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Roland TD-11 and Pro Tools 10 volume problems

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by Brother Junk, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Hi all,

    I have an 08 dual xeon Mac Pro running Pro Tools 10.3.1-ish.

    I use the Mbox Pro as an interface bc, well, I think it's alright, and I'm not large enough to need a rack mount.

    Using Roland TD-11's, running the 1/4" to 1/4" into channels 1 and 2 of the Mbox Pro, cranking the gains on it, cranking the gain on the armed track, and the volume of the TD-11's is still low. It's not peaking anywhere, it's just too low no matter how much you gain up.

    There is a type of limiter on the back, two buttons that go from -10db to +4db....those are both set to the what puts out the most volume.

    Opening Mbox, I've activated the the inputs and gained to 0db (topped out).

    The volume on the module is also maxed out to 100.

    Is there something I'm missing with this?

    I haven't tried the USB much because as a midi controller it can't keep up with my crazy drum skills, not. But seriously, it won't keep up. So I figured, just line out direct to the Mbox, cuz I like the drum kits on the TD-11 just fine. But the volume is crazy low.

    It's so ridiculously low, that I feel like I have to be missing something, and this whole part of the process (connections, routing, sends etc) is new to me. So, any ideas would be helpful.

    If this is in the wrong forum mods, maybe you could move it. It was kind of a toss up.
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Can you be more specific than "crazy low"? What are your peak levels?

    The +4/-10 switch controls sensitivity, -10 being the higher sensitivity setting. Most likely the -10 position is giving you more level. But if the drum module is putting out "instrument" level it may still be too low for a -10 line input. It may be that you need a dual channel direct box to connect your module to the mic inputs of the interface. If there were an instrument/guitar input I'd suggest using that, but I don't see one in the Google pics.
  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    The -10dB / +4dB switch is not a limiter. It is to set your input level to the appropriate signal strength. Typically an unamplifed instrument would use the -10dB setting. As far as I know the outputs are unbalanced ¼" and you should be using mono instrument cables.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  4. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Which 1/4" jack output of the TD-11 are you using?

    If you want a mono input via your Mbox, you should use a TS-TS (mono) jack cable from the L/mono output of the TD-11 into one channel of the Mbox. If you want stereo recording, simply use a second TS-TS cable from the R output of the TD-11 into another channel of the Mbox. The (lesser) alternative is to use an insert cable from the stereo headphone output of the TD-11 going to the jack inputs of two channels on the MBox.

    What you should not do is connect a TRS-TRS (balanced) jack cable from the TD-11 headphone output to an input of the Mbox. This would result in a weak and thin recorded signal, as the Mbox will record the difference between the L and R signals.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  6. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Does it matter if the 1/4" are stereo? They are both stereo...(the ones I'm using). I thought you could use stereo for mono, but not mono for stereo (for obvious reasons)?
  7. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    I'd have to look, which I will do. But at full tilt on the drums, I'd get 3 green bars in the PT meter.

    That #9 post looks helpful, I will try that and report back. The volumes are all the way up, but I never noticed "sensitivity" settings.

    Someone from Roland got back to me and said I may need to up the firmware, and I'm on 1.14 and current is 1.15

    Between all the above advice I'm sure I will find the problem. Thank you so much!

    Oh, and just fyi, I tried jumping the 1/8" headphone out, to RCA to the aux input of the Mbox Pro. And it was considerably louder than using the standard line out.

    Ill let you know what it turns out to be.
  8. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Have you gone to the site I linked to? It seems to have the definitive solution that renders all solutions offered here, including mine about using DIs, irrelevant.
  9. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I may be wrong, but I'm wondering if referring to the cables as "mono" and "stereo" might be causing some confusion. All stereo ¼" phone plugs are TRS, but not all ¼" TRS phone plugs are used in stereo applications. In pro-audio the TRS connection (which stands for Tip/Ring/Sleeve) can be used in lieu of an XLR in many cases, and similarly uses the 3rd conductor (in this case the Ring) for balancing a (mono) signal. Balanced signals are vastly superior over distance, and used in most pro applications, because of their ability to reject noise. The Tip is the normal signal, the Ring is the inverted version of the same signal, and Sleeve connects to the shield /ground to help reject noise. If you need a more thorough explanation, you'll have to ask.

