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Why or why not use balanced connections

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Krunok

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#1
Too bad it does not have an AES3 input., but the rear panel is already cramped.
By the way I don't understand why AES is falling out of fahion in favor of spdif coax: the former is so more pleasant to use, and the cables tend to be more flexible and thin...
AES3 and SPDIF share the same low level serial protocol, but while SPDIF was designed for consumer market AES3 was meant to be used in professional envrionment. SPDIF covers max distance of 10m and is thus much cheaper than AES3, which covers max distance of 100m to 1000m, depending on the implementation. Apart from that there is no difference so you really don't need to miss AES3 for home appliances.
 

pos

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#2
Well, than means another adapter (and preferably one with 110/75 ohms convertion) because my soundcard does output AES3.
The main difference for my, apart from the connector (this one is obvious) is the flexibility and thickness of the cable.
 

Krunok

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#3
Well, than means another adapter (and preferably one with 110/75 ohms convertion) because my soundcard does output AES3.
The main difference for my, apart from the connector (this one is obvious) is the flexibility and thickness of the cable.
I'm sure your soundcard has SPDIF output as well, and as SPDIF coax cables are the same as RCA cables you anyhow have to deal with them. Most people don't really find them problematic.. ;)
 

pos

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#4
I have 4 AES3 outputs, no more no less.
I avoid dealing with RCA as much as I can, and almost all my gears have XLR in/outs, analog or digital.

RCA can be made to work for analog connections, but it requires expensive tricks: http://www.neutrik-france.com/fr/phono-rca/profi-cable-connectors/nf2c-b-2
At this point it is better (and less expensive) to use proper XLR connectors and balanced connections.

Sorry for the OT discussion.
 

pos

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#5
Plus, digital RCA cables are not the same as analog ones: 75 ohms shielding implies a thicker and less flexible cable, which in turn implies more tensions on the connectors.
 

Krunok

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#6
I have 4 AES3 outputs, no more no less.
I avoid dealing with RCA as much as I can, and almost all my gears have XLR in/outs, analog or digital.

RCA can be made to work for analog connections, but it requires expensive tricks: http://www.neutrik-france.com/fr/phono-rca/profi-cable-connectors/nf2c-b-2
At this point it is better (and less expensive) to use proper XLR connectors and balanced connections.

Sorry for the OT discussion.
XLR balanced connections, quite the same as AES3, was also designed having in mind the need to run long cables. If your cables are of typical length found in homes (less than 2m) then you will have absolutely no benefit from AES3 and XLR balanced connections.
But as long as they make you happy..

P.S. Btw, on less than 2m you can use ordinary RCA cable instead of 75ohm and SPDIF will work fine. ;)
 

Krunok

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#8
Sorry, but you are missing the point.
What point am I missing? As I explained, there is no tecnical point which justifies the usage of AES3 and XLR balanced connections for short length cables. But if the point is that having AES3 and XLR simply makes you happy then by no means you should go and use them wherever you can.

Btw, While AES3 STP cable really is thinner than SPDIF coax cable I certainly wouldn't claim the same for XLR balanced cable vs RCA. :D
 

pos

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#9
For digital connections:
  • better connectors (locking system, more robust/reliable/durable connector, less strain on the device)
  • thinner cable can be used for short runs (eg custom-lynx ones, based on vandamme cables: https://www.andertons.co.uk/live-pa...al-aes-ebu-cable-20-metre-w-110-ohm-van-damme)
  • cables are much more flexible than properly shielded (or even poorly shielded) coax cables, making them easier to use and putting less strain on the connectors and devices
  • other less important aspects for home use: RCA are not proper 75 ohms connectors ; AES3 allows for longer runs, mainly thanks to the higher voltage
For analog connections:
  • better connectors (locking system, more robust/reliable/durable connector, less strain on the device)
  • differential / balanced connections with CMR, especially important when dealing with things such as active speakers with long runs of cables, often close to power cables. This is something good to have in any case, if you care about measurements (and I bet you do if you are here)
  • In addition to locking, ground contact is first during connection and last during deconnections, which is very important to avoid problems between preamplifier (ie volume control) and amplifier (ie gain) for example. Neutrik special connectors are the only RCA implementation that allows this (without locking though), but it is much more expensive than an XLR connector: http://www.neutrik-france.com/fr/phono-rca/profi-cable-connectors/nf2c-b-2
 

