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Shielded Cables – Braided vs. Spiral Shielding

Shielded Cables – Braided vs. Spiral Shielding

Shielded Cable – Braided vs. Spiral Shielding

Cables today have an infinite number of designs and purposes. Outside of musical equipment, cables of the same build help run video, computers, and telephone and video networks. Cables using more than a single conductor tend to use twisted pair construction. One major area where construction still differs from cable to cable is in its protection; its shielding. Today, we’ll be discussing the differences between braided and spiral shielding. It’s important to note that each type has its own unique advantages and disadvantages so we’ll let you be the judge on deciding which one is the best fit for you.

Twisted Pair Cabling

First, let’s talk about what’s inside of a typical cable. Twisted Pair cabling is the industry norm used for multi-conductor cables on the market. By standard definition, “twisted pair cabling is a type of cabling in which two conductors of a single circuit are twisted together for the purposes of improving electromagnetic capability.” But what does it mean?

In short, a twisted pair can be used as a balanced line – which greatly reduces the amount of noise transmitted through the cable. What the “twisting” provides – in theory – is that the currents in each of the cables are near equal. The twisting simply ensures that each is equal distance from the interrupting source – which would in turn, affect them equally. On the other hand, twisted pair cable’s resistance to interference depends on the twisting scheme to remain in place, and so its efficiency can vary.

Now let’s look at shielding, the first line of defense against external interference in a traveling signal.

Spiral Shielding

This is a spiralling shield of strands of copper running parallel that is made fairly inexpensive. Since the ends of the cable do not need to be untangled, its build can be done pretty quickly.
Because the strands are in a spiral – it is easier to extend. The stretching, theoretically, makes the strands less likely to break when pulled. When the cable is bent or twisted, the spiral strands can gap apart – allowing exposed areas – resulting in frequency interference. For example, patch cables are generally bent and twisted the most – so spiral shielding may not be the best fit for such use, whereas for guitar cables, it’d make more sense.

Advantages of Spiral Shielding

  • typically cheaper to make
  • easy handle and installation

Disadvantages of Spiral Shielding

  • easier for frequency to slip through exposed areas
  • breakage is much more frequent

Braided Shielding

Braided shielding is the most “traditional” form of shielding. Braided cables are woven – thus making it much more difficult to assemble. Typically, braided shielding is stiffer and just as flexible.

Advantages of Braided Shielding

  • as strong as it is flexible
  • can be installed next to products without power loss
  • performs best at low frequency

Disadvantages of Braided Shielding

  • does not guarantee 100% coverage as its coverage is dependent on how tightly it is woven
  • typically, a bit bulkier

If You Wish To Learn More

Part of audio quality is in cancelling or limiting noise that the conductor picks up between sources. In the case of balanced cables, shielding is less important because they typically transmit line-level audio signals that don’t need to be boosted, and part of their design is to carry two identical signals in opposite polarity before reversing one in the end, which cancels the noise. Hosa carries both a variety of cables with braided and spiral shielding.

For more information on cable shielding and signal flow, check out our video on Do Cables Matter?

Hosa

Patch Bays: A Beginner’s Guide

Patch Bays: A Beginner’s Guide

As your recording setup grows from a laptop with a few plugins to include more outboard gear, the process of getting behind your desk and changing cables to adjust the signal chain becomes more and more time-consuming. This is when recording professionals and amateurs alike should invest in patch bays, which allow for quick and simple connections to be made on the fly from an arm’s reach. We’ll take you through a quick guide into what patch bays are, how they work, and the different kinds available.

What is a Patch Bay?

A patch bay is a hub that allows you to control your inputs and outputs from any device connected to it. In most cases, the patch bay comes in rack format, so it can be set in the same rack as the rest of the outboard gear in use. Once in place, all the connections from other pieces of hardware are made in the back, with the front reserved for the user to create or add to the chain using patch cables.

