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Whether one is producing music, podcasts, game sounds, or film sound effects, Digital Audio Principles provides the tips and techniques that will make the project a success. Author Dave Schroeder explains the basics of digital audio production techniques and covers the essential hardware and software. He also discusses sound theory, frequency response, the range of human hearing, and dynamic range.
So, in this movie we'll take a look at a lot of the common cable connections that you'll come into contact with when you're dealing with digital audio, and we'll look at a few of the different ends and plugs that you'll see. So, let's check them up. Okay, so let's take a look at some cables here. Let's start with a few balanced cables, and let's look at the XLR or microphone cable. A balance cable as we mentioned has three conductors, three pins, so this is the male end, and this is the female end of the XLR cable or the microphone cable. Pretty common, if you use microphones, this is what you are going to use most often.
Typically, this end goes into the microphone, and this will go into your mixture board or your digital audio interface. You'll see this again when we talk about the AES.BU Digital Standard, which actually is the same device. It uses the same cables, but it's just a digital cable, this is an analog cable for a microphone. Again, this is another balanced cable, and remember we talked about the three conductors, the Tip, the Ring and the Sleeve.
So, here we have that ring, so it's a three conductor cable. This one actually ends in an XLR format, so this can go into a microphone, and this can go into a balanced input on a digital audio interface. I should mention that this size, when you see this, that's referred to as a quarter inch jack, that's actually refers to the width of this barrel of the jack. This is a mini-jack, these are also balanced, or stereo--it's another way that people refer to it--but it is three conductors, Tip, Ring and Sleeve.
You can use that to connect your iPod to things or a small microphone to AV equipment, and things like that. Let's see, now here is an unbalanced quarter inch jack, just a Tip and a Sleeve. This is what you'll use to hookup devices like synthesizers, drum machines, unbalanced line level equipment, also guitar cables look similar to this, but you should know that they kind of have different ratings. So, buy guitar cable for your guitar and buy line level cables for your line level instruments.
Moving on, we have the RCA, or phono plug, this cable actually is a mess. This cable is actually a stereo mini that comes out to two RCA cables, but what we thing about right now are these RCA cables. This is a stereo pair, so if you have the output of a CD or your home stereo, VCR, you've seen these before. They're also used in the digital world for the S/PDIF Digital Convention, which allows one of these to carry actually a digital stereo signal.
So, on your digital audio interface you might just have two RCA inputs, but one is actually an input and one is an output for digital in and out. This cable is actually, it looks like a balanced cable to two unbalanced, and it splits, but it's known as an insert cable. What's important about this is when you use the inserts on your audio interface, or on a mixing board, is that you'll use this piece to come out of the mixing board or out of this end, and use this to go into the input, which one is the tip and one is the ring.
One goes into the input of like an external effects like if you have an external reverb effects box. This goes in and then that reverb box will have an input and then an output on the other side. This goes into the output of that effects box, but through one cable it goes out and back into the mixer or out and back into your digital audio interface. Now, let's look at a few more digital cables. This is called the ADAT lightpipe cable, it's actually a optical cable, when this is hooked in you can actually see red light coming out at the ends when it's hooked into a device, and we'll show you the jacks on audio interfaces and preamps.
Mostly, on audio interfaces that this goes into. This is nice, because it can carry eight channels of digital audio at once just in one lightpipe. That was developed by ADAT for their eight track digital recorders, the ADAT by Alesis. This is a fairly common computer cable right now, the FireWire cable, both ends are the same. You can use this to connect your audio interface to your computer, it's a two way cable, in and out. Also, fairly common these days the USB cable, different ends, but this also can be used to connect the USB device or your audio interface to your computer.
The other way you can connect things to your computers via a PCI card just something like this that a digital audio interface will come with at you, install this into your PC, into your computer, and then you'll hook another cable out to your audio interface. So, that's the PCI card method of connecting. Then there is MIDI, which we'll talk about in-depth in another section, but right now we'll just look at the cable. It's surrounded with a five pin, both ends are the same, and on the interface section I'll show you what the jacks that inputs of MIDI look like.
This is used to send only MIDI information, you don't really send sound over these cables, you send data. Also, let's move on and talk about a few different speaker cables. This plug is called the banana plug, and on some of the higher-end studio monitors speakers you'll get. You'll see two round posts on the back, usually a red and a black that you can screw bare wire to, like this, or you can push this into those two posts, there will be holes, and this banana plug will go into those two ports.
It's a quick and easy way to attach speakers and connect speakers. Of course, there's just a pair of speaker wire which--and this is for a smaller grade speaker--but if you're connecting studio monitors using this, you'd trim off the ends and just with your hands twist those ends so they are spun a little bit, feed them through and tighten down the screws like you do on your home stereo speakers. Finally, there's heavy-duty quarter inch speaker cable, this is just a lot thicker.
This is actually for use with a bass guitar amplifier, but you can find speaker cable that's thicker, they're using quarter inch balanced and unbalanced ends to connect your studio monitors to your audio interface. That all depends on if you're connecting amplified outputs to your monitors or if your monitors themselves are amplified, or active. But we'll talk more about that in the monitoring section. So, that's basically it for most of the cables. There's a lot more out there, there are a lots of little adapters and plugs that you can put on different cables.
All kinds of different configurations are possible, and you'll basically come across those as you need them. So, that's more or less it for cables.
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