Krunok

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#10
For digital connections:
  • better connectors (locking system, more robust/reliable/durable connector, less strain on the device)
  • thinner cable can be used for short runs (eg custom-lynx ones, based on vandamme cables: https://www.andertons.co.uk/live-pa...al-aes-ebu-cable-20-metre-w-110-ohm-van-damme)
  • cables are much more flexible than properly shielded (or even poorly shielded) coax cables, making them easier to use and putting less strain on the connectors and devices
  • other less important aspects for home use: RCA are not proper 75 ohms connectors ; AES3 allows for longer runs, mainly thanks to the higher voltage
For analog connections:
  • better connectors (locking system, more robust/reliable/durable connector, less strain on the device)
  • differential / balanced connections with CMR, especially important when dealing with things such as active speakers with long runs of cables, often close to power cables. This is something good to have in any case, if you care about measurements (and I bet you do if you are here)
  • In addition to locking, ground contact is first during connection and last during deconnections, which is very important to avoid problems between preamplifier (ie volume control) and amplifier (ie gain) for example. Neutrik special connectors are the only RCA implementation that allows this (without locking though), but it is much more expensive than an XLR connector: http://www.neutrik-france.com/fr/phono-rca/profi-cable-connectors/nf2c-b-2
RCA connectors actually provide very good connection, you will have a really hard time trying to find somebody claiming different. Especially when you take into consideration that in the home usage scenario you are not touching them often. I also highly doubt that cables in your home are of such length that would require AES3 and XLR balanced connection so why don't you simply admit they make you happy instead of trying hard to prove that they make sense in the home usage scenario because that is simply not true? :D
 

pos

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#11
Are you an audio-psychotherapist?? o_O

My digital sources are AES3, and I am looking for a DAC with AES3 input.
My amplifier are XLR/differential, and I am looking for a DAC with XLR outputs (although pseudo differential is also ok).
My speakers have their amps sitting next to them (ie active speaker scenario), so I need either long line-level analog cables (present scenario as I am currently using a Lucid 88192 8 channels converter) or long digital cables, all this with cables running along power cables around the walls.

Simple as that.
Sorry but I will not use RCA connectors, coaxial 75 ohms cables and other objectively flawed technologies just to make you feel better about you own choices.
 

Krunok

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#13
Sorry but I will not use RCA connectors, coaxial 75 ohms cables and other objectively flawed technologies just to make you feel better about you own choices.
I believe this is about what makes you happy, not me. I'm using XLR balanced connection but I'm also fine with "objectively flawed technologies". Btw, would you mind quote a few objective sources that prove "flawed technology" statement?
 

pos

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#14
Do you have data from the analog output of an engineered DAC that demonstrated this "objectively flawed" technology?
Btw, would you mind quote a few objective sources that prove "flawed technology" statement?
Is there an echo in here?
There is plenty of literature explaining the benefits of differential connections, I don't think you need my help to google it.

Unbalanced connections (be it analog or coaxial digital) are suboptimal in these applications, and to me RCA plugs and sockets are mechanically flawed, for the reasons already explained above.
 

SIY

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#15
Is there an echo in here?
There is plenty of literature explaining the benefits of differential connections, I don't think you need my help to google it.

Unbalanced connections (be it analog or coaxial digital) are suboptimal in these applications, and to me RCA plugs and sockets are mechanically flawed, for the reasons already explained above.
OK, so "no," then.
 

andreasmaaan

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#18
It's certainly true that RCA plugs and sockets come in all sorts of variations and often fit poorly, and of course that for long runs or in electrically noisy environments XLR is the only choice. But wouldn't you agree @pos that for normal domestic use (short runs, insignificant levels of interference, properly designed active components) and despite the technical flaws, there's no audible benefit to XLR?

EDIT: for example, we see with Amir's measurements, which are taken under such conditions, no significant differences between RCA and XLR in the measured results (at least, I haven't seen any).
 

Fitzcaraldo215

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#19
For analog connections, I find latching XLR connectors a well engineered pleasure to use. I use them for both long and short ICs everywhere throughout my system, including the 7.1 outputs from my DAC directly to my amps and sub. They are, no doubt, an important reason why my system is dead silent with ear to the speakers. The fact that they support long runs better than anything else is also important to me, with their 3 wire differential plus shield configuration. With true XLRs, the R stands for rubber, also making the connection gas tight. They have many other advantages. Pros, HT installers, etc. strongly prefer them for many valid reasons. They save much time and trouble in those situations.

I banished friction fit RCA connectors long ago. They are inconsistent, with either too much or too little pressure. Often to disconnect, a twist of the connector is necessary, and, as often as not, that merely unscrews the connector barrel rather than removing it from the jack. They are no fun trying to connect/disconnect in a tight cabinet while reaching around the component. Fancy, expensive locking RCAs are a considerable step down in ease of use vs. XLRs. They require two hands, and they still lack the balanced connection advantages in grounding and noise suppression.

While I agree there may be little sonic difference with short analog IC runs, it is the ease and pleasure in use that makes XLRs far preferable to me, as well as the balanced differential connection in long runs.

With digital connections, I use USB. But, if I had to choose between the other connectors, I would prefer XLR/AES or BNC/Spdif coax and avoid RCAs for similar reasons, even if the sound was identical.
 

Fitzcaraldo215

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#20
It's certainly true that RCA plugs and sockets come in all sorts of variations and often fit poorly, and of course that for long runs or in electrically noisy environments XLR is the only choice. But wouldn't you agree @pos that for normal domestic use (short runs, insignificant levels of interference, properly designed active components) and despite the technical flaws, there's no audible benefit to XLR?

EDIT: for example, we see with Amir's measurements, which are taken under such conditions, no significant differences between RCA and XLR in the measured results (at least, I haven't seen any).
Not sure I agree. Many DACS measured better via balanced out, as I recall.
 
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