Types of Patch Bays

When looking into a patch bay setup, you’ll come across different types based on their “normalling” capabilities. Normalling refers to how the patch bay in question deals with signal flow in and out of the patch bay. Some allow you to control the types of normalling, while others are strictly made with one type of normalling, so it’s important to know what they mean before purchasing.

Full-Normal Patch Bays

For a full-normal patch bay, the traditional setup includes running your device outputs to the top row on the back of the patch bay, allowing you to then route through the corresponding inputs below it. If a patch cable is connected in the front, whether to the input or output, that original link in the back is broken and it is instead routed directly through the patch cable.

Half-Normal Patch Bays

Much like a full-normal patch bay, a half-normal patch bay routes the output on the back through the corresponding input below it. Unlike the full-normal patch bay, that link is not always broken with the use of a patch cable. When you insert a patch cable into the bottom row, the input jack, the link will be broken and the input device will receive only the signal connected by the patch cable. However, when a patch cable is connected to the top row (output jack), the original link is not broken. The signal continues to the normalled input with a duplicate of the signal running through the patch cable. This comes in handy in a dry/wet recording, which is where one signal is fully affected with other pieces in the signal chain while the other is not.

Non-Normal (or De-Normal) Patch Bays

A non-normal patch bay is when none of the points are routed until a patch cable physically routes them. This is a more time-consuming setup and requires many more patch cables, but allows you the greatest flexibility to route complex signal chains.

Some patch bays, like the Hosa MHB-350 Patch Bay Module allow for you to choose the normalling you need, like half-normal or de-normal.

Throughput Patch Bays

Sometimes a patch bay isn’t necessarily to create complex chains, but simply to hide cable clutter behind the desk or rack and turn the corresponding jacks on the front into direct “throughputs”. Throughput, or “point-to-point” patch bays like the Hosa PDR-369 and MXL-369 XLR Patch Bays, allow all the connections to be made behind the patch bay so a single cable can be used when any of the inputs or outputs are needed.

Make a Plan for your Patch Bay

When setting up your patch bay, the best starting point is to see how many inputs and outputs you will need, then what kind of normalling will be required, and finally drawing out the wire diagram to know how your connections will be made. Some patch bay manufacturers even offer blank templates to help you visualize and plan your signal routing.

It’s also important to know whether you plan on running any mic setups that require phantom power so you can get the right patch bay to accommodate those requirements.

Patch Cables

Once you have your plan, you will know approximately how many patch cables and what length you’ll require. Several different patch cable types are used with patch bays, but the most common are TT Type TRS cables and ¼” TRS cables. It’s important to check if your needs and patch bay are TRS (balanced, stereo) or TS (unbalanced, mono). If you have a TRS patch bay, you’ll need TRS patch cables otherwise you won’t be able to pass a true balanced signal.

Organize, Organize, Organize

The purpose of a patch bay setup is to keep your signals clean, but also your physical environment by cutting down cable clutter. Don’t overlook how helpful simple organizational tools can immediately solve headaches. Some of the obvious ones are using scribble-strip tape to label the equipment or output assigned to each jack on the front. You can also label the cables themselves. Cable ties and split looms will keep cable clutter under control behind the desk, as well. For cables not in use yet, rather than stuffing them somewhere or having them sprawled around, you can invest in a cable holder to keep your space tidy and your cables quickly accessible.

To purchase Hosa patch bays and other organization tools, visit our Shop page. Happy patching!

Hosa

Cable Assembly – Your How-To Guide

Cable Assembly – Your How-To Guide

Some people will say a cable is just a cable, that varying prices and shiny features don’t really matter or make a difference. Today we’ll be filling you in on how to assemble your very own guitar cable and will hopefully explain why the makeup of a cable is of more importance than anything else. Like a chef, no matter your experience, it is the ingredients that determine the quality of the meal. And for cables, it is the types of materials used to build them that determine the quality.

What is Cable Assembly?

