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Do I need to be using balanced cables?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Dan T., Feb 8, 2006.


  1. Dan T.

    Dan T.

    May 9, 2005
    Minneapolis
    Hi there i've recently put together new rig and i have a question about something i was unaware of... the new rig I am running is a korg dtr-1000 -> sansamp rbi -> svt4 pro. today when I went to the store to pick up my new rack for all this gear the guy selling me my rack sold me two balanced cables to run between my tuner, the sansamp, and my amp. i thought i could just use regular instrument cables to run between the different pieces of rack gear. can someone explain to me the difference there is in a balanced cable? also was he correct in having me purchase a balanced cable in the first place? thanks alot! - Dan T.
     
  2. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz

    Mar 27, 2002
    Ohio
    Just use regular instrument cables. He sold you a bill of goods.
     
  3. Dan T.

    Dan T.

    May 9, 2005
    Minneapolis
    well that's what i was thinking at first too, but they were only 5 bucks a piece for 3 footers, exactly the length i need. he seemed convinced using balanced cables was the way to go. that's why i'm scratching my head, i've never really heard of them before today, any other suggestions?
     
  4. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz

    Mar 27, 2002
    Ohio
    At 5 bucks a piece for three footers, you're fine. Most instrument type cables (which may be what he was talking about with "balanced" cables) will be more than that. I'm guessing it was just a matter of semantics....using the term "balanced cables" for instrument cables. He evidently just wanted to make sure you didn't use speaker cables.
     
  5. Dan T.

    Dan T.

    May 9, 2005
    Minneapolis
    hmm, well it definitely says right on the packaging that it is a balanced (trs) 1/4'' (m) cable. and it's definitely much thinner than any other instrument cable i've ever owned, i guess really that's mostly what's concerning to me, it just seems kinda thin. thanks for the help.
     
  6. None of the stuff you mentioned has balanced 1/4" inputs or outputs, so there's absolutely no benefit in using balanced cables. They'll work fine and they were cheap so it's not a biggie. Another case of a salesman not knowing his arse from a hole in the ground.
     
  7. Dan T.

    Dan T.

    May 9, 2005
    Minneapolis
    ahhhh, damnit i told him exactly what i was running too! am i better off exchanging these for regular instrument cables due to my concern with how thin these are, or should i be fine? thanks again everyone...
     

  8. I wouldn't sweat it. Thickness is not necessarily an indication of quality for that type of cable.
     
  9. Dan T.

    Dan T.

    May 9, 2005
    Minneapolis
    yeah they actually seem pretty nice, i appreciate the help.
     
  10. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    See section 7 here: http://www.talkbass.com/ampfaq/

    A balanced cable runs two conductors plus a shield. Instead of a + and shield (ground) in the unbalanced configuration of a normal instrument cable, you have +, -, and the shield. When plugged into a balanced input and fed from a balanced output, nearly all the noise common to the + and - conductors cancels out. So for a long cable run balanced cabling is very advantageous. For a 3 footer it doesn't matter as much, although in some cases you can pick up as much as 6dB of "free" gain, which can really help when driving power amps that have low input sensitivity.

    There's no benefit to using a balanced cable to most tuners, since they are typically unbalanced anyway. I couldn't find the specs for the 1/4" RBI output, but since the SVT4 Pro doesn't use a balanced input, I guess it's moot. Personally, I always use balanced cables if the pieces on either side support it, especially if they use XLRs instead of 1/4" connectors.
     
  11. Dan T.

    Dan T.

    May 9, 2005
    Minneapolis
    thanks for the background passinwind, that helps quite a bit with understanding what balanced and unbalanced means... just out of curiousity what would happen if i used a speaker cable to connect these pieces of gear?
     
  12. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Lots 'o hummmmmm...

    Speaker cable is almost always unshielded. That doesn't matter so much at the low impedances involved at that end of the signal chain.
     
  13. Though 1/4' works fine, balanced cables are about in-line noise reduction (laymen terminology here). You'll find most studio engineers will hook up everthing with balanced cables for that reason. For live rigs, eh, 1/4" is just fine.
     
  14. Dan T.

    Dan T.

    May 9, 2005
    Minneapolis
    so when all's said and done here, i've got shielded cables, and that's a good thing based on there maybe being some overall noise reduction but most likely it will be minimal or not at all. but it can't hurt so hey why not? right? thanks for the help on this one again guys.
     
  15. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    It should work exactly the same for your application as using shielded, unbalanced cable would. You won't get the benefits of balancing, but you do get the benefits of shielding, which are very substantial.The price was good, so no worries, eh? :cool:
     
  16. Dan T.

    Dan T.

    May 9, 2005
    Minneapolis
    haha, okay. thanks for dealing with my obsessing. and thanks for everyone's help and knowledge. :)
     
  17. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    Yeah, this place is great for that sort of thing...



    - georgestrings
     
  18. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    The balanced cables should work fine, BUT:

    A balanced cable has two inner conductors and a shield around them. In balanced systems, the signal is carried on both inner conductors (half and half, in a simplified version). The outer shield is usually grounded, at least at one end to drain off stray interference. When you connect a balanced cable to an unbalanced system, only the two inner conductors will be connected to anything. The tip will carry the signal, and the ring will be at ground (earth, common, whatever). The sleeve, which is connected to the cable's shield, will not be connected to anything. This means you will have a "floating" shield, and you could get some hum.

    In an ordinay instrument cable, there is a single inner conductor and the shield. The tip of the plug puts the signal onto the inner conductor, and the sleeve connects the ground to the shield. Now you have a grounded shield to carry those nasty stray electrons to the nether world.

    It ain't no big deal, but I'd take 'em back and have Dillhole give you some proper unbalanced cables.
     
  19. Keeaumoku

    Keeaumoku

    Dec 29, 2004
    So, there! You got that??? :D
     
  20. This actually not correct for the vast majority of 1/4" connectors. They foresaw this when they designed them so the sleeve contactor in an unbalanced connector is actually far enough back that it contacts the sleeve even if the plug is a TRS type. It may contact both the ring and the sleeve in some cases, but every professional unbalanced 1/4" jack I have encountered contacts the sleeve even with a TRS plug in it. If there are any out there that don't, they're poorly designed.