how to convert unbalanced to balanced - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 10-07-2007, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi,
I have a long run (30ft) of balanced cables that use to use from my preamp to 3 power amps that are close to my speakers in a HT configuration. Now I would like to use a processor that only have RCA's outputs connectors. How can I use my courrent cables (balanced) with this unit and not having problems with noise because this long cable runs? do I need a unbalenced to balanced converter or just the adapters?. The main idea is to mantain the same quality and noise-free sound that Im having now. Thanks in advanced for your help.
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post #2 of 23 Old 10-07-2007, 11:59 PM
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Try adapters first (cheap solution). If that doesn't work, get the Jensen box.

- Steve O.
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post #3 of 23 Old 10-08-2007, 04:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Steve. I found the jensen Iso-max PC-2XR box ( I think you refear to this) and -as per the manual- is balanced to unbalanced and what I need is the opposite (balanced to unbalanced). Sorry for my ignorance but is the same connect one way or the other?. Thanks again
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post #4 of 23 Old 10-09-2007, 10:41 PM
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Here is an in depth article about balanced wiring.
http://www.dplay.com/dv/balance/balance.html

Here is a quick and dirty solution.
http://www.faqs.org/faqs/theatre/sta...ection-27.html

Markertek would sell what you need for a reasonable price. Something like this should work.

I find that many times that the tips in the second article work quite well without buying anything. If you try them and get hum/noise you will probably need a transformer. I bet thats all thats in that little black 80 dollar box. Radioshack had something cheap back in the day, but I can't find it on their website... maybe I'm not looking in the right place though.

-Sean
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post #5 of 23 Old 10-10-2007, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jorsan View Post

Hi,
I have a long run (30ft) of balanced cables that use to use from my preamp to 3 power amps that are close to my speakers in a HT configuration.

I don't get it. Why not locate the power amps close to the preamps and connect them normally? Then you have a perfectly balanced connection for the distance to the speakers in the form of the speaker cable with no converters required. Much better noise immuity, less expensive and less complicated.
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post #6 of 23 Old 10-10-2007, 06:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. About the phisical location of my amps, I prefer to try other options first. I always have tried to run the shortest speaker's cables as possible.
I'll try all your ideas and after that I'll report.
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post #7 of 23 Old 10-10-2007, 06:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jorsan View Post

I always have tried to run the shortest speaker's cables as possible.

No reason at all to do that provided they are of adaquate gauge. A speaker level connection has extremely high CMRR and noise immunity. Better than your line level connections will ever be.
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post #8 of 23 Old 10-10-2007, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightHawk View Post

No reason at all to do that provided they are of adaquate gauge. A speaker level connection has extremely high CMRR and noise immunity. Better than your line level connections will ever be.

There is a fairly large camp that says short speaker cables are preferable to long speaker cables.

I use long speaker wires at present, but may rearrange and try the opposite approach just to see for myself if I can tell any obvious difference.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #9 of 23 Old 10-10-2007, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by NightHawk View Post

No reason at all to do that provided they are of adaquate gauge. A speaker level connection has extremely high CMRR and noise immunity. Better than your line level connections will ever be.

I'm with you on this, line level has a far greater chance of interference than speaker level. I would be interested in hearing of negative results with longer speaker runs as compared to long balanced line level runs. As long as the loop resistance of the wire you use is 'within tolerance' you will be fine.

My only other solution would be some type of twisted pair conversion rather than unbalanced audio runs. You can do this rather cheaply these days, I like magenta reseach stuff. If you go to the www.magenta-research.com site, go to the products page and select audio, then the audio balun II product. Or, if you have deep pockets, invest in some type of CobraNet transmission system like the Biamp Audia stuff....
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post #10 of 23 Old 10-10-2007, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjrtoo View Post

I'm with you on this, line level has a far greater chance of interference than speaker level. I would be interested in hearing of negative results with longer speaker runs as compared to long balanced line level runs. As long as the loop resistance of the wire you use is 'within tolerance' you will be fine.

