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TS vs.TRS

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John Livings
TS vs.TRS
on Sep 19, 2009 at 3:24:56 am

Hi All,

Are there any issues using my TRS fan snakes vs. using TS snakes (Which I don't own) to hook up a mixer to an Interface?

The board output is labeled TS.

I've read "Keep it Balanced".

Any thoughts.


Thanks, John


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Ty Ford
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Sep 19, 2009 at 1:31:37 pm

Hello John and welcome back to the Cow Audio Forum.

Balanced is better for several reasons.

Balanced uses two signal wires surrounded by a separate ground mesh conductor.
Unbalanced uses one signal and one ground mesh conductor.

The mesh protects the signal wires from external interference.
The two signal wires are twisted around each other in such a way as to promote cancellation of interference that does get through the ground mesh. You'll see this as CMR or common mode rejection.

In addition, having two signal wires results in a +6dB increase over a one signal wire (unbalanced) configuration.

So, less interference AND more signal.

Due to the increasing use of personal electronic devices, RF pollution has become a real problem. Neutrik has developed a more resistant XLR connector for balanced connection. The XLR has more complete shielding and contains components to block interference from getting into the signal.

http://www.neutrik.com/us/en/audio/204_1603252336/EMC-XLR_Series_productlis...

Over the past two years, Audio-Technica has redesigned its line of industrial audio components to deal with the problems of increased rf pollution from personal electronic devices.

Having said all that, if it's working for you, fine. But now you know......the rest of the story. Gotta say, a mixer with only TS unbalanced outputs....not a professional rig.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Regards,

Ty Ford



Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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John Livings
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Sep 19, 2009 at 7:34:16 pm

Hi Ty,

Thanks for the quick response, I am guessing the bottom line line is to use a balanced cable regardless of the 1/4" jack being TRS or TS.

I had a chance to look at the connections again, they are in fact TRS. (Yamaha CD8-AD Card)

Again Thanks,

John


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Ty Ford
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Sep 20, 2009 at 4:13:11 am

[John Livings] "I am guessing the bottom line line is to use a balanced cable regardless of the 1/4" jack being TRS or TS. "

John,

There are "smart jacks" that can handle TS or TRS, but with TS you have the same problems I mentioned. So to refine your thought, use balanced connections (indicating balanced jacks and balanced cables) for best results.

The argument in favor of XLR connectors over TRS connectors is that XLR connectors provide a greater area of contact than do TRS connectors. Many XLR connectors also lock in, making the connection more secure.

The argument in favor of TRAS is that you can fit more on a panel. I also try to use only TRS plugs with metal housings to increase the effectiveness of the shielding. Plastic housings obviously don't shield.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Sam Mallery
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Sep 21, 2009 at 6:37:56 pm

"use a balanced cable regardless of the 1/4" jack being TRS or TS."

I always use a balanced cable first (if I have one). Then I listen to it. If it sounds good, I roll with it. Not a very scientific approach, but it's worked for me so far.

I used to make a point of using unbalanced cables when an input or output was unbalanced. About four years ago I was recording a vinyl record into a computer. I had a dual unbalanced RCA output cable from the phono preamp that I needed to plug into a Pro Tools interface. I had two RCA to 1/4" adapters to stick on to the ends of the dual RCA cable in order to get it into the Pro Tools interface. The catch is that one of the RCA to 1/4" adapters was TRS, and the other was TS. I plugged them in (with equal gain settings) and the TRS side was stronger & clearer.

So now I just roll with balanced and always listen.



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Ty Ford
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Sep 21, 2009 at 11:26:47 pm

and that's fine, Sam, but in some older circuitry, using TRS plugs in TS jacks doesn't work very well. So don't toss your TS cables.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Bill Davis
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Sep 22, 2009 at 3:13:25 am

Along with Ty's always good advice I'll just add some additional clarification for the new folks by saying that it's a fundamental truth that you CANNOT have a balanced signal unless you generate and maintain THREE distinct conductor pathways throughout your wiring.

The very process that supresses noise in a properly wired "balanced signal" is that the signal is presented on one wire in the positive phase relative to the ground - and on the other wire in the negative phase.

