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Connecting my Great River Preamp to my mixboard-- what is an INSERT cable???
Old 18th January 2013
  #1
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Connecting my Great River Preamp to my mixboard-- what is an INSERT cable???

Ok, maybe someone can help me out here.

I am trying to insert my Great River ME-1NV directly into my Mackie 1640i so as to completely bypass the Mackie's preamp circuit.

I've called around & people keep telling me they 'don't sell' an XLR to 1/4" cable that I need because the 1/4" side needs to be modded or something...?

I'm confused. I look in the Mackie manual & they said the insert accepts 1/4" male TRS... so why wouldn't an XLR out of the GR to a standard 1/4" TRS work?

Well, I tried it with the Mackie preamp gain all the way down (the "cheat" Dan suggseted), and I do get the GR preamp. However, there is really no way for me to tell if the Mackie is coloring my GR. If I turn the Mackie gain up, for sure it is affecting it, however when it's off, I'm not sure...

Anyways, maybe someone can please explain the proper cabling for inserting my outboard preamp into my board and completely bypassing the onboard preamp? I am so confused about the TRS and everything...

I called Mackie & the dude said I need an 'RS' to XLR cable, whatever that is...

What is the difference between an insert cable & a regular TRS/TS cable, if there is any?

AND: what is the proper way to mod/make the special insert cable (if that's needed). I have a friend that can solder, etc so if you hit me with some tech stuff & diagrams I can relay it to him.

But really, why wouldn't a standard XLR to TRS cable just work? Is it coloring my signal? I think not, but it would be nice to know for certain...

FWIW, on the GR XLR pin 2 is 'hot', whatever that means....
Old 18th January 2013
  #2
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🎧 15 years
GR XLR out > Mackie TRS line in. That's it. I don't know why you'd use the insert. Get an XLR to TRS cable or adapter and you're done problem solved.

Your Mackie manual will tell you what these cables are and how inserts work.
Old 18th January 2013 | Show parent
  #3
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by brew ➡️
GR XLR out > Mackie TRS line in. That's it. I don't know why you'd use the insert. Get an XLR to TRS cable or adapter and you're done problem solved.

Your Mackie manual will tell you what these cables are and how inserts work.
Yup. Or bypass the Mackie and go straight in to recorder.
Old 18th January 2013 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brew ➡️
GR XLR out > Mackie TRS line in. That's it. I don't know why you'd use the insert. Get an XLR to TRS cable or adapter and you're done problem solved.

Your Mackie manual will tell you what these cables are and how inserts work.
The point is to bypass the Mackie preamp... that's why I want to use the insert...

The Mackie manual doesn't say anything about insert cables, it only says the Inserts on the board receive TRS cables.

So, I've been doing GR XLR out to TRS Insert on the Mackie, to bypass the Mackie preamp... what is wrong with that? Why should I use the Line In instead?

I did try the Line In on the Mackie, it was a VERY quiet signal.... very low... the insert was hotter, that's why I used it... although maybe it's not correct & affecting the sound in a negative way....?

It's just weird... because both Mackie & GR (I talked to Dan) said that the 1/4" end would need modding & soldering to make it an insert, & that they don't sell that type of cable...

Wouldn't running to the Mackie's Line In have the signal going through 2 preamps??? Then what's the point of an outboard pre if I have to run it through the board anyways?

And, if I'm using Line In, why not just run GR XLR out to Mackie XLR in???

Help!
Old 18th January 2013 | Show parent
  #5
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by refae ➡️
It's just weird... because both Mackie & GR (I talked to Dan) said that the 1/4" end would need modding & soldering & that they don't sell that type of cable... maybe they were both just confused??? I dunno, it seems like a no-brainer to me, right?
The line in TRS and the insert TRS are wired differently. You probably approached the problem using the term "insert" (like in your original post) and the answers you got were about the different wiring that you would need to use the GR through the insert.
Like brew said.....forget the insert.
Old 19th January 2013 | Show parent
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by refae ➡️
The point is to bypass the Mackie preamp... that's why I want to use the insert...
Traditionally when you plug into LINE instead of MIC, you do bypass the mic preamp. There is a block diagram in the manual, and actually on this Mackie it does share some circuitry between, but that is not yet a case to use the insert...

Quote:
So, I've been doing GR XLR out to TRS Insert on the Mackie, to bypass the Mackie preamp... what is wrong with that? Why should I use the Line In instead?
The main thing that is wrong is that the insert on the 1640i is unbalanced. It is both a send (output) and return (input) on one TRS connector. It says that on page 11. Most inserts on budget gear work this way.

