RCA to 1/4 plug vs RCA to XLR, what is the difference? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 11-07-2006, 07:05 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a EP2500 amp and it has both connections on the back. Which should I use? What is the difference?

I'm currently using RCA to XLR cable Connecting my denon 3805 to the EP2500 on Channel 1 and the amp is in bridged mode driving my 4 18" woofers.

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post #2 of 23 Old 11-07-2006, 07:21 AM
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I'd imagine the XLR connections are for balanced inputs. Why aren't you using the typical RCA to RCA interconnect?

EDIT: Are you talking about this thing?

http://www.behringer.com/EP2500/index.cfm?lang=ENG

Behringer equipment is notoriously poor quality stuff. It's a joke in the audio recording community. It's okay, but not ideal, for someone beginning audio recording/reinforcment as a hobby. I would never think to use that as an amplification device in a home theater and certainly not with a Denon receiver!

Oh, and by the way, those aren't RCA inputs on the back of the amp. Those are 1/4"; standard studio and music equipment connectors.
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post #3 of 23 Old 11-07-2006, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Oh, and by the way, those aren't RCA inputs on the back of the amp. Those are 1/4"; standard studio and music equipment connectors.
Yes, I know...the EP2500 only has 1/4" and XLR connections. Hence my question above!

Quote:
Behringer equipment is notoriously poor quality stuff. It's a joke in the audio recording community.....I would never think to use that as an amplification device in a home theater and certainly not with a Denon receiver!
lmao, you dont build DIY subs then! I never asked if the EP2500 is okay and I dont care at all what the audio recording community thinks because first they are so far out of whack with reality its not funny and secondly we are NOT on an audio recording community forum ;)

In my opinion its awesome and very highly recommended by all DIY sub builders I have met. 2,400 Watts into 4 Ohms bridged mono operation. You cant beat that for the price of under $300......some of us dont need to spend 10K to get 10K quality systems ;)


Now, can we just stick to the question ;)

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post #4 of 23 Old 11-07-2006, 07:41 AM
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penngray,

There should be no audible difference between 1/4" TRS or XLR. I would go with XLR because I think it's stronger, mechanically. Just make sure the pin connections are correct, or you may get a ground loop hum.

- Steve O.
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post #5 of 23 Old 11-07-2006, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Steve, the connection is fine and the subs sound awesome, just connected them and heard them for the first time yesterday.

I just wanted to make sure I was okay in using the correct connection and I also was curious to what the differences could be.

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post #6 of 23 Old 11-07-2006, 09:16 AM
 
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Quote:
was curious to what the differences could be.
If they're both 3 conductors, then the only difference is the shape of the plug.
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post #7 of 23 Old 12-06-2006, 05:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targus
If they're both 3 conductors, then the only difference is the shape of the plug.
Well, they both aren't actually 3 conductor. XLR (at least in audio) is 3 conductor, and one of the pins is usually connected to the shell, and is ground. 1/4" or RCA are only 2 conductor cables. They are either twin wires, or a center and shield, where the shield is used as one of the 2 conductors.

But, I've been wondering about this topic myself....

I'm guessing that if one just uses a converter from RCA to XLR, or a cable with RCA on one end, and XLR on the other... there is really no advantage (maybe even a disadvantage?) over just going RCA to RCA or RCA to 1/4" (other than as scorch123 said, mechanical).

But, the real difference between these two types of connections is supposed to be balanced or unbalanced, correct?

If you run a proper XLR connection it will be balanced. But, the RCA outs on receivers and pre-amps are unbalanced from what I know. So, I guess to get balanced... one needs something like an ART Clean Box II or ART DTI? This way, you go RCA into this device with a very short cable, then XLR to XLR balanced to the amp.

But, from what I understand of this.... the advantage of balanced is to cut noise for long runs, correct? If that is the case... how long is long?

wikipedia says this of balanced:
In recording and for short cable runs in general, a compromise is necessary between the noise reduction given by balanced lines and the noise and distortion introduced by the extra circuitry they require.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balanced_audio_connector

I'm trying to connect my Yamaha HTR-5890 to my ART SLA-1 amp. The Yamaha has RCA for pre-outs. The ART amp has 1/4" or XLR for inputs. I'm currently running RCA to 1/4" cables that are way too long. I only need them to be about 6', and mine are like 30'+ (it was all I had... so I used them). Unfortunately, they are picking up quite a bit of hum from our CRT (when I power it off... the hum goes away).