Any inducted noise like RF or ground hum that's picked up by the cabling will be present IN PHASE on both wires.

So at the termination, the balanced circuit inverts one leg and then SUMS the signals - suddenly the REAL signal is strengthened - AND (wonder of wonders) any inducted crap sees a perfect copy of itself OUT OF PHASE and is therefore SUPRESSED.

You cannot do this unless you have three separate conductors. So the use of any two conductor wire, wiring, or hardware ANYWHERE - whether it's a TS connection OR sticking a RCA to XLR adaptor on the end of a wire - is fundamentally incompatible with a balanced signal. Period.

Yes, you can adapt a 2 wire signal to balanced using active electronics. Mixers and gizmos like the Beachtek and Studio One unbalanced to balanced converters turn unbalanced into balanced to get the benefits for the run of the cable. But without those active devices, you'll ALWAYS have unbalanced signals unless both the signal generating and the signal receiving devices are wired to accept all three signals and the wiring between them preserve the balanced relationship.

Just over-emphasizing this in the interests of clarity since I see so many folks using cable adaptors without really understanding the fundamental nature of the balanced verses unbalanced process.

Pull out that nifty RCA to XLR adaptor and since one end (the RCA) is two conductor - your balanced signal stops right there. End of story.

FWIW.



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John Livings
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Sep 22, 2009 at 4:37:00 am

I guess I should have stated my question differently.

1. The actual question should have been:

Will it cause any negative issues if I plug a TRS Plug into a TS Input/Output?

I asked this question as I thought my mixer output was an Unbalanced (TS) connection.

I don't believe anyone was suggesting that plugging a balanced plug into an unbalanced circuit would somehow make that circuit balanced.

If I understand everyone, Plugging a Balanced plug into an Unbalanced Input/Output (On Most Newer Equipment) will not cause any problems, But will not cause an unbalanced circuit to become balanced by plugging in a TRS plug.


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Ty Ford
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Sep 22, 2009 at 2:08:59 pm

[John Livings] "If I understand everyone, Plugging a Balanced plug into an Unbalanced Input/Output (On Most Newer Equipment) will not cause any problems, But will not cause an unbalanced circuit to become balanced by plugging in a TRS plug. "

Pretty much, John! Except for every 5th wednesday. :)

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Bill Davis
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Sep 22, 2009 at 7:24:10 pm

Just to complicate things further...

You're correct, a 3 conductor plug into a 2 conductor socket (or vice versa) SHOULD NOT cause any problems.

However, most of us who've been around for long have probably run into a circumstance where someone has unknowingly wired a TRS plug or socket INCORRECTLY.

This usually shows up when you can't get a proper audio signal unless the plug is pulled partially out of the socket. I know is sounds stupid, but it DOES happen if someone connects the RING circuit as the ground connection instead of the SLEEVE.

So given proper wiring, you're correct, there's no compatibility issue whatsoever.



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Scott Ramsay
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Jun 14, 2011 at 6:53:29 pm

I'm glad you cleared up the definition of a balanced circuit, Bill.
But there is another aspect of the terminology that needs to be corrected.

A cable with TRS plugs should not be called a 'balanced' cable. It is a 3 conductor cable, but as Bill has pointed out, a circuit is not balanced unless it is plugged into gear that does the balancing.

Sometimes, TRS cables are used as 'send and return' cables on older mixers. So this configuration is also not 'balanced'.

And, as everyone knows, headphone plugs are also TRS- but the connection is not 'balanced' because it is being used to carry a stereo signal- one conductor for the L, one conductor for the R.

It is true that with an XLR connector, the gear (mixer) you will plug into will almost always automatically be balanced because it is meant as a microphone input. But there are examples of XLR cables also being used for other purposes that are not balanced.


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Hussein El Sherbini
Re: TS vs.TRS
on Dec 3, 2011 at 11:34:20 pm

i always thought you could connect TS to TRS fine but when it came to TRS into TS the issue would be that the terminal that should touch the sleeve which is ground in TS could end up only touching the ring which is cold or (-ve) and not make contact with the sleeve at all causing no ground. I'm currently building a wall box for the studio and i'm wondering if i will have to get both TRS and TS plugs. what's your say?


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