SQ5 + Lots of Synths ⇒ Do I need DI?

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of avetisk avetisk 6 days, 1 hour ago.

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  • #101774
    Profile photo of avetisk
    avetisk
    Participant

    Hi,

    I’m currently considering buying a SQ5 (or 6 or maybe even 7) which will be the master piece in my DAWless setup.

    Now there’s an important question: do I need a DI box (Radial ProD8 for example), or can I connect my synths with XLR-TRS cables directly into the SQ5?

    I’ve checked the difference between TS/TRS cables on all my synths, and there didn’t seem to be any problem (while most of them have only TS output).

    There seems to be different opinions from what I found on the various forums, especially those opinions would diverge depending on the model of the synth (new vs old/vintage), so here’s the list of my current synths/drum-machines:

    Korg Minilogue, Korg Minilogue XD, Novation Summit, Roland MC-707, Roland TR8S, Elektron Analog Rytm mk2, and a ZOIA pedal/synth.

    With the exception of the Korg Minilogue, they are all stereo, so this makes x13 TRS-XLR from 13 TS (or so; the Summit has an hybrid TS which can act like a TRS, so says the manual).

    What would you recommend?

    Any advice is welcome, thank you 🙏

    #101781
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    wow… synth manufacturer… well, this could lead to a discussion symmetrical vs. unsymmetrical connection

    for short cables (up to 10m) it is no problem to use unsymmetrical connections without DI boxes,
    but if your cables pick up electro magnetic noise then you will need DI boxes with very short cables on the unsymmetrical side

    and you should avoid phantom power on the preamps since not all synths ar so well designed to handle phantom power correctly and could get damaged if TRS > XLR cables used
    a DI box would prevent the damage of the synth

    #101783
    Profile photo of avetisk
    avetisk
    Participant

    Thank you Steffen for your feedback 🙏

    My setup is made with only < 3m cables; but the problem is their number and their proximity, that’s why I’m wondering if I need DI boxes or not.

    Would shielded cables be enough to prevent any electro-magnetic noise?

    #101784
    Profile photo of Mike C
    Mike C
    Participant

    My setup is made with only < 3m cables; but the problem is their number and their proximity, that’s why I’m wondering if I need DI boxes or not.

    Would shielded cables be enough to prevent any electro-magnetic noise?

    Maybe…it depends on the strength of the interference and how good the shielding is.

    Balanced line connections cancel out induced pick up noise at the mixer input.
    Try it and see how the unbalanced connections work.
    If they are noisy DI boxes most likely will be needed and use short unbalanced
    patch cables between the keyboards and the DI box.

    #101789
    Profile photo of avetisk
    avetisk
    Participant

    Thank you Mike C 🙏

    What would you recommend as brand/model for the DI boxes and the cables?

    Currently I’ve made the following “shopping list”:

    – x6 Radial Engineering Pro D2 (stereo)
    – x1 Radial Engineering Pro DI (mono)
    – x7 Sommer Cable SC Onyx Twin Jack II 1.00 (from the synth to the DI)
    – x7 Sommer Cable Epilogue Micro Cable 3,0 (from the DI to the SQ5)
    – x2 Vovox link direct S350 XLR/XLR (from The SQ5 to the monitors)

    (Strangely it’s cheaper to buy x4 single stereo DI boxes than a rack model with x8 outputs, at least with Radial)

    Would you suggest anything different?

    At first I had chosen only Vovox cables but then I read that while their quality was really amazing, the difference between other good brands is more a myth than reality. So I decided to go for a bit less expensive. I don’t mind spending money on this, but I don’t want to spend it for no reason.

    #101790
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    If you can find some Palmer ones like the PAN16 this could help… 😉

    #101791
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    oh and even the cheap Cordial CES01 is doing well on most sources (like keyboards or sampler)
    or some LDI 01, they are a copy of the BSS AR133 (btw AR133 is one of the best DI boxes out there, robust neutral sounding)

    https://www.adamhall.com/shop/de-de/pa-beschallungsequipment/audio-tools/di-boxen/
    https://www.cordial-cables.com/en/products/ces-01

    The use of DI boxes is critical on very old synthies or acoustic instruments with high impedance outputs
    in this case keep the cables very short and use very high quality cables

    Cordial is producing very good cables at a fraction of the Vovox prices…

    #101792
    Profile photo of avetisk
    avetisk
    Participant

    Thank you again Steffen for your advices 🙏

    I looked at the DI boxes you recommended and they are active ones.

