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Audio interconnection 03
Why are there so many types of audio interconnection? 

Level of challenge Easy

 

Welome to this tutorial on types of interconnection.

 

There are a confusing number of cable and connector types for analogue and digital audio. This is due to the wide range of different types of audio signals and audio devices, the differing cost and quality demands of the consumer and professional sectors, and the way in which audio technologies have evolved.  

 

Caption - What are the interconnection considerations for device designers?

The primary technical considerations for equipment designers when specifying inter-connectors are ..

 

Caption - 1. Will the connection be permanent or temporary?

Will the connection be permanent or temporary?


If it is temporary, such as this patch bay connection, it may need a robust connector and flex resistant cable to withstand frequent plugging and unplugging. If it is permanent, such as this CD player, a thinner cable and cheaper connector may do, and it may be hard wired to a patchbay, requiring no connector.

Caption - 2. If the lead is accidentally pulled out will it cause serious inconvenience?

If the lead is accidentally pulled out will it cause serious inconvenience?


Professional microphone leads use an XLR connector which is both robust and latches. The last thing you want to happen during a live performance or recording is to have the performer accidentally pull the lead out.

Caption - 3. What's the required lifespan for the lead and device socket?

What's the required lifespan for the lead and socket?


A professional mic lead will be expected to provide many years of trouble free service whilst a mobile phone headphone socket may only need to last a couple of years.

Caption - 4. Does the connection require a balanced signal?

Does the connection require a balanced signal?


If it does, a cable with 3 cores and a connector with 3 terminals, such as an XLR or TRS jack plug, is required.

Caption - 5. What cost will the buyer tolerate?

What cost will the buyer tolerate?


Whilst we might expect to find the most options and highest quality connectors on an expensive piece of professional equipment, such as this CD recorder, you wouldn't expect to find the same features on a budget keyboard. For many applications it is not necessary to use an expensive connector, a cheap one will do. 

Caption - 6. How is the technology perceived?

How is the technology perceived?


Professionals often demand an expensive connector whether it’s required or not. This effects processor has XLR and TRS jack outputs which produce identical signals, but without the XLRs it would not be considered a professional device.

 

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