unbalanced vs. balanced

Discussion in 'Amp Modeling' started by Rhust, Sep 25, 2017.

  1. Rhust

    Rhust Senior Member

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    which do you use with your modelling rig, and why?

    I've been using my XLRs exclusively(at home and live)... but I read where many people are using the unbalanced 1/4" instead... I'm sort of clueless on this.
     
  2. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    Live:

    I always use the 1/4" out to a Whirlwind DI box for my FOH needs. I use the XLR to feed my FRFR wedge.

    Studio:

    I use the 1/4" to DI box to feed a channel on my board. That channel goes to a sub-group that feeds an input on my interface. It seems odd, but I use ProTools HD TDM, and all the interfaces are rack mounted and fed by channels from my console. I don't have ease of access, and the version of PT HD I am using only works with AVID interfaces. Everything is run off accelerator cards with extra DSP and connected via special cables, so using the USB into the computer is a non-option.

    It works well.

    However, I just started using Helix Native and that has quickly become my new recording modeler. I have a separate laptop for virtual instruments connected to its own interface (6 channel) that feeds multiple channels of the console. I send those channels to a sub group into the main system. To work Native as a stand alone piece of gear, I open Reaper (the laptop's DAW - which is also used for mobile recording with a separate rack with an 8 channel interface with an 8 channel pre-amp expansion that connects via light-pipe), insert Native as an input effect, activate the channel, and off I go.

    Either way works, but sometimes I have my Helix rack system at the rehearsal space so using Native is easier than driving to go get Helix, lol.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
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  3. tzd

    tzd Senior Member

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    Really depends on which jack is available for you to plug into at the venue. Some mixers only have Mic jacks, some jacks are switchable between Line and Mic levels while others are not, sometimes all the Mic jacks are taken up and only 1/4" jacks are available; just have to figure out which jack and which signal level is available for you to plug into. The other one goes into my own speaker which can take either jack and either level.

    Technically a balanced cable can have a longer run, but with 15-20 ft cable for both that I'm using, it does not make a difference.
     
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  4. DarrellV

    DarrellV Murry Chrirstmers to earl! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    This....

    I use XLR and play through the FOH and monitors at my church every Sunday and it works well enough for what I need.

    1/4 inch outs would require a DI Box to go back into the XLR snake feeds anyway, so what's the point?

    Live I use both.

    I feed the FOH the XLR's and use a 1/4" out to feed my personal monitor speaker when I need more volume without killing my pals with the monitor volume!
     
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  5. Rhust

    Rhust Senior Member

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    yea, live I'm sorts "stuck" using the XLR, it's 20 foot to the end of the snake, but 150' of snake ran to the mixer... mixer could take 1/4" but I see no need in running a special wire for me..

    at home I could use either... but I use XLR, strictly because I use that live...

    I just don't understand why I should use one over the other... and I REALLY don't understand why I would use the 1/4" out, then use a separate DI box, when the helix has 2 built in... unless you want that as a "3rd" channel... maybe for a FRFR monitor.
     
  6. tolm

    tolm Bigsby Junkie Premium Member

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    The balanced cables will be less noisy hence can run longer distances.
     
  7. DarrellV

    DarrellV Murry Chrirstmers to earl! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    I'm thinking that its there as a feature in case you need it. The mfg is trying to offer flexibility of hookup options or someone would complain they needed it!

    Both signals should be the same sound wise. Should just be a matter of what you are going into that decides what you should use.
     
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  8. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    When I gig I am playing in a variety of venues with house systems. Plugging the Helix, via XLR, into a system that has +48V phantom engaged has been know to create problems, sometimes sonically sometimes worse (don't remember specifics, it's on the Helix forum if you go back pretty far). By sending the balanced signal via a DI box, it handles the voltage issue from +48V and keeps the signal clean (while protecting the unit).

    Since I use a Helix rack, it's an easy solution. I have a custom length George L cable running from the 1/4" to a DI boxed permanently installed in the back of my rack. Essentially, it's like have a 3rd XLR built in. When I got the LT to try out, that became a PIA hassle that I didn't need. Unless I attached the LT to a pedal board, and the DI box behind it somewhere, it was stupid to do.

    I don't run the 1/4" to the monitor either, because setting up fast (we usually play multi-band shows, with QUICK turn overs) you run the issue of possibly NOT having your 1/4' plugged in all the way and it could fall out if an idiot rushes your monitor....I always thought that was dumb until I saw that happen at a hardcore show - except it was the guitarist who didn't pug his speaker cable in far enough. Chaos on the stage caused his half stack to get bumped and the cable fell out!!!!

    If I was using my own system, or I was using it at church (I use a POD 2.0 at church) where the system is stable and consistent, yeah, I'd use the XLR. But, house guys often really don't know HOW to run the complete system - regarding things like NOT running +48V when you only use dynamic mics, etc. Better to be safe than sorry....
     
