Stereo TRS Cable Tip Ring Sleeve 6 35mm 1 4
Mono/TS Cable (Tip-Sleeve) 6.35mm (1/4″)
This the audio cable or cord you use for your guitar, or for the left andright outputs of a synth or keyboard (assuming outputs are not balanced). Itis mono because you only have one channel through which to send the signal.Either left or right. You cannot send a stereo signal through this audiocable.The most common TS cords are instrument cables. The instrument cable containsone wire and a shield. The wire is connected to the tip, the shield isconnected to the sleeve. You need the shield to minimise noise.Instrument cords, or jack cables, are unbalanced because of the way they arewired. The signal is sent through one wire. The shield is used for the ground.(ie it keeps the noise down). More on balanced vs unbalanced later …Meanwhile, here is one more thing you need to know. If you are connectinginstruments, for instance, a guitar, a keyboard or a synth, then make sure youpurchase an instrument cable. NEVER use a speaker cable to connectinstruments.Most TS cables on sale are low-noise instrument cables. Just double-checkbefore you buy. However, if you are connecting from your amplifier to aspeaker or monitor, then do make sure you use a speaker cord. The connectionslook the same, but the signals are different strengths.
Stereo/TRS Cable (Tip-Ring-Sleeve) 6.35mm (1/4″)
The stereo TRS cable looks almost identical to the TS cable, but this 1/4″jack plug has 3 contact points (the Tip, Ring and Sleeve) separated by 2plastic dividers. Spot the difference?The TRS cable can be used in 2 different ways: 1. As a stereo cord, where the signal is split into the right channel and the left channel. Generally the left-channel signal is attached to the tip, the right-channel signal is connected to the ring. Finally the shield is wired to the sleeve. 2. As a balanced mono cable to connect professional audio gear. For example, to connect a synth with balanced outputs to an audio interface with balanced TRS inputs. The benefit of a balanced cable is you can have a long cable run without creating noise. How will you know whether the outputs on your gear are balance or unbalanced? Your outputs will almost certainly be labelled if they are balanced … or refer to the manual for your equipment to be sure. And read on for more detail …
Stereo/TRS Cable (Tip-Ring-Sleeve) 3.5mm (1/8″)
The 1/8″ mini jack plug is a tip-ring-sleeve (TRS) plug, like its larger 1/4″brother.You will find the 1/8-inch (or 3.5mm) TRS plug on many, if not most,consumer headphones. In fact if you purchase pro-audio headphones you willoften find they have a 3.5mm jack with a 1/4″ (6.35mm) adaptor as shown below.For example, the Sony MDR7506 Professional Heaphones have this arrangement.You may also find some of your audio equipment has a 3.5mm aux output orinput. In that case, you will need an audio cable with a 3.5mm TRS jack plug. The aux out will usually be a stereo output. The aux output is unbalanced.To connect your aux output to twin mono 6.35mm inputs on an interface you willneed a Y-Cable (aka breakout cable) like the Hosa CMP-159 below. This takesthe stereo signal picked up through the 3.5mm plug and splits it into left andright dual mono 1/4″ TS.
You will find more and more digital cables in a modern home recording studio.In some ways, digital cables are more straightforward. This is because unlikeanalog cables, with digital cables you don’t really need to understand muchabout how they work, in order to use them. You simply purchase the correctcable according to the protocol: ADAT; S/PDIF (also known as TOSLINK); BNC;and AES/EBU.To keep this post simple, we are concentrating on analog cables and only 3most common digital cables found in a home recording studio situation. If youhave an audio interface or pro audio gear with digital connections, then referto the manuals of the devices so you purchase the correct interconnect. Youwill also find useful information in our post on recording digital audio.Here is a roundup of the digital audio cables you will find most often in ahome recording studio.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) is a common way to connect devices in a homerecording studio. The majority of audio interfaces connect via USB. As do manyMIDI keyboard controllers. Digital pianos and music keyboards often have a‘USB to Host’ connection for MIDI.Most interfaces and keyboards connect via the USB B to A as shown above. (It’sa standard USB printer cable). However, many USB mics and some interfaces havea mini USB port. Often you will get a USB cable in with the audio device, butif not it is a simple matter of checking the connections and ordering thecorrect cable.USB has different standards, as follows: * USB 1.1: this original standard can handle a data rate of up to 12 Mbps (megabits per second) * USB 2.0: Also called High-Speed USB. This can handle 40 times the data flow of the older standard. 480 Mbps * USB 3.0: Also referred to as SuperSpeed USB. This connection transfers data at 5 Gbps, ten times faster than USB 2.0As there is more than one standard, do check the ports on your computer andyour interface or device, so that you purchase the correct speed of cable.Incidentally, a MIDI interface is not just a connection cable. It has MIDIconnectors on one end, a USB connector on the other, and an interface betweenthe two to allow the communication between the MIDI instrument and the MIDIsoftware, via a USB port. Read more about MIDI Connection in this detailedpost.
