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Volca audio cable recommendation

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Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Barjeelik » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:47 pm

Hi,
Can anyone recommend an audio cable to take the output of my Volcas (FM & Keys - one at a time) into an audio interface? My old laptop had a line in and I made do with that and a mini cable but I haven't got a line in on my new laptop and so will shortly get an interface (probably Zoom U24) which I will need to connect to. I have read confusing differing opinions re what cables to use stereo/mono etc. and I don't want to waste time or money buying the wrong thing.

I am also likely to get a Volca Modular in due course and I will want to play it from my Microbrute (given the lack of midi in) so cable recommendations to achieve that would also be very welcome.

Thanks in advance.

Bar.
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:46 pm

The Volca has only a headphone output which can be used as a line out so you need a lead that will take stereo 3.5mm 'stereo' plug at one and and two ¼" 'mono' plugs at the other. I'm pretty sure the output from the Volca will be mono (despite the 'stereo' headphone socket I reckon it'll just send the same signal out of both left and right). Then you only need to plug either one into the Zoom interface and route that input to a DAW track.

What you do need to be aware of is that the Zoom inputs are 'balanced' which, in practice, means if you use a 3.5mm 'stereo' to ¼" 'stereo' it will not work correctly (or, more likely, at all). I won't into the technicalities here and now but what many call 'stereo jack' connectors are more correctly called TRS (tip, ring, sleeve,) and, while they are used for both 'stereo' and 'balanced' connections and will happily plug into the same sockets, stereo and balanced inputs and outputs are incompatible.

I'm not familiar with the Volvo modular or micro brute but I suspect you'll need standard patch leads which are TS (or 'mono') and come in 3.5mm or ¼" sizes. I would guess that both devices will use 3.5mm connectors.

I've just had a look and I think you are out of luck connecting the MicroBrute and Volca Keys, the MB has CV out from the LFO and envelope only not the keyboard, and either way the Volca does not have CV in (unless I'm missing something).
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Barjeelik » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:07 pm

Thanks Sam.
Yes I think they are two mono signals rather than true stereo from what I have read - possibly with the exception of the FM.
So a 3.5 to 1/4 TRS should work for me.
I did try it with a cable I already had (one to one) when I had a cheap Focusrite Scarlet interface (since sold) and the sound interestingly was worse than straight into the MBP's line in (no longer an option on my MB Air.)
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:36 pm

No, a 3.5mm to ¼" TRS will not work because the output is dual mono and the input is balanced, in theory you would hear nothing as the mono signals in the L and R would be cancelled by the differential amplifier on the Zoom input.

Briefly balanced systems work by having two signals with one inverted with respect to the other. they are sent down a twisted pair of wires inside the cable screen and the input differential amplifier 'decodes' the difference between them and sends it on to the next stage in the preamplifier. The purpose is to reduce/elominate any noise induced in the cable as anything that is the same in both conductors will be perfectly cancelled. If one those signals is not inverted (as would be the case with a dual mono output like the Volca) then it will be cancelled and nothing will get passed on to the next preamp stage.

I did try it with a cable I already had (one to one) when I had a cheap Focusrite Scarlet interface (since sold) and the sound interestingly was worse than straight into the MBP's line in (no longer an option on my MB Air.)

Not surprising, what is surprising is that you heard anything at all.....

The cable you need is aTRS 3.5mm to 2 x TS (mono) ¼" jacks then just use one of the ¼" jacks since they are bot outputting the same signal.
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Barjeelik » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:55 pm

Thanks Sam,
I will Google that spec. of cable and go from there.

Regards

Bar.
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:07 pm

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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Wonks » Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:09 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:
I did try it with a cable I already had (one to one) when I had a cheap Focusrite Scarlet interface (since sold) and the sound interestingly was worse than straight into the MBP's line in

Not surprising, what is surprising is that you heard anything at all

It will have been a standard stereo input, not a differential mono one. 'Stereo' (dual mono) output to stereo input - no problem.

(Edit - this is about the MBP input, not the Focusrite)
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Barjeelik » Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:12 pm

Thanks Wonks, sound was poor though for whatever reason compared to the MBP line in.

Sam, is this cable substantially the same?
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079CFMD5J/ ... B00ZKM3SHK

Thanks

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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Wonks » Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:49 pm

Yes, that's the type.
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:51 pm

Wonks wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:
I did try it with a cable I already had (one to one) when I had a cheap Focusrite Scarlet interface (since sold) and the sound interestingly was worse than straight into the MBP's line in

Not surprising, what is surprising is that you heard anything at all

It will have been a standard stereo input, not a differential mono one. 'Stereo' (dual mono) output to stereo input - no problem.

(Edit - this is about the MBP input, not the Focusrite)

Yes, I was referring to the Focusrite in that case, should have been clearer :thumbup:
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Wonks » Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:28 pm

The Volca FM has a chorus effect, which if on, probably gives enough 'stereo' difference to have got some sound on the Scarlet. The Volca keys only has a delay effect, which unless it was a panning or ping-pong delay, shouldn't have given any signal into a balanced input with a TRS to TRS cable.
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Feb 01, 2019 12:16 am

That's what I was thinking. I suppose what the OP needs is a cheap midi keyboard (and, maybe, a 'midi thru' box).
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Tomgrooves » Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:50 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:
No, a 3.5mm to ¼" TRS will not work because the output is dual mono and the input is balanced, in theory you would hear nothing as the mono signals in the L and R would be cancelled by the differential amplifier on the Zoom input.

Briefly balanced systems work by having two signals with one inverted with respect to the other. they are sent down a twisted pair of wires inside the cable screen and the input differential amplifier 'decodes' the difference between them and sends it on to the next stage in the preamplifier. The purpose is to reduce/elominate any noise induced in the cable as anything that is the same in both conductors will be perfectly cancelled. If one those signals is not inverted (as would be the case with a dual mono output like the Volca) then it will be cancelled and nothing will get passed on to the next preamp stage.

I did try it with a cable I already had (one to one) when I had a cheap Focusrite Scarlet interface (since sold) and the sound interestingly was worse than straight into the MBP's line in (no longer an option on my MB Air.)

Not surprising, what is surprising is that you heard anything at all.....

The cable you need is aTRS 3.5mm to 2 x TS (mono) ¼" jacks then just use one of the ¼" jacks since they are bot outputting the same signal.

Great reply. I had an additional question. I had a similar issue with Volca Beats. Connected 3.5mm TRS cable with 1/4 inch TRS adapter. Plugged into Scarlett 2i2 interface. Low signal lots of hiss for reasons I now understand. Instead of using a cable as you mentioned - TRS to 2 xTS, I used a guitar cable with 3.5mm TRS adapter that I plugged into Volca. Seems to work but is that as good as your method. Which would be cleaner sound?

Aslong as you have a 3.5mm TRS plug at one end and quarter inch TS plug at other. Does it matter whether the cable is balanced or unbalanced inbetween. I've seen cables that come with TPS to TP without adaptors and splitters that you mentioned. Just trying to get best signal?
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Re: Volca audio cable recommendation

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:31 pm

A cable with only a TS at one end can't be 'balanced' as such. Using the TSR adapter with a TS-TS cable will simply short the ring to earth and only connect the tip and sleeve so it will work just fine*. But if it's a barrel adapter of that kind with a ¼" jack in the end it will put a lot of stress on a 3.5mm socket in a small device so might not be the best option.

* Effectively you are making exactly the same connections as using a mini TRS - 2 x TS cable and ignoring the TS jack that is connected to the ring on the mini TRS.
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