Advice desperately needed for cabling up my studio cables correctly

15 Replies, 5712 Views

First of all; Baffled

Had most of my gear for years now and have done the migration from mostly hardware to mostly software and am now somewhere in the middle of wanting to utilise both Roll

I have very little understanding of signal paths/ground loops/leads blah blah, and am just looking for some straight up info in laymans terms about what i should be doing to obtain reasonable, 'BBZZZTTT' free quality. I'm hoping you can be quite specific too Wink

Here is my list of now stripped down gear;

Akai S3000 sampler (8 unbalanced mono outs/1 pair unbalanced stereo outs/1 pair balanced XLR ins)

Roland Juno 6 analogue synth (1 mono unbalanced out/1 stereo unbalanced out)

Macbook Pro with M-Audio FW410 soundcard (8 unbalanced outs/2 unbalanced ins/2 balanced mic/instrument Neutrik ins)

Old Sony DAT machine

I am trying to hook all of this shit up with an (unbalanced) patchbay/16:8:2 analogue desk setup.... between the dodgy leads from about 1990 and basically having no idea of what the fook i'm doing, i ended up pulling my hair out with it all last week... trying to set it up without mad buzzing noises appearing when i'd patch certain things in/out Oops

All i want to do is basically;

1) be able to patch a pair of the soundcard outputs into the Akai's inputs
2) be able to patch the Akai outputs/main desk output into the soundcard inputs
3) be able to patch the Juno/DAT into either the soundcard or the Akai for sampling

The patchbay i'm using is an unbalanced Behringer one - i've fed the outputs of the Akai/soundcard/Juno/DAT machine into the top row (rear of the patchbay), with the corresponding lower row (again, rear of the patchbay) so they're all outputting accordingly to the mixer. I then set up another 2 of the rear patchbay connections directly into the Akai inputs, and a further 2 to the soundcard inputs - allowing me in theory to hit record in either the mac or the Akai and capture whatever i want.

I'm getting mad buzzing going on, not all the time, but depending on which patchbay ins/outs i use.... i'm thinking it's probably just a shite combination of working/half-working cables, but don't want to fork out for all-new cabling if i'm not completely sure.

Should i be looking at ditching the unbalanced patchbay in favour of a balanced one, and then try to use a combination of only balanced/pseudo-balanced cables to try to cut out this noise/feedback?? Bearing in mind - esp with regards to pseudo-balanced stuff - i'm hardly electronically minded so was hoping i could just buy pre-made leads as opposed to having to solder stuff etc Roll

When i dicked about endlessly i finally got the point where i just about cut out all the buzzing - i'm not really arsed about desk noise, but just don't want the sound of industrial generators going off when i sample a break or whatever. The Akai and the patchbay are both screwed into a metal rack, would this make any difference to ground loop noise etc?

Finally, i've always noticed that the amp (a Samson Servo 150) always seems to just make a buzzing sound when it's powered up, although it doesn't increase in volume when the monitors are turned up, it's kind of just 'there in the room' Hahaha Would this possibly be affecting the other gear?

Apologies for the largest technical enquiry ever, i'm just amazed that i've still never managed to get all my shit plugged in together and not had to 'work around' things to avoid all this buzzing bollocks. Why the frig does it have to be so complicated?!

ALL HELP APPRECIATED Kisskiss
Not very good on this sort of thing sorry maffBaffled Sounds a bit of a nightmare...

Could be shit cables.
Could be that some of the ins/outs on the patchbay are fuxxed. Have you tried them all to see if the buzzing stops or subsides on some of them?

I know that the Behringer patch bays are meant to be pretty good though (possibly the only good thing Behringer make Teef)

sorry I cant be any help mate.
i dont think you should worry about it being unbalanced

mostly balanced cables come into play when youre doing long runs of cable (or so ive always been led to believe) so anything under 10 foot or something (just a random number i grabbed dont hold me to it) unbalanced should be ok

i dont know anything about patchbays though sorry, and im probablly wrong about the balanced/unbalanced thing so, whatever.. Smile
I feel your pain, Maff. Been going through the same type thing with my new desk as far as getting busses assigned correctly, running through the mixer, and then patching back in to Ableton. Essentially, I think we're going to end up recording everything into the old studio computer (using it as a sampler for all intensive purposes),resampling, and bouncing back into Ableton. However, it's still a large pain in the arse trying to figure things out, and if anyone can recommend a better way to do it, please feel free to let me know. Xyxthumbs


