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Cables: Balanced vs Unbalanced

cool skill

1. Why do they have 2 different types of cables (Balanced/Unbalanced)?
2. What is a good balanced TRS to TRS cable?
3. Is there a type of cable (balanced or unbalanced) that is better for 2 separate stereo speakers with one speaker for Right and the other speaker for Left?
4. Is there a type of cable (balanced or unbalanced) that is better for a single connection such as a single speaker that handles both Left and Right signals? Or like headphones with one plug, but 2 speakers (one for the left ear and one for the right ear).
April 11, 2006 @01:56am
cool skill

Which is better:
TRS 1/4 to TRS 1/4
or
TRS1/4 output to XLR speaker input
?
April 11, 2006 @02:06am
cool skill

^-EDIT: The XLR end being a male plug into a female speaker input.
April 11, 2006 @02:13am
AndyH

Balanced cables are not for speakers or anything handling power. They are a method of handling very low level signals, such as those from professional microphones. A proper balanced design requires the devices on either end (i.e. the microphone and the microphone preamp) to have balanced outputs (mic) and balanced inputs (preamp). The purpose is common mode rejection, to cancel noise picked up by the cable between microphone and preamp. This is totally irrelevant with speakers.
Even with powered speakers, meaning, obviously, they contain an amplifer, there is no benefit to be had from balanced cables.
April 11, 2006 @04:45am
cool skill

The outputs on the audio interface are 1/4" balanced. One for left and one for right. Each output will have a cable running from it to a KRK RP5 active speaker.
The back of the speaker has 3 inputs. RCA Unbalanced. Balanced 1/4" TRS. Balanced XLR. It looks exactly like the one shown here: http://www.krksys.com/v3/reviews/237245_final.pdf
Which of the 3 inputs on the back of the speaker would be the best one to use to connect to the audio interface?
April 11, 2006 @04:54am
cool skill

I was checking the cables at monster. and the 1/4" to XLR male looks the same as the 1/4" to XLR female.
Shouldn't the XLR male and XLR female cables look different fom eachother?
MALE
FEMALE
April 11, 2006 @05:26am
AndyH

As far as results go, those three options should be identical. I think it would be very silly to spend money on Monster, but to each his own. I would consider some Hosa brand cables, probably available in you local music store. You can get cables with TSR plugs on both ends, cables with TS plugs on both ends, cables with one of each, cables with TSR on one end and RCA on the other, cables with TS on one end and RCA on the other, cables with TSR on one end and XLR on the other, or cables with TS on one and and XLR on the other. All will give you the same results.
The XLR ends of the cables should be different. Perhaps it just does not show up in those photos. Perhaps someone just slipped in a wrong photo. since the pins on the male side are inside the shield, it is rather difficult to tell without looking directly into the end with adeuate light.
April 11, 2006 @07:12am
Gilligan8

...Even with powered speakers, meaning, obviously, they contain an amplifer, there is no benefit to be had from balanced cables.

Umm, not sure why you would say this... so, the noise you pick up from your mixer output to the amps in the speakers that then in turn get amplified is ok? ...not to me!
Balanced is a cable that the signal travels on the pair of wires that is inside the sheild vs an unbalanced cable that uses the sheild for a signal conductor also... it's not about hum bucking... though quad cables do have some hum bucking abilities and are worth the extra money if you want to avoid noise, ESPECIALLY going to an amp!
April 11, 2006 @11:25am
87PRS

cool...male plugs have the pins, female plugs have the holes...get it. If balanced is offered use balanced, the manufacturer isn't adding three types of plug ins to save manufacturing costs, balanced are suppose to be quieter, some gear may just have rca's. TRS are also used to run processors such as reverbs into a mixer "insert" the TRS 1/4 goes into the insert of your mixer and then the "Y" which is 1/4 unbalanced goes to the in/out of the processor(commonly send/return) the TRS end is put in the mixer only at half way "click" don't push it all the way in you will loose connection. This will alow you to use reverb, delays etc through an auxillary on your board. Unbalanced cables are usually for guitar plugs, PA speakers, and patching. Although, I have a Nuetrix TRS patch bay and when I patch with 1/4 unbalanced rather that TRS there is a significant loss of quality. Hope this all also helps some.
April 11, 2006 @11:45am
IronGuillotine

Go with the balanced cables. I have the exact same monitors and they work perfectly with the balanced. The unbalanced will work ok too, but you run the risk of picking up extra noise if there are a lot of electronics around.
April 11, 2006 @01:25pm
cool skill

cool...male plugs have the pins, female plugs have the holes...get it.

That's what I thought at first until I saw the pics. But according to Andy, they used the wrong pics because the lighting was bad.
But I guess what some of the people here are saying is to use the Balanced slot instead of the RCA right?
The sales person told me to use a 1/4"TRS<->XLRmale cable instead of the 1/4"TRS<->1/4"TRS cable.
Is this really a better connection? Would anybody know what advantage a 1/4"TRS<->XLRmale might have over the 1/4"TRS<->1/4"TRS?
April 11, 2006 @02:22pm
BTLG

in any pro studio, you'd get crucified for using unbalanced inputs to powered monitors.
in fact.... on PRO monitors, i don't think i'm used to seeing ANY unbalanced connections.
and since we all strive to be professional.........
April 11, 2006 @03:08pm
cool skill

in any pro studio, you'd get crucified for using unbalanced inputs to powered monitors.
in fact.... on PRO monitors, i don't think i'm used to seeing ANY unbalanced connections.
and since we all strive to be professional.........

Do you also think i should use a 1/4"TRS<->XLRmale cable instead of the 1/4"TRS<->1/4"TRS cable? If so, what is the advantage?
April 11, 2006 @03:12pm
cool skill

A TRS to XLR male means that the end of the cable is male, and it plugs into a female or that the end of the cable is female and plugs into a male?
I would assume that the end of the cable is male, but the pics on the websites do not show correctly, so I cannot know for sure.
April 11, 2006 @03:32pm
BTLG

there's no real difference there, although on something like a pair of genelecs, you'll find only an xlr input. I think that may be a matter of perception.
i'm superstitious about using 1/4" to XLR..... something about it just doesn't sit well with me.
monster cable is undoubtedly the best you can get for your money, and if i'm not mistaken, i believe they carry a life time guarantee.
April 11, 2006 @03:34pm