    As to your question, yes it can matter a lot, and may explain at least part of your problem. Your MBox uses 2 "XLR combo-jacks" on the front, and what are sometimes described as "auto-sensing" ¼ inputs on the back. Both can accommodate either TRS ¼" balanced connections, or ¼" TS unbalanced TS connections. When the MBox input 'senses' that the Ring and Sleeve of the TRS are not shorted together, as they would be on a TS plug, it's probably expecting a balanced (typically line level) signal. The auto-sensing circuitry then often automatically reduces its sensitivity expecting something that's already been amplified to some extent.

    The TD-11 manual is woefully uninformative, it clearly illustrates using normal unbalanced instrument cables to connect to an amplifier, but in the specs only states the output jacks are "(L/MONO, R) Stereo ¼-inch phone type", which I honestly believe is a typo. I've worked with several Roland kits including TD-8, TD-12, and TD-20 (with DIs) in live sound and recording situations, and to the best of my knowledge the outputs on your TD-11 are unbalanced, so I'd use 2 normal TS instrument cables from the drum-brain L/R to the Mbox inputs of your choice. I'd set the sensitivity switches on the corresponding MBox channels to -10dB. And I'd make sure I read the link Bouldersound provided and check the pad sensitivity settings, to make sure the output levels aren't getting choked before they even get a chance to get out of the drum module. Luckily, there's metering built-in for that purpose.

    I'm not surprised the headphone output was hotter signal, it's way more amplified. It's intended to be powerful enough to drive speakers, albeit small ones. It's not recommended in terms of audio quality, and could theoretically damage either the headphone amp or the input, but rarely does. However, your RCA inputs are definitely -10dB, and probably don't really appreciate having an undisclosed number of milliwatts rammed up their snout. (to paraphrase Zappa)

    Best of luck!
    Brien Holcombe and DonnyThompson like this.
  10. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    I did buddy, I just haven't gotten around to trying it yet. Holiday weekend and all. But I'm turning the lights on right now. Thank you for that. I did search for anything I could find. It never occurred to me to go to a Roland Drum forum and search there. So thank you for alleviating my stupidity.

    Thanks a lot. That was super informative. I always thought they were interchangeable going from S to M, just not from M to S.

    I actually don't have any mono cables, so switching them out will take me a couple days.

    I use the back jacks on the Mbox Pro, but it seems it will take whatever you give it. I've literally just never plugged a mono cable into it.

  11. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    And that's the worst of it, sometimes they ARE interchangeable, and sometimes they aren't. It completely depends on what you're connecting together.
  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Yes it mathers, if an input or output is unbalanced, using a balanced cable (stereo as you say) will cancel a part of the signal...

    Lower your volumes and gains and use a ''mono'' cable.
  13. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    So I messed with it yesterday and here are some things I noticed. Keep in mind, I have not owned the Mbox Pro for very long (nor do I have as much experience/knowledge as you guys)

    Plugging into the rear jacks, and using the sensitivity switch, they are very quiet. The switch does make a difference, but it's slight. Just enough to be noticeable. No matter how you set the inputs on the front (to be line input in the back or the front jacks) the front knobs will not adjust levels when the jacks are plugged into the rear. Maybe that's just how it works (it would make sense).

    Plugged into the front 1/2 the knobs now work, and I can get more volume out of it, but it's still very low. To get anything that would be considered normal volume, I have to crank it so high, all I can hear is the noise floor.

    Ok, on the drum module, I peak out at 4 bars...and extremely occasionally, I'll hit 5 (peak). In PT, Im barely making 3 green bars. I recorded something yesterday, and with the volume levels set to "reasonably audible" the recorded track barely looks like a line, not the typical large waveform, with peaks and valleys. Just a tiny squiggly line.

    I found the sensitivity setting for the pads like you said. Unfortunately, if I put them much above 10 the module shows me clipping. I can also hear the clipping. It was helpful to find out those were there though.

    That would explain my success with having them be interchangeable up until now.

    Ok, so based on everything (and thank you all!!!!!) it seems like the cables are indeed the problem. And I forget who said it, but I think someone said that the back line inputs are different than the front inputs. Aside from one being the -10/4 choice in line level adjustment vs a knob, I think someone said that the front ones will sense what type of jack you put in? I'm unsure if that is what causes the notable volume difference (Though either one is way too low).

