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How to use a Balanced/Unbalanced in/out Headphone Amplifier?

dynames

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Specifically I am looking at the Schiit Magnius headphone amp, which for my use case will be:

USB DAC -> Magnius:
Balanced-in (Dual 3 pin xlr) OR Unbalanced-in (rca)

Magnius -> Headphones:
Headphone-Balanced-Out (4 pin xlr) OR Headphone-Unbalanced-out (SE Quarter Inch TRS)

Q1 (main): Suppose I am connecting a DAC's balanced-out, via a balanced cable, to the balanced-in of the Magnius.
Will there be any danger if I then use the SE headphone output of the Magnius via an unbalanced cable? How about a TRS jack to 4 pin xlr cable?
Does this apply to any amp that has both balanced and unbalanced in/out?
I ask this because in general I know that connecting a balanced output via an unbalanced cable to headphones is bad.

Q2(sub): So I have the Aune x1s GT dac/amp. It has unbalanced rca out in the back, and the only balanced output it has is the 4.4 headphone-out in the front. Am I correct in that this 4.4 is NOT to be used as an out to the balanced-in of a headphone amp?
 

twsecrest

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A headphone amplifier jack is not the best way to send a signal to a line-put, on a headphone amplifier.
It might work, but it not something recommended.
 

Jimbob54

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Will there be any danger if I then use the SE headphone output of the Magnius via an unbalanced cable?
No danger. Definitely do not try and adapt a SE headphone to the 4 pin out of the amp. You CAN safely adapt a balanced headphone to go into a single ended amp socket.

As for Q2- I woulnt use the 4.4 headphone out of the Aune to the inputs on the Magnius- far better to use the RCA out the Aune and into RCA Magnius. I dont think you would harm anything the other way, just means you are having to fiddle with 2 volume knobs to get the right balance and if too high might clip the inputs on the Magnius.
 

DVDdoug

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Q1 (main): Suppose I am connecting a DAC's balanced-out, via a balanced cable, to the balanced-in of the Magnius.

Will there be any danger if I then use the SE headphone output of the Magnius via an unbalanced cable?...
...Does this apply to any amp that has both balanced and unbalanced in/out?
The inputs & outputs are independent.

It wouldn't be unusual for an amplifier (or other gizmo) to have a balanced circuit on the input and a balanced circuit on the output, but with a single-path through most of the internal circuitry.
 
OP
D

dynames

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Thanks for the replies everybody, I think most of my original queries have been answered. To make sure I understand:


On Q1: I don't want to DIY any connections with unbalanced/balanced cabling, so to be safe I would either run everything unbalanced, or everything balanced. I also understand that having: balanced source out ->unbalanced cable -> unbalanced headphones will damage the source. Whereas: Unbalanced source out ->Balanced cable -> Balanced headphones will be fine.

That's why I was confused with: balanced source into amp ->unbalanced amp out to headphones. From the answers above I assume this is fine because the input and output of the amp are independent to each other?

In general, does this mean that regardless of the source (balanced/unbalanced) going into the amp, I can safely use whichever amp headphone output (balanced/unbalanced)? My main concern is to not break anything.

On Q2: I was just lamenting that my Aune DAC/Amp didn't have a proper balanced line out to an amplifier. I was also a bit confused, because some other DACs like the ones from ifi have a 4.4 in the front AND the back.

Other: I own some Hifiman headphones with dual 3.5 TRS, and some Sennheiser hd 500's (559 and 569) with a single 2.5 TRRS. There's never documentation on this but since these are balanced connectors, I assume these headphones can run balanced with no problem?
 
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Grumpish

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Depends on the amplifier- the first thing is that there is no such thing as a balanced output into a speaker or headphone, it is either a bridged pair of amplifiers on a common ground, or a single amplifier. At line level balanced gives better noise rejection, for headphones a greater voltage swing. If both pairs of amplifiers are tied to a common ground, no problem, if they float around independent grounds then you could end up with damaging DC offsets.
 

shkdwnst

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No danger. Definitely do not try and adapt a SE headphone to the 4 pin out of the amp. You CAN safely adapt a balanced headphone to go into a single ended amp socket.

As for Q2- I woulnt use the 4.4 headphone out of the Aune to the inputs on the Magnius- far better to use the RCA out the Aune and into RCA Magnius. I dont think you would harm anything the other way, just means you are having to fiddle with 2 volume knobs to get the right balance and if too high might clip the inputs on the Magnius.
I recently got a Magnius, to replace my iFi ZEN Can. But, I kept the ZEN Dac connected, and used the 4.4mm output, on the back of the ZEN, that split into two 3 pin XLRs, on the back of the Magnius, for balanced inputs. Everything is working, sounds great, imo. Although, everything sounds thinner, out of the Magnius. The ZEN Can, had a fuller, almost lush sound, when compared to the Schitt. To my ear, anyway. But, not in a bad way, or anything. It makes it sound like the Zen Cans sound was colored, in some way, and this just sounds perfectly neutral, and uncolored, in any way.
Anyway, I was wondering, after reading your post, if there was anything wrong running the Magnius, using the 4.4mm output. Its a basic splitter, that has a male 4.4mm termination on one end, then it splits, into two male XLRs, that go into the amp input. Would I benefit SQ-wise, by using XLRs, at both ends, to connect a Dac, to an Amp? Or, am I just fine, and getting fully balanced signal, with this set up?
Thank you for any help you can offer. I am most appreciative. :cool:
 

Jimbob54

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I recently got a Magnius, to replace my iFi ZEN Can. But, I kept the ZEN Dac connected, and used the 4.4mm output, on the back of the ZEN, that split into two 3 pin XLRs, on the back of the Magnius, for balanced inputs. Everything is working, sounds great, imo. Although, everything sounds thinner, out of the Magnius. The ZEN Can, had a fuller, almost lush sound, when compared to the Schitt. To my ear, anyway. But, not in a bad way, or anything. It makes it sound like the Zen Cans sound was colored, in some way, and this just sounds perfectly neutral, and uncolored, in any way.
Anyway, I was wondering, after reading your post, if there was anything wrong running the Magnius, using the 4.4mm output. Its a basic splitter, that has a male 4.4mm termination on one end, then it splits, into two male XLRs, that go into the amp input. Would I benefit SQ-wise, by using XLRs, at both ends, to connect a Dac, to an Amp? Or, am I just fine, and getting fully balanced signal, with this set up?
Thank you for any help you can offer. I am most appreciative. :cool:

I recently got a Magnius, to replace my iFi ZEN Can. But, I kept the ZEN Dac connected, and used the 4.4mm output, on the back of the ZEN, that split into two 3 pin XLRs, on the back of the Magnius, for balanced inputs. Everything is working, sounds great, imo. Although, everything sounds thinner, out of the Magnius. The ZEN Can, had a fuller, almost lush sound, when compared to the Schitt. To my ear, anyway. But, not in a bad way, or anything. It makes it sound like the Zen Cans sound was colored, in some way, and this just sounds perfectly neutral, and uncolored, in any way.
Anyway, I was wondering, after reading your post, if there was anything wrong running the Magnius, using the 4.4mm output. Its a basic splitter, that has a male 4.4mm termination on one end, then it splits, into two male XLRs, that go into the amp input. Would I benefit SQ-wise, by using XLRs, at both ends, to connect a Dac, to an Amp? Or, am I just fine, and getting fully balanced signal, with this set up?
Thank you for any help you can offer. I am most appreciative. :cool:
Should be fine.
 
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