Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI?

Author
Jack Ludden
Bronze Member
  • Total Posts : 122
  • Reward points: 0
  • Joined: 2005/09/11 21:58:08
  • Status: offline
2007/11/02 12:22:46 (permalink)

Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI?

Hi there -
I was wondering if it's better to use a balanced (stereo) cable or an unbalanced regular guitar cable when plugging in a bass or an electric guitar to a preamp for DI. My understanding is that the balancing acts as a shield, which makes me think the balanced would get a better S/N ratio, however in that case why do people ever use unbalanced cables at all? Thanks for any enlightenment,

Jack

 
#1

8 Replies Related Threads

    krizrox
    Gold Member
    • Total Posts : 4047
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2003/11/23 09:49:33
    • Location: Elgin, IL
    • Status: offline
    RE: Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI? 2007/11/02 12:26:20 (permalink)
    You want to use a regular instrument cable for plugging in your guitar. The reason is that your instrument's ground connection will end up making contact with the ring on a balanced cable which is not shield ground (when using a balanced cabled with TRS connectors). There's no other benefit since the circutry inside the guitar is not balanced.

    Larry Kriz
    www.LnLRecording.com
    www.myspace.com/lnlrecording

    Sonar PE 8.5, Samplitude Pro 11, Sonic Core Scope Professional/XTC, A16 Ultra AD/DA, Intel DG965RY MOBO, Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz processor, XFX GeForce 7300 GT PCIe video card, Barracuda 750 & 320GB SATA drives, 4GB DDR Ram, Plextor DVD/CD-R burner.
    #2
    joshhunsaker
    Silver Member
    • Total Posts : 638
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2007/09/13 23:03:25
    • Status: offline
    RE: Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI? 2007/11/02 12:31:55 (permalink)
    guitars don't have grounds...
    #3
    krizrox
    Gold Member
    • Total Posts : 4047
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2003/11/23 09:49:33
    • Location: Elgin, IL
    • Status: offline
    RE: Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI? 2007/11/02 12:53:14 (permalink)
    You're right - no ground - my bad. I meant the internal shielding. Which ultimately probably doesn't mean a darn thing in terms of sound quality now that I think about it. I've seen guys hook up guitars with speaker cable and get away with it.

    Larry Kriz
    www.LnLRecording.com
    www.myspace.com/lnlrecording

    Sonar PE 8.5, Samplitude Pro 11, Sonic Core Scope Professional/XTC, A16 Ultra AD/DA, Intel DG965RY MOBO, Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz processor, XFX GeForce 7300 GT PCIe video card, Barracuda 750 & 320GB SATA drives, 4GB DDR Ram, Plextor DVD/CD-R burner.
    #4
    wishus
    Bronze Member
    • Total Posts : 159
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2007/06/19 11:21:54
    • Status: offline
    RE: Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI? 2007/11/02 13:20:06 (permalink)

    ORIGINAL: Jack Ludden
    however in that case why do people ever use unbalanced cables at all?


    Because the output of a guitar isn't balanced. In order to make a balanced connection, it has to be balanced all the way. If either end is unbalanced, then the whole connection is unbalanced.

    The DI probably has a balanced output. So you should use a balanced cable between the DI's output and your mixer's input.

    Third Take : a blog about home recording
    #5
    ohhey
    Platinum Member
    • Total Posts : 11677
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2003/11/06 16:24:07
    • Location: Fort Worth Texas USA
    • Status: offline
    RE: Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI? 2007/11/02 14:34:06 (permalink)
    ORIGINAL: Jack Ludden

    Hi there -
    I was wondering if it's better to use a balanced (stereo) cable or an unbalanced regular guitar cable when plugging in a bass or an electric guitar to a preamp for DI. My understanding is that the balancing acts as a shield, which makes me think the balanced would get a better S/N ratio, however in that case why do people ever use unbalanced cables at all? Thanks for any enlightenment,

    Jack


    Balanceing doesn't "act as a shield" it uses cancellation to null out noise on long cable runs. The catch is that the devices on BOTH ends must have electronics to do the balanced connection to make it work. In the old days even microphones were unbalanced but today most are either by use of a transformer or active elelctronics. However, most guitars are still unbalanced except ones with active electronics and even some of those still have an unbalanced output. I'm sure that making a guitar balanced would change the sound, add cost, and require an amp with a special input and that just never did take off in the marketplace. The way you get rid of noise with guitar is to engineer better pickups like humbuckers or the new Fender vintage noiseless design. That way you can still use vintage style amps with unbalanaced (and HiZ) inputs. The most common active guitars with balanced outputs are high end bass gutiars and even those are still rare.

    So what do you do if you need to connect a guitar to a balanced or LowZ input ? You use a direct box. That's exactly what it's designed to do. It lets you plug the guitar into the microphone preamp on the mixer with the added benefit of being able to use a long cable between the direct box and the preamp without picking up a bunch of noise. A good direct box also lets the guitar operate at High impedence (lots or resistance like 1 to 2 meg) so the pickups don't feel like they are pushing close to a dead short and have better sustain. On the other side of the direct box it's Low inpedence to match the input of most micrphone preamps for good signal to noise ratio and all that stuff.

    To make a direct box you can use something as simple as a transformer that requires not power or active electronics like the CountryMan Type 85 that needs a battery. Both can very widely in quality. It's very hard to make a good sounding transformer and they cost big bucks, it's easy to make a lame sounding transfromer and those are cheap.

    If you wanted to hack a guitar to make it balanced outputs all you would need to do is install a transformer and put an XLR jack on the output plate but it would change the sound and most guitar players would hate the change as much as using a cheap direct box. To do it right a guitar company would have to put in a swtich and a $70 transformer (at least) to make the guitar balanced and they just don't want to do that so they let you choose what direct box you want on the outside.. better idea.

    To learn what's in a direct box check out this free PDF from Jensen Transfomers

    http://www.jensen-transformers.com/datashts/dbe.pdf
    post edited by ohhey - 2007/11/02 14:49:13
    #6
    Jack Ludden
    Bronze Member
    • Total Posts : 122
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2005/09/11 21:58:08
    • Status: offline
    RE: Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI? 2007/11/02 16:32:15 (permalink)
    Thanks for all the great info everyone - much appreciated.

     
    #7
    mwd
    Silver Member
    • Total Posts : 627
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2006/05/18 22:05:07
    • Status: offline
    RE: Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI? 2007/11/02 16:55:20 (permalink)
    Gear is balanced or unbalanced.
    Cables are 2 conductor or 1 conductor + shield.

    Using 2 conductor cable on unbalanced gear does not make it balanced.




    post edited by mwd - 2007/11/02 17:10:46
    #8
    Roflcopter
    Platinum Member
    • Total Posts : 6778
    • Reward points: 0
    • Joined: 2007/04/27 19:10:06
    • Status: offline
    RE: Guitar Cable - Balanced or Unbalanced for DI? 2007/11/02 17:45:32 (permalink)
    new Fender vintage noiseless design


    Not as cheap, but sound better:

    http://www.kinman.com/html/myProducts.htm

    I'm a perfectionist, and perfect is a skinned knee.
    #9
    Jump to:
    © 2014 APG vNext Commercial Version 5.1