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Balanced vs. Unbalanced Cables - How To Reduce Unwanted Noise

652 ratings | 103901 views
This video will explain the difference between recording audio with balanced vs unbalanced cables. I demonstrate exactly whats going on under the hood of balanced cables using Ableton Live and show exactly how they help to reduce noise.
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Text Comments (122)
doveshouse (13 days ago)
Do you know how I can do a long run out from an audio interface into a 3.5 mic input without losing the balance? Line out from saffire pro into Sony a7iii mic input.
jan-gepisst (26 days ago)
Just in order to see, if I got it right. Does this make sense? Input: Pin2 Hot = normal phase Noise= normal phase Pin3 Cold = inverted phase Noise= normal phase Effect → Signal cancelled out, noise stays audible Output: Pin2 Hot = normal phase Noise= normal phase Pin3 Cold = normal phase Noise= inverted phase Effect → Noise cancelled out, signal stays audible
imickey503 (1 month ago)
Now that is how its done. This should be in a reference playlist.
Robert T. Johnson (1 month ago)
Great explanation and demonstration.
german diaz (3 months ago)
if I plug in an xlr mic to a recorder that only has a 3.5mm in with an adapter will it make the audio worse ?
amclellan84 (4 months ago)
I have trs from my monkey banana monitors going to trs in my mtrack 2x2m audiointerface, and am getting humm and hiss. Will trs to xlr fix that?
amclellan84 (3 months ago)
DMI Honeyboi Not yet. My headphones are fine when removing monitors from audio interface so been using them. I think it will be one of a few things, though. Make sure monitors are plugged into different extension then pc, or there’s a ground loop. Many people report this to fix it... Behringer MICROHD HD400 Hum Destroyer
DMI Honeyboi (3 months ago)
I have this same glitching humming noise issue with my Monkey banana left studio monitor speaker too, Please have you been able to rectify yours?
Dajiang PLUG Factory (4 months ago)
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Ramez N. (4 months ago)
excellent stuff - you can tell that someone has superb knowledge of a field, when they can explain the ULTIMATE BASICS and demonstrate them in such a clear-cut way - I recreated the process in pro-tools, bouncing tracks in the session on print tracks - this is a longer, more "analog" way, compared to the usual offline bounces we're so accustomed to, and it bloody worked! Cheers mate
hectorbacchus (4 months ago)
Damn! Really great video!😊
marc atkinson (4 months ago)
i have a 1977 Marantz receiver and I want to connect a pair of rokit 5's, but the marantz has those weird claw connectors for bare speaker wire. how do i connect to the rokit, which is both trs and rca balanced? do I have to make my own cable?
marc atkinson (4 months ago)
i have a 1977 Marantz receiver and I want to connect a pair of rokit 5's, but the marantz has those weird claw connectors for bare speaker wire. how do i connect to the rokit, which is both trs and rca balanced? do I have to make my own cable?
Oscar Roberto Brouwer (6 months ago)
cool, how did you reverse the polarity?
John Suggs (7 months ago)
Balance cables has two signal carrying wires (hots) and a common ground. Balance cables use a frequency phase inversion process. What it does is the cable carries two identical signals in the hot wires. One of the signals gets inverted. If you were looking at a signal in a waveform, there are ups and down. How often these ups and downs happen in a set amount of time is called frequency. How high or low the ups and downs happen is called amplitude (signal strength, loudness or volume). Phase-canceling takes one of the signals and inverts it against the original. Points where the signal goes up to say +10, the inverted signal played against it will go down -10. This results in a zeroing of the original signal. Noise enters the wire from outside and travels along the wire as well. The noise will be duplicated as well in the two hot wires. At the end of balanced cable, the inversion is reversed. The original signal which was zeroed out becomes active again. While at the same time the noise signal which wan't inverted will become inverted. This will result in outside noise being cancelled or zeroed out.
