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Dumb question: instrument/line level

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  • Dumb question: instrument/line level

    Can someone explain the difference between instrument level input and line level input?
    Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows

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  • #2
    Instrument level is lower than line level. Typically instrument level is pretty close to (or less than) consumer audio level, or -10dB. Line level is +4dB.

    What this means is that instruments will sound weak going into live level inputs, and line level outputs will probably overload guitar effects pedal inputs and such.
    "I would kill the children of a thousand planets, just to see you smile"

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    • #3
      Depends on the instrument though - there is no standard level that I'm aware of.

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      • #4
        Actually, -10dBV (the "V" is important, as is the "m" in +4dBm...dB expresses a ratio, and without a reference there is no ratio) is considered line level as well. It can be confusing becasue some instruments do put out a line level signal as well, and the inputs on many devices have enough gain to accept a mic-, intrument-, or line-level signal with no problem. An instrument-level signal is usually considered one that's between a mic- and line-leve signal, such as that put out by an electric bass or guitar, and is usually a higher-impedence output than that of a line-level device as well.

        -Duardo

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        • #5
          Wow, so maybe its not such a dumb question after all.

          I think for my purposes, instrument level = guitar. Line level = sampler/synth/drum machine.
          Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows

          ----------
          ------ Stuff ------
          1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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          • #6
            The difference is in the amount of voltage. Instrument level (passive guitar pickups, SM57 microphone, etc.) is decidedly less voltage than is line level (mixer output, line out jack, etc.). Reading the "spec's" of various devices gives one an opportunity to generalize and to form this concept of understanding regarding equipment interconnection.

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