In this topic, I’ll introduce you to common analog connectors which are used to connect devices in recording studio. Understanding their features and functions is crucial.
1. TS /Mono Connector
It has another name – Phone Connector Plug. This kind of connector has an acute head (tip) and a long metal tube (sleeve). Tip receives audio signal, sleeve has a role as shield to prevent interference and noise. This kind of connector is very popular with pro audio folks as well as normal one.
TS cable is usually used for connecting musical instruments to amplifier or other devices such as mixer, EQ, compressor. All of people who play electronic musical instruments especially electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboard or who use pickup on acoustic musical instruments have certainly used this connector once.
Its other function is connecting power amplifier to speakers. This specific function results in its different design from the the others’, which is the two transmission wires connected to top and sleeve. Because the strength of transmitted audio signal from power amplifier to speakers is very powerful, enough to beat any noise signal produced from audio-to-speaker transmitting process, there’s no need for noise-proof.
Therefore, you need to specify you purpose of use to purchase the right TS cable. If you play musical instrument and you plug for-speakers TS cable, your received audio signal will be very noisy.
Kind of TS cable used for musical instrument is usually called unbalance cable, one wire connected to tip, one wire (shield) wrapped around tip and connected to sleeve.
2. TRS Connector
TRS is short for Tip – Ring – Sleeve. In TRS, there are three separate connections, Tip and Ring connect to audio signal, the Sleeve connect to ground to prevent interference, noise.
Depends on connection point this TRS cable type produces stereo or mono. These two signals are simply, one is mono transmits only one channel of audio signal, one is stereo transmits two separate audio signals.
While transmitting mono signal, TRS becomes balance cable. And because of its stand out feature which is carrying audio signal through a long way (more than 32ft) without reducing signal, noise, interference like with unbalance cable, make it popular with professional audio folks. TRS balance cable is usually used for people who make live show because the way to connect audio from the band to mixer table is fairly far.
But, in small home studio, cable is usually with 10ft – 15 ft so be assured to use unbalance cable because in this case, balance or unbalance is nothing matters.
3. RCA / Phono Connector
This is unbalance cable transmits only one channel of signal and very popular in common entertainment devices such as tivi player, cd player, … It works just like normal TS cable.
You can use RCA to transmit digital signal if you plug RCA to S/PDIF port (S/PDIF cable will be discussed in the digital connector part).
4. XLR / Microphone Connector
XRL connector is balance cable which transmits mono signal. It is also called low-z cable because it transmit electronic signal with low impedance.
This connector is usually used for microphone and also between audio devices.
5. Y-Cable Connector
In fact, this is TRS cable with one TRS head divided in two TS head. T-Cable connector is used for connecting external audio devices to insert door of mixer.
- TRS head contains both delivering and receiving audio signal direction. Delivering connects to tip and receiving connects to ring of TRS.
- The two rest TS head, one transmit signal to external devices, one receives signal from output of external devices.
Now you understand common analog connector cable in recording studio. Beside, you need to understand more about digital connectors in the next part. This is one of important connector in digital recording studios.