Speakers represent a more reactive load than amp inputs. Some speakers have some wild impedance swings. Changing speaker cable length (and its associated impedance) can result in FR changes. Much less likely with competent interconnects.

As for noise, it is true that the line-level interconnects are more susceptible but, with good line drivers and appropriate cables, I've not had problems with >10meter runs in my main system.

Now, that's my bias but I do use short interconnects and long speaker runs in my other system. The reason is simple: I decide based on where I want to put my amps.

Kal Rubinson

"Music in the Round"
Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile
http://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round

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post #11 of 23 Old 10-10-2007, 10:39 PM
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I have exactly that problem, and I solved it with an Ebtech LLS-8. I think it costs about $250 at places like sweetwater.com. There's also a 2-channel version that's cheaper (about $60). It's a very high quality piece of gear, and fully passive -- no noise added through opamps or other active electronics. And it doubles as a ground loop break, too!
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post #12 of 23 Old 10-11-2007, 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by whoaru99 View Post

There is a fairly large camp that says short speaker cables are preferable to long speaker cables.

I know and I don't think many people realize that the speaker level connection inadvertantly constitutes a perfectly balanced interconnect. Even on the cheapest equipment the driver end presents a very low impedance to ground to both wires and the speaker end presents identical high impedances to ground on both wires. These are the fundamental requirements for a balanced interconnect. There is little chance that undesired radiated fields will generate differential mode currents, the only currents to which the speaker will respond. This is the real reason why household 60 Hz fields are not a problem. There is also a parrallel two wire connection with little loop area and a high level desirable signal. Fat speaker wire can and should be inexpensive compared to balanced line level circutry and/or converters.
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post #13 of 23 Old 10-11-2007, 03:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

Speakers represent a more reactive load than amp inputs. Some speakers have some wild impedance swings. Changing speaker cable length (and its associated impedance) can result in FR changes.

I'm not sure about this. I would have to see the numbers. How much would the total reactance change with the cable reactance being so much less than the speaker reactance and how much would this impact FR. I don't know.
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post #14 of 23 Old 01-06-2009, 07:30 PM
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jorsan
Anyone that has attempted to use commonly available RCA-to-XLR adaptors to send an RCA line level output from a tape deck, CD or DVD player, into an XLR input of a pro-sound amplifier or mixer, knows the problem of levels being too low.

This occurs for two reasons:
•“Line-level” signal level for consumer audio equipment is nominally -10dBV (0.32V RMS). However, “line-level” signal level for pro-sound equipment is +4dBV (1.23V RMS). Simply put, pro audio gear is looking for a 14dB higher signal level.


•XLR inputs are “balanced”, in that the positive and negative components of the signal are carried on two separate conductors (hence the use of 3-pin XLR connectors). When using standard RCA to XLR adaptors, the line level signal is supplied only to the positive pin. The negative pin is either tied to ground or left open. This absence of half of the component creates a -6dB signal deficit.

Conversely, when coming from the record output of a mixing console, or similar equipment, to send to a consumer tape deck, computer sound card or VCR, the line level is often far to hot to be usable.
transformerless convertion is best
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post #15 of 23 Old 01-06-2009, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jorsan View Post

Hi,
I Now I would like to use a processor that only have RCA's outputs connectors..

I'd wait for the Outlaw 997 prepro. It will have balanced outputs.
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post #16 of 23 Old 01-18-2009, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michael keith View Post

jorsan
Anyone that has attempted to use commonly available RCA-to-XLR adaptors to send an RCA line level output from a tape deck, CD or DVD player, into an XLR input of a pro-sound amplifier or mixer, knows the problem of levels being too low.

This occurs for two reasons:
Line-level signal level for consumer audio equipment is nominally -10dBV (0.32V RMS). However, line-level signal level for pro-sound equipment is +4dBV (1.23V RMS). Simply put, pro audio gear is looking for a 14dB higher signal level.


XLR inputs are balanced, in that the positive and negative components of the signal are carried on two separate conductors (hence the use of 3-pin XLR connectors). When using standard RCA to XLR adaptors, the line level signal is supplied only to the positive pin. The negative pin is either tied to ground or left open. This absence of half of the component creates a -6dB signal deficit.

