Solution ID: 84805 Cables - Balanced or Unbalanced? Keywords / Key Phrases: Cables, Balanced, unbalanced All inputs and outputs on the E-MU Digital Audio System are designed as either balanced or unbalanced cables. Balanced signals provide additional inputs and are recommended for the best audio performance. Balanced Connectors: Balanced cables are used in professional studios because they reduce interference. Connector plugs used on balanced cables are XLR connectors or TRS (Tip, Ring, Sleeve) 1/4" phone plugs. Balanced cables have one ground (shield) connection and two signal-carrying conductors of equal potential but opposite polarity. There is one "hot" or positive lead, and a “cold” or negative lead. At any point in time, both conductors are equal in voltage but opposite in polarity. Both leads may pick up interference, but because it is present both in and out of phase, this interference cancels out. Balanced XLR Connectors: 1. Ground / shield 2. Hot (+) 3. Cold (-) Balanced 1/4" TRS Connectors: Unbalanced Cables: Unbalanced cables have one conductor and one ground (shield) and is usually connect via unbalanced 1/4" phone plugs or RCA phono plugs. The shield stays at a constant ground potential while the signal in the center conductor varies in positive and negative voltage. The shield completely surrounds the center "hot" conductor and is connected to ground in order to intercept most of the electrical interference encountered by the cable. Unbalanced cables are more prone to humming sounds and interference than balanced cables, but the shorter the cable, the less hum and noise is experienced when using these type of cables. Unbalanced 1/4" Connectors: Note: Do NOT use balanced audio cables when connecting balanced outputs to unbalanced inputs. Doing so can actually increase the noise level and introduce hum. Use balanced (3-conductor) cables ONLY if you are connecting balanced inputs to balanced outputs. Last updated: March 12th, 2010 Note: Product specification, technical or troubleshooting information are subjected to change. This is due to changes and/or updates in the new firmware/driver releases. Please refer to the web release notes in the download section for details.
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