You are here

XLR male to TRS male adapter safety

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Moderator: Moderators

XLR male to TRS male adapter safety

Postby Reaver191 » Sat Mar 06, 2021 5:18 pm

So, I really wanted to get into contact microphones and be able to walk around with a portable setup and record strange sounds from anything that I come across. I'm still new to recording and audio connections, so forgive me if this is a super noob mistake. I bought 2 100$ shielded contact mics with built in battery powered preamps, and the zoom h4n pro black recorder. The thing was that the contact mics connectors were ¼inch ts connectors (female) and the mic inputs on my recorder are xlr female. So I figured hey, they sell those adapters at guitar center, it'll be fine. Bought 2 XLR male to TRS male adapters from guitar center. So I guess the recorder also came with phantom power options and the +48v was enabled by default for some reason. I plugged them in and they seemed to work ok, just had to lower the gain on my recorder to rediculously low levels to not distort the recordings. Now I think my mics are short circuited because they get really distorted and intermittent signal. I'm really pissed at myself for not doing more research, especially since I think I wasted 235$, but even after the fact I'm having a hard time finding info on this topic. Does it have to do with the fact that using adapters like this creates a short on the xlr side, or more with the fact that I accidentally had phantom power turned on? If it is the adapter, then would there be any safe way to attach my contact mics to those xlr inputs, or should I give up on the portable idea and just use my audio interface that had the correct connectors? If it was the phantom power, then obviously the easiest solution would have been to disable phantom power. A link to a specific cable or adapter would be very helpful if the former is true. I think a good explanation on this is due, so that hopefully nobody else ruins their expensive equipment.
Reaver191
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2021 5:04 pm

Re: XLR male to TS male adapter safety

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Mar 06, 2021 5:32 pm

Hi and welcome.

You need to tell us exactly which mics, and which adapters you used to connect them to your Zoom H4N. It is possible that you have damaged either the mics or the Zoom by using the wrong adapters but without exact details we can't give you a useful answer.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 15622
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Still taking this recording lark seriously (and trying to record my Gypsy Jazz CD)........


Re: XLR male to TRS male adapter safety

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Mar 06, 2021 6:15 pm

It appears that those mics give a line level output. So I'd suggest using a standard instrument cable with quarter-inch mono TS plus on both ends. And plug into the quarter-inch sockets inside the combo-XLR on the recorder. Phantom power should be turned off.

If you still have distortion its likely the phantom power has damaged the preamp in the mic...
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 30660
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: XLR male to TRS male adapter safety

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Mar 06, 2021 6:16 pm

The description of the mics on the Etsy site says :-

Line-level output: Unlike traditional mics, Marshmallow has internal circuitry that makes it's output line-level. This means that you can plug it into the line-ins on any high end mixer or audio device, or (using the appropriate adapter) you can plug it directly into the audio line-in on your laptop. You can even plug headphones right into Marshmallow and use it like a stethoscope. I would not recommend plugging it into the microphone inputs of any audio device.

The correct way to connect them to the zoom would be with a normal TS to TS (mono) jack cable into the line inputs, the mic has an unbalanced output. Try the correct cable and see if everything all still works then come back to us with the result.

edit :- Hugh got there first :thumbup:
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 15622
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Still taking this recording lark seriously (and trying to record my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: XLR male to TRS male adapter safety

Postby Reaver191 » Sun Mar 07, 2021 5:53 am

Omg I'm so dumb I didn't even know about that feature on the zoom. I thought it was locked to just xlr inputs. I guess that's what I get for buying everything and then being impatient and not finishing the manuals. Unfortunately the mics are still distorting but I can probably find some creative use for it, it has a certain quality to it. I'll just have to buy some more contact mics I guess. Thanks for the help guys. Let this be a lesson to everyone to read the friggin manuals and check all of your settings before attempting anything. Better than learning the hard way.
Reaver191
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2021 5:04 pm

Re: XLR male to TRS male adapter safety

Postby ef37a » Sun Mar 07, 2021 8:01 am

https://michaelkrzyzaniak.com/marshmallow/

Yes, ^ that told me the mics deliver line level and it is possible the phantom power has damaged them. However they were not exactly cheap and I would at least ask if they can be replaced? You might have to stand some of the cost.

IMO this is poor design. They ARE microphones and just about anything that has an XLR input on it these days has phantom power and it would be relatively simple to protect the devices from 48V (a capacitor an R and a zener diode) . There should also be a VERY stern warning in the manual (but of course, if peeps don't read 'em!)

Dave.
ef37a
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12847
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 12:00 am
Location: northampton uk

Re: XLR male to TRS male adapter safety

Postby blinddrew » Sun Mar 07, 2021 12:00 pm

Before concluding that they're definitely distorting, can we just check what levels you're recording at? You should be aiming for the signal to be bumbling along around -18dB with peaks at about -12.
Also, check you're recording at 24bit...
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 14203
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: XLR male to TRS male adapter safety

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:04 pm

Reaver191 wrote:...the +48v was enabled by default for some reason.
The default is off actually. Assuming your H4n pro was unopened before you used it, the problem is not caused by phantom power.

blinddrew wrote:Before concluding that they're definitely distorting, can we just check what levels you're recording at? You should be aiming for the signal to be bumbling along around -18dB with peaks at about -12.
Also, check you're recording at 24bit...
Do this. You have adjusted the REC LEVEL downwards, right? And it's not set to Auto Level, right?

BTW 24 bit won't make a difference to the actual level... it will just give you better sound quality.
User avatar
Tomás Mulcahy
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1980
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Cork, Ireland.