Conversely, when coming from the record output of a mixing console, or similar equipment, to send to a consumer tape deck, computer sound card or VCR, the line level is often far to hot to be usable.
transformerless convertion is best

Check out the input gain controls, and the output fader/pad controls. A pro mixer will NOT have the problems you are talking about, if you know how to run it correctly.
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post #17 of 23 Old 11-21-2014, 07:04 AM
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What Micheal keith has posted is a very good post. Because of the impedance mismatch, you lose half your signal voltage, going unbalanced rca to balanced XLR.
When you try to amplify such a low signal with pro gear, it is obvious that a lower signal output, means lower signal to noise, poorer cmrr etc. While you can use the jensen transformer approach, this method still leaves the -10 to +4 imbalance, but corrects for the impedance mismatch, so you do not lose half your signal anymore. This can be confirmed at the link here, where in section 2 they say that non of the connections shown correct for this.


http://www.jensen-transformers.com/an/an003.pdf

The impedance correction is a big correction in itself as you need 4 times the power level to get a 6 db increase, and with this correction alone your specifications stay more up to standard.


Transformers still do have weaknesses, and a transformer less correction is much better. Sometimes referred to as an ACTIVE correction vs the Jensen PASSIVE correction, where signal degradation is still present. A good active matchbox such as the Aphex 124 is best for the correction, as it will

A. fix the impedance mismatch so you no longer lose half your signal.

B. Fix the voltage issue so you will not longer have to try and use gain on your signal. The use of gain simply adds to the signal degradation problem.

Using any thing less is simply trying to get by with an improper connection.


Going from Balanced to unbalanced rarely requires any correction, as simple attenuation does not add to signal degradation, and is commonly available on equipment.

A Good amplifier requires a adequate power supply, It does not matter what the amplifier is capable of if the power supply will not provide the power required. Most amplifiers have under rated power supplies. It is up to you to make sure you get the ones that are
least under rated if at all.
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post #18 of 23 Old 11-21-2014, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoaru99 View Post


There is a fairly large camp that says short speaker cables are preferable to long speaker cables.
Yes but cable lengths in a home, including the OP's home are short, not long. 100 feet is long.
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post #19 of 23 Old 11-21-2014, 02:12 PM
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Yes indeed FMW. It is very funny how the topic of hooking up unbalanced to balanced equipment turned into a speaker cable discussion. Seeing as one has nothing to do with the other.

A long time member of AVS goes around practically preaching that you do not need a matchbox lol, saying he has measured the voltage at the rca output, and found it adequate. Well no it is one quarter of what it needs to be, and it is further reduced by another half when that rca output is hooked up to a balanced input.

As mike pointed out, you need 4 times the voltage signal to properly run balanced equipment vs consumer level audio.

his quote.

“Line-level” signal level for consumer audio equipment is nominally -10dBV (0.32V RMS). However, “line-level” signal level for pro-sound equipment is +4dBV (1.23V RMS). Simply put, pro audio gear is looking for a 14dB higher signal level.

0.32 v rms vs 1.23v rms. Where balanced outputs are always 4 times the voltage of consumer audio. So rca out to Xlr in, results in serving 0.16rms.

A Good amplifier requires a adequate power supply, It does not matter what the amplifier is capable of if the power supply will not provide the power required. Most amplifiers have under rated power supplies. It is up to you to make sure you get the ones that are
least under rated if at all.