DMI Honeyboi (3 months ago)
Hello John, Please i have this glitching noise problem with my left monkey banana studio monitor, And the right one is working perfectly fine. But the left makes much noise when using it for mixing and recording too, what can i do please?
T. Farris (8 months ago)
Very interesting demonstration. So, basically it is best to use balanced cables when ever possible?
T. Farris (7 months ago)
John Suggs cool
John Suggs (7 months ago)
Absolutely. If the source can use a balanced cable, then do so. Unbalanced cables are used mostly in guitar cables.
Big Boi (9 months ago)
What cable will u recommend for mics to reduce white noise
Wayne Beeston (10 months ago)
Intresting video, thanks for this
Lachy Becke (11 months ago)
awesome video, cheers!
Blondie SL (1 year ago)
I get how using flipping polarity will cancel out the sound. What confuses me though and your demo shows it so well, is ok, the first part, you cancel out the music and there is silence. Makes sense. Then you add noise to the thing, but then only the noise is cancelled and not the music itself. How does that happen? And I'm not sure how to take a RIGHT/LEFT RCA jacks (red/white) out of my device and convert it to a balanced (noise cancelling) 1/4 stereo jack (or 2 separated XLRs)... not sure if that can be done.??
Butch Coplin (1 month ago)
Blondie, I believe the electrical interference will come through the ground pin only. That allows you to duplicate it & flip a copy to be perfectly out of phase with the original and assign it to a different pin. Noise cancellation of just the line interference achieved. I was really confused as well about that, but I watched it again and payed close attention to exactly what he was doing. Would help if that was explained in the video.
Darryl Edington (1 year ago)
Blondie, because he flipped the not normal audio back to normal, which flipped the noise to "not normal", then when played back the not normal noise cancels the normal noise, just like the not normal audio cancelled it's opposite, the normal audio. I hope that made sense...
juliano khoshaba (1 year ago)
we are being poisoned by your regurgitation
YBXtreminal (1 year ago)
why does the sound become louder?
claudio stano (11 months ago)
at the beginning of the balanced cable you have the +SOUND signal and it's inverted phase "brother" -SOUND signal ( the NOISE will be added to both ), so you get: +SOUND +NOISE and -SOUND +NOISE then, at the end of the BALANCED cable you re-invert the phase, so you get: +SOUND +NOISE and +SOUND -NOISE => obtaining: 2 * SOUND ( NOISE disappears, SOUND get louder )
Patrick McDonough (1 year ago)
Thank you. Well done.
BATLORDdotcom (1 year ago)
Excellent way to explain this! I've never seen it taught like this. Very thoughtful!
Tank1 (1 year ago)
So whats the best way for recording guitar? Does balanced cable make andifference?? Also pedal board set up into an amp should i use a balanced cable insted of a unbalance guitar cable?
Chris Havard (1 year ago)
sridharlanser (1 year ago)
what software(tool) you used to explain this? can i know the name of that tool?
Trevor Jalla (1 year ago)
Not that it really matters for the final outcome, but it would have been great to have heard positive alone (track plus noise) and gradually bring up the negative - so you could simultaneously hear the track get louder and the noise get quieter. All up, great demo.
Herman Hall (2 years ago)
Good stuff. Could balance be a problem that I'm having with my Boya wireless mics. Whenever I walker in front of speakers everything gets very static. Thanks!
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
thats probably some form of feedback loop. the noise balanced cables would solve is more of a constant hum noise
RicHardAndHeavy (2 years ago)
Great demonstration, but tel me ... do I have to use balanced jack for the cables between my multi effect pedal and my soundcard ? I hope you understand me .. thx =)
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
it wouldnt hurt, but its not absolutely necessary. Short unbalanced cables dont really add much noise to the signal path. Unless you're hearing some unwanted noise dont worry about it. Try it out and see if you hear any difference.
