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DCA Noire + Qudelix 5k = Worthwhile to go balanced ?

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Hello !

I received my Qudekix 5K and Dan Clark Audio's Noire a couple of days ago and I really enjoyed the experience so far. So much clarity, details and nice imaging !

Quick question though: there is a 2.5mm input on the Qudelix. Without going esoteric with cables, are there some of you who did the switch from unbalanced to balanced cable and found it worthwhile ?

With cables, of course, prices are a bit everywhere (from 70$ to 150$+). I saw Amir's review of the 5K and there is a visible difference between unbalanced and balanced specs. As noise is a non-issue right now with my setup, there is the question of available gain (around the double if I understand correctly).

Right now, I'm using the normal mode of the Qudelix. So, for quiet recordings, would it be better to switch to «High» mode or to switch to balanced cable ?

Most recordings seem perfectly fine to my ears, but I don't have real comparisons with other headphones (outside of my old Beyer's DT-250).

Best wishes,
 

JanesJr1

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Hello !

I received my Qudekix 5K and Dan Clark Audio's Noire a couple of days ago and I really enjoyed the experience so far. So much clarity, details and nice imaging !

Quick question though: there is a 2.5mm input on the Qudelix. Without going esoteric with cables, are there some of you who did the switch from unbalanced to balanced cable and found it worthwhile ?

With cables, of course, prices are a bit everywhere (from 70$ to 150$+). I saw Amir's review of the 5K and there is a visible difference between unbalanced and balanced specs. As noise is a non-issue right now with my setup, there is the question of available gain (around the double if I understand correctly).

Right now, I'm using the normal mode of the Qudelix. So, for quiet recordings, would it be better to switch to «High» mode or to switch to balanced cable ?

Most recordings seem perfectly fine to my ears, but I don't have real comparisons with other headphones (outside of my old Beyer's DT-250).

Best wishes,
When I bought my DCA phones (first Closed X, then Noire), I planned to use them just from the desktop. I had an amp with a balanced headphone jack that doubled its power, so didn't look back and bought Hart balanced cables.

With hindsight that may have been unnecessary for desktop use. The surprise came when I used a dongle (not the Qudelix) and found not one but two that would drive those headphones well. I already had balanced cables, so I just bought an adapter to the 2.5mm balanced jack on the dongles and ran them balanced.

I can't tell you if you need balanced cables, but I know that a weak dongle (and I tried a couple) won't work. I have one with 200mW into 32ohms (perhaps more for the 13 ohm cans) and up to 90 mA current, the Hidizs S9 Pro. I drag the Noires everywhere now and use them mobile. I compare the dongle performance to the desktop performance as my benchmark and it is very hard to tell the difference from desktop. The power math does work, probably without distortion up to 98 dBSPL (loud). I'm sure the desktop could yield higher SPL's but what I've got with the dongle is already more than I need and it's wonderful. I also have used the e1DA 9038s G3 (balanced) and it's somewhat more powerful than the Hidzs, though I like the Hidizs a little better for other reasons.

So you can probably compare my 200mW and 90mA into 32ohms to the Qudelix to get a sense if you're in the ballpark. Some other ASR members with good tech chops and familiar with the Qudelix will probably give you more specific advice. In Amir's review of the Qudelix, the balanced connection is 210mW into 50 ohms using high gain, or four times more than single-ended. Your Noire's have still-lower impedance, and the Qudelix power rating may be somewhat higher for that impedance, but I'm unclear on the current, which is more important. But the balanced connection looks like the best bet to me.

Meanwhile, I can tell you that a strong dongle will work, a weak one won't, and $70 or so for balanced cables is small beer compared to the pleasure I get from the Noire's, toting them here and there on average twice a day. Unless you get a good case from a tech-savvy ASR member that the Qudelix will have enough power single ended, I'd do the easy thing and buy the balanced cables. If you think you'll use those phones mobile, you spent a lot of money, so get the payoff.
 

tifune

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With the Noire, you will likely benefit from a balanced connection. If it were me, I would do it. But, don't buy some absurd Black Dragon Diamond Plated $500 option. DCA cables run a little high, comparatively, but $100 should do it.
 

staticV3

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The 5K can do 1.0Vrms single-ended into 13Ω and 1.8Vrms balanced:
Screenshot_20220524-012449_Sheets.jpg
In terms of perceived loudness, the 2.5mm output will be 43% louder than 3.5mm.

Btw, you can buy balanced headphone cables for the Noire for about $40-50 on AliExpress.
Or you could reterminate the cable that you already own with a 2.5mm plug for like $3 in materials, though tools and skills are required.
 
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With the Noire, you will likely benefit from a balanced connection. If it were me, I would do it. But, don't buy some absurd Black Dragon Diamond Plated $500 option. DCA cables run a little high, comparatively, but $100 should do it.
Thank you all for the answers.

Yes, you're right. If there is some logic behind going balanced, especially having a bit more leverage in terms of volume, without going broke, it's not a big investment and is probably worthwhile.

Best wishes,
 

tsanguine

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If unbalanced goes loud enough for you then I wouldn't worry about it. If you do decide to go unbalanced I would recommend not building your own cable. Dan Clark audio sells the connector but unless you have the crimp tool, I wouldn't recommend it. I've had great luck with cheap Aliexpress cables but haven't bought once for DCA headphones. I personally didn't want to deal with the bulky connectors and modded my Aeon 2 closed to accept 3.5mm at the cups. I've already got plenty of great and cheap balanced cables that are 3.5mm at the cup that terminate to 2.5mm.

