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View Full Version : What is a 'balanced' guitar cable?


luitanent_dan
04-07-2011, 12:55 AM
my sound guy keeps telling me I should get a 'balanced' guitar cable...

Questions:

1. What is a 'balanced' guitar cable?
2. What's wrong with a standard guitar cable (ie. $30 cable)
3. Is there any real benefit spending $200+ on a guitar cable (ie. anyone had experience with these expensive cables)?

GCDEF
04-07-2011, 07:55 AM
1) I could be wrong, but a guitar won't output a balanced signal and a guitar amp wouldn't take advantage of it if it did, so I don't see the point.

2) Nothing

3) No.

Guinness Lad
04-07-2011, 07:58 AM
Your sound guy has been reading too many "Absolute Sound" articles.

Just get a good cable, balanced cables might have merits in a stereo system, (I kind of even think that is a stretch), but for guitar it sounds like pure snake oil.

Austinrocks
04-07-2011, 07:59 AM
happy with my $30 georgeLs,

balanced cable has two wires in a twisted pair and a coax shield, good for low noise and low signals. build those at work, but not worth a couple hundred bucks for a guitar IMO. Can build those for a few bucks.

redbeardrob
04-07-2011, 08:06 AM
i have two 10' switchcraft cables that i've been using since 1997. no lie. gigs, minor tours, practice, home, wahtever. it's been through everything, even rain (light misting, not a storm). i'll never buy anything else.

Hard2Hear
04-07-2011, 09:08 AM
Balanced cables only work on devices that have balanced inputs and outputs. (TRS)

Guitars and guitar amps do NOT have balanced outputs or inputs. (TS)

luitanent_dan
04-07-2011, 09:16 AM
Thanks guys! my wallet thanks you :)

sksmith66
04-07-2011, 09:18 AM
you should start looking for a new sound guy immediately.

GSHARP
04-07-2011, 09:19 AM
I paid 20 bucks for my Whirlwind cable back in '87, still use it on stage. It's been through hell, mud, rain, you name it. When I'm not wireless, it's the cable I use. Never had a single problem with it.

mark norwine
04-07-2011, 09:22 AM
you should start looking for a new sound guy immediately.

this.

tbonesullivan
04-07-2011, 09:25 AM
what's your setup? are you running direct to the mixer or is your amp being mic'd?

Jef Bardsley
04-07-2011, 09:40 AM
Balanced cables only work on devices that have balanced inputs and outputs. (TRS)

Guitars and guitar amps do NOT have balanced outputs or inputs. (TS)
Bingo! (that's the geriatrics's version of FTW)

AFAIK, the only guitars that can use balanced cables are the Personal/Professional/Recording Les Pauls which do have low impedance pickups. Good luck trying to find a low impedance amp.


I tried balanced cables back in the '80s, and they didn't make a bit of difference in a high impedance circuit.

Tone_Terrific
04-07-2011, 09:48 AM
my sound guy keeps telling me I should get a 'balanced' guitar cable...


What's the problem the soundguy is trying to have you fix?

piby
04-07-2011, 11:22 AM
I think the sound guys comment would only be valid if you were trying to plug your guitar into something that had a balanced input, like a mixer or rack mount effect unit or something like that. In that case you would use the balanced cable but merge the conductors from 2 of the 3 balanced conductors to the "s" of the TS plug that goes into your guitar. but then your guitar signal would need to be boosted as most balanced inputs are line level or +4db, compared to you guitar output which is lower (-10db or lower). this cabling method is used a lot for putting higher quality effects units (like an eventide eclipse) into the effects loop of the amp, which is usually line level...

mark norwine
04-07-2011, 11:57 AM
In that case you would use the balanced cable but merge the conductors from 2 of the 3 balanced conductors to the "s" of the TS plug that goes into your guitar.

That would qualify as a "balanced cable" [this thread's post], but it wouldn't be a balanced signal....so would would be the point?

Austinrocks
04-07-2011, 12:32 PM
microphone cables are balanced they have two prongs and shield, but they are dealing with very long distances and low signals

piby
04-07-2011, 07:47 PM
That would qualify as a "balanced cable" [this thread's post], but it wouldn't be a balanced signal....so would would be the point?

I am not electronic geek enough to explain why, but the signal quality is waaay better and less noisy when I connect my rack effects unit in the effects loop of my amp this way. lots of stuff on the Eventide website to read about this...

mark norwine
04-08-2011, 09:25 AM
I am not electronic geek enough to explain why, but the signal quality is waaay better and less noisy when I connect my rack effects unit in the effects loop of my amp this way. lots of stuff on the Eventide website to read about this...

I HIGHLY doubt that your amp's loop is balanced

Jef Bardsley
04-08-2011, 10:32 AM
My guess would be, he's simply using a better quality cable.

mark norwine
04-08-2011, 10:35 AM
No, my guess would be he was trying to drive a balanced device with his unbalanced amp.

By NOT tying off the unused lead, he would get the noise he mentioned because the differential amp on the input was being fed a null signal.

By tying it off, he pulled that differential amp to ground, killing the noise [but also defeating the benefit of a balanced system]

Whiskeyrebel
04-08-2011, 10:50 AM
You could use a short cable, like a pedal jumper cable to plug into a 1/4"-to-XLR matching transformer. Then connect a mike cable to the matching transformer. I've done this to run bass into the microphone input on mixers and four-tracks and for that it works fine. It seems to sound fuller than just plugging into the 1/4" input, probably due to the mic input gain stage. The specs say that the frequency response on the transformer is less than full range but it seems to be broad enough.

Tone_Terrific
04-08-2011, 11:31 AM
I see no post about the specific application or why a balanced line was suggested.

Citizen_Insane
04-08-2011, 11:32 AM
You could use a short cable, like a pedal jumper cable to plug into a 1/4"-to-XLR matching transformer. Then connect a mike cable to the matching transformer. I've done this to run bass into the microphone input on mixers and four-tracks and for that it works fine. It seems to sound fuller than just plugging into the 1/4" input, probably due to the mic input gain stage. The specs say that the frequency response on the transformer is less than full range but it seems to be broad enough.

Yeah, that's called a passive DI box.