    The front inputs are louder, but I would prefer to use the rear inputs. So, I guess I need two mono cables to proceed from here. Which kind of blows, bc I have every cable you can imagine...except mono's. But isn't that how it always works....

    But thank you all again, I will keep you apprised of what I figure out.
  14. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    GO AND BUY UNBALANCED CABLES !!! 90% of chances, that's your problem!
    It is normal that the rear and the front don't have the same levels. The back are line inputs and fronts are Mic inputs. Not at all the same level !
    No need to pick your nose further, see the page on the manual ; it seems to show unbalanced cables doesn't it ? (sorry I hate repeating myself) ;)
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    BTW guitar cables are unbalanced (mono)
  16. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    What are "bars"? Give us the levels of your recorded tracks using numbers in dBFS. And, yes, get unbalanced cables. Though I'm not convinced that's the problem it would be very useful to know for sure one way or the other.

    And have you tried the suggestions in the link I posted? I found that by searching "TD-11" and "low volume". A bunch of posters seemed to have exactly your problem and the fix was something in the module's settings. Most of them seemed to have the problem with TD-15 modules but I think it was the same fix for the TD-11.
  17. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member


    First of all, thank you all for all the suggestions and sites. I'm poor right now, so I had to borrow the cables.

    I borrowed some mono cables. Both speaker and shielded. And the volume increased x10. Tracks in PT just fine etc. It turns out the volume knob that I thought just controlled the headphone output, also controls those line outs. With stereo cables, the volume was so low, that messing with that knob made no noticeable difference.

    Lesson learned, thank you all. Stereo cables don't always work in mono situations. I turned the pad sensitivity up to 12 iirc, and I had to turn them back down to 8.

    The module has an output meter. 4 solid bars, and a final hollowed out bar that indicates clipping (or close to it). It's like a typical output meter. When I turn the pad sensitivity up, it clips.
    Yeah, it just took me a bit bud. House renovations are being finished up, in-laws are coming to stay, had to pick up the cables from my father's band's practice spot. [side note, I'm not sure if you can stack possessives like that, "father's band's?" Not sure if that's correct or not]

    But that's what the problem was, simply the mono cables. In previous situations, I've always been able to use stereo cables in mono situations w/o problem. I see now that it matters, sometimes.

    I tried mono speaker cable, 1/4" to 1/4", also shielded of the same. There was no difference. In researching a little further, I might try them again and try to listen for background or ground hum.

    I borrowed the cables...I wanted to try them first before I spent money...in case it wasn't the problem. But mono works. So, is there any reason for me to get shielded vs un-shielded?

    ***Also, I would prefer to use the inputs on the back. Long story short, I didn't try the rear inputs, but I'm assuming they will work correctly too now. Any reason I should use one vs the other? And with the Mbox Pro, if I use the rear inputs, can I also use the front inputs at the same time and just use the switch? Meaning can I keep stuff plugged into both and it will be fine?

    Basically, I want to keep the drums plugged in - all the time - to rear 1/2, the guitar mic is on 3, the vocal mic is on 4. The KB is usb. If I have a bass player or someone else come, can they just plug into the front jacks and I hit the switch to move it to the front input? Or would I (for some reason, I just want to make sure) have to unplug the drums?

    I'd like to keep the Mbox Pro as my DA for a while, before upgrading to something with more inputs, so I just want to make sure I don't break it.
  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you got it to work.
    And thank you for coming back and keep us informed ;)
  19. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    What can I say, I enjoy it when other people learn from my stupidity. And I appreciate all your help. I read everything that everyone has posted, I just have a lot going on right now so I have to slip these studio setup activities in the times I have between.

    You can see it in the diagram you posted, but L is marked as mono. As a drummer yourself, would you do L/R? Or mono? It works the same, just stereo vs mono...

    I realize it can be done either way, I'm curious as to how you would choose to do it?
  20. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you got it sorted out, but hope you didn't end up keeping any speaker cables connected between the Roland and the MBox.

    It would be OK for the sake of experiment, but a shielded TS instrument cable is the correct cable for the job. The shielding that an instrument cable would provide would be beneficial with all EMI and RFI your computer and other devices emit. A 20ft. speaker cable (which should be UNshielded), connected to a sensitive input like a mic-pre acts essentially like a 20ft radio antenna (aerial for our British friends).

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