P.S. Where's Macc when you need him? Teef
greenleaf504 Wrote:P.S. Where's Macc when you need him? Teef

Knobbing his API Roll
cube Wrote:
greenleaf504 Wrote:P.S. Where's Macc when you need him? Teef

Knobbing his API Roll

Lol
Hahaha

cheers for taking time to read/comment peeps Xyxthumbs

Yeah, thinking that even having 1 or 2 cables that are on the blink might well be screwing everything else up, like i'm just moving the problem around as opposed to actually removing it.

Might just get a load of new leads, all matched so i know there's no conflicts on that side etc. Still keen to find out more about the pseudo-balanced approach as it seems it cuts out a lot of stuff that unbalanced leads won't.... (according to what i've read). Can't find anywhere selling pre-made pseudo leads though, think it's more of a DIY thing Grumble

@ Mark, yeah i'll check the patchbay connections with a couple of leads i KNOW are 100%, and move along the rows to see if any of them misbehave - good thinking mate Xyxthumbs
Ez Unless Ive missed the point. What i would personally do is a bit of trial and error.Wire the streao out of your akai to you sound card(or desk) if it works, those cabels are good.Then try the next cables and repeat then throw offending cables in the bin Wink

If its patch cables you not sure about do the same thing but just wire up one thing and use 1+2 on the patch bay and check your cables. The buzz you describe could well be a cable problem.Hope that helps Smile
For News/Audio/Bookings/Videos www.djtrax.wordpress.com
Fixing your leads is really quite easy. A £10 soldering iron and some solder is all you need. Making them too. Just buy a reel and a set of leads.

Leads normally break at the jacks rather than in the middle so unscrew them and it should be obvious. Hums are generally to the screen not being grounded. Audio cables comprise of a inner core which carries the signal and an outer wrapping which shields it from interference. If this is broken then you might get hum.

Looking at your kit list most of it is unbalanced so balanced leads would be a waste. Hum is interference, so (mad one) wrapping them in tin foil may help ! (an extra layer of grounding). Never tried this tho! I know metal cases for instruments do stop hums tho.

Otherwise, DI boxes are cheap/easy to make and should fix it.

SOS forums prob be able to help.
davetrax Wrote:Ez Unless Ive missed the point. What i would personally do is a bit of trial and error.Wire the streao out of your akai to you sound card(or desk) if it works, those cabels are good.Then try the next cables and repeat then throw offending cables in the bin Wink

That's the advice I'd have said for checking leads. Take a device you know is ok, with an input you know is ok then test the lot. Dave speaks the truth... rare, but it's the truth Grin
or fix them ...

Very rewarding and cost effective.

Grin
Hovver Wrote:Should i be looking at ditching the unbalanced patchbay in favour of a balanced one, and then try to use a combination of only balanced/pseudo-balanced cables to try to cut out this noise/feedback?? Bearing in mind - esp with regards to pseudo-balanced stuff - i'm hardly electronically minded so was hoping i could just buy pre-made leads as opposed to having to solder stuff etc Roll

I don't think you need a balanced patchbay.AFAIK If 1 unbalanced device is plugged into a balanced board, the entire setup is unbalanced, but everything you have is unbalanced, so you should be good Smile
Paradigm X and davetrax have good points too. If the shelding breaks you'll get noise, but I'd check to see if you have any cables crossing other cables too. if they have to cross, do so @ 90°. Alledgely this phases out the noise. I've had power cables touching RCA cables that caused a hum too.

Quote:When i dicked about endlessly i finally got the point where i just about cut out all the buzzing - i'm not really arsed about desk noise, but just don't want the sound of industrial generators going off when i sample a break or whatever. The Akai and the patchbay are both screwed into a metal rack, would this make any difference to ground loop noise etc?

