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Question on XLR mic to balanced 1/4"

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Kristopher, Oct 2, 2005.

  1. Kristopher


    Mar 13, 2005
    Tempe, AZ
    I have a microphone plugged into the XLR end of a cord, but the other end of the cord has a balanced 1/4" end that I plug into a PA. This seems to get a way lower volume than a normal XLR male/XLR female cord into the mic input of the PA. Why is this?

    And if the end was an unbalanced 1/4" instead of a balanced 1/4", would there be any difference?

    ALSO: Is there be a difference between an XLR/unbalanced cable and an XLR/XLR cable with one of those clunky 1/4" adaptors on the end?

    Thanks a lot for any info!
  2. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    IIRC when you go balanced to unbalanced you lose 6db. If you're using the trs 1/4" to plug a mic into a line input it's quieter as the the line input is less sensitive (has less gain). It is expecting to see a line level signal (high) not mic level (low). The line input itself could also be unbalanced, there goes another 6db.
  3. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    IIRC you don't necessarily lose 6db just by unbalancing a signal. Most consumer electronics are unbalanced and happen to pass a weaker signal (-10)then profesional gear(+4) which is generally balanced and so often an unbalanced input may be expecting a consumer input. Not to be confused with unbalanced instrument level.

    As said before. You are getting a weak signal because you are running a mic level signal into a line input. I am not quite sure what you mean by PA, I assume powered mixer. I find it odd that you are not using the XLR mic inputs. The reason the 1/4 jack is so quiet is because there is no pre-amplifier as there is at the XLR.

    If you had and XLRF to 1/4" TS(unbalanced) you would get the same results, but more potential for noise.

    Yes there is a difference between an unbalanced XLR and an XLR with a clunky adapter. That clunky adapter is an impedence adapter, so not only does it unbalance the signal it make the impedence the same as an instrument AKA HI-Z, this then would alow you to use a guitar amp with your mic. Not recomended, but people do it all the time.

    I would say buy or make some XLR cables and call it good.
  4. Kristopher


    Mar 13, 2005
    Tempe, AZ
    Well, the problem is the band has got a cord shortage. But for some reason the drummer bought all these XLR/balanced 1/4" cables, so we're using those in place of some of the XLR/XLR cables we need.

    When we use the cables for our vocal mics, we can barely hear the vocals, and when we use them with the drum mics for recording we have to boost the signal a ton. Plus the recorded signal with the XLR/balanced 1/4" cord doesn't seem as good as the signal recorded with the XLR/XLR cord, even when brought up to same volume.

    I keep telling the drummer to buy the right cables but he never shows up with them. :rolleyes:
  5. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    One solution is to get a non-transforming XLR(F)-TRS adapter that you can plug into the mic, or a non-transforming TRS-XLR(M) adapter to use on the input to the PA. I know that this is more expensive than just buying the correct cables in the first place, but it is less expensive than buying all new cables.

    Somebody must have snagged a good deal on those cables because I can't imagine them being much cheaper than regular XLR mic cables.
  6. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Get rid of those damn cables. It is such an easy problem to solve. Get the right cables and all your problems will go away. Forget about your drummer and buy some yourself. Banjo Center will have plenty of cheap mic cables. Then your drummer can sit on his worthless cables.
  7. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.

    +100. A while back I bought the 10 for $25.99 pack of 20-footers for live use with my band, and it worked until we could afford better. Some are still in use. Proper cabling makes all the difference in the world. Some things just shouldn't be rigged, you're losing a ton of signal, for crying out loud!!! BUY XLR CABLES!!!!
  8. Kristopher


    Mar 13, 2005
    Tempe, AZ
    Yeah, you guys are right. Next paycheck I'm buying a bunch of normal XLR cables, and I'm marking all of them so there's no question as to who owns them.

    Thanks for making me see what I obviously should have done in the first place! :bassist: