Banana Plugs VS Other Plugs

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southafrica
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Banana Plugs VS Other Plugs

Post by southafrica » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:07 pm

Hi

I'm currently busy building and designing my own modular synthesizer from scratch. One of the current design choices I'm facing is which connectors I should use in my system. 1/4" sockets and 3.5mm sockets both have two connectors on them whereas banana sockets only have one connector on the end of them. Why is this and are there any advantages/disadvantages of using banana plugs over the other formats?

Any help/comments/advice/feedback is greatly appreciated, thanks.

I don't know if this question has already been asked, I can't search yet until I've made a post.

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Post by Electronic Battle » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:13 pm

4mm banana plugs are stackable in that you can plug one into the end of the other and so on ... each one is its own multiple. The are more robust than 3.5mm.

They are unshielded of course but, given that CVs don't need shielding and audio levels are usually high, this won't be a problem. Interfacing is easy enough via converting multiples (1/4" and 3.5mm and 4mm banana in parallel) and as long as your kit is all well-earthed to one another, I think it is the best system.

Others can provide better experience though.

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Post by Luka » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:22 pm

Now that there is stackable minijacks i think minijack has become a great option. Imo 1/4' jacks make it hard to have dense designs due to the size (length) of the plugs and the inability to put use pots if they are too close. Normalisation is a huge benefit for dense designs.

I went with jonson / pomona banana route and am happy but it can seem expensive at times to buy new cables and im yet to find other brands i really like for my system.

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Post by Pfurmel » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:35 pm

Electronic Battle wrote:4mm banana plugs are stackable in that you can plug one into the end of the other and so on ... each one is its own multiple. The are more robust than 3.5mm.

They are unshielded of course but, given that CVs don't need shielding and audio levels are usually high, this won't be a problem. Interfacing is easy enough via converting multiples (1/4" and 3.5mm and 4mm banana in parallel) and as long as your kit is all well-earthed to one another, I think it is the best system.

Others can provide better experience though.
I agree with this. The design really grew on me after getting a Serge creature, it is such a simple solution. It is great for DIY purposes too due to halving the amount of wires/traces needed per jack. I like them so much I have started to convert my euro system too, as have a good few other wigglers here.

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southafrica
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Post by southafrica » Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:17 pm

Thanks for the info everyone and the quick responses. I'm not too concerned with the connectors being stackable or not, I see Tip Top (I think it was them) have cables with stackable 3.5mm connectors. I'll play around with stackable cables later but it's nice to see that that option is available.

I was just wondering if there were any major differences between the connectors but it doesn't sound like there are really. I brought this up because I wasn't too sure and I saw there was quite a price difference between sockets for banana jacks and the other formats (70c for a banana socket that you can panel mount vs $3 or more for sockets you can panel mount for the other formats). Normally when something is a lot cheaper it's normally not a good sign so you can understand my concern. But like Electronic Battle said above, as long as all my kit is well-earthed then it should be fine.

Thanks again for all the help, I'll have pictures and videos up as soon as I have my system built.

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Post by BananaPlug » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:52 pm

I was just wondering if there were any major differences between the connectors but it doesn't sound like there are really.
--sigh--

Just take a good look at them. The banana plug & jack have huge areas of contact which wipe themselves clean every time you use them. Compare that to the tiny point of contact of the relatively fragile mini. Banana jacks are immune to the common afflictions of minis.

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Post by widdly » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:08 pm

Banana Sockets are cheaper because they are mechanically simpler. They are also much more durable since there is less to go wrong.

You might not care about stackables now, but you will once you run out of multiples. Most banana synths are designed with stackable plugs in mind so there are no multiples. Most 1/4" and minijack systems include multiples but usually not enough.

One of the good things about 1/4" synths is you can use a lot of off-the-shelf 1/4" studio stuff with your synth. Studio Patch bays can be converted into multiples or for making normalised patches. Cheap 1/4" snakes can be used to connect two large enclosures. Cheap 1/4" molded cables for connecting guitar pedals are easily available. Connecting your synth to a mixer or effects processor doesn't require an adaptor. etc.

