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Unbalanced to balanced converters are they worth it?

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Unbalanced to balanced converters are they worth it?

Postby Arpangel » Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:46 pm

I’ve got a few unbalanced tape machines and synths, I’m thinking of making up the well known unbalanced to balanced leads, that have been talked about here many times, but I’m wondering about things like this...

https://www.canford.co.uk/Products/58-538_RDL-FP-UBC6-CONVERTER-Audio-unbalanced-to-balanced-RCA-phono-in-XLR-out-6-channel

Even the single plug/socket converters are £80 each, and this is a lot more expensive, would this do a better job than simply making up the correct lead? you’ve also got a fair bit of extra electronics in the signal path too, although it seems to be transformer based?
Just wondering exactly what the advantages would be, in my situation, feeding things into my interface.
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Re: Unbalanced to balanced converters are they worth it?

Postby MOF » Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:15 pm

Unless you’re going to have incredibly long leads going over/near lots of cables/devices that are electrically noisy then there’s no point.
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Re: Unbalanced to balanced converters are they worth it?

Postby James Perrett » Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:47 pm

I've got 24 channels worth of unbalanced to balanced convertors (and back) which came with a tape machine. I've never felt the need to use them. Most of the time I just use cables to do the conversion - but I make sure that I use the correct cable to match the circuit design at each end.
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Re: Unbalanced to balanced converters are they worth it?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:53 pm

That's a very expensive option to buy on a whim... and it only does unbal to bal... for tape machines you'll need bal to unbal conversion as well...

I'd suggest trying the simple bodge-cable solution first, and see if your interface etc can handle the signal levels okay or not.

If not, then an active buffer will be necessary (although it potentially opens a new can of ground-loop woes if you're not careful). The Elf recommends the ART Cleanbox Pro for such duties, which provides two channels in each direction for about £60.

https://artproaudio.com/product/cleanbox-pro-dual-channel-level-converter/

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Re: Unbalanced to balanced converters are they worth it?

Postby Arpangel » Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:37 am

Thanks folks, I already have a Clean Box, it’s very good, and completely cleared up the hum and noise I was getting between my interface output and unbalanced Quad 405.
But after what’s been said here I think I’ll stick with making up these leads, seems like the best solution, as I’m not getting any bad symptoms, just wondered if it would be worthwhile, but short cable runs, etc etc.
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Re: Unbalanced to balanced converters are they worth it?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:06 pm

Arpangel wrote:Thanks folks, I already have a Clean Box...

Just for the avoidance of confusion and disappointment of others, ART (very unhelpfully) have two CleanBox products.

They can both be used for converting between balanced and unbalanced formats, but they each have different features and facilities.

The CleanBox II is a passive 'hum eliminator' with isolating transformers for two channels. It can be used for converting between balanced and unbalanced in either direction, and is mainly used for breaking ground-loops, but doesn't alter the signal levels.

The CleanBox Pro is an active two-channel, bi-directional level converter (without transformers) designed to connect consumer and professional equipment, taking care of both unbal/bal conversion and the required level shifts up and down in each direction. It may help with ground-loops in some situations, but it may require bespoke cabling to achieve that. It also requires a mains power supply, of course.
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Re: Unbalanced to balanced converters are they worth it?

Postby Arpangel » Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:13 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Arpangel wrote:Thanks folks, I already have a Clean Box...

Just for the avoidance of confusion and disappointment of others, ART (very unhelpfully) have two CleanBox products.

The CleanBox II is a passive 'hum eliminator' with isolating transformers for two channels.

The CleanBox Pro is an active two-channel, bi-directional level converter (without transformers) designed to connect consumer and professional equipment, taking care of unbal/bal conversion and the required level shifts up and down.

I have the Clean Box Pro.
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