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XLR inline transformers for recording drums

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August 18, 2004 2:28:52 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro,rec.audio.tech (More info?)

I have an 8-track digital Fostex with two XLR inputs and plenty of
quarter-inch inputs. I use four mics to record drums and all of them
use XLR cables. In the past I have run the overheads into my board's
XLR ins and used $15 Radio Shack adaptor/transformers to get the snare
and kick mics into quarter-inch inputs on my board. It has come to my
attention lately that such adaptors are frowned upon for recording.
If that's the case, I'd like to know what the best solution is for
$100 or less. Although I'd like to know, too, if it's really a
problem using these cheap transformers when I'm recording something as
loud as kick and snare drums. Thanks.
Anonymous
August 18, 2004 6:35:19 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro,rec.audio.tech (More info?)

> I have an 8-track digital Fostex with two XLR inputs and plenty of
> quarter-inch inputs. I use four mics to record drums and all of them
> use XLR cables. In the past I have run the overheads into my board's
> XLR ins and used $15 Radio Shack adaptor/transformers to get the snare
> and kick mics into quarter-inch inputs on my board. It has come to my
> attention lately that such adaptors are frowned upon for recording.
> If that's the case, I'd like to know what the best solution is for
> $100 or less. Although I'd like to know, too, if it's really a
> problem using these cheap transformers when I'm recording something as
> loud as kick and snare drums. Thanks.

The $99 Behringer MXB1002 can be configured for separate outputs (two
inserts, a pre-fader aux, and two main outputs) for each of its 5 mic
preamps which are also frowned upon, but would probably be beneficial over
the transformers, and are certainly the best value in that price range.
It's also a handy mixer and can run on 9V batteries with phantom power.

You should compare results between your way and any typical mixer to see if
it's worth spending anything on it. If you're getting what you want out of
the transformers, then it isn't a "problem".
Anonymous
August 18, 2004 10:58:10 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro,rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Nat wrote:

> I have an 8-track digital Fostex with two XLR inputs and plenty of
> quarter-inch inputs. I use four mics to record drums and all of them
> use XLR cables. In the past I have run the overheads into my board's
> XLR ins and used $15 Radio Shack adaptor/transformers to get the snare
> and kick mics into quarter-inch inputs on my board. It has come to my
> attention lately that such adaptors are frowned upon for recording.
> If that's the case, [ ... ]

Just so that you know, to help you make a decision about this: The main
reason that miniature transformers are frowned upon for this application
is that they have very strict limits as to how strong (voltage-wise) a
signal they can pass, particularly at the lowest audio frequencies, and
particularly if the transformers include a voltage step-up (sometimes
sold as "Low impedance to High impedance" transformers).

If you are using dynamic microphones then there may be no problem at all,
however, even near a very loud drum kit--particularly if the transformers
are 1:1 (low impedance to low impedance). It's mainly if you were using
condenser microphones and/or transformers containing a voltage step-up
that there would be a big risk of overload. And if so, any such overload
should be audibly apparent when the kick drum gets loud, if you isolate
that one input and monitor it. There would be a muffling effect at the
moment of impact, and possibly other forms of temporary distortion.

If you monitor the respective inputs clearly and they're giving you the
sound that you want, and if that remains true even at the highest volume
levels and the closest mike placements that would ever occur, then don't
let us or anyone else bully you into changing your mind. Well-made audio
transformers can be elegant solutions to certain problems--see for example
www.jensen-transformers.com/faqs.html--and they even have a certain retro
appeal these days, though OK, maybe not the ones from Radio Shack so much.
But even those could be adequate depending on the miking situation.