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Post by Bricks » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:27 pm

Banana jacks are so much nicer than minijacks. Worth it for the feel alone, nevertheless ease of stackability and reliability!

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Post by Kent » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:50 pm

I'm rather amazed to hear this sort of question from one who is considering the tackling of designing a modular synth from scratch. What other unknowns must lurk around every corner?

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Post by Reese P. Dubin » Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:53 pm

In reasonable quantity, banana jacks cost about $.50 each, and will never fail. Most any color length of cable is $5 at Testpath.
Economics are a distant second to the tactile experience.
One vote for bananas every time.

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Post by megaohm » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:07 am

southafrica wrote: I was just wondering if there were any major differences between the connectors but it doesn't sound like there are really.
This is just my opinion, I stress, IMO:

3.5mm jacks suck. Some are better than others but it is just a difference between sucks massively and sucks a little.
If someone can contradict the above statements PLEASE hip me to a part # so I can see/try for myself. I would love to release some stuff in euro format but the jacks prevent me from feeling good about (...the PSU/distro system doesn't help either!)

I build and sell modules in MU format that use 1/4" jacks. Switchcraft 112 cost $1.50 or more in quantities of 100 (from Mouser). Kinda expensive. You might think I would say 1/4" jacks are best because it would be self serving. I won't.

Banana jacks are better than either.
As robust or more so.
Many colors.
Economical.
Easily sourced.
Light.
Compact.
Long threaded body can be mounted in a variety of thick materials.
Sealed (3.5mm and 1/4' jacks = holes)-minor point, but still
Any DIY modules that lack labels are still easy to use if you have conventions - blue=CV in, yellow=output, etc.

The only thing I wish I could do with banana jacks is normalization. I use normals a lot in my modules. Since bananas are naturally stackable this is a small issue.

Lack of a ground wire in patch cords is a non-issue when patching within the same synth. In fact, in the majority of cases, you don't even need to bother with a ground wire for patch cords within 3.5mm or 1/4" systems either. When patching into external synths or other devices you will have to connect their grounds together. Simple.
www.MegaOhmAudio.com

Will work for pistachios

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Post by digital_steve » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:18 am

Who actually creates modules with banana's as standard?
Probably a dumb, newbie question... but anyway

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Post by decaying.sine » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:25 am

digital_steve wrote:Who actually creates modules with banana's as standard?
Probably a dumb, newbie question... but anyway
STS Serge
Buchla for CV (tinijax for audio)
Cyndustries
Modcan A
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Post by decaying.sine » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:27 am

Kent wrote:I'm rather amazed to hear this sort of question from one who is considering the tackling of designing a modular synth from scratch. What other unknowns must lurk around every corner?
I wonder if southafrica is DIYing some modules rather than designing circuits/modules, if that was what you meant.
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Post by iopop » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:36 am

BugBrand also uses bananas as standard.

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Kent
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Post by Kent » Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:33 am

decaying.sine wrote:
Kent wrote:I'm rather amazed to hear this sort of question from one who is considering the tackling of designing a modular synth from scratch. What other unknowns must lurk around every corner?
I wonder if southafrica is DIYing some modules rather than designing circuits/modules, if that was what you meant.
The brother did state "designing" if indeed that is what HE meant.
:hmm: curious....

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Post by BugBrand » Tue Oct 18, 2011 3:49 am

Image

I posted this a while back.. yes, reliability.

Cost was a big choice factor for me, but also 'FEEL' and colour.

And the fact that you can cheaply and quickly make cables -> I can do something like 60 in an hour. Making jack cables I'd have gone nuts (more nuts?!) after 10 or so...

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Post by Pfurmel » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:58 am

Do you have a datasheet or part number for the blue banana jack at the top left in that photo?