Cable assembly, simply put, is putting together your very own cable – from scratch. We’re going to let you know all of the materials you’ll need and how they work together to ensure signal flows from one end to the other.

What You’ll Need

– wire stripper
– wire cutter
– a thin spudger
– soldering iron
– crocodile holding clips (or something to hold the cables still)
– scissors
– tape
– pliers
– rag/washcloth

Cable Assembly Step-by-Step Process

Step 1: Mark off 5-10 inches from either end of the cable
Step 2: Using the pliers, cut off any exposed copper at the end to create a new tip
Step 3: Using the wire cutters, gently round the cable to expose the copper — careful not to cut too deep and gently pull the sheeting away
Step 4: Carefully separate the strands and gather them to one side of the cable. When done, twist them into a bundle
Step 5: Place a ¼” cable nearby to reference length. Using the wire cutters, cut the outer and inner conductors down to about an inch. Use the ¼” for reference, and if done correctly the inner and outer conductors should align with the outer and inner parts of the plug
Step 6: Using the crocodile holding clips, stabilize your cable & solder
Step 7: Using the soldering iron, apply it to the conductors. If done correctly, the conductors should be shiny and spread evenly
Step 8: Cover the tip of the plug with tape to protect any plating
Step 9: You then apply solder to create the joint between the tinned wire and the contact point. Repeat for inner conductor

When to Buy a Cable vs. Assembling Your Own Cable

For more in depth information on the makeup of cables, head over to our video titled “Do Cables Matter?”

Hosa

Digital Audio Interfaces

Digital Audio Interfaces and Formats – What gives?

In the 1980’s, as digital audio was in its infancy, manufacturers developing hardware had no choice but to create their own digital formats. Unfortunately, this meant the devices were incompatible, so none could be connected to each other. This is why there were so many formats such as AES/EBU, S/PDIF, ADAT, TDIF, MADI, AES3-id, and several others.

What is a Digital Interface?

Since different digital formats were incompatible when directly plugged into each other, the market was soon demanding a way to help these devices communicate. Digital interfaces provided a solution that could be connected between the devices and internally convert, or translate them into the same format. Now you could utilize devices from different manufacturers together without being plagued by previous incongruencies.

What is AES/EBU?

In 1985, to try and solve the issue of digital formats, the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and European Broadcast Union (EBU) created 2 open-source digital interfaces for stereo and multi-channel audio. These are commonly referred to as simply “AES” or “AES3” and “MADI” (Multi-channel Audio Digital Interface). The AES/EBU format made the transition to digital audio feel less foreign to users since it utilized a standard and familiar XLR connection, which was also cost-effective since no proprietary connector was needed.

What is S/PDIF?

Sony and Phillips entered the digital audio realm with a domestic format of their own, S/PDIF, which utilized both coaxial (phono) and Toslink (optical) connections. The auxiliary information and metadata for AES/EBU and S/PDIF differ slightly, but the audio formatting is the same, meaning both can be interconnected without much trouble.

What are “bits” and “kHz”?

Bits are the basic unit of data when transferring digital audio. Bit depth refers to the dynamic range while bit rate refers to the speed and playback quality. Kilohertz, or kHz, refers to bandwidth and is related to the speeds of bits per second. Greater bandwidth means faster data speed overall.

So let’s say you’re trying to connect a pair of Edifier R1280DB speakers, which use S/PDIF, into an Allen & Heath Qu-24 Digital Mixer, which uses AES/EBU. What would you need between them in order to make that connection work?

Compatible Audio Interface Products

S/PDIF Optical (Toslink) to AES/EBU

The Hosa ODL-312 is designed to take S/PDIF Optical to AES/EBU. This is a 2-channel interface that can do simultaneous conversion in both directions if required, and supports up to 24-bit/96 kHz S/PDIF audio.

S/PDIF Coax (RCA) to AES/EBU

The Hosa CDL-313 is designed to take S/PDIF Coax to AES/EBU. This is also a 2-channel interface that can do simultaneous conversion in both directions if required, and supports up to 24-bit/96 kHz S/PDIF audio.

*Be aware that these are digital format converters, not to be confused with analog-to-digital converters, which function very differently.

To learn more about the Hosa digital interfaces and where to purchase, follow the link here.

Hosa

Testing Cables – Why Use a Cable Tester?

Cable testers verify the electrical connections in a signal cable — confirming things are wired correctly between the ends of the cable. If there is a broken connection, the Hosa CBT-500 Cable Tester will let you know exactly where that connection is, which may have a simple solution such as resoldering a single contact point, saving you from throwing out a perfectly good, salvageable audio cable. Diagnosing these issues can help save a lot of headaches in the long run. Always test your cables before gigging, which can be done quick and easy with the Hosa CBT-500.

How to Test an Audio Cable

  1. Turn knob to position 1
  2. Plug one connector into corresponding jack on the left side of tester
  3. Plug other connector into corresponding jack on right side of tester
  4. Turn knob to each position to check wiring of each contact

Alternative Continuity Test

For any electronic connection to be tested, a complete loop must be present. The additional continuity testers allow you to test any pin and contact point in order to complete the circuit. These allow you to test the connectivity of any circuit, not just audio cables. To use the continuity testers:

  1. Apply the tip of each lead to the corresponding contacts
  2. If continuity exists, the tester will beep

Battery Check

Always make sure to check that the battery has life before testing any cables so you don’t misdiagnose any connection as faulty. The steps for the Hosa CBT-500 Cable Tester are simple:

  1. Turn knob to battery check
  2. The LED will illuminate if the battery is charged

Hosa’s Cable Tester – Better Safe Than Sorry

Hosa’s CBT-500 Cable Tester is constructed from metal to withstand field abuse and operates with a standard 9-volt battery (included). The device also provides a battery check function to ensure proper working condition prior to use. The CBT-500 Cable Tester makes an invaluable addition to one’s ‘tools of the trade’ and is ideal for use when preparing for a concert, studio recording session, or an installation as well as checking cables afterwards in order to ensure working operation the next time. Get yours today.

 

- Hosa

Hosa Guitar Cables: Hear the Difference

The audio cable market is small, yet competitive. With competition, there may be companies making big claims about why their cables are better than others. All in all, does cable quality matter or is all just “marketing fluff”? What makes one guitar cable more special than another? Today, we will be testing out and recording through our very own Hosa guitar cables (Essential, Pro & Edge) and we’ll let you be the judge.

Does Your Audio Cable Affect Sound Quality?

They certainly can, but it’s important to note that cables don’t “improve” your sound. Their main purpose is to translate sound from its source as transparently as possible. So, when it comes to “making a difference” we are referring to a cable’s durability, internal build, and longevity. To dive more into cable specifics, check out our article on Do Audio Cables Affect Sound Quality?

Capacitance, What Is It?

Capacitance is the ratio of the change in electric charge of a system to the corresponding change in its electric potential. In the cable world, it’s ideal to have a lower capacitance as that means less resistance, allowing a more pure signal to pass through. This is especially important in instrument cables because they tend to be unbalanced, and the longer the length of the cable, the more inherent capacitance you introduce. The easiest way to explain this is: the longer the cable, the less pure the signal.

Hosa Guitar Cable, GTR-200 Series

Recording

  • Serviceable, all-metal plugs for touring and other applications
  • Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC) conductor for enhanced signal clarity
  • Hi-density OFC braided shield for superior EMI and RFI rejection

Hosa Pro Series Guitar Cable

Recording

  • Nickel-plated REAN® plugs for efficient signal transfer and superior durability
  • 20 AWG Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC) conductor for a louder, clearer signal
  • 90% OFC braided shield for a higher signal to noise ratio

Hosa Edge Series Guitar Cable

Recording

  • Original Neutrik® connectors for security and durability
  • 20 AWG Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC) conductor to reduce resistance
  • Low capacitance wire for a crystal-clear high end

So, do cables affect sound quality? The short answer is not really – but still want to learn more about why cables are important? Check out our video which goes in more depth about what the specs mean and why they matter:

Do Cables Matter?

