XLR outputs

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by iwearpumas, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. iwearpumas


    Aug 12, 2011
    Middletown, NY
    Ive seen a few basses with built in XLR outputs. Ive seen them on a few Foderas, as well as other high end brands. Does anybody have this on their bass? Is there any benefit other than being able to plug directly into a mixer?
  2. Hi.

    I have one on mine, but rarely use it because the Hi/Lo transformer I used isn't actually as good I thought it was ;).

    Not many benefits other than the ability to go directly to the board as You said. IMO anyway.

    Some manufacturers may use XLR for a stereo feed as well, but again, not much benefit in that either than with a TRS phone connection.

  3. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Depends on the configuration- if it's actually low impedance, a long cable can be used without loss and noise. If it's some other configuration, there's not much benefit, other than using a stronger plug and jack.
  4. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I believe you can also run the onboard pre with phantom power.

  5. iwearpumas


    Aug 12, 2011
    Middletown, NY
    That stuff sounds way too complicated. Ill just stick to the 1/4 inch.
  6. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    It's so I can walk into a studio without dragging any other gear around and plug the bass straight to the board to get the most pure uncolored tone of the bass...nothing in the signal path. You can play live like that too, but I still like using amps.
  7. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Some are low impedance outs, such as on Wal basses and the Rickenbacker 4002. Certain Alembic models use a 5 pin XLR connector to feed the bass power from an outboard power supply and to send a stereo signal out from the bass.
  8. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Personally, I like the Alembic idea of a 5 pin XLR. The reasons for it are simple. It lets you power the bass through the cord. This is not only important to eliminate battery hassles and expense but also to allow you to use higher quality electronics in the bass (similar to what is in your amp) that takes more power than a battery can handle with decent life.

    A second reason is it can give you stereo outputs. I've got no basses like that but I do have a couple of guitars with Piezo on one channel and magnetic on the other. I REALLY like that effect sometimes with two amps and separated cabs.

    A third reason is the output can be balanced which (like microphones) cancels hum and noise eliminating a lot of those problems.

    The fourth reason is that that output is low impedance (again like a mic) which means you can put 100 ft of cable on it and not effect the tone.

    The fifth reason is that in matching a mic-style output you can go direct to the board without any DI. The BASS is the DI.

    Now to comment I'd like to say that I wouldn't want a bass with only a mic level XLR output. The reason would be that mic levels are LOW and you are simply throw noise floor away by padding it down.

    But there's a catch. NOBODY who builds amps accepts any such wiring! It is TOTALLY non-standard and even non-standard as far as mics and boards go (5 pin). So you could go 3 pin and mic compatible or 5 pin and have an adapter power supply box (which is what I believe Alembic does).

    Personally, I use a different scheme. I use TRS cables for mono with the extra wire (ring) for bass power. I rewire my amp inputs for TRS with a power supply (on an on-off switch). That solves a couple of the above problems. You can run power-hog electronics and even a bunch of LEDs which are cool.

    Another scheme that works is the 3 pin thing. I've done this in the past.


    I had an old Kingston bass. The pickup died. In those days I was poor and had no idea how to get a pickup for a Kingston anyway. So I rooted through my wire stock and rewound the pickup with finest wire I could find. Which it turns out wasn't nearly fine enough. The pickup ended up with about 100 Ohms impedance! Not giving up, I grabbed a mic to line transformer and discovered it worked GREAT! It stepped up that low impedance and best of all with low inductance in the pickup it had a very wide flat clear response!

    Well, being a noob, I ended up doing the wrong thing. The right thing would have been to put the transformer AT THE AMP to take advantage of the low Z driving a long cord. But no, I put the transformer at the bass so it would drive a standard amp like it used to. There was some tone advantage but basically the same "tone suck" of long cords persisted. I still have that bass! But nevertheless it was a very interesting and educational exercise.

    If I did that now I think I'd go with XLR 3 pin out with a Mic /line level pad switch and do the direct to board or to a mic-line transformer at the amp. One problem these days is that quality mic-line transformers are much harder to find and really expensive when you do find them.
  9. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    I did just that, in the mid '90s, with two Alembics I used to own, an '84 Exploiter and a '87 Persuader. A TRS cable went from the basses to the PS unit, then a TS cable from the PS unit to the amp. I still have the power supply unit, someday I will find a suitable use for it, but not for a bass as I prefer passive basses these days.
  10. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    My Alembic has Series I electronics that use the 5 pin connector. It's pretty necessary as you really need the external power to run the electronics for any extended period of time (you can use batteries but they get chewed through pretty quick). It isn't an XLR out though. It's just the output to the power supply/signal interface (the DS-5R or DS-5). The DS-5 has 1/4" outputs in either mono or stereo to send to a preamp or DI box.

  11. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Actually, it is an XLR out (stereo audio signal), and an XLR in (power). Just because it has 5 pins instead of 2 pins doesn't mean it is not an XLR connector. XLR, in and of itself, does not require it to be a low impedance balanced signal out, it is just a connector that can be used for any purpose needed, in this case 2 pins for DC power into the bass' electronics and 3 pins for audio out.