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so I want to connect the output from my mixer (balanced xlr) to the unbalanced input of my amp.

which cable should I get: XLR to TS or XLR to TRS?

I read somewhere that the cold pin should left floating when connecting balanced to unbalanced, so how would I know the configuration used in above mentioned cables? is it done in the right way such that I don't have to worry?

  • When i first read this, i was along the lines of thinking the xlr was stereo(false assumption), so my first instinct was xlr to trs, but since xlr is mono, you need two xlr cables, one each for l+r. Reinforcing this to myself as much as mentioning it to the next person that may fall for xlr being l+r (its not), like i mistakenly thought it was (in which case a trs may come into play). – Brian Thomas Oct 3 at 18:29
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XLR to TS is the correct cable. This connects the XLR pin 3 to ground, thereby effectively transforming the console's XLR out to an unbalanced output. If you use a XLR to TRS cable, chances are the ring will just be left at floating level, which means the tip will have an extremely high impedance. You will probably still get some audible sound, but nothing actually usable.

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  • im trying to resolve a mic/audio input 3.5mm input jack on the CZE-7C xmtr. i have an xlr cable from my mixer, then it splices to a xlr to line ts. This is what you have i think. however when i adapt that to my xmtr i only get the left side. I thought i should carry the length via xlr, then adapt to an unbalanced TRS 3.5mm, so i can plg into the mic jack. isn't this the case? Ugh, rubber duckie, i just realized, i think im first going 6" line ts on the sends to xlr at the mixer in the first place... ugh. I just want to know if the input is unbalanced, and how to hook it noise free. – Brian Thomas Sep 27 at 0:58
  • @BrianThomas ...ok... so you solved it? Else I suggest you ask it as a proper question, because in this crammed form it's hard to understand what you're talking about. – leftaroundabout Sep 27 at 1:12
  • Nah, didnt solve it, but had to ask a proper question, i knew that woul dbe your response, sorry. music.stackexchange.com/questions/105233/… was just hoping to connect with you, since you resolved this issue once. If you can read that post, maybe you post a suggestion there. ;-) Thanks! – Brian Thomas Sep 27 at 2:11
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On most ordinary amps, the inputs are simple 2 pole jack sockets, as in TS. If the socket is capable of connecting a stereo jack, it's usually marked as such. The sleeve is connected via the shielding wire around the outside of co-axial cable - like a guitar or mic. lead, to pin no.1 on the XLR/cannon. Worst case scenario is that you have a 50:50 chance that the inner wire, connected to the tip of the jack, goes to either pin 2 or pin 3 on the XLR.It can't be guaranteed, in my experience, that an off the shelf cable with plugs attached will be configured correct for any given situation.

A quick google - "connecting jack to xlr" - came up with helpful diagrams.

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I've read online that the best way to convert balanced XLR to unbalanced 1/4" mono is to buy a cheap passive DI box and run it backwards (XLR as input, 1/4" TS as output). Apparently, this will convert whilst also maintaining the balancing of the XLR cable (which I don't believe the other answers would) and so help to reduce noise.

Is this correct? I'd like to try it, but would be interested to know if there are any caveats to watch out for.

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An amp is a grounded device. Connecting to its unbalanced input is a recipe for ground loops/hum, so this is a good candidate for a DI box. Since the "good" side of the DI box is the balanced one (low impedance, balanced connection), you'd place the DI box with the amp and use a reasonably short TS connection there, and if there is a need for a longer connection, you make that the balanced cable to the mixer.

Note that active DI boxes tend to work from unbalanced input to balanced output (and consequently may be powered by phantom power which is only available on balanced connections). You might want a passive DI box here: an active one will always require a battery or power supply in this direction.

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