I also have to run the cables past the CRT in my current entertainment center. Fortunately, I plan to get an LCD, and go from an entertainment center to more of a bench type unit... which will shorten the cable and eliminate running past the display. I'm sure this will all help.

So... my question for anyone who knows....

Is there any advantage of running the XLR for a short run (like 6') that would outweigh the possible downside of trying to convert unbalanced to balanced? If not... then I'll just stick with RCA to 1/4" and just get new high quality cables.

Thanks,

-Steve

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post #8 of 23 Old 12-06-2006, 07:12 PM
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I use 1/4" adaptors to use my preamp with my EP2500. I don't see any real advantage or dissadvantage between the 1/4 or the XLR adaptors, except the 1/4 ones are cheaper to buy! I use the 1/4" because they were cheaper and more compact, a little easier to work with, just preference!
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post #9 of 23 Old 12-06-2006, 08:26 PM
 
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Quote:
1/4" or RCA are only 2 conductor cables.
Please google 1/4" TRS.
TRS means Tip Ring Sleeve, and are the designations for the Three conductors , on a Three conductor 1/4" plug.
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post #10 of 23 Old 12-06-2006, 10:27 PM
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Targus is correct. Here is all you may ever need to know on connections.

http://rane.com/note110.html

And for the record as a member of the pro audio world who works at it for a living Behringer is considered the junkiest of the junk for many reasons.
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post #11 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targus
Please google 1/4" TRS.
TRS means Tip Ring Sleeve, and are the designations for the Three conductors , on a Three conductor 1/4" plug.
Oopps... sorry about that. I guess what I was trying to say is that RCAs aren't balanced. So, I'm not sure it will make much difference if I do a TS or TRS 1/4", or will it? Maybe just having 2 conductor with shield... and that shield connected on the 1/4" end will help some?

But, it still won't be balanced. Balanced means that one pin is ground, another pin is the signal, and the third pin is the signal inverted. You can't get this just by connecting the right pins to the right pins.

My amp has balanced or unbalanced 1/4" inputs, but my Yamaha receiver just has unbalanced outputs... so I think using some kind of DI box would be my only way to get balanced... and I'd be unbalanced up to that point.

But.... if the 1/4" support balanced or unbalanced... then I'd guess if I use a TRS type plug, it will assume balanced input... and I think I'd mess myself up there. So, I guess I should probably just go with a standard RCA to 1/4" TS plug.

My manual says:
The 1/4" Input jacks are wired as follows: Tip is positive, Ring is negative, and Sleeve is ground. This connection can be used for both balanced and unbalanced connections.

-Steve

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post #12 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speco2003
Targus is correct. Here is all you may ever need to know on connections.

http://rane.com/note110.html

Thanks... interesting document. I haven't had time to read it in detail yet... but it seems they recommend using connection type 18 for my situation.

The only thing I don't understand... is then isn't my amp going to think I'm feeding it a balanced signal. It won't have the inverted signal merge with the normal signal... though maybe it will still work? I just won't get the noise canceling benefits? But maybe having the shield will help.

Man... this stuff is a bit confusing... LOL.

-Steve

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post #13 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 11:28 AM
 
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is then isn't my amp going to think I'm feeding it a balanced signal.
No, you're feeding signal to the non-inverting input, and grounding the inverting input....it's unbalanced.


The inverting and non-inverting signals are never 'merged'. They are fed to a differential amplifier, which subtracts one signal from the other, cancelling common mode noise in the process.
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post #14 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 11:44 AM
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If the amp has XLR input jack, then the 1/4" input jack is likely a TRS connection. To feed it an unbalanced signal, be sure to use a 1/4" TS connector. That way the ground (sleeve) and negative (ring) will be shorted (you'll see the sleeve will be where the ring contact would have been) and so it'll subtract always 0 from positive (tip). If you use a RCA to 1/4" TRS, who knows what will happen with the negative unterminated and picking up noise which is then subtracted from the positive.
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post #15 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:09 PM
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Interesting that all the "experts" in the recording industry chimed in about how bad Behringer is, but never really answered the OP's question.