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Post by southafrica » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:59 am

Kent wrote:
decaying.sine wrote:
Kent wrote:I'm rather amazed to hear this sort of question from one who is considering the tackling of designing a modular synth from scratch. What other unknowns must lurk around every corner?
I wonder if southafrica is DIYing some modules rather than designing circuits/modules, if that was what you meant.
The brother did state "designing" if indeed that is what HE meant.
:hmm: curious....
Well I am starting by DIYing some basic things like a 555 Pulse Generator, an Atari Punk Console and a Baby 10 Sequencer. From there I'm going to modify them slightly, converting the Baby 10 to a Baby 16, adding a CV IN to the Atari Punk Console and then I'll see where I go from there. So it's a mix of both DIY and designing I suppose.

Kent I'm not sure if you're trying to mock my initial question or not but we all have to start somewhere.

I placed a big Digikey order yesterday and got about a dozen stackable banana cables. I thought about them again and decided they were worth it. I'll post some pics of my modular once it's decent enough. Thanks for all the information everyone.

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Post by Paradigm X » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:14 am

Pfurmel wrote:Do you have a datasheet or part number for the blue banana jack at the top left in that photo?
dont want to tread on mr bugs' toes, but in case he doesnt see this message, these are the ones he recommended to me a while back, and they are excellent

http://www.rapidonline.com/Cables-Conne ... cket-83057

Im loving bana plugs/jacks myself. Problem is i want a 5u system, with bananas, which seems a bit non standard. oh well, thats the point of DIY i guess :)

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Post by Kent » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:18 am

No mockery implied or intended, good sir. You choice of using the word "designing" is what raised my point. It would have been more accurate to state that you were building and/or modifying some kits and wanted input as to the pros & cons of differing jack formats.

I was worried as to whether you knew what you were getting into in embarking upon the designing of a synth from scratch.

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Post by southafrica » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:36 am

Kent wrote:No mockery implied or intended, good sir. You choice of using the word "designing" is what raised my point. It would have been more accurate to state that you were building and/or modifying some kits and wanted input as to the pros & cons of differing jack formats.

I was worried as to whether you knew what you were getting into in embarking upon the designing of a synth from scratch.
No worries or hard feelings. Glad to hear it wasn't any elitist mockery, haven't seen any of that on these forums yet which is a really good sign. I want to get to the stage where I can design my own modules, we'll say that's the long term goal. I'm sure my initial question sounded really simple and maybe even obvious to some but I wanted to make sure I had enough information before choosing something as simple as a jack format even. I should have probably worded it more like what you said for clarity.

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Post by EATyourGUITAR » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:56 am

I had the same idea of starting with an APC and a baby 10. the APC is actually a square VCO sync to another square VCO. it would need to have a pitch CV for each VCO. I still use the 555 for square LFO or for generating a clock but I sold that useless APC a while ago. I think I learned more from opamp books and websites than anything else. the 555 has way more uses as a monostable timer than a VCO. I wasted a lot of money on getlofi kits. the boards are crap homemade one sided boards. you could make those your self. its better to just do these projects on the breadboard and move on to the next project without wasting time and money putting the APC in a box

I have lots of those 555 boards that I should probably make a 4 clock module out of. if you want a VCO, I suggest you get a cheap VCO like the MFOS.
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Post by Luka » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:06 am

Paradigm X wrote:
Im loving bana plugs/jacks myself. Problem is i want a 5u system, with bananas, which seems a bit non standard. oh well, thats the point of DIY i guess :)

:)

like me :)

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Post by southafrica » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:22 am

EATyourGUITAR wrote:I had the same idea of starting with an APC and a baby 10. the APC is actually a square VCO sync to another square VCO. it would need to have a pitch CV for each VCO. I still use the 555 for square LFO or for generating a clock but I sold that useless APC a while ago. I think I learned more from opamp books and websites than anything else. the 555 has way more uses as a monostable timer than a VCO. I wasted a lot of money on getlofi kits. the boards are crap homemade one sided boards. you could make those your self. its better to just do these projects on the breadboard and move on to the next project without wasting time and money putting the APC in a box

I have lots of those 555 boards that I should probably make a 4 clock module out of. if you want a VCO, I suggest you get a cheap VCO like the MFOS.
I'm not planning on buying any kits at all. I've ordered the individual parts I need for my modules. Some of those kits get pricey. Thanks for that link to the MFOS VCO.

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