View Full Version : Which output to use on a preamp?

05-22-2009, 10:55 PM
I am new to the world of amps and preamps. Today I bought a Para Acoustic D.I. preamp. I plan to use it with my acoustic Pono ukulele that has a passive pickup inside of it. I plan to connect the ukulele to the preamp and the preamp to an amplifier (a Roland Micro Cube).
1) There are two outputs on the preamp. The “Balanced XLR Output” on the preamp is described in the “User’s Guide” as being a “balanced low impedance output.” The “1/4” output” on the preamp is described in the “User’s Guide” as a “regular unbalanced output.” As a newbie to all of this stuff, could you please describe the difference between these two outputs and the differences between balanced vs. unbalanced, low impedance, etc.
2) Which of these two outputs on this preamp should I connect to my amplifier? What are the reasons for the choice?
Thanks for your time.

05-22-2009, 11:30 PM
It depends on what you're outputting the signal to.

Basically, the nature of the output sockets gives a very good clue. If you're taking the signal to the jack input of an amplifier, or to FX boxes with jack sockets then the unbalanced jack is fine. You can also use that to some PA inputs to.

The XLR takes a microphone type plug and you'd use that to take the signal into a balanced XLR on a PA, or some acoustic amps.

Some electro acoustic guitars have both jack and XLR sockets giving the option of plugging into a standard amp input, or straight into a PA mic socket.

The balancing stuff is to do with impedance matching. Balanced XLR connections tend to perform better as far as noise rejection is concerned, and with long cables, but for most purposes the jack output is fine when just going into an amp.

If and when you ever get involved in recording good quality audio, things like balanced connections are worth exploring in a bit more depth.

05-22-2009, 11:41 PM
Thanks for your response. So, as I understand it from your answer, I could connect the unbalanced output (1/4" connector) from the preamp to the amp (1/4" connector). However, I happen to have a connector which would allow me to connect the XLR output of the preamp (the XLR socket on the preamp) to the 1/4" female socket on the amp. Is this okay to do? Is it comparable to using a connector which is 1/4" on both sides to connect the amp and preamp?
Thanks again.

05-23-2009, 12:03 AM
Well you could do that, Richard, but as the input isn't a balanced one you wouldn't get the real benefit. Also, the fewer connectors and adaptors in the chain the fewer the links there are to fail!

In practical terms the jack-to-jack option is perfectly fine, and is the way I would do it. Just use a standard, good quality guitar lead and go from the 1/4" output to the 1/4" input.

Nice to know you have the other options there if you should ever encounter a more complex situation, but the simple solution is often the best one. :)

05-23-2009, 01:11 AM
Is there something on the web anywhere folks that explains things very very simply as I find all this mind blowing:)

Seriously, I can't understand any of it - amps, pre amps, plugs here, plugs there - a sort of simple explanation in laymans speak?:)

Also, what's all this about add ons I read about where it adds effects? Like turning a normal sound into somethinf else? And how do they connect in?

My brain hurts.:eek: