We have more insert cable options than anyone else. We make them with right-angle, XLRs, Gold, Nickel, Zip cord, individual wire, direct out, direct in, and yes, normal straight. That is all good if you know what an insert is, so what is an insert?
At the most basic, it lives up to its name: it is a way to “insert” something into the signal path. If you have a compressor or EQ, you would normally use an insert to put that in your signal path.
Quick diversion: What is the signal path? The signal path is simply where your audio is going. A normal PA signal path (simple) would be microphone →mixer → amp → speakers. If you want to elaborate on that, it could be: microphone → mic cable → stage snake → mixer mic in (Ex: channel 1) → mixer main out → stage snake return → cable to amp → amp → speaker cable → and speaker.
Back to the point, most mixers have what we call an “insert point” or “insert connector” or simply “insert”; normally, there is one on each channel and two on the mains for left and right and perhaps some others. On most mixers, this is going to be a single 1/4″ TRS (Tip, Ring, Sleeve) connector (each). This connector serves as both the output and the input, the output being on the tip and the input being on the ring. These connectors are switching connectors, so as soon as you plug a cable in, it will break the path through the mixer and send the tip signal out to a device, and the ring feeds back into the mixer’s path from the device. (This is how most mixers are, there are exceptions)
To make this connection, you need a special cable called an “insert cable.” It is wired with one 1/4″ connector on one end and (normally) two connectors on the other end, normally TS 1/4″. They are normally color-coded white for send and red for return.
If you want to “insert” a compressor on a channel, you simply plug the insert cable’s white (send) into the input of the compressor and the red (return) into the output of the compressor. Then you plug the insert end of the cable into the mixer’s insert.
Here are our insert cables:
To take this further, you might be wondering from our introduction what are “direct out” and “direct in” insert cables.
Say you wanted to record a single track of your mixer, but your mixer does not have a direct out, or you wanted to feed that channel somewhere else. A lot of manufacturers suggest the half plug method where you plug in just enough to contact the tip of the cable, but you don’t break the switching of the connector. You get the signal out and through the channel just as you want. But anyone that has ever done this realizes as soon as you go poking around behind your mixer, you will either knock one out or knock one in, and then things just go bad.
We custom make a cable to solve this problem – it is the insert direct out cable, and it is wired to plug in fully and securely and do exactly what you want.
Here are our insert direct out cables:
Direct in does the opposite and is designed to feed the signal into your mixer while bypassing the input stage. This is great if you want to use an external mic pre or have some other line-level source.
Here are our insert direct in cables:
As always, we are here to help you pick out the right cable for your application; we know there are a lot of choices!
Is there anything more about inserts you wish we’d further elaborate on in another post? Or another topic you’d like an explanation for?