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Cables - XLR or unbalanced?

benson

Inspired
Hey folks, I've been an AxeFX user for a year now, running it into a 50w Atomic cab via a regular unbalanced line jack cable. Question is, is there a discernible difference between using an unbalanced cable vs an XLR balanced cable? For that matter, are there sonic improvements to be had with a higher quality (read:expensive) XLR cable?

I don't have my rig with me right now to conduct testing.

Tony
 

s0c9

Moderator
Moderator
Basically, no and no! :)
The advantage of a balanced XLR is there is little (or no) signal loss over limited distance - by design. Signal is [normally] sent down pins 2/3 out of phase (inverted) with each other, with pin 1 used as common ground. At far end, signals are recombined and any signal loss/noise is rejected.
If you are under 10 feet from Axe to Atomic, the difference should be imperceptible.
That said, I use XLR :)
 
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chris5150

Inspired
I asked the question of fractal support, and the answer was best to connect with the XLRS. Reason being they carry a slightly louder ( 'hotter' ) signal than the unbalanced jacks, like s0c9 I use the balanced XLRS, but I am sure there isnt any particularly noticeable differance.
 

Yall

Member
So as a follow up to this, Im going to be running into a powered monitor (for stage volume) and a PA for FoH. Should I just mix the signals and go to both from output 1, or should I use out 2 to go to the monitor using 1/4 inch?
 

yek

Legend!
Enable Copy Out1 > Out2 in the I/O menu.

Feed FOH via Output 1 using XLR cables.
Feed your monitor via Output2 using 1/4".

Advantage is that you can use the Out2 knob at the front to adjust the monitor level without influencing the Out1 signal.
 

Yall

Member
Enable Copy Out1 > Out2 in the I/O menu.

Feed FOH via Output 1 using XLR cables.
Feed your monitor via Output2 using 1/4".

Advantage is that you can use the Out2 knob at the front to adjust the monitor level without influencing the Out1 signal.

Thanks Yek - kinda what I was thinking. Saves me from getting another XLR cable too! :)
 

steadystate

Fractal Fanatic
IMO, if you have balanced outs and balanced ins, use balanced cables. If given the choice between balanced TRS and XLR, I'd go with the XLR. The only times I've had real trouble with unbalanced cables was with an instrument-level signal, placed near transformers, then into a high-gain amp. But if you have the choice, why not use the quieter and more robust connectors/cable?

As for the second question, I use Out 1 to FOH and Out 2 into my personal monitor mixer. My monitor mix of the rest of the band (from the house monitor mixer) is then send to my personal monitor mixer without my guitar in that mix. That way, I can adjust my level relative to the rest of the band in my monitor without affecting anyone else's monitor mix or the FOH mix.

Edit: Yek beat me to it!
 

bob907

New Member
When I use the unbalanced out on my Ultra it is half the volume of the xlr outs. I copied out 1 to out 2 and my patches aren't using any funny panned stereo settings. There doesn't seem to be any sound difference though.......just big volume drop.
 
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