Skip to main content
Start a topic JOIN NOW!

Patchbay......Balanced or Unbalanced?

Member for

21 years
I would like to get a patchbay to make patch changes easier in my rack.

Im looking at the Beringher px2000 or px1000. What is the difference between Balanced and Unbalanced? (the PX2000 is unbalanced.)

All my cables are 1/4" mono plugs for routing around the various boxes. Some times I do voice through the same rack.

Any help appreciated on the above or even a recommendation as to which one to get.

the px2000 is only $49 new so thats why im looking at it.

Thank you for any tips.


Member for

20 years 7 months

Screws Sun, 08/29/2004 - 11:08
A balanced patchbay uses TRS (Tip, Ring and Sleeve) cables, while unbalanced patchbays use RCA or 1/4" TS (Tip and Sleeve) connectors. You can use a TRS balanced patchbay with unbalanced gear by simply using TS cables, which will not harm anything. But if you have balanced gear connected you need a TRS patchbay.

Balanced equipment is a way to keep noise from entering through the cabling. A microphone, for instance, often uses a balanced connection, using XLR cables to connect to mic preamps.

Most pro audio gear is balanced, using either XLRs or TRS connectors. If you begin to hang around here alot you'll probably end up upgrading much of your semi-pro stuff for full pro stuff, as I did. So I'd say, get the balanced patchbay and use it with regular tip sleeve cables for now.

Member for

21 years

Member Sun, 08/29/2004 - 11:10
The difference between balanced and unbalanced cable is an extra conductor in the wire. An unbalanced connection runs two conductors, a hot (+) and a ground. A balanced connection runs three conductors, a hot (+), a cold (-), and a ground. What makes the difference is not in the cable but in what happens at either end, before and after the signal travels down the cable. Any cable can be an antenna and a noise collector.

A balanced signal begins with differential amplifier that splits the hot signal into two signals and flips one of them out of phase. At the end of the line, the signal is flipped back; however, the noise picked up is now out of phase with itself and cancels itself out.

Mono plugs are only two wires and are not balanced connections. If you wish you use any equipment which is balanced you need balanced three-wire connections. Using mono plugs with balanced equipment simply unbalances the signal.

If you're looking for studio-quality recording then obviously always use balanced connections. However if you're not running a lot of cable and think you can keep it to a minimum unbalanced may be okay. Try recording in your area to see if you pick up any noise, and if you do, look to buy balanced cables and equipment.

Hope this helps.


edit: looks like you posted while i was typing. Sorry for the repeat.

Member for

21 years

Member Sun, 08/29/2004 - 11:18
super.! ok. so the best bet is to get a balanced unit then and it will work for either situtation. or with guitar unbal cables for example?

I wonder why there is even a unbal patchbay then if the bal works for both. maybe the unbal is a bit cheaper?

You think the Beringher stuff is ok then. This is a primarly a guitar rack although it would be used with voice now and again. But the cable lengths are always very short.

thanks again

Member for

21 years

Member Sun, 08/29/2004 - 13:32
Neutrik has a low cost TRS patch too... and of course, always get 3-connector point ones (balanced) as they easily can be turned to un-balanced 2-connectors too with the right cable soldering.

Remember, connect the shield as a "general rule" to the signal source end of the cable.

Typical cable shielding situations (output to input):

unbal-unbal: shield at source end
unbal-bal: shield at source end
unbal-diff (electronically bal): shield at source end
bal-unbal: destination
bal-bal: source
bal-diff: destination
diff-unbal: source
diff-bal: source
diff-diff: source

Always use quality cables like Mogami and others.

Hope it helps


Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 09/21/2004 - 13:52
If you can afford it, avoid Behringer. The stuff has a tendency to bum out on you(XLR jack broke on my eurorack) and the controls are hypersensitive; you move them a micron and it changes 3db. Well, I'm exaggerating slightly. I think Mackie's have a better sense of worldliness, if you know what I mean.