Electrically both 1/4 inch TRS and 3 conductor XLR connectors are equal. They do the same thing, but you all know that. What you might not realize is the 1/4" plugs and jacks were used originally by the phone company for switching. The 1/4" plug is meant to be used on a short term basis such as in, plug it in, use it, unplug and go to the next gig. If you are constantly changing the amps out in your sysem every week or so 1/4 inch is fine. If you are going to plug it in and forget about till a year later when you upgrade, use an XLR connector.

The true difference is the 1/4 inch is a temporary connector not meant for long term connectivity (the conductors get wiped and refreshed when the plug is inserted). The XR connector is meant to be plugged in and left connected for long periods of time such as in a fixed installation.

Chuck
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post #16 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:10 PM
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Interesting that all the "experts" in the recording industry chimed in about how bad Behringer is, but never really answered the OP's question.

Electrically both 1/4 inch TRS and 3 conductor XLR connectors are equal. They do the same thing, but you all know that. What you might not realize is the 1/4" plugs and jacks were used originally by the phone company for switching. The 1/4" plug is meant to be used on a short term basis such as in, plug it in, use it, unplug and go to the next gig. If you are constantly changing the amps out in your sysem every week or so 1/4 inch is fine. If you are going to plug it in and forget about till a year later when you upgrade, use an XLR connector.

The true difference is the 1/4 inch is a temporary connector not meant for long term connectivity (the conductors get wiped and refreshed when the plug is inserted). The XLR connector is meant to be plugged in and left connected for long periods of time such as in a fixed installation.

Chuck
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post #17 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targus
No, you're feeding signal to the non-inverting input, and grounding the inverting input....it's unbalanced.
The inverting and non-inverting signals are never 'merged'. They are fed to a differential amplifier, which subtracts one signal from the other, cancelling common mode noise in the process.
Ahh... OK, makes sense now... thanks!

-Steve

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post #18 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SMac770
If the amp has XLR input jack, then the 1/4" input jack is likely a TRS connection. To feed it an unbalanced signal, be sure to use a 1/4" TS connector. That way the ground (sleeve) and negative (ring) will be shorted (you'll see the sleeve will be where the ring contact would have been) and so it'll subtract always 0 from positive (tip). If you use a RCA to 1/4" TRS, who knows what will happen with the negative unterminated and picking up noise which is then subtracted from the positive.
Thanks for the tip. The only thing I'm wondering is if a TS cable would even have the shield... though, probably if I shorten my cable up... my problem might go away anyway.

I'll have to look and see the cable places make 2 conductor + shield with a TS type plug.

-Steve

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post #19 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:31 PM
 
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Electrically both 1/4 inch TRS and 3 conductor XLR connectors are equal.
Interesting that you would post this....a month after is was first posted.
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post #20 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:32 PM
 
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Thanks for the tip. The only thing I'm wondering is if a TS cable would even have the shield...
Why wouldn't it?
Why would you need a 3 conductor cable, for an unbalanced connection?
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post #21 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasw98
Electrically both 1/4 inch TRS and 3 conductor XLR connectors are equal. They do the same thing, but you all know that. What you might not realize is the 1/4" plugs and jacks were used originally by the phone company...
So, you're saying even though unbalanced... it would be better to go RCA to XLR type connections, rather than RCA to 1/4"?

Thanks,

-Steve

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post #22 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targus
Why wouldn't it?
Why would you need a 3 conductor cable, for an unbalanced connection?
In that diagram on:

http://rane.com/note110.html

for # 17 or 18, they have 3 conductor wire with shield. I'm guessing that having an actual shield (like the mesh surrounding the other conductors, is better than just 2 wires with no shield, right?)

Or, should I just do # 19?

Thanks,

-Steve

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post #23 of 23 Old 12-07-2006, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targus
Interesting that you would post this....a month after is was first posted.
Just saw the thread tonight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveW928
So, you're saying even though unbalanced... it would be better to go RCA to XLR type connections, rather than RCA to 1/4"?

Thanks,

-Steve
As far as a clean, solid mechanical connection, yes! OTOH many people go out and buy a $2.00 Radio Shack 1/4"/RCA adapter and never have a problem.

Chuck
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