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4.4 pentaconn to 3.5

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#1
Can you use a 4.4 pentaconn to a 3.5 mm connection out of the Zen Can to use as a preamp? The adapter I found on amazon is 4 pin balanced on both ends.
https://www.amazon.com/Geekria-Balanced-Gold-Plated-NW-ZX300A-TA-ZH1ES/dp/B075165H2M
Can I use that and run standard 3.5 (3 pole) to my powered desktop speakers? I assume the Zen would switch outputs when inserting/removing the headphone connection on the front of the unit.
 

solderdude

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#2
Nope, not using this adapter. You end up shorting the -L and -R output amplifiers on the Pentaconn side.

The good news is that Pentacon can be used for this but you need a special converter.
Pentacon L+ to 3.5mm L+ (tip to tip)
Pentacon R+ (second ring from tip) to 3.5mm ring.
Pentacon Sleeve to 3.5mm sleeve (common/ground)
The L- (first ring from tip) and R- (3rd ring from tip) MUST be left open (not connected)
 
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Thread Starter #3
Nope, not using this adapter. You end up shorting the -L and -R output amplifiers on the Pentaconn side.

The good news is that Pentacon can be used for this but you need a special converter.
Pentacon L+ to 3.5mm L+ (tip to tip)
Pentacon R+ (second ring from tip) to 3.5mm ring.
Pentacon Sleeve to 3.5mm sleeve (common/ground)
The L- (first ring from tip) and R- (3rd ring from tip) MUST be left open (not connected)
I do not understand that. The adapter will not work because it is not the correct type for that amp or for my desired application.
So would this damage the amp?.........or just not work?
 
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Thread Starter #8
There is a possibility that Zen Can will be damaged, see what @solderdude wrote.
Yes, I know what he wrote, unfortunately I did not understand exactly what was meant. I was hoping that he could simplify the answer for me. The description on Amazon indicates that it will work. What @raif71 quoted earlier was straight from the feature set on the Amazon description in the link I provided in my original post.
 
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raif71

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#9
Yes, I know what he wrote, unfortunately I did not understand exactly what was meant. I was hoping that he could simplify the answer for me. The description on Amazon indicates that it will work. What @raif71 quoted earlier was straight from the feature set on the Amazon description in the link I provided in my original post.
I just read customers' reviews, not very encouraging. :confused:
 
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Thread Starter #10
There is a possibility that Zen Can will be damaged, see what @solderdude wrote.
Yes, I know what he wrote, unfortunately I did not understand exactly what was meant. I was hoping that he could simplify the answer for me
I just read customers' reviews, not very encouraging. :confused:
Yeah, I did see that, but then I read others ....that's why I posted here to find out.
 

solderdude

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#11
This adapter will be shorting (create a short-circuit) between 2 of the 4 output circuits inside the amplifier.
A balanced amplifier has 4 amplifiers needed for 2 channels. You are basically connecting (tying together) 2 amplifier outputs.
Technically only the signals that are stereo will be shorted. Mono signals won't be a problem.
The amplifier certainly is NOT designed to be used this way.
Depending on whether or not the amplifier is short circuit protected it might cause problems such as excessive heat in 2 of the 4 amplifiers.
The fact that you can but connectors in it that mechanically fit does not mean it works problem free.

Of course you can use it this way and there will be stereo sound I would not recommend to use it. It is not designed for this.
The connector is designed to convert Pentaconn to a (also not standard) 3.5mm TRRS balanced connector.
Only very few headphones do have balanced 3.5mm TRRS connectors. Most have 2.5mm TRRS connectors.

Of course many folks with wired headphones that include a microphone and remote will have a 3.5mm TRRS adapter that will fit but 1 of the 4 amplifiers will provide ground and the other one will be pumping sound in the mic/remote.

So the answer is you SHOULD NOT use this connector because it is NOT suited for your application, but you will hear music.
It could be somewhat distorted, the amp could run hotter, it could be damaged (a well designed amp should be short circuit protected) it could work problem free but certainly is not intended for your use case. Regardless what the seller says.
 
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Thread Starter #12
This adapter will be shorting (create a short-circuit) between 2 of the 4 output circuits inside the amplifier.
A balanced amplifier has 4 amplifiers needed for 2 channels. You are basically connecting (tying together) 2 amplifier outputs.
Technically only the signals that are stereo will be shorted. Mono signals won't be a problem.
The amplifier certainly is NOT designed to be used this way.
Depending on whether or not the amplifier is short circuit protected it might cause problems such as excessive heat in 2 of the 4 amplifiers.
The fact that you can but connectors in it that mechanically fit does not mean it works problem free.

Of course you can use it this way and there will be stereo sound I would not recommend to use it. It is not designed for this.
The connector is designed to convert Pentaconn to a (also not standard) 3.5mm TRRS balanced connector.
Only very few headphones do have balanced 3.5mm TRRS connectors. Most have 2.5mm TRRS connectors.

