How to Convert Balanced to Unbalanced Audio


Audio signals routed between music equipment come in two forms. Unbalanced audio cables carry a raw audio signal between two audio connectors. Home stereos, television and computer sound devices are usually handled by unbalanced audio. However, in some situations the audio cable itself pics up noise. Sometimes equipment adds a "hum" to the audio signal. Balanced audio equipment rejects all audio, including these distortions, and only processes signals that are paired as wave inversions. Microphone signals are a common balanced example. In some cases, it is necessary to convert balanced audio to unbalanced to suit a particular studio setup.

Things You'll Need

  • Balanced/unbalanced audio converter box
  • Balanced XLR audio cables
  • Unbalanced RCA audio cables
  • Acquire a box for converting balanced audio to unbalanced. These two forms of audio signals are significantly different. Damage can occur to audio equipment if the signals are haphazardly mixed using conventional cables. A converter processes the necessary wave inversions to use standard unbalanced cables and inputs on balanced audio signals. Converter devices are readily available. They ensure the safety of studio hardware while also maintaining audio quality.

  • Attach a balanced XLR cable between the audio output of your sound source and the audio input of the converter box. Balanced audio usually takes the form of XLR, however your equipment may instead use TRS connections. Most converters will process an XLR signal, so use a TRS-to-XLR converter cable if necessary.

  • Attach an RCA cable between the audio output of the converter box and the input of your stereo, mixer, amplifier or other audio destination. Most audio equipment uses RCA inputs; however, some may require 1/4-inch connectors. If the converter box only offers RCA output, use an RCA-to-1/4-inch converter cable, if necessary. The balanced audio is now converted to unbalanced audio.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider using an all-balanced setup in environments that involve extensive cabling or long cabling situations such as live music and sound stages. The longer a microphone cable runs, the more likely it is to pick up extra audio signals. Only a balanced connection removes these distortions. In other situations, if your studio has a stubborn humming noise that cannot be fixed, consider the possibilities that it is due to unbalanced audio.

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