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DressPRMex
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cable length

I realize this one must have been hammered to death in this forum, so feel free to direct me to other threads if appropriate:

I recently moved to a bigger place, and I need to buy longer cables to drive my speakers, which are now 23 Feet away from my system.

Given the fact that longer cables necessarily mean a degradation of sound quality, my question is:

What is better?

Option A: Should I buy 2 x 23 Feet speaker cables and place my power amp near the rest of my system?

Option B: Should I buy 2 x 23 Feet interconnection cables and run them from my preamp all the way to my power amp, placed near the speakers?

Btw...

My system consists of: Aragon 28K MKII preamp (soon-to-be-replaced by a Simaudio P-8) / Aragon 8008 MKII power amp / Simaudio Supernova CD Player / Thiel 3.6cs loudspeakers (no bi-wiring there!)

CECE
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Re: cable lenght

12 ga SoundKing from Partsexpress.com you ain't gonna hear any difference between 10 feet away or 30 feet away. Cable sellers love to convince you other wise, 100foot roll of nice flexible, never turn green, like some brandname that begins with MON... soundKing is great stuff, priced the way wire should be...less than $40 for a roll of 100ft. Anything else is nonsense, and pure speculation and imagination

Jan Vigne
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Re: cable length

What have you been using for speaker cable and interconnects?

dbowker
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Re: cable length

Setting aside DUP The Cable Hater's comments for a moment, I'd be tempted to split the difference between a 3 meter pair of ICs from pre-amp to amp and then run the rest as speaker wire. I realize it's a more expensive option since you'd be replacing two sets of wire instead of just one.

Not sure what the shape of the room is, but bear in mind that you don't want to spread your speakers out to the room corners just 'cause you have more room. I assume that's not actually the case though, but it's worth mentioning.

Jan Vigne
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Re: cable length

One requirement of long interconnects is a low output impedance from the pre amplifier. If your pre amp's output impedance is not beneath approximately 600 Ohms, then running long pre amp cables (over two meters) will begin to degrade the sound quality. Check the specs on the pre amp before proceeding.

DressPRMex
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Re: cable lenght


Quote:
One requirement of long interconnects is a low output impedance from the pre amplifier. If your pre amp's output impedance is not beneath approximately 600 Ohms, then running long pre amp cables (over two meters) will begin to degrade the sound quality. Check the specs on the pre amp before proceeding.

Thanks to everybody for their responses and points of view...

My soon-to-be preamp (Simaudio P-8) has an output impedance of 50 ohms RCA / 100 ohms XLR. Does this mean I'm safe with longer interconnects than with longer speaker cables?

What I currently use are AQ RCA cables head-to-toe: Columbia for source to preamp, king cobra interconnects for pre to power and Type 4 speaker cables (which I am not madly in love with).

I use RCAs because my current preamp gives me no option, although I understand that XLRs work better, especially on longer runs.

Windzilla
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Re: cable lenght

Dup, I'm every bit as frugal with my cables as yourself, but, given that he has XLR available, would you still recommend long speaker wire for best sound, especially if he lives in an RF noisy environment?

OP
My understanding, and experience, is that long runs of XLR are preferable to unbalanced cable due to the external noise rejection you get with impeadence-balancing. I have heard others on this forum echo this, and consensus seems to be that if long runs are going to happen, than XLR is your best option. who knows, if you previously had undiagnosed external RF or EM interference you might enjoy an upgrade in sound quality, especially quieter backgrounds, with your longer runs in XLR.

Cheers.

Jan Vigne
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Re: cable length

At 50 Ohms output impedance you should be able to drive any cable to several hundred feet in length before any appreciable voltage drop occurs. The balanced cables will be the better choice for long interconnect runs. If I had my druthers in your case, I would use long interconnects and short speaker cables though both your amplifier and pre amp should be able to drive "long" cables without problem. In your case, I would be making my decisions based on cost and appearance as much as anything else. With your equipment and interconnects you really need to step up in speaker cables. Call AQ for a suggestion.