Richard Landgrebe (2 years ago)
I have been an audio engineer for 40 years and I am concerned at the number of newbies that refer to a 2 conductor 1/4 connector as ts ( tip sleeve) because it is actually ( tip and ring ) the telephone company invented this connector 8 or 9 decades ago and if you still have a telephone interface on your house you will see where the red and green wire connect the words " tip and ring " watch an old movie that shows a telephone operator patching phone calls and you will see her using a patch cable with a 1/4 connectors .This wrong referral is running so rampant that engineers just entering the field use the same incorrect terminology. Accuracy and accountability is important for credibility
StringerNews1 (7 months ago)
Yep. The one at the tip is the tip. The sleeve part is the sleeve. And any parts that look like rings are just that. Why complicate things unnecessarily?
Saed Abumokh (7 months ago)
the ring is the section that looks like a RING which is the middle one isn't it?
StringerNews1 (7 months ago)
Richard Landgrebe, I admire your dedication to the memory of manual telephone switchboards, but I'm afraid that there are a couple of inconsistencies between switchboards and today's audio gear. First, the switchboard connector had different dimensions, and was not compatible with modern 1/4" connectors. I know, I've tried. I've also found some military surplus connectors that look similar but do not match dimensions. As for the TR circuit, on switchboards I've seen there was a sleeve as well, and it was used. So it's still TRS, albeit incompatible. Sorry. I'm just reporting what I saw. If I hired an assistant, I would not expect that person to be familiar with obsolete phone systems, but I would expect him or her to notice that things that may be superficially similar are in fact different. The difference between a blank CD-R, DVD-R and BD-R is a good example. The difference between a 1/4" plug and a bantam plug is also useful knowledge. Noticing the difference between a line level or musical instrument cable with 1/4" terminators and a speaker cable with (at least outwardly) the same terminators is a _big_ deal. And then all those 3.5 mm and 2.5 mm pins. I know that 1.5 mm has to be coming! I mean no disrespect by pointing this out. I began as an A2 audio technician in 1975, worked up to A1 the next year and entered an electrical engineering program shortly after that. So not quite as many years with letters, but my time as a technician was learning time for me. When I entered the profession all of our signal paths and standards were analog. Today they're mostly digital in TV where I ended up. I had to relearn almost everything. A big part of professionalism is keeping up with the state of the art. The current state has the sleeve always being the return, and a phone is a radio. Go figure.
Caroline Rose (1 year ago)
That's really interesting! Even non-newbies (saw this on a Sweetwater balanced/unbalanced cable tutorial) call the 2 conductor a "TS" cable. Looks like everybody could use this info! Thank!
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
thanks for the info! I'm just reiterating what ive been taught but its always nice to learn something new.
Greg Secrist (2 years ago)
Very simple yet awesome explanation. Thanks for doing this. Helped me understand why it was worth moving up to a balanced amp/headphone setup. Now I know why it made such a difference in sound quality!
Seong Pugh (2 years ago)
Very informative, thank you!
That was a very good demonstration. I have no idea why I'm here though but that was cool to understand.
Skye LL (2 years ago)
oh my god are you eating a cough drop!? please don't do that again. not trying to listen to ASMR smacking sounds. yuck. great information though.
Skye LL (1 year ago)
Chris oh nooo
Chris (1 year ago)
cheyskye wi I didn't get mad, I got disappointed
Skye LL (1 year ago)
Chris why u mad I got vocal talent bro
Chris (1 year ago)
cheyskye wi appreciate the video knowledge this guy has shared instead of barking and yapping. control yourself.
Skye LL (1 year ago)
Chris I'm not an audio engineer. I only rap. have some self control
Dugi Devet (2 years ago)
yeah but what if your sound card or DAC have only unbalanced output and imput?
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
+Dugi Devet (Carabolium) Then the DAC you got is not professional studio equipment. If you are having problems then get a better converter with balanced ins and outs.
star gamer (2 years ago)
I've been using unbalanced cable for all my life ... Thanks to you for making this video!!
Super awesome
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
+Sriharshaa Prabhakar (CCIESRI) Thank you! Glad you like it.
