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Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

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Long Cable Runs


What is the best way to run long cable runs (50 feet or more)? I have heard before that you should only go with Lo-z for long cable runs, but I have noticed that almost all snakes with returns use line-level returns. What should I do? What if the beginning starts out line-level? Do you convert it to Lo-z with a direct box? What if the end requires line-level inputs? How would you convert the Lo-z back to line-level effectively? Whats the deal? Should I just stick with line-level (1/4 in) all the way? How should they be run without a snake?
March 13, 2002 @09:02pm

Sounds like you are confusing two terms. "Z," or impedance, is not directly related to level, as in line level.
A third important variable, which you did not mention, is balancing. Balanced signals can generally travel farther with less interference. The line level signals you refer to in snakes are generally designed as balanced returns. They may look like a standard 1/4 inch cable, but if you look closely they are probably Tip, Ring, Sleeve, which is a common way to connected balanced lines (the other is the standard XLR mic cable). A balanced signal can make it down that length of wire pretty effectively even though the impedance is somewhat high at the end. Further, the level starts out quite a bit higher than a low impedance mic signal in the first place so already it's less vulnerable to problems.
There's a lot more depth to all of this, but hopefully I made some sense out of it for you.
March 20, 2002 @08:23pm

Oh, sorry, I never completely answered your question. The best way to do long runs depends on what is at each end. If you are running a bass guitar or keyboard type signal from the stage to a mic preamp in the mixer 50 or more feet away a good direct box is appropriate. This does change it to a low impedance and balances the signal so it is more optimized for the mic preamp.
However, if you are running a signal that is already line level to another line level device you don't need a direct box and you shouldn't need to worry about impedance at all. An example of this would be the output of a mixer to a power amp on stage 50 or more feet away. The main concern here is that the levels are matched ("line level" is a very generic term that can mean many things) and that the signal is balanced at both ends.
March 20, 2002 @08:27pm