TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level input

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Dolswe
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TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level input

Post by Dolswe » Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:26 am

HI all,

I am quite new to recording music and would very much appreciate help from the more experienced in terms of connecting my keyboard, Scarlett 2i2, and the monitor speakers.

I have questions regarding connecting various components as below.

1. Keyboard and Scarlett 2i2
- Some people say Keyboard is a "line level" input. Is this correct?
- It is stated in many documents that "line level" input means balanced input. Is this correct? If not what does "line level" input actually mean?
- If above are correct that leaves me with XLR or TRS as an option, but the manaual for Scarlett 2i2 reads that the interface automatically recognizes XLR as a mic, so I guess I need to use TRS?
- What bothers me is that the manual for RD800 shows TS not TRS going out of the 1/4" sockets. So, is the difference between TS and TRS just the fact that TRS is balanced to keep out "noise" or is there a functional difference as well. it seems that all devices with stereo input/output, such as headphones us TRS thus suggesting that there actually is functional difference.
** If any of you use Scarlett 2i2 to record Keyboard sound please let me know what connection is used.

2. Scarlett 2i2 and Monitor Speakers
- Again, I am not sure if using TS or TRS makes any difference. Any advice? Does TRS provide better sound as they cut donw noise?

3. Between Monitor Speakers
- Has anyone tried using TRS between monitor speakers? My monitor speaker makes a small hissing noise when power is turned on (even with vol at 0) and I wonder if using TRS would improve it.

I think all my questions boil down to understanding line level input vs instrument level input, balanced input/output, difference between TS and TRS not only in terms of one being balanced but in terms of functionality,

I have many more things I want to ask, but I think I have already asked too many questions in one post.

Your advice would be very much appreciated.

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Tarekith
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Re: TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level inp

Post by Tarekith » Fri Dec 26, 2014 9:32 am

- Some people say Keyboard is a "line level" input. Is this correct?

>>> Yes. <<<

- It is stated in many documents that "line level" input means balanced input. Is this correct? If not what does "line level" input actually mean?

>>> No, that's not right, line level just refers to the signal strength. Typically line level is what most consumer devices use, stereos, VCR, as well as keyboards, most electronic synths and drum machines, etc. Instrument level is a much quieter signal, usually right from a guitar or microphone, and typically requires a preamp to be useable. <<<

- If above are correct that leaves me with XLR or TRS as an option, but the manaual for Scarlett 2i2 reads that the interface automatically recognizes XLR as a mic, so I guess I need to use TRS?

>>> Unless whatever you are plugging into the Scarlett has XLR outputs, I would use TRS. Assuming that the devices you are plugging into the Scarlett also have TRS outputs, otherwise there's usually no benefit to using TRS instead of TS. <<<

- What bothers me is that the manual for RD800 shows TS not TRS going out of the 1/4" sockets. So, is the difference between TS and TRS just the fact that TRS is balanced to keep out "noise" or is there a functional difference as well. it seems that all devices with stereo input/output, such as headphones us TRS thus suggesting that there actually is functional difference.

>>> TRS cables typically are used to reduce noise in medium to longer cable runs, or where external noise might be an issue. But unless both devices you're connecting have TRS connectors, the extra shield will be ignore basically making the cables function as normal TS cables. So if you're RD800 only has TS outputs, you should just use TS cables. <<<

- Again, I am not sure if using TS or TRS makes any difference. Any advice? Does TRS provide better sound as they cut donw noise?

>>> In theory they might, but it's not always noticeable, and like I said both device have to support TRS for it to do anything. <<<

3. Between Monitor Speakers
- Has anyone tried using TRS between monitor speakers? My monitor speaker makes a small hissing noise when power is turned on (even with vol at 0) and I wonder if using TRS would improve it.

>>> Probably not, that's like amp noise and most lower end monitors do this to some extent. <<

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Anthony Alves
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Re: TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level inp

Post by Anthony Alves » Fri Dec 26, 2014 9:47 am

#1. Yes keyboards that produce thier own sound are line level outputs@ -10db and are limited to a maximum of a 25' cord before audio loss occurs. XLR is +4 dbvu and can travel up to 150' so a much hotter signal.
#2. Line level is any input or output that uses any typ of connector other than Balanced. Ie XLR or TRS the equivalent of XLR but in a 1/4 inch jack format.
#3, The 2i2 recognizes anything pluged into the XLR input as being a microphone and therefore sets the right impiedence for the mic which is a low impiedence. TRS is also low impiedence.
#4. The RD800 has line level outs not balanced TRS so it outputs at -10 db and there is no noise introduced by this type of connection. Balanced is used for low noise at a distance and are better grounded to prevent grounding noise if any gets introduced by the cable not your equiptment. If there is hiss or noise from the equiptment niether balanced or unbalanced won't solve this noise.
#5. You monitor speakers are probably powered and may cost between $200-$500 which in the monitor world that is basic bottom end and therfore the built in amps are not super quiet. This is normal to hear a small hiss of the power amp. This is fine as long as it doesn't increase to a level that interfers with your mixing of your audio tracks. This hiss will not be introduced into any recorded track as it's just at the output stage not an input.
Cheers and hoped that helped. ~~_/)~~~*

Dolswe
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Re: TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level inp

Post by Dolswe » Sat Dec 27, 2014 6:20 am

Hi,

Thank you very much for those of you who posted detailed reply to my post.

