Sound quality: XLR vs. 6.3mm jack

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by I play music, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. I play music

    I play music SS.org Regular

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    I'm looking at preamps with cab sim (like Mooer Preamp Live) and multieffect units (NUX Cerberus, Mooer Black Truck). Some products have an XLR out but most don't.

    I want to plug the thing directly into my Focusrite Scarlet interface.
    Would connected via XLR cable sound better than via normal instrument cable?

    I wonder if XLR out is a feature that improves sound or something that does not matter to me.
    If I decide for a product without XLR out, do you think a DI-box would be good? If yes, how much should I invest or what should I look out for when buying a DI-box?
     
  2. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I'm not an expert, so don't quote me on this, but I *think* this is how it would work:

    I think the concern here is less the type of cable and more the type of signal going through. An XLR out, I would imagine, would be performing the role of your DI box inside the unit, so that you don't have to rely on the quality of the direct ins on your interface. This is good if your "instrument ins" on the interface are no good. My understanding is that most standalone DI boxes do a better job than the average "instrument in" on an interface. I think you're still relying on the mic preamps this way though. If the DI out of that unit is good.... then you're good, I would imagine. A quarter inch out might be spitting out an instrument level signal, in which case you'd still need a DI, OR it could be spitting out a line level signal already, in which case that would go direct and you'd be bypassing the DIs and mic pres on the interface, which again *might* be what you want. Ideally, you want the best components to be the ones you use, and the weakest ones to be removed from the chain. If the mic pres or instrument ins on your interface are not very good, I imagine you'll get better results from whatever path gets those out of the way.

    So, I think in order of best results, you would want to use-
    Line Out > DI out > Instrument Out to a DI box > Instrument In on interface

    Someone smarter than me could correct me if I'm wrong. :lol:
     
  3. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    Essentially what TedEH said.
     
  4. I play music

    I play music SS.org Regular

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    The headphone out of the Mooer Black Truck for example would be a line out?
    And with DI out you mean XLR?
    Just trying to avoid confusion. I thought DI stands for direct input, so direct input out I'm not 100% sure what that is ;-)
     
  5. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    The purpose of a DI is that it does a bunch of level and impedance matching so that you can take something that would have been instrument level, and plug it into something expecting a microphone signal. The idea is that you could take a guitar and plug it directly into the kind of input a mixer is expecting (Guitar->DI->Mixer). Most of the time, an XLR out is going to be a "DI out" in the sense that it's the correct signal to go into a microphone preamp. (Like in a preamp, so you can give that to a front of house guy for live purposes.)

    A headphone out is NOT a line out. A headphone out (ignoring that it's possibly stereo) is used to drive a speaker, and *could be much stronger than line level.

    If you're trying to optimize things for recording quality, you want to use things for their intended/stated purpose. If it says headphones, use it for headphones, nothing else. Don't make any assumptions as to which types of signals you can just swap for other types. Most of them are different.

    Edit: I'll repeat myself-
    the concern here is less the type of cable and more the type of signal going through.
    It's not about whether or not the wires fit together.
     
    I play music likes this.
  6. I play music

    I play music SS.org Regular

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    I think in general you are right, thanks for the warning. However, with the Mooer Black Truck the user manual on page 8 shows also a PA and an audio interface next to the headphone out
    http://www.mooeraudio.com/upload/manual/2018/Black Track/(Black Truck)_Manual_EN_.pdf
    So it should "work" and in Youtube videos they do exactly this. But yeah not sure about if this is optimal for sound quality which is basically the reason for the question.
    Also I don't know how much different those levels are, maybe the level control on the Black Truck allows to get a line level?
     
  7. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    That's really strange that they use the same jack for both purposes, but you've got the right idea -> Use the manual. I would have assumed or hoped that the regular outs are line level and would be used for that purpose instead.

    The combo of headphones and line out would make me wonder about what kind of signal is really coming out of there. Again, if the goal is "optimal".... I can't say for sure, but I would have doubts without trying it myself.

    Maaaaaaybe the idea is that if you want to built-in cab sims you'd use the headphone out, but if you want just the preamp section and plan to use your own impulses, you could use the normal outs?
     
  8. Given To Fly

    Given To Fly Contributor

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    Plug the Headphone Out on the Black Truck directly into your Focusrite Scarlet interface. The Headphone Output can be used as a Recording Output. It is a trick that is rarely used now a days but it is worth knowing. In the case of the Black Truck, it looks like they optimized the Headphone Out for this purpose. I have done it before and lived to tell about it at the very least, but with different gear. Guitar gear is not always straight forward in what it can and can not do, especially when mixed with recording gear. Which Scarlet do you have? The Mooer will need to be connected to a Line Input or Instrument Input on your interface. XLR and TRS cables work the same in this situation. This is not always the case but it is not something to worry about until you come to that bridge.
     
  9. I play music

    I play music SS.org Regular

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    Maybe they should have named the headphone out cab sim out instead ..
    2i4

    Ok thanks guys! So I guess the take home message is that I would not need a DI box because the output of the headphone jack of the Black Truck or the output jack of the Mooer radar are already line level or higher level than instrument level. And, those jacks should work as fine as an XLR out, so there is no need to buy a product that has XLR out (like the Preamp Live). Did I understand that right?
     

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