..The Jupiter 6 and 8 have XLR balanced outs..
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby synthmax » Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:32 pm

Tks folks! That's pretty much what I thought, that unless I have a high-end workstation, I am very unlikely to have balanced outs.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby OriginalJambo » Mon Mar 30, 2009 3:17 pm

There's generally no real need for synths to have balanced outputs as, unlike microphones, you are unlikely to be using great lengths of cable. I third the notion that unbalanced cables would be best, unless of course you are running a lot of cable in which case a DI box might be the ideal solution.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby clusterchord » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:51 am

balanced outputs are rare on synth. of ones i use, i found em on Jupiter8, MKS80 and Emu EOS samplers.

most of the time its not necesarry, but i sometimes use it if its there. for example, JP8 sounds slightly better going balanced direct into balanced line input on fireface, then using its unbalanced jack output. so i record direct balanced, and use the unbal out to send it to a BBD delay etc.

as for choice of audio interface, most that have balanced inputs are combo and auto-switching... ie.e they support unbalanced input as well, tho its 6dB quieter, so these cards usually offer some i/o level control panel. choice of +4 or -10 operation etc.


one situation that might pose a problem is if u plan to use an some older outboard that hasn't auto switching input but strictly balanced i/o, you cannot input an unbal. synth there straight. it needs some conversion first - usually u would go to a preamps hi-z input. it adapts impedance, fixes level and balances the signal.

for example lexicon300 and panasonic dat was like that.
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby iProg » Wed Apr 01, 2009 9:47 am

Balanced/Unbalanced? What is the difference? *completely clueless* :-k
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby Stab Frenzy » Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:19 pm

iProg wrote:Balanced/Unbalanced? What is the difference? *completely clueless* :-k

http://tinyurl.com/d6n7a6
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby Untouchable_888 » Sun Mar 13, 2016 4:05 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:
Alex Hamilton wrote:Most synths are unbalanced. You can use balanced cables with no issues.

That's not correct, there are a number of issues with using unbalanced outputs with balanced cables to balanced inputs. You're much better off using unbalanced cables to balanced inputs, and you won't notice and difference in signal/noise ratios at line level.

So using 1/4" TRS to XLR cables on my Minibrute and Cheetah ms6 is a bad idea? I have them going into the front of my Scarlet 18i8 via the afore mentioned cables.
I came across this thread because I was trying to figure out if the Output jack on the JP-08 is balanced or unbalanced. I currently and using an 1/8" TS cable with a 1/8 to 1/4 inch adapter on the end. (Same with my Volca Keys except the cable itself is an 1/8 to 1/4 inch TS/mono cable.) I can run a TS cable from all four of my synths if that's what I should be doing.
I just thought that the XLR would give me better quality..
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Re: Synth outputs... balanced or unbalanced?

Postby Stab Frenzy » Sun Mar 13, 2016 4:56 am

No a TRS -> XLR connection will give you worse quality for the following reasons:
- The XLR inputs are low impedance mic inputs. The synth's outputs expect a high impedance line input and can have difficulties supplying enough current to a low impedance input, particularly cheap, low power units like the JP-08 and Volca.
- The ring -> cold connection will be floating which means it'll be able to pick up extra noise rather than performing its job of reducing noise.

What you need are unbalanced leads going into the line inputs of your interface.
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