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Christian Jones

I made two diy TRS to XLR cables today, and one is quiter than the other.. Is this why?

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Posted (edited)

So today I converted two trs cables to trs one end and female xlr on the other end, and one is slightly quiter than the other on my mixer meters. I took the quiter one and looked at the solder connections and saw that the ground wire was touching either the blue or red wire.. Is that maybe why is that one cable is quieter than the other? Is it maybe getting shorted out a bit? And I guess what I'm asking in general is, when making these kinds of cables are the hot, cold and ground cables supposed to be isolated from one another and not touch each other?

I'll admit this is my first ever diy cable project and yeah I did a fairly crummy job because I had a short amount of time to get it done but I'll have more time later to do a proper job. 

Edited by Christian Jones

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21 minutes ago, Christian Jones said:

So today I converted two trs cables to trs one end and female xlr on the other end, and one is slightly quiter than the other on my mixer meters. I took the quiter one and looked at the solder connections and saw that the ground wire was touching either the blue or red wire.. Is that maybe why is that one cable is quieter than the other? Is it maybe getting shorted out a bit? And I guess what I'm asking in general is, when making these kinds of cables are the hot, cold and ground cables supposed to be isolated from one another and not touch each other?

I'll admit this is my first ever diy cable project and yeah I did a fairly crummy job because I had a short amount of time to get it done but I'll have more time later to do a proper job. 

I made 12 TRS male to XLR female cables today (well, I've not got around to doing the XLR part yet, as they're all on a rack panel), but yes the hot, cold & ground must absolutely NOT touch each other. 

You also need to take care to ensure the right pins are connected.

After doing one end, I always check with a multimeter that all connections are working and are isolated... then I do the same again once the other plug is soldered on.

You also need to ensure that the cable is actually touching the terminals when soldering - don't rely on the solder being the conductor, else you'll get dry joints at a later date.

 

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Maybe the second cable saw what you were doing to the first one and was too scared to make much noise? 😁

Actually, I'm always impressed by people willing to make their own custom stuff.  My attempts usually result in wasted time, effort, gear and the regrettable trip to Guitar Center to get replacement parts... 🙄

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Posted (edited)

Short answer is yes, as McCleod has pointed out, they must be isolated connections. I don't usually use a multimeter but a magnifying glass, I only can be bothered getting the multimeter out if there is a problem I cannot trace. Sometimes fine metal fibers that make up the twine of the individual lead you are soldering can short on other contacts. Can be missed with the human eye but checking with a magnifying glass can find them.

If you mix up the hot and cold pins, get them the wrong way round, then what happens next will be dependent on whatever you connect them to. Typically it results in a quieter signal, so that could be your problem. It can also damage components, so watch out! I went through this making up cables connecting microphones to XLR inputs on video cameras and field mixer equipment.

Edited by Tezza

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Posted (edited)

Right on guys thanks. I'm gonna redo both cables then later. I need better gear too, I was getting down real crude today w/ a solder tip that used to be like a needle when new/clean and now it looks like a q-tip lol w/ all that crud on it that won't easily come off. My solder joints were kinda messy w/ black specs in it here and there from the crudy solder tip lol. I only admit that embarrassing fact cuz I think you guys are cool and won't judge me too harshly lol. I'll get it redone proper. 

1 hour ago, craigb said:

Actually, I'm always impressed by people willing to make their own custom stuff.  My attempts usually result in wasted time, effort, gear and the regrettable trip to Guitar Center to get replacement parts..

Yeah what happened was I bought two right angle trs to straight trs cables from SW as I thought that was what I needed, but when the cables arrived and I went to connect them I saw that the would-be receiving end on my audio interface required a female xlr, I could have sworn it was TRS so I didn't check prior. But no one sells a *premade* trs to female xlr outside of expensive custom, so I got some neutrik connectors and snipped these trs cables to make my own. I may start making more cables though. 

 

1 hour ago, Tezza said:

If you mix up the hot and cold pins, get them the wrong way round, then what happens next will be dependent on whatever you connect them to. Typically it results in a quieter signal, so that could be your problem

I followed this diagram https://www.shure.com/en-GB/support/find-an-answer/how-do-i-wire-an-xlr-to-1-4-adapter-cable - since I was converting one end of a premade cable I just assumed it wouldn't work at all if I had wired them up wrong. You saying even if I wired them up wrong they might still work just not properly? 

Edited by Christian Jones

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1 hour ago, Christian Jones said:

You saying even if I wired them up wrong they might still work just not properly? 

Yes, you have to check the pin assignments on whatever you are wiring the XLR's to, make sure they are compatible. For example, I made some cables for my Rokits from the UR44. The UR44 info says what the pin assignments are for the trs output and the Rokits say what the pin assignments are for there input. They have to line up. Very often there is a diagram of the pin assignments on the unit itself, if not, consult the manual.

