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Debating upgrading some gear to get balanced signal for Genelec 8080C; seeking guidance

Banzai

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Jun 26, 2023
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First post! Wanted to start by saying I've been visiting ASR since 2018, and y'all have been integral is helping me avoid a lot of audiophile bullshit over the years, as well as spending my money on a lot of really fantastic gear. So thank you!

I'm trying to decide if it makes any sense to spend a fair bit of money in the pursuit of getting a balanced audio signal into my Genelec 8030Cs. Right now my signal chain looks like this:
PC USB Out -> MiniDSP Flex
MiniDSP Unbalanced Out 1+2 -> Genelec 8030C (using RCA to XLR cables)
MiniDSP Unbalanced Out 3+4 -> JDSLabs El Amp (headphone amplifier) -> El Amp unbalanced pass through to SVS SB-1000 Pro subwoofer

This setup allows me to use outs 1/2/3 on the MiniDSP to drive my Genelecs + sub with a low pass filter and room EQ. I can switch to out 3/4 to feed my headphone amp with 10 band EQ presets for different headphones. It works well, sounds amazing, and I love it. The only thing about it that bugs me is I want to feed my Genelecs balanced input.

My upgrade would replace the MiniDSP Flex with a Flex Balanced ($570), and the El Amp with an El Amp II+ Balanced ($250). The signal chain would effectively remain exactly the same. Only difference being connection to the Genelecs and headphone amp would be balanced. The El Amp II+ has RCA preouts so it can convert the balanced signal to SE to feed the sub. Bonus is since the II+ is a preamp, and not a straight pass through like the original El Amp, it would give me an independent physical volume control for the sub.

The thing is, I can't really think of a good reason to switch to balanced connections other than "I want it". With the 2VRMS output of the Flex I can already get the speakers to deafeningly loud levels for my seating position (sensitivity on the speakers does have to be all the way up, but it works). I also don't seem to have any issues with my cables picking up noise. They're 5' runs, shielded, and verified with a multimeter to be wired per Genelecs recommendation for unbalanced input. Even though they run alongside a fully loaded surge protector they don't seem to be picking up any interference that I can hear.

Looking for someone to talk me off the ledge, or push me. This upgrade wouldn't break the bank, but I'm also not in the habit of throwing money at intangible benefits. Are there any benefits of switching to balanced connections I might not be considering? Or am I at best getting a dopamine hit from buying news toys, and maybe some placebo effect in my listening experience?
 

fineMen

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Good question! The only reason for going balanced is to prevent electrical interference. E/g my bass guitar hums like crazy because it is single ended and for some bad historical reasons is a high impedance design. My microphones, though, easily would run on 40 meters (!) of balanced cables with no hum whatsoever.

Additionally, 'balanced' can be faked. The how to can be found on the internet.

E/g: https://electronics.stackexchange.c...the-limitations-of-fake-balanced-audio-cables
 
Last edited:

staticV3

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Are there any benefits of switching to balanced connections I might not be considering?
None.
That money is much better spent on a UMIK and some basic room treatment, or on a second sub.
 

YSC

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if you don't find any interference issue, no benefit in reality to change to balanced connection, of course that exclude the psychological benefit of "I am feeding it right!!!"
 
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