Of course many folks with wired headphones that include a microphone and remote will have a 3.5mm TRRS adapter that will fit but 1 of the 4 amplifiers will provide ground and the other one will be pumping sound in the mic/remote.

So the answer is you SHOULD NOT use this connector because it is NOT suited for your application, but you will hear music.
It could be somewhat distorted, the amp could run hotter, it could be damaged (a well designed amp should be short circuit protected) it could work problem free but certainly is not intended for your use case. Regardless what the seller says.
Thank you for the clarification. I appreciate you checking back.
How can they advertise this for years and get away with it. Below is a bullet point of features that specifically lured me:
  • 4.4 mm M to 3.5 mm F convert adapter lets your 4.4mm output devices work with 3.5mm NOT ONLY balanced BUT ALSO the stereo headphones, earphones.
I did see some of the negative reviews but like all things on Amazon you have to read through all of them and these specifically mentioned ifi products:

4.0 out of 5 stars Works but don’t try for balanced audio.
Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2020
Size: 4.4 mm Male to 3.5mm FemaleVerified Purchase
Attempted to use this for balanced output on Ifi zen dac... didn’t work obviously lol but works as an adapter.

5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced Extension
Reviewed in Germany on October 11, 2020
Size: 4.4 mm Male to 3.5mm FemaleVerified Purchase
Use the 4,4mm to 3,5mm + 3,5mm to 2,5mm adapter with a 4-pin 3,5mm extension to connect my HD800 on the couch to the ifi Zen Can on the TV low board. Folds great, plugs have a perfect fit quality and fit firmly.
Very good quality

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good quality
Reviewed in Germany on August 18, 2020
Size: 4.4 mm Male to 3.5mm FemaleVerified Purchase
I use this adapter to connect my balanced cable headphones to the balanced input of a Hifi Zen Dac. The difference between connecting to the balanced input or the normal input is quite big, the audio quality as well as the volume is much higher. The termination of the adapter is quite good. The 35mm jack of the headphone goes in and out a bit loud but it's nothing to worry about.

With the overall rating of 4.1 on Amazon with more than 400 reviews I figured it was worth a try.
Again thanks @solderdude for informing me. Do you happen to know where I can find the output connector that will work for me?
 
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#13
Rules of thumb:
Balanced amp to non-balanced (3.5mm) headphones/speakers with an adapter: NO
Unbalanced amp to balanced (4.4mm, 2.5mm) headphones with an adapter: OK
Balanced amp to RCA: OK (you should do this if your powered speakers have RCA input instead, won't be optimal but at least it won't short your amp)
 

solderdude

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#14
Do you happen to know where I can find the output connector that will work for me?
I don't have any balanced amps nor headphones with Pentaconn plugs so never had to look for this.
Should I ever need to I would buy a pentaconn connector and make the needed cable.
Technically pentaconn is the only headphone connector that can actually be used balanced and single ended.
Well... aside from 4 pin XLR where the ground connection is also connected.

Most likely some cable makers will sell something like what you need but don't know one.
 
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#15
Can you use a 4.4 pentaconn to a 3.5 mm connection out of the Zen Can to use as a preamp? The adapter I found on amazon is 4 pin balanced on both ends.
https://www.amazon.com/Geekria-Balanced-Gold-Plated-NW-ZX300A-TA-ZH1ES/dp/B075165H2M
Can I use that and run standard 3.5 (3 pole) to my powered desktop speakers? I assume the Zen would switch outputs when inserting/removing the headphone connection on the front of the unit.
As a very simple rule as others have said, don't ever try and convert a balanced source to unbalanced amp/transducer. There are exceptions that if you are 100% sure are wired correctly will work. But sounds like you or I aren't competent to verify that. So don't try.
 

NTK

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#16
...
Do you happen to know where I can find the output connector that will work for me?
If you really really want to drive your powered speakers with the rear output of your Zen Can, one possibility is to use a iFi IEMatch after the 4.4 mm to 3.5 mm adapter (assuming it is a true TRRS to TRRS balance-to-balance adapter). The IEMatch will let you drive your SE load with balanced output.

The IEMatch was designed for very sensitive IEM's and has a minimum 12 dB (0.25x) signal attenuation. Your Zen Can is capable of very high output, so it should be able to drive your powered speakers to sufficient levels even with the 12 dB attenuation. However, the danger is that if you forget readjusting the volume/gain settings when you switch back to headphones from speakers, you may blow your headphones and/or ears.

[Edit] I still wouldn't recommend it. The IEMatch, as a 16 Ω load, will draw quite a bit of power from the Zen Can (1 W at 4 V RMS output from the Zen Can, and 1 V RMS to your powered speakers).
 
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