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Balanced or unbalanced outputs

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Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby msjlra » Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:56 pm

I sort of figured I'd take advantage of using the balanced outputs on the Voyager for a quieter signal as it has them, but now wondering whether there's actually any point.

I have been getting a little bit of noise from it due to grounding issues but I have a ground loop isolator on the way and that should fix it, but either way my cable isn't going to be any longer than 2m, probably more like 125cm so is there really a need to spend the extra amount on getting balanced cables?

I've never actually had balanced cables before.
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby thealien666 » Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:32 pm

Balanced cables are TRS type (or XLR). You need a mixer, or audio equipment, that can receive (and recuperate) the audio signal of such cables.

On balanced cables, the signal is sent (from the Voyager) on 2 separate wires inside the cable in differential mode (one wire has the inverse polarity signal of the other). At the mixer, or balanced audio input, those signals are re-combined into one. Anything that was identical in polarity on both wires (noise, hum, hiss picked-up along the way) will be automatically discarded and only the clean audio signal will get thru.

It works wonders. I'm a drummer and have a 16 input mixer and have used 12 microphones to record my drumkit, all with balanced cables of between 15 and 20 feet long. And with all this XLR equipped wiring, there was not a trace of any hum, hiss, or noise ! For ultra quiet, professional results, balanced cables is the way to go.
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby cgraye » Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:36 pm

Do you have a rackmount version of the Voyager? I believe they are the only ones with balanced outputs.
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby msjlra » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:29 pm

Yeah I have the RME.

Thanks but I wasn't asking what balanced cables were, or how they worked, I am aware of this.

Most synths don't even seem to offer a balanced output + my short cables, am I likely to even get any noticeable noise reduction from (less than) 2m balanced cables? Or would it really just be a waste of money...
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby thealien666 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:23 am

Usually balanced cables are worth investing in when dealing with faint audio signals coming from microphones. But for line signal levels, like the ones coming out of a Voyager, and with short cables I don't think it's worth the extra effort and money to go the balanced route...

My personal view on it.

P.S. Sorry about my earlier post, I had wrongly assumed that you needed some clarifications because you said you had never used balanced cables before...
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby n2design » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:45 am

Why does the rme have balanced and the voyager doesn't?
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby msjlra » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:28 pm

Thanks, I was thinking there probably wasn't going to be any point, just thought I'd make sure.

There are a nicer selection of reasonably priced unbalanced cables because of guitar cables, compared with balanced ones which seem get awfully pricey when you move out of the basic cable selection. I'm not going to spend a ton on cables as they're not going to be unplugged or moved very often so they should stay nice, but of course it is always nice to have higher quality things that'll last longer, so I'll go with unbalanced.

Well the RME is an updated design that's a little newer than the normal Voyager so maybe it was just an update, or it's that a rack might be potentially stored farther away and require longer cables...
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby msjlra » Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:34 pm

And I just meant I've never experimented/tried balanced cables out, which is why I was asking. I suppose it went without saying I had never had them before or why would I be asking haha! :P
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby nms » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:30 am

Not so fast!!!!

Whether you want to use balanced or unbalanced cables depends on what you are connecting. If you're connecting your RME to a balanced input then you obviously want to use a balanced cable and have the RME switched to balanced. Your audio interface for eg will typically be a balanced device. Moogerfoogers are unbalanced, so if you're going into one of those then it's unbalanced cable and switch the RME to unbalanced.
Also, if the cost difference between balanced vs unbalanced is an issue you are definitely doing your cable shopping at the wrong place. Most people are. You can get top of the line cables in any configuration sized to your own custom length for far less than what your typical retailer charges. Redco is your salvation: http://www.redco.com/shopexd.asp?id=653

I have my entire studio cabled with premium AES spec cable at customized lengths. I haven't bought a cable from anywhere else in years. Here are the components I use in their custom cable builder:

Cable Type: GAC-2AES Gotham AES (AES spec cable - their best cable for line level connections IMO and better than Mogami gold. Mogami Gold is a star quad cable that is better for mic level signals and longer lengths.)

Neutrik connectors always..
TRS connectors: NP3X Male TRS-Silver-Low Profile

XLR: NC3MXX 3 pin Male XLR-Silver
XLR: NC3FXX 3 pin Female XLR-Silver

For unbalanced cables my top pick is the Canare GS-6 instrument cable.
Voyager RME | Virus Ti2 Polar | Juno 60 | EL8X Distressor | UBK Clariphonic | Lynx Hilo | Motu 828mk2 | Focal Twin6be
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby msjlra » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:15 pm

Thanks, I hadn't really thought about whether my interface was unbalanced or balanced, I sort of assumed it just did both, and it looks like it does, somewhat. It's an Apogee Duet, and looks to me as if only when using a microphone will it be balanced even though it's the same channel.

2 analog inputs: Combination Line (balanced +20dBu max)
Mic/Instrument (+14dBu max)


Or am I mistaken? I don't know.

Thanks for the store recommendation, unfortunately for me not everyone is from America :roll:

The stores here don't seem to have much of a selection, pretty much the stores own brand cheap cables + a couple of $75+ ones, so I've been looking on Amazon and there seems to be a good selection.

I suppose it's not that balanced cables jump up in price dramatically (well they do in the music stores I was looking at^) it's more that I have a threshold of what I'm willing to spend on cables, also I have to get 2 cables for each output because I have to run it through a ground loop isolator so prices are doubled.
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby msjlra » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:17 pm

Oh no that looks like it's balanced for Mic and instrument.
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby msjlra » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:10 pm

But it's designed to accept guitars and synths, so it must be fine with unbalanced inputs.
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby nms » Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:10 am

With nearly any interface you can plug both unbalanced and balanced into it. It's generally best to go with balanced when you have the option though.

msjlra wrote:Thanks for the store recommendation, unfortunately for me not everyone is from America :roll:
I have to get 2 cables for each output because I have to run it through a ground loop isolator so prices are doubled.

Why the ground loop isolator? With balanced cables between balanced connections you wouldn't need that. Also, the only thing you need 2 cables for out of the Voyager is if you want to make use of stereo filtering using the spacing knob. I never use it myself. Oh and I'm from Canada, not America ;)
Voyager RME | Virus Ti2 Polar | Juno 60 | EL8X Distressor | UBK Clariphonic | Lynx Hilo | Motu 828mk2 | Focal Twin6be
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby msjlra » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:09 pm

Well because I get tons of noise from everything through the voyager and I didn't know balanced cables would fix that!!! :oops:

I was just following what ever the guy said at the store who told me to get an Art Cleanbox to fix it, damn it now I've spent the money. Hmm he did give me a 25% discount because I bought the Voyager, so could still try and see if balanced cables will fix it and sell the Cleanbox on ebay without too much of a loss.

I mean 2 cables because of 1. into the Cleanbox and 2. out into the Voyager, shan't bother with stereo.

Oh Canada, well it's still all America anyway :P
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Re: Balanced or unbalanced outputs

Postby Vsyevolod » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:52 pm

msjlra wrote:Oh Canada, well it's still all America anyway :P


Smile when you say that pardner...

Stephen




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