--best regards
Related resources
Anonymous
August 18, 2004 12:38:43 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro,rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Nat <ot7doc@yahoo.com> wrote:
>I have an 8-track digital Fostex with two XLR inputs and plenty of
>quarter-inch inputs. I use four mics to record drums and all of them
>use XLR cables. In the past I have run the overheads into my board's
>XLR ins and used $15 Radio Shack adaptor/transformers to get the snare
>and kick mics into quarter-inch inputs on my board. It has come to my
>attention lately that such adaptors are frowned upon for recording.
>If that's the case, I'd like to know what the best solution is for
>$100 or less. Although I'd like to know, too, if it's really a
>problem using these cheap transformers when I'm recording something as
>loud as kick and snare drums. Thanks.

Good transformers are not cheap, and cheap transformers are not good.

You _might_ try just a 1/4" to XLR cable. The microphones won't be seeing
the right load, but they probably won't be seeing the right load through
those Radio Shack things either.

But basically, if you like the way it sounds, don't worry whether people
frown upon it or not. And if you don't like the sound, you should worry.
But expect to either spend some money for real transformer boxes, or to
do some soldering with the Lundahl transformers and some connectors.
--scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
Anonymous
August 18, 2004 12:54:13 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

In article <e6236419.0408172020.6951c5cd@posting.google.com> ot7doc@yahoo.com writes:

> In the past I have run the overheads into my board's
> XLR ins and used $15 Radio Shack adaptor/transformers to get the snare
> and kick mics into quarter-inch inputs on my board. It has come to my
> attention lately that such adaptors are frowned upon for recording.

You're probably boosting the mic signal voltage enough with the
transformers so that the high level signal from the loud drums is
getting up to line level, which is probably what the 1/4" inputs are.
They're not very good transformers and they can add some distortion to
the mic signal. On the other hand, that might be desirable considering
what you're recording. Are you looking to make a change because you
don't like your snare and kick sound, or are you looking to make a
change because you were told that there's a problem with your setup?
It's only a problem if you're not getting good results because of it.

> If that's the case, I'd like to know what the best solution is for
> $100 or less.

I'm not sure if there's a decent $100 mic preamp out there, but that's
what you really need as a replacement for the transformers.

> Although I'd like to know, too, if it's really a
> problem using these cheap transformers when I'm recording something as
> loud as kick and snare drums.

I dunno. You're the one making the recording. Is it a problem? It's
probably not an accurate recording of the drums, but if it works with
your music, it's not a problem.

--
I'm really Mike Rivers (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
Anonymous
August 18, 2004 12:58:57 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro,rec.audio.tech (More info?)

David Satz wrote:

<snip>

>If you monitor the respective inputs clearly and they're giving you the
>sound that you want, and if that remains true even at the highest volume
>levels and the closest mike placements that would ever occur, then don't
>let us or anyone else bully you into changing your mind.

This was my thought, too!

> Well-made audio
>transformers can be elegant solutions to certain problems--see for example
>www.jensen-transformers.com/faqs.html--and they even have a certain retro
>appeal these days, though OK, maybe not the ones from Radio Shack so much.

I have a couple of the RS inline transformers and find that they work
surprisingly well. I might say that they are the best audio related RS
product I have ever purchased. I bought these some years ago, though,
and wouldn't at all be surprised to learn that those being sold today
use a different transformer and that they aren't an improvement!

<snip>

--
========================================================================
Michael Kesti | "And like, one and one don't make
| two, one and one make one."
mkesti@gv.net | - The Who, Bargain
Anonymous
August 18, 2004 9:31:17 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Nat wrote:

> I have an 8-track digital Fostex with two XLR inputs and plenty of
> quarter-inch inputs. I use four mics to record drums and all of them
> use XLR cables. In the past I have run the overheads into my board's
> XLR ins and used $15 Radio Shack adaptor/transformers to get the snare
> and kick mics into quarter-inch inputs on my board. It has come to my
> attention lately that such adaptors are frowned upon for recording.
> If that's the case, [ ... ]

If this is what I think it is, you have one of the Fostex portable all in one
DAW's yes?
If so then you don't need a mic pre, the Fostex has enough gain built in. Just
make some cables, XLR on one end and 1/4" TRS (if its a newer Fostex it will be
a servo balanced input) on the other end. Even if you have to buy a soldering
iron and a how to book on soldering you'll come in under your $100.00 limit.
Anonymous
August 18, 2004 9:31:18 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

What a great idea. I though the thread was going to be asking if you
can get transformers to jsut throw in the signal path for their sound.

