Skip to main content

Buttons on the M-Audio Delta 1010 Breakout box

I know this must be a newb question, cuz I am a newb...

How do I know if the buttons on the M-Audio Delta 1010 Breakout box should be pushed in our out, if they are out it is +4 if they are in it is -10. The only way I can figure it out is by testing each instrument, but I would think there should by a way just to know, so time is not waisted trying to figure it out. For example OK this is a vocal track it should be pushed in, or this is a kick drum is should be pushed out.

My set up is like this.
I am currently running 2 x M Audio Delta 1010 sound cards that have 8 1/4 inch inputs and outputs on each break out box. I also am using a Behringer MX3282A Mixer that as 8 subgroups that I use as 4 stereo groups that are connected to one breakout box. I have 6 Toms going through sub group 1-2 the drum overheads subs 3-4, Drum Triggers going through 5-6, and Key Boards on 7-8.

For the other break out box I am using the inserts had direct outs, and have instruments that don't need to be teamed down to a stereo sub, like the Kick input 1, Snare input 2 and High Hat input 3, Bass on 5-6 and Guitar on 7-8

Running Windows 2000
Cue Base SX

I hope this make sense,


Kapt.Krunch Sun, 10/15/2006 - 07:25
Yep, the buttons are a bit inconvenient being on the back. What I did was leave a rack space open above mine. The 1010s are just shallow enough, and the opening in the rack space is just wide enough, that I can reach through and press them from the front, if I need. Also, I have all the ins and outs routed to a TRS patchbay, with TRS cables, so I can work from the front.

Generally, I'll leave mine in the +4 position. I usually run most things through preamps, balanced, to the 1010, using XLR-TRS adapter cables. Mics and stuff should usually use that. If you find that your signal is just TOO hot, and you have to turn the Delta channel mixer way low to keep it from clipping, lower the output from the source. I just did something to confirm to myself. I ran my Porta One into it. When I had it in +4, the levels were low. When I switched to -10, it boosted the input levels, and the Delta Control Panel meters jumped into the red. (Not a pretty sound!)

Keep in mind that the units of measurement are different for each.
-10dBV and +4dBu, as used by the Delta, according to the manual. There are probably searchable articles on this site that explains, or Google up something. dBu, dBv, dBV....aauurrgh! I'm going to get at least one of them wrong here.

Conventional wisdom states that when plugging in balanced equipment, (mostly stuff with XLR or TRS outputs), that it should be in the +4 position.
When using unbalanced equipment, (guitars, synths, drum machines, etc., with TS outputs), you should use -10. This sounds goofy because electric guitars and mics have pretty low output, and some drum machines and synths spit flames through their outputs.

You should research a couple things to try to understand all this. Perhaps, try to get a grasp on the different dB terminologies as used in interconnecting musical stuff. Also, intermingled with that, grasp the balanced/unbalanced concepts, because they generally have a relationship to the dB usage. Also, depending on how a balanced signal is converted to an unbalanced one, the signal level may be changed. A balanced signal runs, basically, the same signal out of phase through two wires, and then you have the ground...which is why there are 3 wires. Unbalancing a balanced signal MAY cause the two out of phase signals to add together for a higher output, if the device inverts the phase of one of the lines. Then, you'll have two for +, one for -. Depends on what a device or person does to try to accomplish this. If done properly, this is what usually happens. Perhaps the Delta does this internally? I don't know for sure. I suspect it does this, but I wouldn't know unless I looked at the schematics.

Once the rules are figured out, then we learn when we can break those rules without causing damage to equipment, or mangling signals. There are always weird little exceptions, depending on what weird thing the manufacturer has done. The Delta 1010 will automatically sense a balanced or unbalanced connection, and treat it accordingly, within its circuitry. Be aware that there may be SOME things that don't do this gracefully. Assume nothing, and check the manuals. It WON'T make the decision of whether it wants to run -10dB or +4dB, hence the buttons. In fact, in my manual, pages 4-5, it refers only to dB, not dBu or dBV. Page 47, Appendix A, shows those.

Page 46 of my manual, in the Troubleshooting section, talks about this. Quoted from manual:

"....Make sure you have the proper signal levels set on the rear of the Delta 1010 rack-mount unit. "+4" can handle much hotter signals than "-10." If you find that you are still clipping at the +4 setting, you will need to turn down the audio at the source."

This where confusion may set in. Heck, I'm confused! I know if I'm running my Porta One to the Delta, and +4 isn't giving me enough input, I can run it -10. Same for if I'm trying to run an SM57 mic straight into it. It's balanced, but I can't get the level anywhere near where it needs for a robust signal at +4. Apparently, I can just switch it to -10, and get more level. (Yeah, I know...probably still might not be quite enough. This is an example). Is it still balanced, or as discussed above, is it converted internally to unbalanced, hence the higher signal level? The manual doesn't really say. Apparently, it's OK to run either balanced or unbalanced, at either +4 or -10. Whether it is APPROPRIATE for the recording may be another matter.

Probably the safest thing is to leave them at +4 (out position) when you first try to run something into it. Since it can take a higher signal level, you are less likely to run too hot of a signal into the Delta. If you can't get it hot enough to record at a good level, and you have no more output available from the source, without adding noise or distortion, consider changing it to -10, or run it though a preamp or direct box or something. And, when you do decide to switch to -10, don't do what I did and just switch it. Bring down the Mixer Panel's input levels, switch it, then bring them back up....unless you REALLY like distortion and blown speakers! (No, I didn't do any of that, I had the inputs lower because I suspected what would happen, and it just barely shot it over. If everything had been maxed, it would have been really bad).

Keep in mind that the Delta also has switches on the outputs. Depending on how you use the Delta, you may or may not need to be too concerned about switching. If you are running, perhaps, all 8 outs to a monitoring mixer, you should probably be running them balanced at +4. If you are using the Delta's internal Monitor Mixer, and maybe just running outs 1 and 2 into a Mackie for monitoring, or something, those should be balanced, +4. Now, if you want to run a track out of, say, output 3 of the Delta, process it in an outboard unit, and run it back in...then it kind of depends on the outboard unit's connection levels. Some are -10, some are +4, some are switchable to either. Some balanced, some not. If given a choice, run out and in at +4, balanced. If the choice is only -10, switch it to that.
I still leave all currently unused I/O switches at +4, just in case I plug something in, and it's extremely hot, it has less chance of driving my Delta inputs into overload. I can always switch it.

A lot of this sounds counter-intuitive. I still have to think before I act, occasionally look at my chart that I made that lists the I/O characteristics of all my equipment, and perhaps set switches different, or run things to direct boxes or pre's. Depends on what's connected in the chain. You have to know the characteristics of each thing connected to know the proper level, or figure out how to get it to what you want.

Hope I didn't confuse you more than help. As always, I may have gotten something wrong in my caffeine-induced current state, so anyone feel free to take me to task, if so. I don't mind learning :wink:


Kev Mon, 10/23/2006 - 18:19
songquester wrote: Is there a standard rule for using condinder mics? like always +4 or -10???

err not quite

+4 and -10 refer to line level and often the +4 is balanced and the -10 is unbalanced

I'm not going to confuse with the dbm,dbu,dbV etc right at the moment

Condenser Microphones ... are at MIC level ... usually much lower
yes some mics with very loud signals can get to almost line level
mics generally work in to lower impedances of 150 to 200 rather than
600 ohms for +4 ... dBm
10kohms +/- ... -10dBv ...err dBu ...


forget that ... just think Mic levels are small