CECE
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Re: cable lenght

You ain't gonna hear anything different if you use RCA or XLR. XLR is used in professioanl commecrical installations where hundreds of feet of wires are used back and forth all over teh place under some adverse situations. In home use, you ain't hearing anything different now matter what reptile or rock cable you use. XLR or RCA it is gonnma sound the same. Whether it's 10 feet long or 50 it's the same sound. Same with any speaker wire, if you have the proepr guage wire, wheterh it's 10 feet or 60 feet, you ain't hearing anything any different. Worrying about it or even contemplating one different rreptile over anotehr is based on good marketing by wire sellers. There is no difference in what you are gonna hear When you get into some pro situations where there are hundreds of wires running all over teh place, back and forth, between dozens and dozens of electronics, XLR keep teh noise down, no residential setup has those issues. Only in the advertising, with some incredible claims...that's what the purpose of the ad dept is, make you think you need whatever they have a solution to, and create the problem you ain't got. Restelss legs? Can't sleep, ask your doctor, for this weeks cure....need to run in a field of daisys? Maybe you need to control constipation, or sleep while laying down in a patch of blueberrys.

Windzilla
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Re: cable lenght

dup, I can measure the difference in background noise from XLR to RCA with a room EQ like the DEQ2496*.

The two 20 foot lengths of Hosa cables cost me 28 bucks on sale. (Not that the OP needs to go cheap, I don't have the money to play with more pricey cables and so refrain complete judgment until I have reason to even give them a serious listen.)

I have generally don't read the claims of any cable manufacturer, or dare I say it, read the reviews in S'phile, outside of bluejeans cable and my canare 4s11 (you can find it at 60 cents a foot on some pro audio supply websites)

I'm not spouting high end bunk, I'm talking about my experience living on the same block as 4 radio stations with massive external interference.

I'ts audible and measurable. There is a reasons for XLR and one of them has to do with how well they avoid external noise. that particular benefit, based on sound engineering, and obsequious use in pro audio would make there use here a clear possibility. Given that you can find a length of cable as long as he would need for under the 40 dollar mark of the parts express wire, why not give it a shot?

But lets say that the benefit of XLR for this particular use is dubious, not impossible but unlikely, still I can't understand why you wouldn't concider it.

key points.

Comparable 40 price Partsexpress for the application
Sound engineering
Unquestionable ability to reject external noise
Possible benefit for the home audio enthusiast

Why not?

*I assume that the differences observed are due to the cables/balancing, not some problem with output circuitry in my amp due to various reasons, all of which could, of course, be wrong. I wish I could remember what website I bought those bulk Canare cables on, man at that price partsexpress is almost over-priced nonsense

Elk
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Re: cable lenght

My opinion is that as a group we obsess too much over cables given how the components and room have a much bigger impact on the sound.

That said, you have nice equipment that will have no trouble driving either a long interconnects or long speaker cables. I would go for the long interconnect as interconnects are generally cheaper than speaker cables.

XLR cables are better at rejecting noise and will sound good *if* the equipment is very well designed. If you are not in a noisy RF/EMI environment I would stick to RCA. XLR has no advantage over RCA for good sound - only for noise rejection. Even then, shielded RCA cable will reject almost everything that might affect the signal in a home environment. (Some recording and mastering engineers even argue that RCA sounds better.)

25 feet is not a long run of cable. While audiophiles panic over cable lengths greater than a meter, there will be no loss of signal difference between three feet and 25 feet of cable. To feel better it may be helpful to consider that microphone cables carry much weaker, more delicate signals. A 50 foot run of microphone cable is trivial.