Last edited by johnplayerson; 11-21-2014 at 02:16 PM.
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post #20 of 23 Old 11-22-2014, 04:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnplayerson View Post
What Micheal keith has posted is a very good post. Because of the impedance mismatch, you lose half your signal voltage, going unbalanced rca to balanced XLR.
It's not as a result of an impedance mismatch, as we don't deal with matched impedances anymore in either balanced or unbalanced audio circuits. Every audio interface is technically an impedance mismatch (low outpu Z to high input Z), but since we don't deal with power transfer, only voltage, it's not an issue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnplayerson View Post
When you try to amplify such a low signal with pro gear, it is obvious that a lower signal output, means lower signal to noise, poorer cmrr etc. While you can use the jensen transformer approach, this method still leaves the -10 to +4 imbalance, but corrects for the impedance mismatch, so you do not lose half your signal anymore. This can be confirmed at the link here, where in section 2 they say that non of the connections shown correct for this.


http://www.jensen-transformers.com/an/an003.pdf
The link is broken, but AN003 is still available.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnplayerson View Post
The impedance correction is a big correction in itself as you need 4 times the power level to get a 6 db increase, and with this correction alone your specifications stay more up to standard.
Reading the Whitlock paper above, you'll notice that it's not an impedance matching issue, but rather a voltage and topology issue. He states in section 2, first paragraph, " A step-up transformer, even an ideal lossless one, is not a viable source of gain in this application. Reflected impedances cause excess level losses and compromise both low frequency response and distortion." Which of course is technically correct, but in practical situations, though, a step-up of the right type in the right situation can remediate the issue to some extent. There is no such thing as a lossless transformer, but transformer losses, especially those from Jensen, are so minimal as to be negligible.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnplayerson View Post
Transformers still do have weaknesses, and a transformer less correction is much better. Sometimes referred to as an ACTIVE correction vs the Jensen PASSIVE correction, where signal degradation is still present. A good active matchbox such as the Aphex 124 is best for the correction, as it will

A. fix the impedance mismatch so you no longer lose half your signal.
The Aphex 124, and all devices like it, address a voltage and input topology issue, they are not actually fixing an impedance mismatch issue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnplayerson View Post
B. Fix the voltage issue so you will not longer have to try and use gain on your signal. The use of gain simply adds to the signal degradation problem.
Gain is gain, regardless of where in the circuit it happens. If the receiving device has enough gain to make up for the 14dB level mismatch, it works just as well as an external box with the same 14dB of gain. It's a rare case where using full input gain of something like a pro power amp causes any more signal degradation than a bump box. Such devices become essential where the pro gear doesn't have that extra 14dB of gain to spare.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnplayerson View Post
Using any thing less is simply trying to get by with an improper connection.
The Aphex 124 is a great solution...if you have $300 to spend. If not, there are many far cheaper solutions that are just as effective, with lots of them clustered around the $120 price point.
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnplayerson View Post
Going from Balanced to unbalanced rarely requires any correction, as simple attenuation does not add to signal degradation, and is commonly available on equipment.
Have to disagree there. Many consumer devices can't handle the peak levels output from pro gear without an external pad. Many consumer line input stages max at 2V rms, pro outputs are just getting going at that level. You also have to be careful of the type of output on the balance device. Proper connection from balanced to unbalanced is very different for active balanced vs transformer balanced output.
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post #21 of 23 Old 11-22-2014, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by audio2xs View Post
It's not as a result of an impedance mismatch, as we don't deal with matched impedances anymore in either balanced or unbalanced audio circuits. Every audio interface is technically an impedance mismatch (low outpu Z to high input Z), but since we don't deal with power transfer, only voltage, it's not an issue.

The link is broken, but AN003 is still available.

Reading the Whitlock paper above, you'll notice that it's not an impedance matching issue, but rather a voltage and topology issue. He states in section 2, first paragraph, " A step-up transformer, even an ideal lossless one, is not a viable source of gain in this application. Reflected impedances cause excess level losses and compromise both low frequency response and distortion." Which of course is technically correct, but in practical situations, though, a step-up of the right type in the right situation can remediate the issue to some extent. There is no such thing as a lossless transformer, but transformer losses, especially those from Jensen, are so minimal as to be negligible.

The Aphex 124, and all devices like it, address a voltage and input topology issue, they are not actually fixing an impedance mismatch issue.

Gain is gain, regardless of where in the circuit it happens. If the receiving device has enough gain to make up for the 14dB level mismatch, it works just as well as an external box with the same 14dB of gain. It's a rare case where using full input gain of something like a pro power amp causes any more signal degradation than a bump box. Such devices become essential where the pro gear doesn't have that extra 14dB of gain to spare.