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  9. Rhust

    Rhust Senior Member

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    Ok, so why would one choose 1/4” unbalanced, if balanced car is an option?


    that’s what I thought too, but I’ve seen a lot of users on other forums using 1/4”.
     
  10. DarrellV

    DarrellV Murry Chrirstmers to earl! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    +1:thumb::applause:
     
  11. DarrellV

    DarrellV Murry Chrirstmers to earl! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Is it more than just habit, ie what everyone is used to using?

    Guitarists far and wide have used 1/4" jack for everything, forever.

    They are comfortable with it.

    I have also run live sound for over a couple decades now so I am familiar with XLR too.

    Maybe its just fear of the unknown... I can remember years ago looking at those crazy 3 pin sockets on audio equipment and wondering WTF they were for...
     
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  12. Rhust

    Rhust Senior Member

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    I think you nailed it with the phantom power... I remember other people having the phantom power issue if their mixer did not have it switchable by channel.. we don't use phantom so it's a non-issue... I had forgotten that...

    also a good point about multi band shows... I haven't had one of those in about 22 years! :(
     
  13. DarrellV

    DarrellV Murry Chrirstmers to earl! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Weez gettin' owed......:p
     
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  14. Rhust

    Rhust Senior Member

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    preach it. those shows 22 years ago, I was in college, no cabs mic'd or DI'd(that shit just didn't happen)... playing punk/metal covers 4-5 songs tops, and our only "pay" was a few beers and tips(which wouldn't have covered the beers)

    now I play at church... at the time of morning I used to be coming home... now, if I stay out past 10, I'm looking at my watch thinking about how tired I'm going to be at work
     
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  15. DarrellV

    DarrellV Murry Chrirstmers to earl! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    Ha HA!!!! +1:thumb:

    Ditto!

    There have been nights where we would practice at the church on a Saturday night until about 10 or 11 and we'd all look at each other and say the same thing! We haven't stayed out this late on a Saturday night since our old bad habits days!
    :rofl:

    Taking time off from work for a mini 'vacation' is just as pointless..

    Around 10 at night my eyes and the rest of me just start to shut down anyway. Doesn't matter that my brain is trying to convince the rest of me that I don't have to get up in the morning!
    :rolleyes:
     
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  16. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    I am right there with you guys. I am pushing 50, and travelling all over the state and South East doing original gigs is starting to get old. These days we TRY to play first or second on the bill - the crowds are often better, and we can get "home" quicker. A lot of times, if we are more than 2 hours away it's a hotel. Sometimes if we are first, and we are 2-2.5 hours away we'll just turn around and drive home.

    It's still fun, but it's starting to get more difficult. We no longer travel all together unless it's out of state. The bass player and singer have VERY flexible jobs - the bass player owns the company those two guys work for. The drummer and I are career guys, so we have vacation time, but don't always take it unless needed (GA on a Saturday night, for instance). He and I will car pool if there is no hotel, or we'll drive separate if there IS a hotel because of having to pack "extras". It's totally an ego thing these days, too, because live music just isn't as "live" as it was in the 80s-90s....
     
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  17. DarrellV

    DarrellV Murry Chrirstmers to earl! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    +1:thumb:

    Oh, yeah! You said a mouthful!

    Our worship team and live sound ministry have traveled a good part of the Northeast in the last 20 years or so.

    But now I'm 55 and we have downsized our pa gear and lightened our amps and that's why I play through the system. One less amp to load and lug and pack!

    Our mains are smaller, our board is a new tiny Touchmix 16 channel.

    We used to have to rent a trailer to haul everything in, now it all fits in our mini van! :thumb:

    Hotel stays on long trips? That's a given these days!

    My wife and I will even spring for the cost or difference to stay at some choice B&B's we have found along the way.

    Packing up sweaty after playing in a non air conditioned building and then driving 2-3 hours in the dark to go home around midnight?

    Not any more!

    I'm getting too old for this!.....

    But there is the fun, and folks still request us to come play and they still love our music, so there is that.....
     
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  18. Pwrmac7600

    Pwrmac7600 Premium Member

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    I don't play live, solely recording. But I don't use either the balanced or unbalanced, I use the Spdif from my Axe FX into my recording interface. Removes the digital to analog, back to digital that happens by using analog outs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
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  19. DarrellV

    DarrellV Murry Chrirstmers to earl! Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    well excuuuuuuse us! :laugh2:
    [​IMG]

    We're still old fashioned analog farts i guess.....;)
     
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  20. Pwrmac7600

    Pwrmac7600 Premium Member

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    lol when recording I just try to do as little back and forth converting as possible. Although I have to admit, the difference is so minor I could absolutely just go to my analog outs and be ok. I actually have the balanced outs hooked up to my interface as well for older sessions that were not recorded at 48K which is what it takes to run the Axe in Spdif.
     
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