Chris Edwards wrote:I must bow to your knowledge of the official standard (if there is one). However, it's always seemed like the "keyboards" (mostly synth modules and samplers) I've used have had more than enough level to happily drive line inputs.
There isn't a standard, and that's part of the problem. It seems to me that most 'modern' synths and keyboards do provide a genuine line level output, but older ones (talking 1960s, 70s and early 80s) tend to be lower level -- largely because most were designed to be connected to guitar-style amps and so needed a guitar-level output.
It's always seemed abit odd going all the way down to mic level, just to amplify stuff back up again.
Yep -- completely bonkers in terms of gain structure... but the practicalities sometimes make it the lesser of several evils.
As an electronic musician, I'm interested what happens if I take some sort of line-level balancing transformer (like Dave B seeks) to a gig, and give that to the soundman, instead of using a regular DI.
You'll probably scare him!
Can he simply turn down the gain? Or will he need to repatch the relevant snake channel (which normally goes to an FOH desk mic input) into a line input instead ?
Depends on the desk and the knowledge of the sound person. Some mic preamps can accommodate line level signals -- often by inserting a pad -- although the impedance might still be very low and the sound quality may suffer as a result if the transformer is optimised for a 10K load (as some line-level transformers are. Others are optimised for old-fashioned 600 ohm loads whiuch will be fine with a mic input).
Or he could, as you say, repatch that snake channel to a proper lin input if he has the facilities. The fact that the signal is balanced and floating thanks to the source transformer would minimise crosstalk within the snake, so running a line level signal alongside mic level signals shouldn't be an issue... although he may worry about it.
Sending line level signals (assuming they can be accommodated effectively) avoids having to add in the extra gain that a conventional DI box would require, and the end result will be slightly quieter (noise floor-wise)... but no one is going to notice that at a gig, and personally, I'd stick with familiar DI boxes and sending a hot mic level signal to the FOH desk.