While I’m in the process of setting up my studio in the most efficient way I can, with the resources I have, I’m starting to realize how important reading the manual is. We all know reading the manual is essential, yet most of us have had gear around our studio for years, with the user manual never being opened. Ok, so most manuals now are downloaded, so change the statement to never having been downloaded. So what makes the user manual so valuable? It helps you learn to operate the equipment, which can sometimes feel so intuitive the manual seems unnecessary. You can only determine with a manual whether a quarter-inch jack is balanced or unbalanced; the manual becomes very handy.
So as I started redesigning my studio, I looked in the manuals for small details, USB versions, and balanced or unbalanced connections. Why does this matter? Some USB versions prefer to avoid talking to some other USB versions, and some balanced and unbalanced jacks don’t like receiving each other’s signals. Without me trudging into to much detail and boring specs, it’s essential to read the user manual to see if the equipment you are connecting wants to be connected. I assumed that both unbalanced and balanced quarter-inch plugs fit balanced and unbalanced quarter-inch sockets, so no worries, physically, they do; however, the manual stated “only connect to a balanced Jack” or, the opposite, “only connect to an unbalanced Jack.” While most modern equipment compensates for that, almost everything connects to everything. It’s still worth checking out the manual.
Reading the manual first may change your mind about using the equipment or understanding if extra equipment is needed to complete the job. For example, I purchased a ZoomL20 digital mixer/recorder for my studio to connect all my synths. This digital mixer has multiple headphone outs, which can switch to monitor outs. This mixer was great because I have two pairs of near-field monitors, and the mixer only has one monitor-out connection. The plan, connect the studio monitors to the two headphone jacks, create two separate headphone mixes, pan them hard left and right, and set them to monitor. This plan went horribly wrong. They expect a stage monitor when you switch the headphone jacks to monitor. The result was a mono signal, not ideal for reference monitoring; either way, this idea was a dismal failure which could have been avoided by reading the manual.
Reading the manual will save you time and money; you’ll see the evidence if you watch my YouTube series on my studio build. Thanks for reading; I’m just a music teacher having fun; catch ya on the next one.