- Hosa

Modular Synthesis — A Beginner’s Guide

Those familiar with Hosa will no doubt have seen the number of modular synthesizer products we manufacture. When we set out to make a “beginner’s guide”, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get some of our modular friends involved. This week’s blog is by Kris Kaiser from Noise Engineering. Kris shares a basic rundown on modular synths and demystifies a few things along the way.

Modular Synthesis — A Beginner Guide Patch Cables Spaghetti Noise Engineering Hosa

What is this weird spaghetti monster?

At Noise Engineering, I get a lot of questions from musicians who are interested in modular synthesis. Many seem entirely intimidated by it, or just don’t even know where to start. Introductory modular tutorials abound, but few I’ve found are written to really help musicians capitalize on the knowledge they already have. Today we’re going to dive into modular synthesis using concepts and techniques that you, the musician, already know. We won’t focus on specific modules, but rather concepts. For more information and details, pop on over to the Noise Engineering blog.

I’m a synth player. That doesn’t look like a synth.

I’ve had more than one person approach me at NAMM with the challenge to “teach” them how to play a modular synth. The reality is that a modular synthesizer is still a normal synthesizer, it’s just presented differently and with a lot more flexibility. Like any instrument, it takes time to master. Most people don’t pick up any instrument and master it in 20 minutes; a modular synth is no different.

Modular Synthesis — A Beginner's Guide Patch Cables Keyboard Noise Engineering Hosa

So, how do modular synths differ from prebuilt synths, exactly? And more importantly, how are they the same?

Think about the standard Korg, Yamaha, or whatever fixed-architecture synth you last bought (or drooled over). In a traditional synth, it comes with a lot of things built in. Everything is prewired and preprogrammed “under the hood.” You press buttons and turn knobs, select the premade sounds, and tweak the parameters that have been built in for you. These can run the gamut of really basic and easy to use to incredibly flexible, but you don’t really get to change the basic architecture of the product.

As the name implies, a modular synth is modular. Instead of an off-the-shelf solution, you pick and choose the components that will allow you to create the sound you desire. Each module does one (or a few) things, so you’re choosing it specifically for that function. This means that if you don’t like the filter you’re using, you can just use a different one, either by putting a different one in the system or pulling the patch cable out of one and putting it into another. Traditional synths aren’t built for that, making it much harder to do in that landscape. In a modular system, you get to build it, not the engineers at SYNTHCORP. You choose your parts and then you make the connections using patch cables (check out Hosa’s Synth Playground for all your cable needs). Just like with a fixed-architecture synth, you make patches, but here they are physical, tangible things.

And the choices! The choices are part of the joy, but also can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of manufacturers, each making anywhere from one to a complete line of modules. In general, they all work perfectly fine together. This means that you can choose a suite of modules from a single manufacturer, build a system with modules from all different manufacturers, or anything in between. The world is your oyster with modular synths.

Modular Synthesis — A Beginner's Guide Patch Cables Noise Engineering Hosa

Key differences between a traditional (keyed) synthesizer and a modular synth

  1. Both types of synths have a primary sound source (an oscillator)
  2. When you want to make a sound with a keyed synth, you hit the key. When you lift your finger, it (generally) stops making sound. The oscillator in a modular synthesizer, on the other hand, just…oscillates. This means that rather than “telling” the instrument to make sound, you have to “tell” it to not make sound, typically by patching it to other modules.

  3. While most traditional synths have a keyboard, modular synths do not
  4. Sure, you can find a keyboard module or interface with an external keyboard, they are not part of a standard setup. So you control modular synths differently, not just starting and stopping and shaping the sound but also pitch sequencing. Rather than the key you press determining the sequence of pitches, modular synth composition is generally more sequencer or DAW oriented. That’s great news for those of you who never mastered those piano lessons, less good for the piano proteges out there.