The Aphex 124 is a great solution...if you have $300 to spend. If not, there are many far cheaper solutions that are just as effective, with lots of them clustered around the $120 price point.

Have to disagree there. Many consumer devices can't handle the peak levels output from pro gear without an external pad. Many consumer line input stages max at 2V rms, pro outputs are just getting going at that level. You also have to be careful of the type of output on the balance device. Proper connection from balanced to unbalanced is very different for active balanced vs transformer balanced output.

Yes it is commonly referred to as an impedance issue as per the aphex 124 manual even lol, weather or not one wishes to accept the wording. Two signals not matching each other. By reading the post it is evident voltage is talked about. The loss occurs from shorting half the signal to ground.

The aphex solution is commonly available on ebay for 50.00. Tons of them around, I have one I use, and two more in the closet. The 800.00 ATI matchmaker is also available for 50.00 used on ebay. No sense using cheap new solution when these top quality products are available for cheap. Same goes for the henry engineering matchbox hd.

I have an otari mx 5050 b 2 with Xlr out hooked up to my rca inputs and it performs well with no issues. The only time I have experienced problems is with unbalanced to balanced. Ward beck offers its converters with our without 10 db down pads for those that may have issues. However if you have these matchboxes they convert both ways if needed, at top quality specifications.

I have personally tried the use of gain, and the results would not agree with your words. Nor would it agree with other common knowledge of using a lot of gain. Nor would it agree with the simple fact the lower your signal you got to work with the lower your signal to noise will be in the end etc. Thanks for making a bunch of arguments.

http://nwavguy.blogspot.ca/2011/09/all-about-gain.html

WHY DOES GAIN MATTER? If you don't have enough gain, your headphones probably won’t get loud enough. If you have too much gain, you will be forced to use only a small portion of the volume control's range, there may be increased channel balance problems, more noise, more distortion, and you could even damage your headphones more easily. Most any amp will perform worse at higher gain settings so you want to use the least amount of gain that gets the job done.

There are many many other issues with using external devices to create more gain. Chances are all your specifications will decrease as soon as you hit that 20 db gain switch found on some devices. These matchboxes are the best solution as they do it with specifications that meet or exceed most component specifications.

OH AND THE LINK WAS NEVER BROKEN EITHER, SO IT FOLLOWS THE SAME WOULD APPLY TO ANYTHING ELSE YOU SAID.)

A Good amplifier requires a adequate power supply, It does not matter what the amplifier is capable of if the power supply will not provide the power required. Most amplifiers have under rated power supplies. It is up to you to make sure you get the ones that are
least under rated if at all.

Last edited by johnplayerson; 11-22-2014 at 10:45 AM.
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post #22 of 23 Old 11-22-2014, 01:23 PM
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Bickering removed. Stick to the topic and not each other.

Walking the fine line between jaw-dropping and a plain ol' yawn.
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post #23 of 23 Old 11-22-2014, 02:04 PM
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Bickering removed. Stick to the topic and not each other.
Thanks Dr. Don. The future next 22000 people that read this blog thank you.

Further to why going balanced to unbalanced is not an issue on the majority of balanced outputs is because, once again, You lose half your signal going the other way.
So what may have been 2 volt now becomes only 1 volt. The loss of the volt is not a problem for an unbalanced input that does not want that volt anyway.

Copy and paste.

It’s from this type of balanced output circuit that the “you lose half your level” factoid originated. Since you’re using only one half of the bipolar (±) output, you’re using only half of the unit’s designed output voltage. If the spec sheet says that the maximum output level is +22 dBu, that’s the voltage measured between pins 2 and 3, or tip and ring. With pin 3 unused you’ll only see half the voltage, or +16 dBu, before the output circuit runs out of steam.

A Good amplifier requires a adequate power supply, It does not matter what the amplifier is capable of if the power supply will not provide the power required. Most amplifiers have under rated power supplies. It is up to you to make sure you get the ones that are
least under rated if at all.

Last edited by johnplayerson; 11-22-2014 at 02:11 PM.
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