A good option is to buy high quality pro-audio cable (either pre-made or make it yourself). Such cable is shielded, well-made, flexible, strong, good quality copper (OFC even); all the characteristics you want. Mogami, Canare and Gotham all make great cable and various types are available for $0.50 - $1.00 a foot. The highest great Neutrik XLR connectors are less than $4.00 each. One great source: http://www.redco.com/ Again, either make them yourself (easy and fun) or order them pre-assembled for a bit more money.

For reference, I am in the camp that can hear the differences between cables. However, the differences are small compared to other variables. Also, the differences become smaller as the quality goes up; the differences between well-made, good quality cables and the really expensive stuff is relatively slight. Thus, get good cables and then put your energy and money into better components, room acoustics, and more music.

Elk
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Re: cable lenght


Quote:
dup, I can measure the difference in background noise from XLR to RCA with a room EQ like the DEQ2496*.

While I believe you, this is scary. For the Behringer to pick this up the differences have to be large. This shouldn't be occurring unless you are operating your equipment in the vicinity of nasty noisy equipment. What is around your equipment that is putting so much EMI and RFI into the environment?

The other possibility is that the single-ended and balanced inputs and outputs of your equipment sound different.

I agree with you that Parts Express is overpriced. Take a look at Redco and see if the bulk Canare you bought is there at a price similar to what you purchased earlier. Also check out http://www.markertek.com They also have excellent prices and service.

Jan Vigne
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Re: cable length


Quote:
XLR has no advantage over RCA for good sound

I don't know how you get a balanced line from a RCA/single ended connection. If the circuit is differentially balanced from input to output, there should be a 6dB lowering of the S/N ratio. That would give the XLR an advantage in my book.

JasonVSerinus
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Re: cable length


Quote:
What is better?

Option A: Should I buy 2 x 23 Feet speaker cables and place my power amp near the rest of my system?

Option B: Should I buy 2 x 23 Feet interconnection cables and run them from my preamp all the way to my power amp, placed near the speakers?

Hi. There may be ways to answer this for yourself. If you were planning to buy from a local dealer who will allow you to audition, I suggest seeing if the dealer can loan you cables of this length. If that is not an option, try the Cable Company 1-800-FATWYRE. They loan cables for evaluation, charging a fee which they then apply to the final purchase price.

Without conducting a sound test, you are left with mentally trying to calculate how something sounds, rather than listening to how it sounds.

I would certainly try the balanced interconnect option if possible, because that can greatly reduce the amount of noise that long lengths of RCA-terminated interconnects tend to pick up.

jason victor serinus

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Re: cable lenght


Quote:

While I believe you, this is scary. For the Behringer to pick this up the differences have to be large. This shouldn't be occurring unless you are operating your equipment in the vicinity of nasty noisy equipment. What is around your equipment that is putting so much EMI and RFI into the environment?

Well, when i was having the worst problems (I have moved/changed my setup) I had A computer and some other electronics sitting about 3 feet from the audio tower, I also had the radio station right next door, and broadcast towers up the street (i suppose that these can cause problems) I also had a series of interesting setups where i was tinkering with DIY amps, used turntables/tuners/cassette decks and all sorts of fun power supplies. measurable was with everything else off but 1 an input device/phonostage/cdp what have you, 2) my amp at full 3) the ecm8000 mike 3 inches from the tweater/mids.

anyway I didn't much care for that extra noise, and found cleaning up my system setup along with Quality shielded RCA cables and XLR, made a big difference. Additionally so has moving.

I can hear differences between crappy cables and well constructed ones, I have not compared a well constructed cable with a more expensive cable and can't comment on that debate.

anyway, cheers!

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Re: cable length


Quote:
I don't know how you get a balanced line from a RCA/single ended connection.


You can't unless you convert it with a balun transformer or other circuit. I think we are all operating under the understanding that our original poster can choose between single-ended or balanced.


Quote:
If the circuit is differentially balanced from input to output, there should be a 6dB lowering of the S/N ratio. That would give the XLR an advantage in my book.


