MickyP

Balanced v unbalanced

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12 minutes ago, Richard Dunn said:

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.

Exactly, do we really need Speaker cable, Interconnects, Pre-Amplifiers, Integrated Amplifiers, Power Amplifiers, Phono Stages, Loudspeakers, Balanced Mains Units, etc., when we could make do with a one box solution from Bose.

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Obviously, some thing we do need and some things we don't. People make their own choice and if some choose Bose, in fact many more choose Bose because of convenience, good for them. BUT I thought this was a hi-fi forum, am I wrong?

None of those things mentioned are about marketing, probably the nearest to be accused of that would be a BMU and it took me a while to decide to make or not, in the end I had to because of the benefit. Where as in the cases of racks, electronic crossovers and balanced lines I used them when I made pro-market gear so I for one (it seems other don't) understand why, and why they are a waste of time and money in hi-fi.

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As I said in my previous post if the equipment is fully balanced from input to output then using balanced XLR cable to connect it makes complete sense.

My Electrocompaniet equipment is fully balanced from input to output  and the voltage on XLR is double that of single ended but the rest of the system is designed with that voltage in mind so the volume control is set so the whole sweep of volume range  can be used from 0 to maximum without clipping the power amps  and as such the manufacturer highly recommends balanced connections , in my experience the sound quality is definitely better using the balanced connection with fully balanced equipment.

Other fully balanced brands like  Krell etc are similar.

If it was me I would use XLR cables like the ones  in my previous post whenever possible fully balanced or not as they are top quality no bullshit interconnects that have a much more positive and stable connection to equipment regardless of sound quality, and you can have any colour you like for no extra cost. :)

http://www.van-damme.com/12.html

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Van-Damme-STARQUAD-Balanced-Cable-Best-Neutrik-Gold-XLR-to-XLR-Microphone-Leads/151186847778?hash=item2333703822:m:mB7B6_1QtSEgbBS26Zou4KA&var=450235128840

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The one area they make sense in a domestic environment is usually the one where they are not used. If you have a fully balanced MC Cartridge and Phono stage then the delicate signal is measurably better preserved and the noise level drops. Very few people have this configuration.

XLR makes sense when you are plugging and unplugging connectors frequently. This is typical of Pro usage and the long lead lengths they required. In a domestic setting I have some connectors that have remained in place for over 14 years so RCA is perfectly acceptable. Yes the grounding design is rubbish so plugging in cables when the machine is one will cause a hum until the the cable is fully inserted but again I don't do this very often. This is more a benefit of the connector than the fact it is balanced.

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35 minutes ago, Richard Dunn said:

Obviously, some thing we do need and some things we don't. People make their own choice and if some choose Bose, in fact many more choose Bose because of convenience, good for them. BUT I thought this was a hi-fi forum, am I wrong?

None of those things mentioned are about marketing, probably the nearest to be accused of that would be a BMU and it took me a while to decide to make or not, in the end I had to because of the benefit. Where as in the cases of racks, electronic crossovers and balanced lines I used them when I made pro-market gear so I for one (it seems other don't) understand why, and why they are a waste of time and money in hi-fi.

So are you now saying “Racks, electronic crossovers, and balanced lines”,  “are a waste of time and money in Hifi.”?.

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From an electronics point of view, a fully balanced curcuit makes a lot of sense. The issue is that in many cases it is not fully balanced, but psuedo-balanced, which is actually the worst of both worlds.

In an unbalanced circuit, the 'negative' line is effectively connected to chassis ground. Frequently with some network to provide a degree of isolation, but nevertheless, it references chassis earth. This often leads to issues with ground loops and hum problems. In a true balanced circuit, the signal lines are not connected to chassis ground in any way. For many reasons this is better, but the moment you introduce any component that is not fully balanced, any benefit is lost.

I totally agree with Nick's post above, in that a turntable, SUT, phono stage is one place where keeping the signal balanced and totally separating chassis ground is more than worthwhile. In practice, unfortunately, most phono stages are not balanced.

Racks? Depends. For turntables, suitable support is vital. I've has situations where suitable support seems to make a difference to other equipment. A tube phono stage can be affected by vibration, particularly if any of the tubes are microphonic to an extent. Damping will not prevent any effect from airborne vibration, but some racks effectively amplify this, so damping might be appropriate.

