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Balanced to unbalanced connections

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#1
I understand that in certain circumstances there may be a benefit to using balanced connections.

Is there any point to using a balanced to rca connector over a rca to rca? From dac to amp for example.

Thanks
 
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#3
That would've been my thought. I don't come from an electronics background though. Thanks
 
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#4
I understand that in certain circumstances there may be a benefit to using balanced connections.
Is there any point to using a balanced to rca connector over a rca to rca? From dac to amp for example. Thanks
Technically, I believe using a balanced output (XLR, TRSS) to an RCA input (un-balanced connection) will function, but will not be able to offer any benefits, over a normal un-balanced (like RCA to RCA) connection.
 

Speedskater

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#5
It's not about the cable, it's about the interconnect system.
Output stage >> cable >> input stage.
While at the measurement level there are always advantages in a balanced interconnect system over an unbalanced interconnect system.
But for short cables, say 3 meters (10 feet) these small differences are seldom audible.
 

DonH56

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#6
If you have a ground loop or are in a very high-noise environment it can matter but for the (vast?) majority of us it does not. Except in very rare cases I have not seen noise be a problem in consumer systems so the biggest benefit is the ability to break a ground loop if you have a proper differential connection at both ends. Otherwise, meh...

Assuming no DI box or transformer, then the only advantage I see off-hand of using a balanced cable with an RCA at the other end is if the shield is tied at just one end. Then you can improve noise immunity of the interconnect itself. Most of the time that is not an issue.

I have used XLR and RCAs here and there throughout my system. The only time I noticed a significant difference was changing my rear subs to XLRs. They are on a separate power circuit and XLRs broke a ground loop that made them buzz.
 
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#7
XLR to RCA cables will work fine. However, aside from issue Don addressed in his second paragraph, the the only good reason to go that route is if you have a component in the system that has XLR connections only, such as I have with my Yamaha equalizers. Otherwise, just use RCA to RCA.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 

Speedskater

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#9
If you have a ground loop or are in a very high-noise environment it can matter but for the (vast?) majority of us it does not.
As I wrote, if all your equipment is on one rack or in one nearby area, then no it doesn't matter. But if your power amps are near the loudspeakers (and especially if they are on a different AC circuit) then yes it can often matter.
 

DonH56

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#10
As I wrote, if all your equipment is on one rack or in one nearby area, then no it doesn't matter. But if your power amps are near the loudspeakers (and especially if they are on a different AC circuit) then yes it can often matter.
Well, I had problems with ground loops in a single rack (our church system) on a single circuit, that was a pain. Even with the chasses isolated one of the monitor amps was a problem so I had to add a DI box for the stoopid thang. I'm convinced that little monitor amp was just a bad design.

At home my front subs and power amps are right near the preamp but on different circuits. The preamp/sub connection was fine (though I've since gone XLR), but the subs hummed a little until I solved the problem. The rear subs howled when I tried RCA; fortunately, I had planned on XLR for them and that took care of it.

Other than the hum there was difference in sound quality to my ears of clay.
 
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#11
Hi guys,

New to the forum, love the info so far

Just a follow up to this post

Looking to connect the output from a headphone amp to the input of a Sub (which then feeds the other speakers in the system), the headphone amp has a stereo jack and balanced (4 pin XLR) outputs

The Sub has RCA or TRS inputs

I assume I will get a higher input level if I convert from the XLR to a pair of RCA's (I have found an adapter online that does this)

Cheers
 
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DonH56

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#12
Depends on the gain structure of the amp and what the converter (adapter) does. Could be the same, more, or less. It will not increase the maximum subwoofer output no matter what but may help reduce the noise or provide more output from a given input signal (or not).
 
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#13
I understand that in certain circumstances there may be a benefit to using balanced connections.

Is there any point to using a balanced to rca connector over a rca to rca? From dac to amp for example.

Thanks
From dac to amp, no advantage. No balanced amp input, no noise advantage.

But from some rca output to balanced input you can take advantage of common mode rejection, see for example fig. 15 in http://www.douglas-self.com/ampins/balanced/balanced.htm
Better if you put a resistor (equal to output resistance) from rca ground to cold line in XLR, observe that you need 3 wires plus shield, and shield was ONLY connected in one point
 
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