    As far as I understand it, active ones are not the best choice when it comes to synths, right?

    I’ll try to look for similar models but passive ones (if my understanding about active/passive DI is correct).

    As for the cables, all my synths are quite recent ones, the oldest one being the Korg Minilogue which is from 2016, everything else is from 2018/2019 and even 2020.

    And finally about the cables, I don’t what to think about it sincerely, because I read so many different opinions about them, and the most disturbing part is that both sides have trolls & experts at the same time, so I am kind of lost: should I buy expensive high quality ones or no?

    I don’t make music as a living, but I live for music you could say, so sound quality may be even more important to me than a professional, as I am my sole reference in terms of quality judgement.

    So I really want very good quality sound, maybe not the best, but pretty good one.

    Yet I don’t want to pay $200 per cable just to get 1% of improvement in sound quality.

    Maybe I should just buy a pair of Vovox or Sommer and another of Cordial and make a test, in the end trial & error may be the best approach to this.

    What do you think?

    #101793
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    the CES01 is passiv…
    and the Adam Hall/Palmer models are passive and active ones…
    the AR133 is active so as the LDI01

    I use all three models in live sound along with some PLI04, LI02 or LI04USB

    https://www.adamhall.com/shop/de-de/pa-beschallungsequipment/audio-tools/line-isolatoren/

    but normally active DI’s are the more versatile ones… and the passive ones are more robust in stage use…
    in the studio it really doesn’t matter, since there are very good active or passive DI’s available

    I would suggest to buy a pair of the passive CES01 for the beginning, just to try them…

    have a look on this
    https://www.cordial-cables.com/en/world-of-cordial/wiki

    #101794
    Profile photo of Mfk0815
    Mfk0815
    Participant

    I had several problems with active DI boxes and keyboards/synthesizers in the past. Especially Clavia Nord can produce high output gain which can cause distortion in active DI boxes. (I mainly used the AR133. So I am used to use passive DI boxes for keys. Only for those, which needs a impedance correction, I use active DI boxes.

    #101796
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    but he mentioned no Clavia Keys… the one with the highest level could be the Electron, but I’m not sure on that, just a guess

    #101797
    Profile photo of Mfk0815
    Mfk0815
    Participant

    the Clavia Nord I mentioned as an example that keyboards can produce high level output and that you run into problems if you use active DI boxes. Nothing more and nothing less.

    #101798
    Profile photo of Mike C
    Mike C
    Participant

    I tend to use passive DI’s when patching keyboards into the system…at least in the live sound world.
    The Radial Pro series DI’s are fine, I have both the Pro series and J series from Radial
    as well as BSS AR133’s and various Whirwind DI’s.

    As for cables, I make my own using mostly Canare and Mogami cable with Neutrik connectors.

    $200 for a 20 foot mic or instrument cable is all just smoke and mirrors.

    #101802
    Profile photo of avetisk
    avetisk
    Participant

    Thank you all again for your help 🙏

    @mike C: What is the main difference from your experience between the J and the Pro series?

    All I could find is that J series have a greater freq. response: 20Hz~20kHz VS 10Hz~40kHz.

    And yes, I agree that those pricey cables seem like “expensive baits for rich kids”…

    The Canare cables look nice, but unfortunately can’t find them in my EU providers catalogs :/

    What else would you recommend considering my usage?

    Thank you for your time 🙏

    #101806
    Profile photo of Mike C
    Mike C
    Participant

    What is the main difference from your experience between the J and the Pro series?

    All I could find is that J series have a greater freq. response: 20Hz~20kHz VS 10Hz~40kHz.

    And yes, I agree that those pricey cables seem like “expensive baits for rich kids”…

    The Canare cables look nice, but unfortunately can’t find them in my EU providers catalogs

    The J series will handle a little more input level, have a little better phase response, and better extended frequency response.
    Will you notice a difference????

    I’m going to say the build quality is the same.

    I may fire up SMAART and do a test on a couple direct boxes, actually my Radial DI’s are packed in the cargo van for my next sound job, there are actually sound jobs this year!!

    I would say you should be able to find bulk Canare mic cable if you wanted to make up
    your own, I use L-2T2S

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