While there is a 6dB gain difference between balanced and unbalanced, this gain comes from differentially driving the output. This does not increase the signal to noise ratio, it simply increases the gain. The S/N remains the same even though the signal is louder. This is because whatever noise is present is also doubled along with the doubling of the signal. Everything gets louder, good and bad.

Most equipment uses balun transformers at both the input and output stages. These transformers convert an unbalanced signal to balanced for transmission over the cable and then from balanced to unbalanced when the signal gets to the load component.

This type of balanced transmission does not improve the sound and, in fact, can harm the sound especially since the signal is subjected to multiple conversions. Using the single-ended outputs with such equipment is more direct and can sound better (transformers have their problems). This is why various studios use unbalanced whenever possible as most pro equipment uses baluns.

The only time this equipment will sound better running balanced is if the environment is electrically noisy and running balanced cables cancels out the noise introduced as the signal travels down the cable itself. That is, if you have a problem with EMI/RFI the disadvantages of the conversions can be outweighed by having a quieter background for your listening.

On the other hand, if the equipment is balanced from input to output, such as equipment made by BAT and Audio Research, running balanced cables usually sounds a good deal better. This is because the internal circuits themselves have two legs - one positive and one negative - using exactly twice as many components. These complex, expensive products do indeed sound better balanced and should be operated in this fashion.

Jan Vigne
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Re: cable length

While I agree there is no benefit to transformer coupled "balanced lines" and the transformers or baluns used by many manufacturers can actually harm the sound quality, I'm in disagreement about the gain and S/N issue in a differentially balanced circuit. It's been ages since I had to learn about balanced lines but my recollection says the circuit noise is stable while the gain of the circuit is raised six decibels above that noise. If noise from a previous stage is present on the incoming line, that noise cannot be lowered but the in circuit S/N falls by that same six decibels. I could be wrong since I haven't dealt with balanced equipment in many years but that's my recollection of how a differentially balanced circuit operates. And, again, if I had my druthers, I'd rather use a decent XLR connector on unbalanced lines than a crummy RCA on the same.

Elk
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Re: cable length

I think I know what you are referring to. Differential balanced lines can be setup so that you drive 6dB more level in the cable and then drop it 6dB at the other end, thereby gaining 6dB more of common mode rejection. This isn't commonly done as it is not standard, but it sure could be done in a proprietary system. This isn't really increasing the S/N of the original signal however.

This 6dB increase doesn't occur in impedance balanced systems, only differential balanced.

Many say that they don't like RCA connectors. While I agree that cheesy RCA's are bad (but so are cheap XLR's) I don't understand the "inherent" advantage of XLR over RCA.

Both use a pin and socket to carry the hot signal. The ground/shield of an RCA has lots of nice surface area to make a good connection - and there are even locking RCA's around. So why are XLR's better?

(I do like XLR's much better in situations where I am often connecting and reconnecting - like in location recording - as XLR's are tough, have good stress relief and are quick and easy to lock/unlock.)

DressPRMex
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Re: cable length

Hi!

Took the liberty to add a picture to my gallery here, so you can see the place

CECE
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Re: cable length

RANE has the Balance buddy.... www.rane.com It is a balanced to RCA and vice versa. Nice versatile unit, with fine build and priced in the real world.

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Re: cable length
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Re: cable length
Jan Vigne
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Re: cable length

I know how the conversion from single ended to transformer balanced (and vice versa) is done. My statement meant I don't know how you maintain balanced operation using RCA's. The Rane Buddy is a transformer based balancing device. Transformers and baluns are just what we were saying made for less than perfect operation. I think we agree that inexpensive transformers probably do the worst job of the transfer.