11192179.jpg
 
OP
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If unbalanced goes loud enough for you then I wouldn't worry about it. If you do decide to go unbalanced I would recommend not building your own cable. Dan Clark audio sells the connector but unless you have the crimp tool, I wouldn't recommend it. I've had great luck with cheap Aliexpress cables but haven't bought once for DCA headphones. I personally didn't want to deal with the bulky connectors and modded my Aeon 2 closed to accept 3.5mm at the cups. I've already got plenty of great and cheap balanced cables that are 3.5mm at the cup that terminate to 2.5mm.

11192179.jpg
Thank you ! I would certainly not do it ! I do a bit of soldering, but would not go that route !

I found that Hart Cables have some affordable solutions if I decide to move just for the sake of it. Some low-volume recordings are a bit limit, but I would not call it a major problem right now.

Best wishes !
 

jkuc003

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Or you could reterminate the cable that you already own with a 2.5mm plug for like $3 in materials, though tools and skills are required.
Do you know of anyone doing this with the standard Dummer cable? I have put this question to DCA but have not had a response. I did come across a post from 2020 on another forum from DCA but would like clarification that the main cable of their current Dummer setup is four core and able to be wired for TRRS prior to taking to my cable with snips.

This appears to be the same as my cable

image (1).png
 
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JanesJr1

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Thank you ! I would certainly not do it ! I do a bit of soldering, but would not go that route !

I found that Hart Cables have some affordable solutions if I decide to move just for the sake of it. Some low-volume recordings are a bit limit, but I would not call it a major problem right now.

Best wishes !
Just a thought -- if you might want to use a desktop amp as well as a dongle, don't solder the 2.5mm, get a 4.4mm pentaconn balanced cable and use a 2.5mm adapter for the dongle. One set of DCA-style hirose balanced cables for the headphones, choice of dongle or desktop at the other end. Just one set of cables to stuff in your nifty Noire pouch. (This means a desktop with 4.4 mm balanced headphone jack, of course ... but they seem to be becoming a lot more common.)

Or if you use the Hart cables, they appear to use a modular approach where you may be able to order multiple, swappable connectors at the amp end (though I never asked them about it).

Balanced cables are expensive enough that flexible approaches may be worth it, especially with uncommon Hirose connectors on the phones. (Though I am partial to he Hirose connectors, personally. I drag my Noires all over creation, and with the wear and tear I like how they affirmatively lock the connector in with a click that you can hear and feel, while also remaining easy to connect/disconnect.)
 
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mugbot

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I can echo the endorsement for Hart cables, I use them for all my headphones and have found them very convenient.
Typically I'll run balanced for portable amps (E1DA 9038s or Qudelix 5k) but single ended for my JDS element or RME ADI-2 DAC FS.
I just leave the 'tail' plugged in, and connect the headphone + rest of the cable as needed.
 

JanesJr1

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I can echo the endorsement for Hart cables, I use them for all my headphones and have found them very convenient.
Typically I'll run balanced for portable amps (E1DA 9038s or Qudelix 5k) but single ended for my JDS element or RME ADI-2 DAC FS.
I just leave the 'tail' plugged in, and connect the headphone + rest of the cable as needed.
mugbot, this is a little bit tangent, but do you have any problems with dropouts with the 9038s dongle? I have one, but it sometimes won't work when connected, or will unpredictably fail to reconnect if I pause using the headphones for a few minutes.
 

mugbot

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mugbot, this is a little bit tangent, but do you have any problems with dropouts with the 9038s dongle? I have one, but it sometimes won't work when connected, or will unpredictably fail to reconnect if I pause using the headphones for a few minutes.
Not too many but on rare occasions. I use it with an android phone, so had always blamed that as USB dongles are not 100% reliable.
There are apps for example that don't seem to work with an external DAC. I've had more luck with one of the small 180' usb c connectors than I had with a cable, I suspect movement of the cable was responsible for my disconnections. Qudelix 5k had the same issues, but similarly was improved by a hard connector.
 

tsanguine

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Thank you ! I would certainly not do it ! I do a bit of soldering, but would not go that route !

I found that Hart Cables have some affordable solutions if I decide to move just for the sake of it. Some low-volume recordings are a bit limit, but I would not call it a major problem right now.

Best wishes !
A bit of soldering is all it took. It was incredibly easy. One of the easiest mods I've ever done. I prefer the small and lightweight 2.5mm and 3.5mm connectors because I also drag mine all over the place. I use the 2.5mm and 3.5mm version of this cable. They are less than $20/apiece.
HTB1E3WsJY1YBuNjSszhq6AUsFXaG.jpg
 

JanesJr1

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Not too many but on rare occasions. I use it with an android phone, so had always blamed that as USB dongles are not 100% reliable.
There are apps for example that don't seem to work with an external DAC. I've had more luck with one of the small 180' usb c connectors than I had with a cable, I suspect movement of the cable was responsible for my disconnections. Qudelix 5k had the same issues, but similarly was improved by a hard connector.
Thanks. I just use the 9038s with a PC, and I have the same problem on two PC's, and the same problem does not occur with an alternate dongle I use, so it's probably not the external connection. I probably have a bad unit or there's some driver problem I don't understand.
 
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