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nomismo

Interconnects,Balanced or single end.

22 posts in this topic

What's your opinions for interconnects, is balanced any better than single ended.

Your thoughts on this subject will be greatly appreciated.

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You are going to get all sorts of different opinions on this.I would borrow some of both, have a listen and see if you can tell a difference.If you can,fine,if not then it is irrelevant.Balanced is said to give a better connection,or be better for longer runs(far longer than a domestic application).

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If you have the choice go balanced every time. Better interference rejection and much reduced risk of earth loops being the main reason. Also XLRs are much better connectors than the usual RCAs. No contest.

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If you have the choice go balanced every time. Better interference rejection and much reduced risk of earth loops being the main reason. Also XLRs are much better connectors than the usual RCAs. No contest.

You need more electronics with gain that is precisely matched with a balanced circuit. They do have the benefits mentioned above though.

If you can try both and see which works best for you.

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The longer the run, the more the advantages of balanced operation come into their own. Other than that it is pretty much personal preference and the capability of your hardware.

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Have a listen and see. Certain pieces of equipment seem to work better in balanced and others single ended. My CD player for example sounds much better using its balanced XLR outputs than it did using the single ended RCA's. No idea why but certainly worth getting the interconnect re-terminated in my case.

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It's good to have a little theory at your fingertips here - in a domestic situation (say where the interconnects are likely to be less than about 10m) there's no real advantage in balanced cables as their primary advantage is noise rejection over long distances. As I mentioned in an older thread:

"

When a signal is transferred from one component to another, you need two wires to transfer current from the output stage of the source to the input stage of the pre amp/amp. Single ended sends the signal down one wire or the core of coaxial type cable and returns by another or via the coax braid (connected to the earth of both pieces of equipment) - this is a simplified picture as the music signal is AC.

The "send" wire can pick up interference so is shielded - either by braiding the "return" and "send" wire (a la Kimber and the like) / by the coax braid which surrounds it / or other cable tweakery.

The problem with single ended is that as the earths of both components are linked any currents which flow between the two due to eg small leakages in the power supplies and each component is individually connected to mains the earth will be "merged" with the audio signal giving noise/hum or whatever.

With balanced connections 2 wires are used, but both carry a signal, one 180 degrees out of phase. This is why the implementation is key - the source must generate an inverted copy of the signal to send along with the non-inverted one and the amp/pre amp has to have an input stage to accept both and combine them. Transformers used to be the way of implementing balanced as they can generate / receive balanced signals easily. Nowadays manufacturers often use a cheap phase inverter stage taking a signal from the non-inverted output, to provide the mirrored signal and transistor/IC based circuits to combine them. With no joined earth hum and earth loops are eliminated and - when you subtract the inverted signal from the normal one - you end up with 2x the original signal as well as cancelling out noise picked up during the transfer: a win win situation! This means you can have long lengths of cable in an unfriendly environment - and is why pro-audio use balanced connections.

Sadly the extra complexity of balanced circuitry may not be implemented well so a balanced signal can sound inferior to a decent single ended connection. Good balanced connections will sound cleaner and need not cost the earth - the CA 840 Azur CD/amp combo is an example."

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I think that there is a lot of poor information about the subject!

Fact 1. XLR plugs and sockets are much better connectors than Phono connectors, the work of the devil, XLR is the choice of the PROS for a very good reason!

Fact 2. Balanced connection was first developed by a telephone supplier to send their signals down lines that were many hundreds of miles long.

Using balanced cables will not give you a huge jump in sound quality, although in some circumstances they may drop the noise floor a little. Although most modern " balanced" outputs do not use transformer coupling so I would be very surprised if there is any difference at all at the listening seat.

S

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It's good to have a little theory at your fingertips here - in a domestic situation (say where the interconnects are likely to be less than about 10m) there's no real advantage in balanced cables as their primary advantage is noise rejection over long distances.

I'd argue that the primary advantage is that the safety earth / screening is independent of the signal return path and that this very much applies in domestic situations. This gives improvements in noise rejection and immunity from earth loops.

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I'd argue that the primary advantage is that the safety earth / screening is independent of the signal return path and that this very much applies in domestic situations. This gives improvements in noise rejection and immunity from earth loops.

Which is great if you have those problems. The vast majority don't so the prior statement remains valid!

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!

Every piece of kit / cable benefits from reduced noise pickup.

True, but there is a danger in talking in absolutes and advocating one method over another every time. You have to try it and see if it is indeed better. Other wise you end up choosing kit based on how it is interconnected rather than how it actually sounds! ;-)

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If you have balanced you might as well use it, but any supposed benefits for short runs at line levels aren't really going to be audible.

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Which is great if you have those problems. The vast majority don't so the prior statement remains valid!

Lucky buggers.. I've always had some kind of earth hum going on. In my current place I have to have everything pluged into the same socket, at least via one large multiway else the earth loops are too much.

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Personally I would say it depends on the equipment.

Quite a lot of gear, sometimes even that aimed at a pro market, has XLR sockets as a cable compatability thing with earth connected to both cold and earth pins. i.e. single ended wired up to an XLR socket.

My current amps (Nestorovic NA-1s) are designed as a fully balanced design. My other DNM PA2s are similarly so. Both are designed specifically to work best with a balanced input. I'd say there are pre-amps and some sources too (like an early 90s Jeff Rowland phono stage) that are designed as fully balanced internally too.

It's when you have sources and pre's and amps that only give a cursery nod to balanced with a single-ended to balanced conversion circuit or transformer shoe-horned before the output (or balanced -> SE at the input) that you're probably wasting your time with, perhaps even degrading the sound. Unless you NEED them because of ground loops etc of course.

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