They "should" line up correctly and it is usually tip=hot, ring=cold, sleeve= ground/sleeve. It's worth just checking, especially with XLR where it is not so clear cut. With XLR you also have male and female which can confuse so you have to make sure that you know the pin numbers and that they line up between male and female.

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1 hour ago, Christian Jones said:

I may start making more cables though. 

If you are going to invest any time/effort in the future, you will want to invest in a decent iron. I got this one about a decade ago (check prices though, I just grabbed that to show the model; is roughly $20) and it solders well in the 3 o'clock position for smaller gauge wires.

General comments - It is good practice to check continuity on components before soldering (a meter is good to have, and map out/label complex wirings), pre-tin connections so they solder easily, and refine technique to get good joints without excess solder (sometimes pre-tinning is all the solder you need). Be conscious of stress reliefs where applicable, especially on anything that can get tugged or see heat (wires rarely fail from normal use, but joints will). If in doubt on something pre-made, a meter will also pay for itself over time so you can streamline working and verify component integrity. I visually check things as well, but when starting out it never hurts to be paranoid and use a meter to verify your work.

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I normally print out a diagram to remind me, as my memory is awful nowadays:

image.png.407a6526611b8c199a040db827511afb.png

image.png.54fed30733001d766b4e711091eb30bd.png

image.png.542079cfc384710dcb0325f4f0c6ca6c.png

 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, msmcleod said:

I normally print out a diagram to remind me, as my memory is awful nowadays:

image.png.407a6526611b8c199a040db827511afb.png

image.png.54fed30733001d766b4e711091eb30bd.png

image.png.542079cfc384710dcb0325f4f0c6ca6c.png

 

Uh.. dang. I may have soldered them wrong. I was following a couple diagrams that showed the tip of a trs jack to be on the left and ring on the right when looking straight at it. Like in the photo below, that's one of the trs jacks I snipped, and I was under the impression that the left side where the red wire is connected is the tip, making the rest self-explanatory. But your diagram shows an opposite configuration w/ the ring on the left. 

In this photo here of a prewired trs jack w/ the red wire on the left - is that the tip or the ring it's connected to? 

20191006_103344.jpg

Edited by Christian Jones

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1 hour ago, Christian Jones said:

Uh.. dang. I may have soldered them wrong. I was following a couple diagrams that showed the tip of a trs jack to be on the left and ring on the right when looking straight at it. Like in the photo below, that's one of the trs jacks I snipped, and I was under the impression that the left side where the red wire is connected is the tip, making the rest self-explanatory. But your diagram shows an opposite configuration w/ the ring on the left. 

In this photo here of a prewired trs jack w/ the red wire on the left - is that the tip or the ring it's connected to? 

20191006_103344.jpg

It looks like the red is connected to the tip, which is correct... but its hard to tell.

But it also looks like the end of the blue is touching the red?

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3 minutes ago, msmcleod said:

 

It looks like the red is connected to the tip, which is correct... but its hard to tell.

But it also looks like the end of the blue is touching the red?

Nothing's touching, that's just a photo anomaly and besides that's a premade jack that I snipped. What I have are two trs to trs cables and I'm converting just one end of each to female xlr. That trs jack in the photo where the red wire is connected, that left side terminal on the jack bends to the upper right where it is then hooked onto a pin at the upper base of the jack and that's why I thought it was the tip, whereas the right terminal where the blue wire is connected just runs up the side of the jack which made me think it's the ring. Does that sound about right? 

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1 hour ago, Christian Jones said:

Nothing's touching, that's just a photo anomaly and besides that's a premade jack that I snipped. What I have are two trs to trs cables and I'm converting just one end of each to female xlr. That trs jack in the photo where the red wire is connected, that left side terminal on the jack bends to the upper right where it is then hooked onto a pin at the upper base of the jack and that's why I thought it was the tip, whereas the right terminal where the blue wire is connected just runs up the side of the jack which made me think it's the ring. Does that sound about right? 

The left / right combination is certainly the same as most TRS jacks I've worked with.

Best to check with a meter if you're not sure.

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First thing I'd do is re-heat each soldered connection, just enough to melt the solder, making sure that the connectors are secured somehow (e.g. a vise or taped to the workbench) so they don't move while cooling. Also make sure the wires are physically touching metal and not relying on the solder alone to pass current.

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Once again, so much good stuff here that really belongs in a Techniques subforum!

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On 10/5/2019 at 7:29 PM, craigb said:

Actually, I'm always impressed by people willing to make their own custom stuff.  My attempts usually result in wasted time, effort, gear and the regrettable trip to Guitar Center to get replacement parts... 🙄

"the trip of shame."

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Beagle said:

"the trip of shame."

Before Guitar Center it was a trip to RadioShack. 

I won't knock RadioShack though; they came through w/ the odd connector no one else had back in the day back when churches used to build their PA systems out of RadioShack gear. I remember the pos Realistic mixer my church had built into a really nice wooden panel. 

Edited by Christian Jones

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