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FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Balanced and unbalanced snakes - where to use what?

Contributing Member

Dallas, Texas

Patron Saint of Mediocre Bass Players
Feb 16th, 2017 05:38 AM   Edit   Profile  

After being unused for several years, I am setting up my late son's recording rig.

The mixer is a Mackie 32-8 and the recorder is an Alesis HD-24.

We have four 8-channel snakes. Two of them have balanced connectors, and two of them do not. Although the recorder is 24 track, all I ever saw him use was 16 tracks.

Would it be best to use the balanced sets as output from the mixer to the recorder, or as returns from the recorder back to the mixer?


FDP Data Goon

We all want

our time in hell
Feb 16th, 2017 07:27 AM   Edit   Profile  

First question would be (since I have neither piece of gear): Are the send/returns on the mixer balanced? If not, doesn't matter which you use!

Same if the Alesis's input *and* output aren't balanced.

Assuming they are, I'd probably go balanced *to* the recorder (potentially higher fidelity/lower noise).

Contributing Member

USA / Virginia

Feb 16th, 2017 07:32 AM   Edit   Profile  

I agree with rev. I would use the balanced cables from the mixer TO the recorder. That's because as a general rule balanced lines have less noise / hum and can be much longer because they are low impedance. Unbalanced is more susceptible to noise / hum. You want the best possible connections TO the recorder because once hum gets recorded you can't take it away. If you get some hum in the playback that's not getting recorded.


U.S. - Virginia

Feb 16th, 2017 12:01 PM   Edit   Profile  

Balanced is usually better, but there are some exceptions. It gets pretty confusing, but one thing you want to avoid(depending on the output design of equipment in question) is driving a balanced output into an unbalanced input. SOME outputs may be damaged by when driving the cold/negative side pin 3 into the ground on the other end. I haven't encountered this much as most of my gear has transformers on the outputs, so they can mostly handle it.

If the equipment on either end is balanced, I would use balanced. You will potentially have less noise and your signal will be stronger(half the signal goes nowhere using an unbalanced cable in a balanced in-out scenario which equates to about a 6db drop)

If both ends are unbalanced(I don't encounter this much) then unbalanced. If the output is unbalanced and the input balanced, you can use either. If the output is balanced and the input you are going to is unbalanced, read up on the equipment to see if it can safely drive unbalanced inputs.

This link is a good one if you feel up to it.

I think of you, your son and his friend from time to time. Very sorry about that.

Balanced and unbalanced connections.

Contributing Member

Dallas, Texas

Patron Saint of Mediocre Bass Players
Feb 16th, 2017 04:46 PM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for the advice.

I checked the owner's manuals for both units and they both have balanced inputs/outputs and will accept both types of cables, so for now I'll go with balanced for the input from the mixer to the recorder. I may invest in some more balanced cables later - it depends on how big I let this project get.

I've checked out that link, Achase4u, and will be coming back to it again.

Thanks again to all!

FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Balanced and unbalanced snakes - where to use what?

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