I still think this topic of difference between various cable types, connector types, and signal types (line level, mic level, instrument level) is a much confused and misunderstood one--because I think I already see some contradictions in two posts in response to my questions, if I understood correctly. Plus it's so easy to find many such posts out there contradicting one another.

I find below article from Sweetwaters somewhat helpful in understanding different concepts, but still don't understand when it states that TS cables are best known for guitar cables ,which I agree, or line-level instrument cables, which I find contracting some other articles I read. Please follow below link for the article from Sweenwaters.

http://www.sweetwater.com/insync/cable-buying-guide/

If this interests you enough please have a skim through and let me know what you think about thier comment about TS especially.

I think, through above post, I understand better about different connector types and how and why they could be used for certain applications, but I feel that I need to undertand different sigal types such as line-level and instrument level.
- Please let me share a link if you know a good article for understanding different signal types.
- Also it would make me feel much releaved if it is correct that mic -> line -> instrument is the right order of signal strength from the weakest to the strongest. Please give me your comment. One thing I don't understand is that people saying MIC needs balanced connection due to its weak signal, which warrents for noise prevention, and also stating that a guitar also outputs weak signal and uses TS which is not balanced, which I understand means it does not provide noise cancelation.

Thank you again for reading my posts as I am pretty sure they are boring. But this issue is bugging the hell out of my brain as you might be able to feel. :)

Dolswe
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Re: TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level inp

Post by Dolswe » Sat Dec 27, 2014 7:27 am

Hi all,

I have a very useful article regarding signal levels as below.

http://www.ovnilab.com/articles/linelevel.shtml

It turns out the types of signals in the order of signal strenth is MIC -> Instrument -> Line (consumer -> professional) -> speaker.

This now only leaves me with two questions as below.
1. Why are people content with TS connection for relatively weak guitar signals when they make fuss about using balanced connection for MIC due to their signal being weak?
2. If line-level signals are much stronger than guitar signals why do so many articles associate balanced connection with line-level signals but not with instrument level signals such as one from guitar?

I guess my questions are based on my understanding that the reason MIC's need XLR which is balanced is because their signal is weak and they need noise protection of a balanced cable/conneciton.

Thank you very much for reading through and your oppinions will be very much appreciated.

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Tarekith
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Re: TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level inp

Post by Tarekith » Sat Dec 27, 2014 9:52 am

I think it would help if you separate the signal strength of a cable from this whole balanced versus unbalanced issue. Whether a cable is balanced or not has nothing to do with what kind of signal it's carrying per se, it's just one tool to try and minimize noise in longer runs. Any signal level can be transmitted via balanced or unbalanced cables if you want, and in a noise free environment be useable.

Dolswe
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Re: TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level inp

Post by Dolswe » Sat Dec 27, 2014 11:30 pm

Tarekith wrote:I think it would help if you separate the signal strength of a cable from this whole balanced versus unbalanced issue. Whether a cable is balanced or not has nothing to do with what kind of signal it's carrying per se, it's just one tool to try and minimize noise in longer runs. Any signal level can be transmitted via balanced or unbalanced cables if you want, and in a noise free environment be useable.
Thank you for the advice. I totally agree with you. After having some understanding of each concept, thanks to those who helped me out, I can see that they are two separate concepts although some people seem to use some of the words interchangably due to, I guess, some common tractices.

Thanks again for everyone who reply to my questions~!

siamon
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Re: TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level inp

Post by siamon » Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:21 am

Yes keyboards that produce thier own sound are line level outputs@ -10db and are limited to a maximum of a 25' cord before audio loss occurs. XLR is +4 dbvu and can travel up to 150' so a much hotter signal.
#2. Line level is any input or output that uses any typ of connector other than Balanced. Ie XLR or TRS the equivalent of XLR but in a 1/4 inch jack format.
#3, The 2i2 recognizes anything pluged into the XLR input as being a microphone and therefore sets the right impiedence for the mic which is a low impiedence. TRS is also low impiedence.
#4. The RD800 has line level outs not balanced TRS so it outputs at -10 db and there is no noise introduced by this type of connection. Balanced is used for low noise at a distance and are better grounded to prevent grounding noise if any gets introduced by the cable not your equiptment. If there is hiss or noise from the equiptment niether balanced or unbalanced won't solve this noise.
#5. You monitor speakers are probably powered and may cost between $200-$500 which in the monitor world that is basic bottom end and therfore the built in amps are not super quiet. This is normal to hear a small hiss of the power amp. This is fine as long as it doesn't increase to a level that interfers with your mixing of your audio tracks. This hiss will not be introduced into any recorded track as it's just at the output stage not an input.
Cheers and hoped that helped.

Thanks for sharing this useful information
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KarilTenny
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Re: TS, TRS or XLR; Line level input or instrument level inp

Post by KarilTenny » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:42 am

TRS cables typically are used to reduce noise in medium to longer cable runs, or where external noise might be an issue.
But unless both devices you're connecting have TRS connectors, the extra shield will be ignore basically making the cables function as normal TS cables.
So if you're RD800 only has TS outputs, you should just use TS cables.

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