Use single power feed everywhere you can
If your system power requirements allow take power only from one electricalpower outlet. This will avoid the ground potential difference problem whichcan exist if power is taken from multiple power outlets. If the distance andelectrical code permits is is a good idea to run a power extension cords fromyour single power feed points to all subsystems connected to your audio systeminstead of using the local power sources.
Use balanced connections everywhere you can
Balanced connections are much less sensitive to to pick up interferences andhumming. If you still get himming with basic balanced wiring, there are muchmore to do to avoid it than with unbalaced connections.Most professional audio devices are connected via balanced cables to minimizepickup of stray electrical noise. Consumer audio devices use unbalanced cablesand are very prone to picking up noise, especially at low signal levels fromdevices such as microphones. Balanced circuits have an inherent ability toonly pass audio signals and reject unwanted noise.Balanced refers to the fact that there are two symmetrical signal lines andone ground, while unbalanced uses just one signal line in reference to ground.Normally, XLR connectors are used in most balanced devices while unbalancedconsumer gear normally use mini-plug or RCA connectors.
Use unbalanced cables for short distances
Any unbalanced cable must be kept under few meters in length. Cable lengthslonger than this will amplify all the nasty side effects of unbalancedcircuitry’s ground loops.
Keep your audio cables away from power wires and transformers
Power wires generate magnetic field around them and this can cause humming tothe audio cables. Especially avoid placing your audio cables near you mainpower feeding cables and cables which are connected to lighting system (thedimmers cause very fast current changes to cables which induce easily hummingto audio cables).Keep the audio cables at least half meter away from power cables. If the audiocables must cross power cable then they must cross them at axactly 90 degreeangle to keep the hum coupling minimum.
Keep transformers and power distribution panels away form your audio
equipmentsAudio equipments and wiring can very easily pick up humming from magneticfields. So avoid putting any sources of such magnetic interefrence near yoursystem. This applies to power transformers, video monitors, computer monitors,electric motors, fluorescent lights and any mains wirign which carry largecurrents.
Balance vs unbalanced signals
Audio cables are designed to carry signals that are either balanced orunbalanced.A balanced cable uses two conductors surrounded by a shield to carry thesignal. By inverting one signal, any noise/hum that is picked up by the cablecan be removed from the signal. Balanced cables are usually used formicrophones. Because of the extremely low signal produced by microphones, anyminor interference can be amplified into audible noise. A balancedmicrophone/cable/amp should eliminate the noise.Unbalanced cables have a single conductor surrounded by a shield to carry theaudio signal. Where cable length is relatively short, an unbalanced cable willusually provide adequate hum rejection and will cost less. Examples ofunbalanced cables are those used for electric guitars, iPOD/MP3 headphones andRCA leads.
Electrons, Voltage and Current
Electrons, and therefore electric charges, move through conductors. If theydidn’t, the world today would be a very different place. A flow of electrons(a charge) flows from a voltage or signal source (like a battery) through twoconductive surfaces (that is, materials that allow electrons to pass throughthem).Hook a wire to two ends of a battery and you’ve got flow. This movement ofelectrons has many characteristics. The two of interest at the moment arevoltage and current. Voltage is like the “pressure” created by the flow ofelectrons. Current is the rate of the resulting flow.Resistance is the quality of a material that restricts the free flow ofelectrons. As a conductor resists the flow of current through it, a smallpercentage of the energy dissipates.Metal wires are good conductors and resist little ofthe current that runsthrough them, though there is some loss. They also have a large surface tovolume ratio. This is crucial because, oddly enough, electrons travel over thesurface of the wire and not through the middle.Capacitance is the tendency of a material to store energy and block constantor low-frequency currents. Capacitors filter and store energy, among otherthings. Different conductors have different resistive and/or capacitiveproperties. A shielded cable has similar properties to a capacitor, as bothconsist of two conductors separated by some type of insulator.Capacitance is a factor in cable design, because it reacts with the impedancein a length of wire to strip away high frequencies. In video, that means aloss of detail; in audio, a loss of clarity. In cables, the lower thecapacitance, the better.