Steven King (2 years ago)
Excellent video - thanks.
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
+Steven King Thanks!
Albert Chow (2 years ago)
I recently bought some new TS 1/4 inch cables for guitar, and noticed that they have a very significant amount of noise to other TS 1/4 inch cables that I already own. What could be the cause of the noise and how could I fix it? It might be worth noting that the cables I bought were the cheapest available.
Butch Coplin (1 month ago)
Read along the length of the cable itself. If one says speaker cable, and the other says instrument cable, that could be your problem. Also, you can test the ends with a multimeter and fix any loose parts or reinforce solder joints to silence any noisy cables. It only takes a couple of minutes to learn the process on YouTube.
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
+Albert Chow cheap cables can be problematic at times and there is a good chance thats the reason. I honestly dont work with guitars often enough to know if balanced cables or something else is the solution to this. I will say that if you are serious about your music then your instrument deserves some nice cables.
Lee Cook (2 years ago)
Thanks Im off to get me some balanced cables for my setup.... I have a seperate question thats in this field. I have Roland Vdrums and the Roland monitor. I also get a hum/buzz from this, and yes the cables are 1/4 jack unbalanced. Would balanced cables cure this too? and also would it be beneficial to junk all my unbalanced leads for balanced? ie guitar to guitar amp? sorry if this is basic stuff
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
+Lee Cook I cant say for sure that getting balanced cables would fix every buzz you hear but I would get balanced cables for the roland gear. im using balanced cables and power conditioners for my gear and i still get light humming from my speakers. Using unbalanced cables for a guitar is probably fine but its worth a test to see if it makes a difference.
twoatebravo (2 years ago)
Very NICE job sir!
hottierod (2 years ago)
wat about getting rid of buzzing sound in stage monitors?
hottierod (2 years ago)
+Soma Studios sorry for the late reply but thank you very much
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
if anything i would consider cutting the ground on the power strip/extension cord being used. I have heard about people doing that but I hear its much less safe to do so even if it does get rid of the noise. again I dont have a lot of experience doing this so I could be totally wrong.  I have never heard about someone removing the ground pin from an XLR so I dont know how effective it would be. I feel like thats not the way to go though but it may be worth a try.
Marc Arena (2 years ago)
+Soma Studios Hi, great vid. Further to this question, would a ground loop be nullified if you physically cut the earth wire, say, in an XLR cable? Cheers.
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
+hottierod that could be from a ground loop or other problems. i have less experience working with stage monitors. keep testing things and youll eventually find the culprit
j simmons (2 years ago)
Thanks, this was very informative!
Aseem Kumar (2 years ago)
I am using focusrite scarlett 2i2 with Ableton 9 Live Lite. Even when my microphone is not connected, it is only Focusrite to my computer with the USB able, and I just push record, it records HISSING sound, however the volume depends how is the position of gain of interface. I am not able to understand why it happens when there is only ONE wire that is USB cable connecting focusrite to Laptop.
Aseem Kumar (2 years ago)
+Soma Studios Hi Thanks a lot. I did TWO things, updated my DAW with the latest version and more importantly changed the cable to balanced, now it is perfect. Another thing would like to know, I am using Dynamic Mic (Shure PG48), should I change to condenser microphone, given that I would record at home and my room is not treated for any acoustics, and more sensitivity of condenser microphone may capture unwanted sounds? Regards, Aseem
Soma Recording Studios (2 years ago)
+Aseem Kumar depending on the mic you need phantom power which may be effecting it. make sure you have the latest drivers for your interface? have you tried recording anything else out of the interface? maybe the mic is broken? are you using balanced cables from the mic to interface AND from interface to speakers?
chisanga nyambe (3 years ago)
why did the noise cancel each other out and not the audio
Gra Matta (2 years ago)
+Joseph Griffin Excellent - I now understand!