CECE
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Re: cable length

Rane is hardly an inexpensive, poor quality unit. It's a professionaly designed and made to not effect sound quality. Since it doesn't come with audiophile nonsens attached or have some dopey claims and buzz words, and not overpriced to sway the unknowing, you make assumptions that are not valid. Ya gotta get teh audiophile warped way of thinking that there is some magic attached to products that come with lotsa buzz words, and extreme high prices. another, you would not hear any difference between a signal run through teh BB from Rane or stratight, in a blind test where you didn't know the signal path. Transformers are used in all kinds of pro enviorments.

Jan Vigne
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Re: cable length

Thanks for the information. After a decade or so of not needing it, some information gets put into the back files where it becomes more difficult to access. I'll move this bit about balanced operation up towards the front now.

As to XLR's vs RCA's; I cannot forget the RCA was designed around scrap material in the days when all your equipment came in one cabinet and used triodes. An RCA seldom makes for a true 75 Ohm termination. It makes the hot before the ground connection and breaks the ground before the hot when you disconnect (I don't know any other connector that does that). It is not self wiping when the connection is made or broken. And the locking facilities of an RCA is about as clumsy as you can get. I've yet to see a locking RCA plug that didn't require three hands and still slightly pull itself out of the jack as you locked it down. If you know of one, let me know. I've always seen RCA's as one more item that defeats all the cash audiophiles throw at their gear seeking the finest details and the lowest noise. The switch to balanced operation and top notch connectors on the order of LEMO's should to be where the high end is heading. Levinson and Naim have had it right for decades. But the meager RCA remains and just gets dressed up with new clothes every now and again. There are bad XLR's but they generally don't survive in a system that requires consistent operation and possibly being torn down on a regular schedule. Then you buy good XLR's to save yourself money and headaches.

Jan Vigne
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Re: cable length


Quote:
... you would not hear any difference between a signal run through teh BB from Rane or stratight, in a blind test where you didn't know the signal path.

How do you know what I'd hear and what I wouldn't? Now I believe you are the one making assumptions based on what you cannot hear and what you wish to believe. You've just got to get that warped "all audiophiles are fools" way of thinking and your favorite little buzz words into the discussion. Look in the mirror before you start these rants, dup. Don't make assumptions about what someone can and cannot hear.

But, you've missed the point again, dup. No one is denying you can use transformers to go from single ended to balanced operation or back again. The point is transformer balanced operation is not typically the best choice for sound quality. It's not an "audiophile" preference. It's how things work in the real world. If you want to sink enough cash into the transformers, you can build some very fine items. But sinking that much cash into a transformer doesn't make sense when you can build a better curcuit for the job. Transformers work and in some cases they are the best choice for other reasons, such as your Rane Buddy. It's meant to do a specific job which is likely to be taking a consumer tape deck and plugging it into a studio console. But for sound quality, I would prefer not have to go from unbalanced to balanced lines by way of a transformer.

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Re: cable length

Pierre Sprey, who sells his own line of audiophile recordings and makes his own battery powered recording equipment (Mapleshade) swears that speaker cable sounds best at over 8 feet long. He sells these reasonably priced little micro-insulated twisted pairs. He also sells interconnects made with flat ribbon wire wrapped in plastic bags and says they should be as short as possible. He recommends that bookshelf speakers be placed at floor level on angled maple stands. This isn't the usual consensus (and I haven't tried these ideas myself) but his recordings are very clean...

CECE
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Re: cable length

Maple Shadey? Yeah, with his celophane insulated 120V AC line cords. And he also says short speaker cable don't sound good, , this is a new slant on the absurdity of it all. Just another angle for teh gulliable. Thin wires sound better than thich wires..why not, the fat wire fad is over, let's do the other extreme. What won't an audiophile not beleive. What do they ever question, or think and just say, huh? I ordered Mapleshadey CD once, never again, lousy music, horrible. the sound is nothing to rave about, all hype. Of course he can hear all his magic poorly made poorly insulated looking wires. Why are his so fragile and thin, when other wire gurus claim their thick heavy way oversized things sound better, it can't possibly be, both extremes..when does it end? Once group puts 8Ga line cords on 12W CD players, and can hear the dramitic imporvments, the other group says no, use this thin poorly insulated, way too thin wire, now this is soiunding better....one is wrong, well both are actually.