  5. Since a traditional synth comes prebuilt, its functionality is constrained by what’s inside
  6. With modular, you build the connections every time you use it, which means you essentially have a brand new synth each time you patch. You can change patches or even modules at will. Tired of the sound of one oscillator? Replace it with another! Don’t like that reverb? Drop a different one in. The possibilities are infinite.

  7. A traditional synth is ready to make sound when you buy it
  8. Power it up, plug it in to your monitors, bang on the keys, and you’re making sound. Modular synths require you to do a bit more work: signals flow between components through patch cables, and you decide where it goes, so you have to set up a signal path. Before the fear comes back out, know three things.

    • You won’t break it by patching modules together
      I’ve had literally hundreds if not thousands of people plug patch cables into our cases at this point, and we have never had someone break something. The worst thing that can happen is that you get no sound or you get a sound you don’t like, and you try something else.
    • Patching isn’t that different from routing modulation to parameters on a traditional synthesizer
      The LFO envelope amount knobs on a subtractive synth? That knob lets you make a connection between the envelope and the filter, which you’d just do with a cable in modular. Many synth plugins also let you route modulation sources to a plethora of destinations: that’s almost exactly like patching a modular synth.
    • Repeat after me: You won’t break it by patching modules together.

Modular Synthesis — A Beginner's Guide Knucklebones Noise Engineering Hosa

Modular synths have a reputation for being finicky

It’s kind of a well-deserved reputation. To be fair, vintage analog AND analog modular oscillators drift over time and need to be re-tuned regularly; both are also dependent on the temperature. Digital oscillators alleviate the drift and temperature issues in both fixed-architecture and modular synths, and some digital oscillators have the benefit of “remembering” their pitch after power cycle. But the real issue with modular is that it can be painfully difficult to replicate sounds. There are solutions, but many are more advanced. For a lot of touring musicians, performing with modular can take a lot of prep work.

If you’re already a synth person, modular isn’t that different. There are tradeoffs, and while some people we know use modular as a tool in every piece they compose, others use it for very specific applications, while others love noodling around on it and finding happy accidents. You will never be disappointed at the diversity of timbres you can get out of a modular synthesizer, even with a comparatively small setup. Most manufacturers are small and friendly and happy to help answer questions.

Ready to get started? Check out Noise Engineering’s blog for some ideas on small systems to get you started, and lots of other useful guides to getting started in modular synthesis.

Synth Accessories

There are a lot of moving parts to a modular setup, and with a ton of accessory options to keep you patching and help keep things organized. Hosa offers traditional patch cables, Hopscotch piggy-back patch cables, Knucklebones passive mults, and Monkeybars, an extremely versatile cable holder that can be set up three different ways depending on your needs and space requirements. It’s not usually on top-of-mind, but don’t overlook the importance of cable ties to keep your OCD at bay. For more information on Hosa’s modular synth accessories and where to buy, visit their Synth Playground landing page.

- Kris Kaiser, Noise Engineering

How to Use Hosa’s Universal Power Adapter

While most electronic devices come with their own power supplies, some do not. Even when they do, we sometimes misplace or lose them among a sea of cables. The Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter is an inexpensive, portable, and versatile solution, ideal for most small electronic devices.

Voltage

AC Input Voltage

The Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter auto-detects AC input from 100-240V, 50/60Hz allowing for global use. All you need for use outside of the United States is a US to local power plug adapter.

Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter Details

DC Output Voltage

Many devices on the market have different voltage requirements, and the Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter allows you to switch from 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, 9, or 12 V operation with a simple turn of the knob on the face of the adapter. Just make sure to have the ACD-477 unplugged from any device when changing DC output voltage. The ACD-477 runs at 80% efficiency with a 1200mA maximum output.

Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter Front

Plugs & Polarity

Many small electronics are made with many different sized plugs. The Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter conveniently comes with six of the most common types on the market, giving you the versatility to use the same power supply across multiple devices.

Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter Plugs

The polarity can easily be changed between positive and negative if required by simply reversing the plug. If you require negative polarity, align the “-” sign with the “TIP”, and likewise for positive polarity, align the “+” sign with the “TIP”. Make sure you are always using the correct polarity for any device in order to avoid damaging the electronics.

Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter TipHosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter Tip+

Short Circuit Protection

To protect your device from experiencing electric spikes which could damage them, the Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter has a built in SCP (short circuit protection). When the LED light starts to dim, you should unplug your device to prevent any damage.

Portability

Many professionals keep safeguards when they’re at a gig in case there is some type of failure. The Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter is light, small, and the AC plug folds into the design, saving storage space and making it even more compact for the gigging professionals.

Daisy Chain Extension Cord

For devices like pedalboards where you can utilize one power supply for multiple devices, Hosa also offers the PDC-373 Daisy Chain Extension Cord. These split a single 2.1 mm DC plug to up to 2.1 mm DC jacks, often used for guitar pedals.

Interested in purchasing your own Hosa ACD-477 Universal Power Adapter? Get yours today.

- Hosa

Setting Up Your TRACKLINK USB Interface

Hosa’s TRACKLINK USB interfaces give players and creators the option of bypassing a traditional audio interface in order to record or practice. TRACKLINK interfaces are USB cables with ¼ inch, XLR, or MIDI connectors on one end meant for guitar, microphone, and keyboards.

Getting set up with TRACKLINK is quick, easy, and convenient. We’ll take you through the setup steps for both Mac and Windows operating systems, but bear in mind there may be some variation as operating systems (OS) are often updated. The same rule applies to the recording software (DAW) you’re using, since all have some degree of difference in how they arm inputs.

XLR or ¼ inch to USB

First start by plugging the UXA-110 into a microphone, the USQ-110 into a guitar or ¼ inch output, then directly into your computer and follow the directions below based on your OS:

Mac OS 10.0 or later

  1. Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences and click Sound
  2. Click the “Input” tab
  3. Select “USB PnP Sound Device”
  4. Input level of your computer should reflect incoming signal
  5. Click the “Output” tab
  6. Verify your normal output option is selected
  7. Close window

Windows 10

  1. Allow Windows to install the driver before proceeding
  2. Go to Start Menu > Windows System > Control Panel
  3. In Category View, open Hardware & Sound
  4. Open Sound
  5. In “Playback” tab, select your desired playback option and click the “Set Default” button
  6. Click the “Recording” tab
  7. Select “USB PnP Sound Device” and click the “Set Default” button
  8. You can verify and adjust input levels by clicking the “Properties” button
  9. If you made any changes, click the “Apply” button
  10. Click the “Okay” button

*If you have Windows 7 or Vista, here are links to additional instructions for the UXA-110 and USQ-110.

Start Recording with Your TRACKLINK

Each software will be a little different, but it is important to select the TRACKLINK USB interface as input only and arm your audio track. Make sure the levels are low enough so you don’t pick up unwanted noise.

Below are quick visual guides for setting up your TRACKLINK USB interface:

MIDI to USB

First start by plugging the USM-422 into your keyboard, synthesizer, or drum machine, and then directly into your computer. Be sure that the red input is plugged into your keyboard’s output, and the black output is plugged into your keyboard’s input, then follow the directions below based on your OS:

Mac OS 10.0 or later

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities and open Audio MIDI Setup.app
  2. If MIDI window is not visible, go to the top menu and select Window > Show MIDI Window
  3. Verify an active device named “USB 2.0 MIDI” exists
  4. Highlight device and select “Test Setup”
  5. Clicking the arrow pointing out of the USB 2.0 MIDI icon should cause the green light on the TRACKLINK interface to flicker
  6. Playing keys on your MIDI keyboard should cause the blue light to flicker and the IN arrow in the computer’s MIDI window to become active
  7. If the test succeeds as explained above, close the window

Windows 10

  1. Allow Windows to install the driver before proceeding
  2. Go to Start Menu > Windows System > Control Panel
  3. In Category View, open View Devices & Printers under the Hardware & Sound category
  4. Confirm “USB 2.0 MIDI” icon is present
  5. Close Control Panel

*If you have Windows 7 or Vista, you can find additional instructions here.

