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Balanced XLR to unbalanced TS wiring

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Balanced XLR to unbalanced TS wiring

Postby Dan B » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:37 am

Sorry - realise this is an old one. I've read up a fair bit and am finding it rather confusing, not least as I understand the optimal wiring depends on the type of balanced output ((hard / floating / transformer / cross coupled balanced) , which is not specified in the manuals for my gear...! Indeed, from an old SOS article:

"Q. What's the best way to connect a balanced source to an unbalanced input?
You'll need to check your equipment manual for this one, as the way you wire the cable depends on the design of the balanced output stage. In some cases you need to link the cold and screen pins at the balanced end (if the output stage is 'fully floating') while in others you must leave the cold pin disconnected. In situations that require the latter approach, you will probably find that the signal level is 6dB lower than when using the equipment balanced. This is because you're only using one half of the signal from the output stage."

This particular scenario: XLR balanced out from Dtar Solstice preamp to unbalanced line in on Pendulum SPS1 preamp.

My guess is this isn't a transformer or cross coupled output. If so, I *think* I''m best off with a 1 conducted shielded cable (3B here - https://www.rane.com/note110.html). In laymans terms, it seems to me I can take a regular TS/TS cable (like a guitar cable) wire an XLR on to the shield and the red. Though wouldn't it also be possible to have a TS to XLR connector to do that instead? If ut was a TRS balanced out (e.g. my RME UCX - I guess that's "servo balanced", whatever that means) to a TS balanced in, presumably a regular TS/TS ("guitar") lead would be perfect (...?).

If the output is transformer balanced, I gather I need this (5 here - https://www.rane.com/note110.html). To save permanently making cables etc, can this be achieved by taking a 2 conductor shielded cable (i.e. "balanced" or "stereo") cable, with one end either TRS or XLR, and then unbalancing at the other end from its TRS/XLR end with an adapter to a TS?

I will also want to connect my RME UCX (servo?) balanced out to the unbalanced in of certain guitar effects units (e.g. Boss OC3, or Strymon Big Sky). Again, know what cable / adaptor to use for this would be handy. I have a Little Labs Red Eye (reamper/passive DI) I can use here if that helps (but can't use it in the Solstice to SPS1 scenario). I'll then need to connected the unbalanced outs back to the UCX, but the guidance on how to handle that seems to be much clearer!

I guess the key things I'm asking for are (i) for explanations/solutions in layman's terms and (ii) whether it's possible to achieve these things without brandishing a soldering iron - the idea of being able to use adapters is much more appealing (time saving; flexible use of cables, etc).

Many thanks in advance.

Dan

(FWIW, Other things I've skim read:
https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/i ... uide.7012/
Dan B
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Re: Balanced XLR to unbalanced TS wiring

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:48 am

Dan B wrote:I *think* I''m best off with a 1 conducted shielded cable (3B...

Yes, that's what I'd try first too. If you have problems with that, then try linking pin 3 to pin 1 inside the XLR (essentially, configuration 5 from the Rane list).

Most devices with balanced outputs on TRS sockets are quite happy to drive unbalanced destinations via standard instrument cables with TS plugs.

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Re: Balanced XLR to unbalanced TS wiring

Postby Dan B » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:03 am

Many thanks Hugh - that's reassuring!

Given that the output is on an XLR, my proposed solution would be to take a TS/TS "guitar"/mono lead and plug it into a TRS/XLR adapter.

As for the unbalanced to balanced TS to TRS connections, my understanding is using either a TS/TS or TRS/TRS cable will be fine (either way, the signal run will be unbalanced).
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Re: Balanced XLR to unbalanced TS wiring

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:14 am

Dan B wrote:Given that the output is on an XLR, my proposed solution would be to take a TS/TS "guitar"/mono lead and plug it into a TRS/XLR adapter.

That will inherently short pin 3 to pin 1. As you now know, some gear needs that shorting link, some doesn't need it but doesn't mind it, and some gets positively upset about it!

As for the unbalanced to balanced TS to TRS connections, my understanding is using either a TS/TS or TRS/TRS cable will be fine (either way, the signal run will be unbalanced).

It will work, but it may not be fine as this arrangement potentially creates a ground-loop, so could result in unwanted hums or buzzes.
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