To dismiss everything is crass.

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I fail to see how racks are a waste of money. I don't use one, but if they are bought as a piece if furniture to house kit, rather than being expected to improve the sound of kit then fine.

I use a cupboard, but I guess it could be described as a side by side rack. It does not improve the sound, but it does not harm I either, to me it looks better, simply because I can shut the doors and hide most of the boxes. It shortens the length of cable required to connect everything, and restricts it (other than speaker cable and ethernet) to one small ish space in the room.  The idea of having the various boxes strung out on tables, or shelves with cable all over really does not appeal. Balanced lines, I guess if your kit is balanced end to end why not, but I can not think of a need for it in a domestic set up. I thought people where using electronic crossovers to go active and where reporting improvements. If that is the case, why not.

Marketing is something we have to live with, it's not going away, how else is the demand for the next I phone, car, or the sofa your arse is on going to be generated

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The biggest advantage of balanced (probably the only advantage if we are talking short cable runs of less than 2 meters) is that XLR connectors are far more robust than RCA and are easier to make up (solder) and depending on connectors on kit can have a locking mechanism .. 

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It depends. I have balanced cables in my Pass Labs set up. Nelson Pass who has been making high-quality amps for over 30 years believes they sound better with them as the amps take full advantage of them. Krell were of a similar view and recommended balanced cables between the pre and power and have done so since the 70s. When all the balanced connections are is the single ended (RCA) connections and a few wires, it makes no difference. 

For the OP I would say do not bother any gains will be minimal and I suspect it is a convenience feature.

I use a dBase rack as it took the weight of a Krell 600 amplifier, stacks vertically in my limited space and provides isolation which helps with the valve components. I would prefer a nice wooden rack as they look nice and have a high WAF. But then I can 'get away' with some ugly looking gear without too many problems.

So the answer is keep your money and buy a nice new album as there are a lot of good ones coming out in time for Christmas. :cool:

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22 minutes ago, jkbmusic said:

So are you now saying “Racks, electronic crossovers, and balanced lines”,  “are a waste of time and money in Hifi.”?.

Yes

But if your want them for some obscure reason who I am to stop you. I am just telling that thing known as reality.

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1 minute ago, George 47 said:

It depends. I have balanced cables in my Pass Labs set up. Nelson Pass who has been making high-quality amps for over 30 years believes they sound better with them as the amps take full advantage of them. Krell were of a similar view and recommended balanced cables between the pre and power and have done so since the 70s. When all the balanced connections are is the single ended (RCA) connections and a few wires, it makes no difference. 

For the OP I would say do not bother any gains will be minimal and I suspect it is a convenience feature.

I use a dBase rack as it took the weight of a Krell 600 amplifier, stacks vertically in my limited space and provides isolation which helps with the valve components. I would prefer a nice wooden rack as they look nice and have a high WAF. But then I can 'get away' with some ugly looking gear without too many problems.

So the answer is keep your money and buy a nice new album as there are a lot of good ones coming out in time for Christmas. :cool:

But the circuits they are connecting are single ended so how can there be an advantage - it is just marketing, a way to convince you, sell to you - "look I am clever and different".

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I feel racks are quite important, because without them, I'd have all my gear spread over the floor. Anne would be less than happy with that arrangement and it would be hard to change an LP when standing on a tube amp.

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2 minutes ago, Devil said:

But then some people say that “cable burn in” is reality! :shock:

Troll - good bait on the hook but wrong river.

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2 minutes ago, Richard Dunn said:

But the circuits they are connecting are single ended so how can there be an advantage - it is just marketing, a way to convince you, sell to you - "look I am clever and different".

Oddly enough Nelson Pass disagrees with you and has a patent on their balanced circuit. He also recommends balanced connections and has done so for decades. So is his reality different to yours? If ever you had met Nelson Pass a marketing man he is not having given away a large number of circuit designs to DiY people. I have no doubt he has a marketing group but he is in control of his company and would not allow super sales to get in the way of engineering. His web pages are full of his thoughts on amplifiers and not marketing bxs. He is acknowledged to be one the grandee amplifier designers by academics as well as the audio community. Not trying to disrespect your experience but he does have considerable experience and arrives at a different conclusion. Oh and he designs amps by extensive listening. 

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