A couple of weeks ago, I upgraded my trusty lightweight MuxLab Balun System to a new beefier version, the 50052-Pro-BNC.
What is a Balun and what is it used for?
Balun is short for” BALanced to UNbalanced”. What is does is passively take in separate signals of audio and standard defintion video and pass them across a single CAT5 Cable. A second Balun on the other side converts the signals back into separate feeds. They are commonly used by cart based mixers to save on setup time by reducing the amount of cable runs. Plus, Cat5 is very inexpensive compared to BNC or XLR. They do require a down-converter for each feed if you are shooting in HD. The Balun are unidirectional, meaning I can send audio in one direction and receive video on the other.
Up until now, I used two MuxLab 500012 to send up to two audio feeds and receive up to two video feeds. They use non-locking RCA connectors, which means you have to convert XLR and BNC to RCA. Also, as it doesn’t lock, there is the chance of coming loose. The 500012 is very lightweight with a plastic case. Over the past four years of use, I’ve broken two.
Why the 500052-Pro-BNC?
- Three Cameras
I’ve been shooting a show that at least once a week is shooting three cameras and it can be a struggle to be sure of the frames of the widest shot so I can direct my BoomOp. Previously, with the 500012 I could only view two cameras. The ability to see three cameras is a big plus!
- Locking & Color-coded BNC Connectors
No more connections to slip out or getting the cables confused with the new balun! It also allows you to use either standard Ethernet or lockable Ethercon for your cable connection between the two baluns.
- Rigid Metal Case and Cables
It weighs more than twice as much as the 500012, but it is MUCH more solidly built. A metal case, plus heavyweight BNC cables and strong connectors should equal a much longer lifespan than my original balun.
Setup from the 500012 to the 500052
Setup is identical as with my older balun, but it eliminates any need for BNC to RCA adapters.
You will still need a XLR to RCA adapter (which is my biggest beef with the new balun) for the audio connection.
Summing up the Pros:
- Three Cameras over a single Cat5 Cable
- Locking Video Connectors and Robust Cables
- Metal Case that is much stronger
- Can connect the balun by either ethernet or the more robust Neutricon ethercon connector
…and the Cons:
- Weighs more and is larger in size
- Doesn’t have a locking audio connector
Overall, the new 500052-PRO-BNC balun system offers more pros over cons for the work I am doing and hopefully will remain on my cart… until they release a version with locking XLR connectors!
Just stumbled across your blog… thanks very much for doing it. I’m finding it extremely helpful on several subjects. Some are new to me, others (like the baluns) are something that I’ve been cooking in the back of my head for years. Hope to see you at Whit’s next week… best, BG
Great post! I’m sick to death of running two braided BNC’s for video and 1 for playback to vid village and power from vid village… This is a great post. Are you still using the same method?