I don't think so. My gear sits in a metal rack and i don't get a hum. phono pre-amp > mixing board > sampler= bad noise in my case [can't remember if it was hiss or hum.]
again, many thanks for all the input here Grin

Just got off the phone to my cousin who's a mad nerd for electronics etc (he introduced me to MIDI when i was a kid and has just today repaired my akai S3000 Xyxthumbs) - he went off immediately into Johnny 5 mode, didn't know wtf he was on about half the time, esp concerning 'zero volts' and how obvious it all should seem. He reckons it'll be an issue between the mixer and/or amplifier earths, which would make sense given the results of past couple of days... he suggested putting everything back into the metal rack so they share the same whatever and then physically wire some speaker/any cable between the rackmount mixer PSU, the amp and the rack frame. He just says it really 'matter of fact' so i'm already convinced it should resolve it as to be fair he's been mentally good at this shit since he was a teenager... Roll

Meantime he suggested going end to end with a jack cable (simply making physical contact with various points as opposed to plugging it into anything) to see if something stands out

Gonna get on his case to check it for me, but will take note of all the suggestions mentioned here and see how everything works out Wink

Huge thanks again, the SC crew comes good every time Yes

maff
ps definitely gonna be rethinking my cabling disorganisation, get everything running together appropriately and at right angles (audio/power) whenever possible
i should start an actual thread about this, but here's the abridged version.

i think you mentioned that a part of your setup was routed:

Sampler out -> mixer in
and
Mixer Out -> Sampler in

this can cause a ground loop.
if the patch bay is routed in a similar setup it will cause a ground loop.
the distance from unbalanced device 1 ->patchbay -> balanced device is important too.

equipment with 2-pronged power cables [12V, one tip for +, one for -] use either the positive conduit or negative conduit as a ground. TS cables work in the same manner,using the Tip for the +, and the Sleeve for -. When you patch unbalanced [or ungrounded] audio out to any audio in, unbalanced device 1 will now share a ground with the other device AND any subsequent device it has to in order to ground.

almost got carried away - i gotta wrap this up and head to work...

if one of your unbalanced devices has both it's audio in's and it's outs hooked up to your patch bay, it'll probably generate a lot of noise. If that patch bay is going in & out (heh) thats not gonna work out well.

i know nothing about patch bays. is it balanced?
Mate, thanks again for your help here... kind of gave up on it through frustration at one point, but intend to look at it again soon as it's a good old setup and i love working in that manner (hardware, hands on mixing etc). What you mentioned above makes sense too - i ended up forgoing the patchbay to minimise problems as much as i could, the main issue seems to be hum appearing when the akai and soundcard are interconnected which may be causing the ground loop you suggested. It's been doing my head in as i've been going mental thinking 'it never used to do this' and everything's still in decent condition etc - but then i was never using it hooked in and out of a firewire soundcard, it was merely CD/DAT/vinyl + amp outputs into the sampler, then sampler out to the desk Chin

I noticed i'm getting hum on the way INTO the sampler, when any of the other soundcard outputs are hooked into the desk, this disappears when i physically remove the cables - the problem then is that as i'm trying to run the mac's audio in tandem with the akai, it means the pain in the arse (plus consequent possible damage, after time) of removing jack leads every time i want to sample to the akai, then replacing them as soon as i want to get using the sample in a track and be able to hear the mac again Banghead Such an annoying situation for something that should be so simple. I even tried using the firewire card and the built in mac output in tandem - the idea being the 'posh' firewire audio would go into the akai inputs, and i could simply use the more basic onboard card for whatever i was doing in ableton etc, as it was pretty much just 2 channels anyway. When i tried this though, it was going nuts and doing that screechy, crackling audio thing like you get with laptops when the PSU's are earthed and it interferes with cards etc. Anyway, i'll shut up now and try to get my head around a solution again soon. Huge thanks once again, and sorry for my reply to your efforts being so slow Oops

Cheers mate Wave

Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  short midi cables. dgoHn 22 15,661 14th January 2013, 20:58
Last Post: Shiva
  Cables For the HD600 Annastay 0 1,901 18th August 2012, 05:13
Last Post: Annastay
  The Speaker Cabling Thread Muttley 3 2,337 19th December 2011, 14:08
Last Post: Ashtonron
  Headphones with replaceable cables. mono_sono 1 1,843 9th December 2010, 01:09
Last Post: SpeaK
  Trs cables Ashtonron 7 2,239 25th March 2009, 23:06
Last Post: elektrovert