I can't wait to see what these impedance transformers sound like. It
will be a pretty absurd signal path get it back in to a mic pre, but I
bet it could be pretty cool for snare or a compressed room.
August 19, 2004 1:06:52 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro,rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Thanks for the replies. I don't have the time or sophistication right
now to do soldering, but I will do some tests when my drummer stops
by. I have some XLR ins on my board, and while I'm sure they're not
the greatest in the world, I'm fine with their sound. So I have the
ability to compare what the kick and snare are doing with and without
the RS transformer.

I don't know what qualifies as a DAW. Is that any digital hard disk
recorder/mixer? If so, then that's what I have.

I'm glad to hear that problems are less likely with dynamic mics, b/c
that's what I'm using. And as far as I know, the transformer is 1:1.

I like the buying the mixer idea because it seems simple, or maybe
because the mixer has an attractive, non-technical interface. But I
hope I don't have to spend any more money. This bleeding never
ceases. I'm a weak man.


kludge@panix.com (Scott Dorsey) wrote in message news:<cfvikj$3q3$1@panix2.panix.com>...
> Nat <ot7doc@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >I have an 8-track digital Fostex with two XLR inputs and plenty of
> >quarter-inch inputs. I use four mics to record drums and all of them
> >use XLR cables. In the past I have run the overheads into my board's
> >XLR ins and used $15 Radio Shack adaptor/transformers to get the snare
> >and kick mics into quarter-inch inputs on my board. It has come to my
> >attention lately that such adaptors are frowned upon for recording.
> >If that's the case, I'd like to know what the best solution is for
> >$100 or less. Although I'd like to know, too, if it's really a
> >problem using these cheap transformers when I'm recording something as
> >loud as kick and snare drums. Thanks.
>
> Good transformers are not cheap, and cheap transformers are not good.
>
> You _might_ try just a 1/4" to XLR cable. The microphones won't be seeing
> the right load, but they probably won't be seeing the right load through
> those Radio Shack things either.
>
> But basically, if you like the way it sounds, don't worry whether people
> frown upon it or not. And if you don't like the sound, you should worry.
> But expect to either spend some money for real transformer boxes, or to
> do some soldering with the Lundahl transformers and some connectors.
> --scott
Anonymous
August 19, 2004 8:32:32 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro,rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Nat wrote:
> I have an 8-track digital Fostex with two XLR inputs and plenty of
> quarter-inch inputs. I use four mics to record drums and all of them
> use XLR cables. In the past I have run the overheads into my board's
> XLR ins and used $15 Radio Shack adaptor/transformers to get the snare
> and kick mics into quarter-inch inputs on my board. It has come to my
> attention lately that such adaptors are frowned upon for recording.
> If that's the case, I'd like to know what the best solution is for
> $100 or less. Although I'd like to know, too, if it's really a
> problem using these cheap transformers when I'm recording something as
> loud as kick and snare drums. Thanks.

If the job is really worth the effort, then maybe it's not worth piddling
around with work-arounds. You could try picking up a used mini-mixer with
the right number of mic inputs. Selling your existing mixer would make the
excersize less expensive.

geoff
August 20, 2004 11:32:28 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro,rec.audio.tech (More info?)

> If the job is really worth the effort, then maybe it's not worth piddling
> around with work-arounds. You could try picking up a used mini-mixer with
> the right number of mic inputs. Selling your existing mixer would make the
> excersize less expensive.

I do want to test out my inline transformers first. If they aren't
clean, then maybe I'll try the Behringer MXB1002. Thanks for the
suggestions.
!