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Old August 18th, 2012, 05:38 AM   #16
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Re: Zoom H1 and XLR

Originally Posted by Tariq Peter View Post
....I was thinking about purchasing a variety Male XLR to 3.5mm, Female XLR to 3.5mm and Phono to 3.5mm and taking them to each event along with the H1.
You'll probably have little use for a XLRM to 3.5 cable. XLR outputs are always male and you connect to them using a cable with a female XLR plug. So if the soundboard you're connecting to does offer its outputs on XLR, you'll use the female XLR->3.5mm cable to connect to it. Any XLR female jacks you find on the sound board itself will be inputs, not outputs, and since you're not sending anything to the board a 3.5mm->male XLR cable will probably never get used.

Note that you have to be careful with the exact wiring of those cables. XLR is typically mono while as best I can tell (I hate manufacturers like Zoom that don't fully document their products!!!!!) the 3.5mm input on the H1 is a TRS stereo connector . A straight through XLR->TRS cable will not be wired properly. To take a balanced mono output on XLR into an unbalanced stereo TRS with the signal appearing on both left and right channels in the recorder you need to connect XLR pin 2 to both the tip and ring on the TRS, XLR pin 3 to the TRS sleeve, and XLR pin 1 to the cable shield. Inside the XLR connector pin 3 is jumpered to pin 1. The cable shield is left floating (unconnected) at the TRS cable end. Or another wiring scheme that works would be XLR pin 2 to TRS tip and ring jumpered together inside the plug, XLR pin 3 unconnected, XLR pin 1 to cable shield to TRS sleeve. Off the shelf XLR->3.5mm cables are hard to come by in the first place and you'll probably have a very hard time finding the properly wired versions at a typical music store...learn how to solder.

Most boards offer one set of XLR main outputs and those are likely to be taken up by the PA speakers. Other outputs such as the AUX buses usually are on balanced 1/4 TRS so in addition to your XLR->3.5 cables you should also pack a set of 1/4->3.5mm cables as well. Again, wiring is important because you're going from a balanced mono to an unbalanced stereo and a cable wired straight through will not work properly. Proper wiring connects the 1/4 tip to the 3.5 tip AND ring, 1/4 ring to 3.5mm sleeve, 1/4 sleeve to cable shield, shield left floating at 3.5 end. Alternate use a 1/4 TS and connect 1/4 tip to 3.5 tip and ring together, 1/4 sleeve to 3.5 sleeve via the cable shield.

I've seen people try to kludge together something by getting a commonly available XLR->1/4 TRS straight through cable and plugging it into a 1/4->3.5mm adapter but that is almost certain not to work. The 'standard' XLR->1/4 TRS puts XLR pin 2 on the TRS tip, XLR pin 3 on the TRS ring, and XLR pin 1 on the TRS sleeve. Connecting this to a stereo input through a 1/4->3.5mm adapter puts the signal on the left channel and a phase inverted copy of the signal on the the right and that will give you all sorts of grief when you try to mix them in post or even when just played back on speakers.

I've never seen a mixer with a mono output on a single RCA phono jack ... normally there's a pair, one for the left channel and one for the right. (Actually if the mixer has any phono jacks at all there are usually 4 of them, an input pair labelled 'Tape In' and an output pair labelled 'Tape Out'). To connect them to your Zoom's input you'll need a 'Y' cable with two phono plugs on one end and the 3.5mm TRS on the other. The left (white) plug's pin goes to the TRS tip, the right (red) plug's pin goes to the TRS ring, and both of the plugs' shells go to the TRS sleeve via the cable shield. One of these shouldn't be hard to find off the shelf.

Just to keep things interesting, you also need to be aware of the levels coming from the various board outputs. XLR outputs might be either +4dBu pro line level or a much lower mic level, 1/4 outputs are usually +4dBu pro line level, and the phono outputs are virtually always -10dBv consumer line level.
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!

Last edited by Steve House; August 18th, 2012 at 06:12 AM.
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Old August 18th, 2012, 09:13 AM   #17
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Re: Zoom H1 and XLR

In addition to Steve's concise description, it's usually the Mackie boards (VLZ, that have a mic/line switch on the XLR outs. And the RCA outs are closer to 0dB than -10 (specifically the Onyx) which could overdrive a Zoom's (sensitive) 1/8" line input stage on program peaks.
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