Quote:
I did try the Line In on the Mackie, it was a VERY quiet signal.... very low... the insert was hotter, that's why I used it... although maybe it's not correct & affecting the sound in a negative way....?
When you use the LINE IN, you should set the gain dial at the inner Unity. If it's all the way off, then you've attenuated the line input 20 dB. Which would make it quieter. The GR probably is +24 dBu out on the XLR, and the Mackie is +21 dBu in, so the GR has enough juice to clip the Mackie and should not seem quiet.

Quote:
Mackie & GR (I talked to Dan) said that the 1/4" end would need modding & soldering to make it an insert, & that they don't sell that type of cable...
To use an unbalanced TRS insert properly you need a TS Y cable to TRS end. That's what they are talking about.

Quote:
Wouldn't running to the Mackie's Line In have the signal going through 2 preamps??? Then what's the point of an outboard pre if I have to run it through the board anyways?
In the case of this Mackie, yes it does, but it has markers for unity so that you don't add gain with the Mackie line in when you want to use an outboard pre. You also don't have to run it into your board. You can plug it directly into the DAW as already mentioned earlier in the thread.

Quote:
And, if I'm using Line In, why not just run GR XLR out to Mackie XLR in?
Because the XLR mic in is designed for mics. It has a different impedance and gain structure that is not set up for line level signals.

One last thing you could try is do XLR > XLR Aux return in. The Aux return is a balanced line amp with no adjustable gain at the front end, just level to the mix bus. That could be the shortest path you can get on this mixer.

But you can do anything you want, whatever sounds good.
Old 19th January 2013
  #7
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🎧 10 years
Forget the insert.
Either XLR-TRS into channel line in set at Unity.

Or XLR-TRS into and aux return and select the aux return to go to a sub group or the L/R main bus.

Then select FW settings to record the main outs or subgroups.

Aux 1 left (mono) input will send the mono signal to both L/R main bus or subgroup. Using the R aux input only (I'm guessing, will prob send only to the R ch on main out or subgroup.

Aux In would be the option with the least amount of circuitry in the signal chain to the FW card.

Channel line ins, give the advantage of being able to select pre or post EQ and insert, enabling use of HW compressor inserted, and EQ if desired. If FW post EQ/insert is selected, the EQ can be bypassed thereby making your FW signal chain post insert while being pre EQ.
The channel HPF is always In the signal to the FW card as well.

Using aux returns will require using aux ret level, subgroup or main faders or both (depending on your routing of the aux ret) and outboard pre levels to adjust recording level.

Where as going the channel line in route would only require adjustment of the outboard pre level to adjust recording levels.
Old 21st January 2013 | Show parent
  #8
234064
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brew ➡️
Traditionally when you plug into LINE instead of MIC, you do bypass the mic preamp. There is a block diagram in the manual, and actually on this Mackie it does share some circuitry between, but that is not yet a case to use the insert...


The main thing that is wrong is that the insert on the 1640i is unbalanced. It is both a send (output) and return (input) on one TRS connector. It says that on page 11. Most inserts on budget gear work this way.


When you use the LINE IN, you should set the gain dial at the inner Unity. If it's all the way off, then you've attenuated the line input 20 dB. Which would make it quieter. The GR probably is +24 dBu out on the XLR, and the Mackie is +21 dBu in, so the GR has enough juice to clip the Mackie and should not seem quiet.


To use an unbalanced TRS insert properly you need a TS Y cable to TRS end. That's what they are talking about.


In the case of this Mackie, yes it does, but it has markers for unity so that you don't add gain with the Mackie line in when you want to use an outboard pre. You also don't have to run it into your board. You can plug it directly into the DAW as already mentioned earlier in the thread.

Because the XLR mic in is designed for mics. It has a different impedance and gain structure that is not set up for line level signals.

One last thing you could try is do XLR > XLR Aux return in. The Aux return is a balanced line amp with no adjustable gain at the front end, just level to the mix bus. That could be the shortest path you can get on this mixer.

But you can do anything you want, whatever sounds good.


Ok, so here's the issue I'm having.

I am running a 1/4" TRS male from the GR to 1/4" TRS male on the LINE IN on the Mackie (as everyone here is suggesting, thank you), and I'm setting the channel on the Mackie @ Unity Gain (as you recommended). Pretty sure it is the 'U' in between the 20 & 30 on the Gain knob on the Mackie (correct me if I'm wrong please!)

The signal I am getting is STILL very thin (about 20% of the way up in my DAW, I can see the wave form, it's SUPER thin, too thin). However, if I drive the GR any further, it starts to distort (hitting orange & red on the unit). This is NOT what I wanted out of this preamp!