Soma Recording Studios (3 years ago)
great explanation
Joseph Griffin (3 years ago)
+chisanga nyambe think of it like two positive numbers: +1 and +1 you flip one of them, so you go +1 and -1 then you get interference, the same on both sides +1 and +x, -1 and +x so when you flip the second pair at the end again, you go +1 and +x, +1 and -x when you put them together, you get +2 and +x and -x, or just +2 The idea is that you flip one signal before getting transferred and you flip it again once it's been transferred. While flipped, it would cancel out with the other signal, but when un-flipped, it would add up instead of cancelling out.
Soma Recording Studios (3 years ago)
+chisanga nyambe because the audio was already flipped once. so once its flipped again it adds the 2 signals together. phases out the noise and adds the good audio together making a stronger final good audio
Joe Jimenez (3 years ago)
great demonstration!
Wyatt Cayer (3 years ago)
Fucking brilliant!
Soma Recording Studios (3 years ago)
+Wyatt Cayer (The Official AeroSonic) Thanks m8
undercrackers56 (3 years ago)
Congratulations on an innovative and conclusive demonstration of XLR. Thank you.
Soma Recording Studios (3 years ago)
+undercrackers56 Thank you! Thats exactly what I was trying to accomplish.
tadentt (3 years ago)
i was using unbalanced cables for my studio monitors coming from my interface (M-audio Fast track pro --> Rokit Krk 5's) and every time i would click or open a program i could hear electronic noises coming from my computer. kind of like hearing static noise and ringing/buzzing every time the computer would work or do something. cant really explain it. but ever since switching to balanced cables (XLR --> TRS Connection) , my monitors have absolutely no static or hiss noise as if they were turned off. Now i get to hear only the sound of what im playing. such a great feeling lol
Felipe Gonzalez (1 year ago)
i have the same issue, it was so frustrating at first because i didn't knew what was causing it. the weird part is that i'm using a TS cable on one of my monitors and i get no hiss at all, might be because it's a really short cable? idk
YoungBlaze (1 year ago)
did you get the Gold Tips? i have the silver ones and im hearing the same thing you were hearing
Soma Recording Studios (3 years ago)
+tadentt yes isnt it? i cant stand dealing with noise even if its a fan or a refrigerator in the next room when im working in the studio. That feeling of silence is bliss.
David Holmes (3 years ago)
I invented a LightLead. Thought you might be interested https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1536327222/lightleadtm-world-1st-analogue-optical-audio-cable/
The Orange Cowboy (3 years ago)
Thanks for the interesting demonstration. Question. When I send the music from the mixer using balanced cables to the computer and record it into a software (eg garageband) - is there a difference in sound quality sending stereo 1/8" pin or usb plug? Or is there still a better way to get the best sound into the software? Thanks
The Orange Cowboy (3 years ago)
+Somaaa hi plugged the TRS 1/4" cables into tascam digital recorder and it sounds great - thanks for everything
The Orange Cowboy (3 years ago)
+Somaaa Thanks Somaaa. To clarify, I wouldnt hear the difference between usb or 1/8th" but would hear the difference using a good analog to digital converter? I looked at Grass Valley ADVC110 Bi-Directional Analog / Digital Converter - but it has RCA inputs - which seem would diminish the audio. Is there an alternative solution to record and then just upload the finished mp3 or wav to the computer?
Soma Recording Studios (3 years ago)
+The Hip Gurus Guide there is a difference in quality but you may not notice if you dont have solid speakers/headphones. I really dislike the converters of most computers. I can usually hear a difference when sound is being recorded and when when its being played back out of a crappy built-in computer digital to analog converter. I hope I helped. let me know if i answered your question! best of luck!
Soma Recording Studios (3 years ago)
+The Hip Gurus Guide This is kind of a complicated question but ill try my best to answer it. The best way to get audio to your computer would be to use an interface with a good analog to digital converter. Its converting that pair of balanced cables to digital audio in the interface and giving it to your computer. If you plug in audio to your computer's 1/8in input then the computer uses its own inferior analog to digital converters to bring the sound to garageband.
