MickyP

Balanced v unbalanced

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Apols if this has been done to death. Did a couple of searches and it wasn't helpful.

I have RCA connectors between streamer and amp. What is the benefit, and is there one, of using balanced connecting interconnects? The run would be no more than a metre.

Thank you!

Edited by MickyP

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Super Dealer

Do you only have single ended connections?

If you do then there is no point in using XLR/phono adaptors.

Keith

Edited by PuritéAudio

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Hi Keith

Ta for reply. I am a hifi luddite. But...

I'm using RCAs and the amp and streamer both have balanced alternatives. So is there any bonus in using balanced interconnects?

* Obvs I can demo both but it's not helpful timewise or financially. :-)

Edited by MickyP
Update

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If your equipment is fully balanced from input to output then it is definitely worth using balanced XLR interconnects, if not then probably not worth it except that good quality XLR cables are usually cheaper and more secure so it might still be worth it after all  imo .

I use these .

https://www.ebay.co.uk/i/282107084363?rt=nc&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIM.MBE%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D20160908110712%26meid%3Db70540d5cbee414c8a7440f4858612af%26pid%3D100677%26rk%3D4%26rkt%3D30%26sd%3D282215887582%26itm%3D282107084363

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Hi Electro
Thank you so much for the reply, but please remember you're dealing with a idiot here. When you say 'balanced from input to output', I have an amp that has a balanced connection and a streamer that has the same. Does that qualify? And when you say 'definitely worth using' are you referring to sonic benefits or convenience, etc?
Thank you so much! :-)

(And ta for link)

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Some equipment is fully balanced with all the extra components that come with that design, the voltage also usually doubles if they are proper balanced connections .

Some equipment has XLR sockets but are not balanced internally, they change to single ended the other side of the socket, and the voltage remains the same .

You can check with the manufacturer whether or not you equipment is fully balanced or not.

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I gather that some kit may offer both balanced and single ended sockets but the design/electronics might mean the single ended connections provides greater performance. 

Example being the chord DAVE dac

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Oh, ta. This is a MF M6 amp and C851N steamer.

* Just don't want to go through the pain thing for no benefit! :-)

Edited by MickyP

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As I understand it, balanced is brilliant in electrically noisy professional environments when we're talking many metres of interconnects. Domestic situations are pretty 'clean' in comparison and interconnect runs aren't usually more than several metres tops (preamp to remote power amp?), so the need for balanced isn't really necessary.

One thing I would say please, is that many domestic units are basically single ended and if they have balanced outputs, there's often extra circuitry at each end converting one to the other - my professional HH MOSFET power amp has a dedicated chip-equipped board on the input dealing with converting the optional balanced sockets to the 'single ended' signal path inside the amp circuit, the single ended 1/4" jack sockets bypassing all of this. My view here is that unless absolutely necessary, this amp would be best used from the jack sockets and bypassing loads of extra gumph..

SOME audio electronics is balanced all through from input to output - my Krell KSA50S was made this way and at least one or two Levinson preamps were as well I seem to remember. In this case, bodging the connections to use unbalanced cables is a bodge too far I feel and it definitely was in the Krell's case I remember, where balanced use was all but insisted upon to give best sonic quality.

So, what's the bullsh*t above trying to say? For DOMESTIC use and 1m cables, just use a lowish capacitance screened cable and good quality connectors and forget about balanced unless your gear specifically recommends it.

Edited by DSJR
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Moderator

I have tried both in my system.  I can't hear any difference at all.

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3 hours ago, Electro said:

Some equipment is fully balanced with all the extra components that come with that design, the voltage also usually doubles if they are proper balanced connections .

This is a good point.

I went Balanced throughout my system (it’s used for home theatre duties as well as music), but the increase in gain caused an increase in volume, which could easily be interpreted as sounding better. Unfortunately, the increase in gain meant I had very little control over low level volume control for late night listening levels. Just the slightest of movement of the volume control went from whisper levels to normal listening levels. 

I currently use Balanced connections between Pre-amplifier and power amplifier but single ended (RCA) between source and Pre-amplifier, which has remedied the problem.

If you do want to try Balanced cables in your system, depending on your listening habits, if possible, it’s worth trialling some before you take the plunge.

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One thing that IS good with proper balanced connections is the general greater immunity to cable 'differences.'

I'm not saying the phono plugs we're stuck with are good connectors, but I am suggesting to check that the balanced connections on your gear don't introduce loads of extra sh*t into the signal path which can take some of the subtle musical clues away if you're not careful. The Keep It Simple Stupid mantra is important in domestic music playback I reckon.

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Dealer

IMO the problem and reason is marketing. The marketing are always looking for new angles and new stories. They have discovered a good source for these is the pro-market, it has specific problems that do not apply to us but stories and silly charts and equations can be made up for marketing purposes. The two main ones are balanced lines and electronic crossovers. It started in the late 70's early 80's with The Flat Earth which was a way of turning hi-fi into home PA systems, in yer face, agressive, but lots saw it as exciting, as big stadium rock was all the thing with massive PA's. Other things that came from it were racks, again marketing and expectation, to the extent that in the 80's cheap music systems were made to pretend to look like racks. Racks have now just becme a thing we expect to have, the marketeer hope to make balanced the same. At times people need to think out of the box, do we really need a lot of these things to get our music the way we want it - per usual marketing add ons just usually get in the way.

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And don't forget the bogus BS world of high-end cables.

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