Open Music, DJ Lessons

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4.0 Cable Types

Cable Types

Cables/ Leads

Leads can carry a Mono or Stereo electrical signal depending on the type of cable . Music sources can be generally be considered mono (one source). This explains why RCA cables have two pairs of cables. One for Left (White) and one for right (red). The reason we have we use two speakers is for depth of field. Two speakers allows the listener to feel a sense of space and allows the producer of the music to position (Pan) instruments to different physical loctions in the mix to give the user a defined space.

Master Output – Connects from the mixer to the amplifier. Depending on the mixer, it could require either RCA or XLR leads. Some of the better mixers have both options. After you have set the volume on the amplifier to a level you are happy with, the way to control the master output volume is with the master volume control, usually on the top right-hand side of your mixer.

The best things to do when buying new cables or equipment is to explain to the person you are buying from exactly what you want to use it for.

RCA to 3.5

3.5mm stereo jack to RCA – You will require this type of lead to connect input devices such as iPods, Mini discs and MP3 players to your mixer. They have a small jack at one end that is connected to the input device and RCAs at the other end to be connected to the line signal of the mixer.

XLRs – Are the cables with both a male and female end. The male end has 3 pins and the female end accepts 3 pins. These are used for the longer cable runs, when connecting from your mixer to the amplifier or mixer directly to your powered speakers (Active)

RCA – Probably the most common of DJ leads. Used for connecting the input and output devices to your mixer, they can also be used to connect your mixer to your amplifier. They are generally a lead with

Two different colored (usually red and white) plugs at each end. Your input devices might include CD decks, iPods, MP3 players and mini discs, which are pretty self-explanatory when it comes to hooking them in. The red would plug into the red and the white to the white.

A General rule of thumb is that R for red is the Right Channel

TS and TRS Jacks.

Headphones will need a TRS jack adapter as most DJ mixers will have this style of input.

TS jacks are used for send and returns.

Other combination of cables exist, although you may need to be sure you are not trying to convert a balanced to an unbalanced signal. there are certain tricks to making cables but this will need to be covered in its own section 

Balanced Vs Unbalanced

Balanced Vs Unbalanced

The advantage of a balanced cable is that you can run the cable at longer distances ( over 10m) with low noise.

A Balanced cable will generally have three connection points. One ground and two signal cables. The signal cables carry the same signal except for one of them is phases reversed meaning the waveform has been flipped 180’.

If they were played over each other there would be a cancellation of the sound and you would hear nothing. 

The advantage of doing this is that there is less noise that makes it into the system.

The noise comes about as the cable picks up interference as it travels because it acts somewhat like an antennae.

When the signal gets to the source the noise is phase reversed on itself and it is cancelled out. Common cables include XLR  and Tip Ring Sleeve audio jacks.

Unbalanced cable only has one audio signal and one ground source. This means that there is only 2 connection points.Common unbalanced cables are RCA and Tip Sleeve guitar cable.