GP (3 years ago)
One question mate. So with the balanced cables you will have less volume? the volume will be reduced?. I'm questioning this because I made  a comparison between unbalanced RCA cables and XLR. With the RCA cables I have more volume but I received noise and with the XLR cables the volume is a little bit more down but much more cleaner (without noise) . The xlr are both stereo and connected to an audio interface and the RCA are directly to the device( ej. laptop).
Soma Recording Studios (3 years ago)
To my knowledge  XLR cables should be just as loud as RCA (possibly louder because its sending double the signal but im not positive). I think you may just have your interface turned down when using XLR and have your computer output set higher when going directly out via RCA giving you 2 different reference levels. overall XLR is definitely going to reduce bothersome noise but there is a way around it using RCA. If you crank up the original signal and turn down the gain on the speakers themselves you can significantly reduce the noise output
Nicholas Drake (3 years ago)
what is allowing the audio to pass through but not the noise?
Alvaro Hernandez (3 years ago)
+Nicholas Drake No problem. Just wanted to clarify, in reality it's the wave pattern(shape) that gets inverted, resulting into 0db. But the concept is the same.
Nicholas Drake (3 years ago)
Ahh I get a better idea now, thanks for the response
Alvaro Hernandez (3 years ago)
+Alvaro Hernandez mathematically it would be something like this. S = signal, db = decibel(volume) S1 = +5db(original) S2 = +5db(original) Total = +10db of sound input S2 is inverted S1 = +5db S2 = -5db Total 0db of sound input. Along the length of the cable unwanted +2db of radio signal were picked by both signals. S1 = +5db(original) +2db(noise) S2 = -5db(original inverted) +2db(noise) Total = 4db of noise through the cable. Signal 2 is inverted S1 = +5db(original) +2db(noise) S2 = +5db(original) -2db(noise) Total = +10db original audio final output.
Alvaro Hernandez (3 years ago)
When the sound enters the cable, one signal is inverted causing silence by cancelation. Down the line the both cables pick up radio noise. When the sound exit the cable, one signal is flipped again, canceling the picked up noise and bringing back the original audio back clean.
Lucas Sanczyk (4 years ago)
Good practical explanation man!
hurasane (4 years ago)
i still get noise hum from my trs balanced is itaground loop
Soma Recording Studios (4 years ago)
Try replacing the cable. It could potentially be several things causing the noise so I can't say for certain.
JustLikeNewKids (4 years ago)
Awesome demo!  Im starting to get it now!.  Well done.
Kill Delux (4 years ago)
dude how do you know so much!?
Soma Recording Studios (4 years ago)
whatever tips you need, just let me know
Kill Delux (4 years ago)
nice  yeah i need to get on it.  im 26  you have skype?  add me  savythegreat  im always looking for tips on mixing  check out my latest on soundcloud    search kill delux  thanks man
Soma Recording Studios (4 years ago)
im 22. 
Kill Delux (4 years ago)
how old are you?
Kill Delux (4 years ago)
nioce man  yeah panning my tracks helped my mix breath alot.  i loved consistant sounds so much that i just could do it as a composer stand point.  but wow does it sounds way better.  thanks man 
B B (4 years ago)
Thanks man! Always wondered why and where I get hum feedback from heavy bass and subs connected to my home rigg!
William Hill (4 years ago)
BZ you should do a demo video of your current hum, and then you should hook up these cables and then make a video showing the difference in your own rigg!
Soma Recording Studios (4 years ago)
No prob! Glad this video helped.
BradTheProducer (4 years ago)
Totally bookmarking this.  I always have a hard time describing this process to people; I'll just show them this, instead.
DMI Honeyboi (3 months ago)
Hello Soma, Please i have this glitching noise problem with my left monkey banana studio monitor, And the right one is working perfectly fine. But the left makes much noise when using it for mixing and recording too, what can i do please?
Soma Recording Studios (4 years ago)
Thanks! Glad I could help.

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