Elk
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Re: cable length

Jan,

Good thoughts on RCA's. Your thoughts mirror mine as to convenience and general sturdiness. I think the resulting connection is as good however (as long as the connectors are of similar quality).

Your point about ground first/last is excellent. The typical RCA is silly with hot the first made connection. At least it teaches us to turn the equipment off before changing connections.

One of the Neutrik RCA's are pretty neat in that they do make ground connection first. The grounding "ring" is spring loaded so that it it is up front when you first start connecting it. It then slides back as you push the connector in. These RCA's also make a nice tight connection and have a great cable chuck to provide strain relief just like Neutrik's XLR's.

They cost about $13.00/pair. Neutrik's best XLR's cost less than $8.00/pr. Ironic in a way as RCA's were designed to be cheap, as you point out.

Elk
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Re: cable length

Pierre Sprey does make nice sounding recordings, certainly a strong vote for his interconnects and cables. I have my doubts as to the universal application of his products, but he sure gets excellent sound with them.

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Rane

This is borderline off-topic, but let's put Rane into context. Rane is a favorite among the live sound crowd, not among pro audio professionals. Rane is popular in clubs/DJ's for their mixers and shelving EQ's. They also have great programable faders for quick fades and cutting/scratching.

Rane's sound doesn't compete with pro studio equipment and isn't meant to. Live sound equipment - where reliability is paramount - does not meet the sound requirements of pro recording use.

Most audiophiles would also be quite disappointed with the sound of Rane, but you will see Rane equipment in most clubs.

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Re: Rane

How do you come up with this conclusion? Illogical. The Rane DEQ 60L is as audiophile as soniclly pure as anything you tag as "audiophile" without the clutter and nonsense tacked on with. Rane just isn't advertised in audiophile ad glorifed magazines, thus your incorrect perception is thusly concluded. I bet you think Klark Teknik is also non audiophile, cus' they don't advertise to teh consumer. Audiophile tags mean you pay more, get less. Let's see, CHORD an audiophile beauty, reviewed a while ago, it was missing around 500W out of it's written specs....thanks to reality based measurments from JA the realitys proved that BS fiction writings on what something sounds like, means you pay too much for much less. Rane is superb stuff, and again, if you didn't see the front panels, knowing what brand is playing, not an audiophile recognized product, you wouldn't know. Reliabilty, yeah, if it breaks down regulary, then it's audiophile grade? top quality stuff is both sonic bliss and super reliable, not audiophile flakeyness, with insnae prices and poor reliability. Have yet to see any of teh audiophile hyped brands at live events, where sound does matter, and reliabilty does too, since people have paid for a show, and teh musicans get paid to perform. Rane thankfully is not an audiophile blemished brand. The stuff works flawlessly, and sounds superb. And do a blind test and tell me you can hear teh effects of the BB transformers or the non audiophile effects of a Rane equalizer, nope. It doesn't have 4% hi distortion "audidophile" specs.

Elk
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Re: Rane


Quote:
How do you come up with this conclusion?


Knowledge. Experience.

I agree however that Rane makes very good equalizers. I'm playing at a local club tonight and there will be lots of Rane stuff there.

You won't find Rane in recording or mastering studios. It's a live sound line. Sorry.

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Re: Rane

Excuse me if I missed something by skipping to the last page after reading only the first two pages.
Balanced interconnects are used to cancel out signals that are exactly the same on both conductors. A differential circuit. Any value minus the same value equals zero.
Used to solve the problem created by long runs and multiple remote equipment locations. This caused problems with having a common ground and thus major ground loops (hum).
Balanced lines cancel this problem because the hum was present on both lines of a balanced input.
Amplifier response and speaker response combined with cable capacitance make interconnect problems with RF interference rare.

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