Euro Audio Levels and Computer Audio I/O

Probably a stupid question, but is it safe to pipe modular-level audio directly into something like a MOTU 828Mk.3, or will some attenuation be required to avoid possible damage to the interface? I’ve done it in the past with a cheaper (Behringer FIreWire box), but I thought it wise to seek advice before plugging my modules into my more expensive interface.

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Incidentally, does anyone think that a slimline module with, say, 8 minijack inputs on the front, and 8 (possibly passively-attenuated) 1/4" jack sockets on the back would be useful?

Maybe some level pots on the front, too, would be handy.

I imagine this as a way of connecting a modular synth to the line inputs of a multi-channel audio interface, at the back of the modular synth, avoiding the need for a 1/4" patch bay and two different kinds of patch lead.

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No issues with a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 and Marian Adcon AD/DA.
Should not be an issue. Worst case would be repatching to an input, which is capable to apply a pad. If you are unsure shut down the level, apply the pad and take a look at the level in the mixer…

I use balanced conversion cables…

@nightworxx thanks for getting back to me. Interesting. There do seem to be quite large differences between the audio output levels of some of my modules.

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It is safe. But it might clip.

Gotcha. So my attenuator/minijack->1/4" adapter module would probably be a good idea, then.
Cool. Will design one :slight_smile:

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This is something that has been on my mind as well (as a modular n00b). I run the output of my modular through a Behringer 1602 mixer which then passes it’s output to the inputs of my Audiobox USB interface. I always read about how hot modular output is hot hot hot, so I used to be nervous to do this for extended periods. Is the Behringer just a really robust piece that handles hot levels really well? Or do I just have a lot to learn about gain staging, etc.? I tend to approach my levels with caution (start from 0% and work up), so maybe I’m just outputting a level that’s not so hot? So far, all is working well, so I’m rolling with it. This attenuator adapter sounds interesting. I think I still have enough free jacks on the Behringer, I’ll just have to build more cables - don’t tell my wife!

I think you’re taking the word “hot” way too literally. We’re taking a few mA and a few V. Whether the signal is 1V pp (line level) or 10V pp (modular level), we’re still talking about a few mW of power. That’s nothing. It cannot damage anything.

There are indeed circuits which can get damaged with voltages outside of a given range (for example, the I/O pins of a microcontroller, or the inputs of an op-amp) - but these are not the circuits you find on the inputs of your audio gear, or of your euro modules. The input of a module (or audio interface, mixer, etc…) is pretty much always equivalent to a big resistor to ground. The input doesn’t “see” the voltage, it sees the current flowing through this resistor. And this current will never exceed a few mA.

@pichenettes that’s good to know. On the other hand, the input may well clip, which isn’t usually a good thing, so some attenuation would still be good, no?

I’ve been looking at commercial Euro-line-level converters. The Ladik one, for example offers fixed /10 or /3 (jumper selectable) voltage reduction.

I could just add something similar with my converter module, so have no pots at all. It would just need a couple of resistors and a pair of headers for the jumper per channel.

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Even if the voltage won’t damage any electronic components, the clipping may damage your monitors (with incautious settings “cough”), or worse hurt your ears…

I learned something today - thanks Olivier! One of these days volts and amps will make as much sense as lb-ft and psi…