Functions and Indicators

• Solid red LED indicates proper USB connection
• Flashing green LED indicates MIDI transmission from computer
• Flashing blue LED indicates transmission from MIDI controller

Start Recording

Remember that MIDI transfers only data, not audio, so you need to arm the MIDI track in your DAW with a sample. A demonstration for how to assign the input and arm the track for PreSonus Studio One can be seen here:

Below is a quick visual guide for setting up your TRACKLINK USB MIDI interface:

TRACKLINK Limitations

It’s important to note that any cable of this variety is taking the place of a traditional audio interface, and thus all of the analog-digital conversions happen inside the cable. Given the size and component limitation, you can sometimes pick up extra noise or experience some latency. These are not meant to be a 1:1 direct replacement for a proper audio interface, but rather a simple and affordable solution for beginners or those who don’t feel a traditional interface is necessary for their limited purposes.

For more information on where to purchase a TRACKLINK USB interface, you can find a local or online Hosa reseller here.

- Hosa

How to Wrap a Cable

After using our audio cables, most of us don’t think about the proper way to wrap them other than to quickly get them out of the way and cram them into whatever space available. However, the way you wrap and store your cables can have a significant effect on their longevity.

Incorrect Ways to Wrap a Cable

Over-Over

This is definitely the most common wrapping method out there. On the surface, it makes sense, right? You wrap the cable in the same consistent motion.

Wrap Cable Over Over Twist Hosa

Wrap Cable Over Elbow Twist Hosa

The problem with wrapping cable in this way is that the cable is continually twisted along its length and when dropped, there are all sorts of tangles and kinks that must be laboriously undone.

Aside from the simple inconvenience, the twisting over time can put stress on the cable and increase the likelihood of internal shorts which may cause it to stop working, or open gaps in its shielding, allowing for more interference. This is especially important for instrument cables and microphone cables, which are prone to pick up more noise.

Tying

Some will wrap their cables in a bunch, or do the over-over method and then use the cable to tie itself together. This adds even more stress to the cable and will decrease its life significantly quicker, so we highly discourage you from this method.

Tie Cable Around Itself Hosa

The Correct Way to Wrap a Cable

Over-Under

It may be a little funny to get used to at first, but once you start wrapping your cables in this way it becomes very intuitive. As we mentioned before, the issue with the over-over cable wrapping method is that the cable is continually twisted along its length. The over-under method means as you are twisting with the “over”, you are untwisting with the “under”.

Wrap Cable Correct Over Under Hosa

Wrap Cable Correct Over Under Hosa

This will reduce the tension on the cable while wrapping and as it’s stored, making it easier to uncoil and ultimately increasing the cable’s longevity.

You’ll know you’re doing it right when you can throw your cable and it uncoils without any snarls or kinks.

Toss Cable Flat Wrapped Correctly Hosa

Cable Storage

When storing your cables, try to keep them either hanging or laying in a relaxed position as much as possible. Cable ties come in very handy for keeping your cables neatly organized and separated, especially if you have them in a pile or gig bag. Hosa offers a wide array of cable organizers to help keep things efficient depending on your preferences.

Wrap Cable Wire Tie Velcro Hosa

If you’ve had cables stored for a while that you don’t frequently use and don’t know whether they still work or not (because you certainly don’t want to test them at a gig), it’s also helpful to invest in a cable tester. This allows you to test each connection point on your cables and make sure everything is in working order before putting them into commission.

- Hosa