I can't get the preamp to drive the instrument (nord electro 3 at the moment) loud enough to even get halfway up on the DAW meter! Ok, so the gain on GR now is @ 25 on the input & approx. 5 (two o'clock) on the output. With Mackie Gain @ Unity. Signal STILL barely reaching 1/3 of the way up in Pro Tools 9, and my concern is that it is going to either A) get way too buried in the mix (other waves are fatter) or B) too low S/N ratio & lot of hiss or C) require compression, which sucks...

Should I just return the GR? Honestly I did notice a bit of a difference on vocals, however it doesn't justify this whole gain staging problem I'm having!

Or.... maybe I am just a fool who needs to figure out how to use his preamp correctly? (Seriously, I could probably learn a thing or two from you guys!)

Please help & let me know, it's not too late to take the unit back to the dealer... the Mackie pres are not AS smooth as the GR, however it's WAY simpler w/ the plug & play and gain staging, no annoying distortion or too-quiet levels to contend with... ugh...

OOPS, ok, maybe this solves something?

The signal chain WAS: Nord 1/4" TRS--> GR Hi Z in 1/4" TRS --> GR *unbalanced* line out (which is -10db) 1/4" TRS --> Mackie line in (1/4" TRS)

Now I replaced the connection between the GR & Mackie so it is:
Nord 1/4" TRS--> GR Hi Z in 1/4" TRS --> GR *XLR MALE OUT* --> Mackie line in (1/4" TRS)

I'm guessing this is the issue?? The 10db attenuation on the GR line out, right? Cuz now my signal is nice & happy about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up in the DAW @ Unity Gain on the Mackie, with no preamp clipping (apparently?)....

thoughts & opinions?
Old 21st January 2013
  #9
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by refae ➡️
Ok, so here's the issue I'm having.

I am running a 1/4" TRS male from the GR to 1/4" TRS male on the LINE IN on the Mackie (as everyone here is suggesting, thank you), and I'm setting the channel on the Mackie @ Unity Gain (as you recommended). Pretty sure it is the 'U' in between the 20 & 30 on the Gain knob on the Mackie (correct me if I'm wrong please!)

The signal I am getting is STILL very thin (about 20% of the way up in my DAW, I can see the wave form, it's SUPER thin, too thin). However, if I drive the GR any further, it starts to distort (hitting orange & red on the unit). This is NOT what I wanted out of this preamp!

I can't get the preamp to drive the instrument (nord electro 3 at the moment) loud enough to even get halfway up on the DAW meter! Ok, so the gain on GR now is @ 25 on the input & approx. 5 (two o'clock) on the output. With Mackie Gain @ Unity. Signal STILL barely reaching 1/3 of the way up in Pro Tools 9, and my concern is that it is going to either A) get way too buried in the mix (other waves are fatter) or B) too low S/N ratio & lot of hiss or C) require compression, which sucks...

Should I just return the GR? Honestly I did notice a bit of a difference on vocals, however it doesn't justify this whole gain staging problem I'm having!

Or.... maybe I am just a fool who needs to figure out how to use his preamp correctly? (Seriously, I could probably learn a thing or two from you guys!)

Please help & let me know, it's not too late to take the unit back to the dealer... the Mackie pres are not AS smooth as the GR, however it's WAY simpler w/ the plug & play and gain staging, no annoying distortion or too-quiet levels to contend with... ugh...

OOPS, ok, maybe this solves something?

The signal chain WAS: Nord 1/4" TRS--> GR Hi Z in 1/4" TRS --> GR *unbalanced* line out (which is -10db) 1/4" TRS --> Mackie line in (1/4" TRS)

Now I replaced the connection between the GR & Mackie so it is:
Nord 1/4" TRS--> GR Hi Z in 1/4" TRS --> GR *XLR MALE OUT* --> Mackie line in (1/4" TRS)

I'm guessing this is the issue?? The 10db attenuation on the GR line out, right? Cuz now my signal is nice & happy about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up in the DAW @ Unity Gain on the Mackie, with no preamp clipping (apparently?)....

thoughts & opinions?
It really sounds like you have something set wrong or something is mis-wired. That GR should put out enough clean signal to pop those DAW meters right to the top.
Have you by-passed the Mackie and seen what the results are?

I see you have edited your post and sounds like you have found your problem.

BTW.....the very first words (in bold) of the very first reply (from brew) solved your problem but apparently the advice went un-heeded.
Even so, with the -10dBv output all you would have to do for a quick "work-around" was to raise the Mackie input gain 10dB.
Old 22nd January 2013
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
GR pre out XLR-TRS into Mackie

I doubt your Nord has balanced out and it's prob not hi z either.

Regular instrument cable to line in on GR.
that's prob why
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