Balanced or Unbalanced Cables
Solution ID: 89843
Balanced or Unbalanced Cables
Keywords / Key Phrases: balanced cables, unbalanced cables
Cables - balanced or unbalanced?
All inputs on the E-MU Digital Audio System are designed to use either balanced or unbalanced cables.
Balanced signals provide an additional +6dB of gain on the inputsand are recommended for best audio
performance, although unbalanced cables are finefor most applications. If you’re having problems with
hum and noise or just want thebest possible performance, use balanced cables.
WARNING: Do NOT use balanced audio cables when connecting balanced outputs to unbalanced inputs.
Doing so can increase noise level and introduce hum. Use balanced cables ONLY if you are connecting
balanced inputs to balanced outputs.
Balanced Cables
Balanced cables are used in professional studios because they cancel out noise andinterference.
Connector plugs used on balanced cables are XLR (3-prong mic connector)or TRS (Tip, Ring, Sleeve) 1/4"
phone plugs.
Balanced cables have one ground (shield) connection and two signal-carryingconductors 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 voltagebut opposite in polarity. Both leads may pick up
interference, but because it is presentboth in and out of phase, this interference cancels out at the
balanced input connection.
Unbalanced Cables
Unbalanced cables have one conductor and one ground (shield) and usually connectvia unbalanced 1/4"
phone plugs or RCA phono plugs. The shield stays at a constantground potential while the signal in the
center conductor varies in positive and negativevoltage. The shield completely surrounds the center “hot”
conductor and is connectedto ground in order to intercept most of the electrical interference encountered
by thecable. Unbalanced cables are more prone to hum and interference than balanced cables,but the
shorter the cable, the less hum introduced into the system.
I/O Settings
Depending on what E-MU product you have, you may be able to set the level (-10dBV or +4 dBV) for
each pair of analog outputs and the input gain setting for each pair of analog inputs.
An output setting of +4 provides the most output and is compatible with professionalaudio gear.
Balanced output cables provide a +6dB hotter signal than unbalanced cableswhen used with balanced
inputs. Do not use balanced cables unless your other gear hasbalanced inputs.
An input setting of -10 is compatible with consumer audio gear and works best with lowlevel signals. 10dBV is approximately 12dB lower than +4dBu. Choose the setting thatallows you to send or receive a
full scale signal without clipping.

E-MU 0404 has unbalanced connections.

E-MU 0404 USB, 0202, 1212M, 1616, 1616M, 1820, 1820M, Emulator X, Emulator X Studio all
use Balanced and Unbalanced connections. Some have software selectable levels others have
fixed values.

There is no level settings for E-MU USB products.
Last updated: October 8, 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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