Difference Between Differential, RSE, and NRSE Terminal Configurations

Updated May 13, 2024

Reported In


  • Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX)


  • NI-DAQmx

Issue Details

I am using a DAQ device to measure an analog signal. When I configure my device for the acquisition of my signal I must choose from a list of terminal configurations. What are those, and which one should I use for my application?


The tutorial How To Measure Voltage provides a good and thorough description of the different terminal configurations, and explains when to use them. For a short summary/overview continue below.   

Terminal Configuration
Referenced Single Ended (RSE)
Terminal Configuration
Non-Referenced Single Ended (NRSE) Terminal Configuration
Measures the potential difference between the AI+ and AI- Measures the potential difference between the AI and the AI GNDMeasures the potential difference between the AI and the AI SENSE

In general, it is recommended to use differential configuration when possible. Differential signal connections reduce noise pickup and avoid ground loops. The following chart summarizes ways to connect a signal source to a measurement system.


To find your device pinouts of your specific hardware, open NI Measurement and Automation Explorer (MAX) and follow the steps outlined in Where to Find NI-DAQmx Device Pinouts or Pin Mappings .