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XLR output to RCA input done properly?

OP1M.DR3M

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If I want to connect my DAC's XLR output to a preamp or integrated amp's RCA input, what are my options?

This Emotiva adapter cable seems to do it "properly" https://emotiva.com/products/balanced-xlr-female-to-unbalanced-rca-female-adapter-interconnect but it'd be nice to have a cable wired the same way but with a male RCA end to avoid more connections then necessary. Does anyone know of any? (or perhaps someone who could wire a custom cable this way?)

I'm also seeing people talk about using a "1:1 transformer" to do the conversion? https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...le-ended-converter-xlr-to-rca-bal-to-se.9506/

Not sure what to make of all this and which way to go.. your insight would be much appreciated, thanks!
 

SIY

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If I want to connect my DAC's XLR output to a preamp or integrated amp's RCA input, what are my options?

This Emotiva adapter cable seems to do it "properly" https://emotiva.com/products/balanced-xlr-female-to-unbalanced-rca-female-adapter-interconnect but it'd be nice to have a cable wired the same way but with a male RCA end to avoid more connections then necessary. Does anyone know of any? (or perhaps someone who could wire a custom cable this way?)

I'm also seeing people talk about using a "1:1 transformer" to do the conversion? https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...le-ended-converter-xlr-to-rca-bal-to-se.9506/

Not sure what to make of all this and which way to go.. your insight would be much appreciated, thanks!
Amazon has lots of them for reasonable prices. Here's one.

Transformers are great at breaking ground loops, albeit at a significant cost (expect $75-100 per channel for good quality transformers), the need to put them in a box and wire them, and somewhat increased bass distortion. They are last resort for getting rid of noise.
 

kongwee

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Technically should get DI boxes to correctly convert differential signal to single end. That another piece of component. Those XLR to RCA you can use that too. For me there is different doing it activity and passively . Someone will scream no different.
 

SIY

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Technically should get DI boxes to correctly convert differential signal to single end. That another piece of component. Those XLR to RCA you can use that too. For me there is different doing it activity and passively . Someone will scream no different.
Kongwee is an excellent and reliable source of bad advice.

Try an adapter cable. If you have no noise problems, which is vastly likely to be the case, your problem is solved for less than the cost of a pizza.
 

kongwee

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Try an adapter cable. If you have no noise problems, which is vastly likely to be the case, your problem is solved for less than the cost of a pizza.
It is not just noise problem. Gain and subjective tonality. If you are guitar player, you know what DI box does with console rigs.
 

Blumlein 88

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Amazon has lots of them for reasonable prices. Here's one.

Transformers are great at breaking ground loops, albeit at a significant cost (expect $75-100 per channel for good quality transformers), the need to put them in a box and wire them, and somewhat increased bass distortion. They are last resort for getting rid of noise.
I believe if the OP used the cable you suggest, he would use one RCA and not the other. Which would work fine as it leaves the inverted pin 3 not connected on the unused RCA.

Most adapters to a single RCA ground pin 3. Might help a bit with shielding, but Emotiva suggests not grounding pin 3. Depending upon the cable you might open the RCA end and snip the pin 3 connection which leaves it floating. Or snip the pin 3 connection at the xlr end. Most gear won't care if pin 3 is grounded. I do know Topping on their D10B ask you not to use a pin 3 grounded adapter with their DAC.
 
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solderdude

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It is not just noise problem. Gain and subjective tonality. If you are guitar player, you know what DI box does with console rigs.

guitars and DI boxes makes sense for technical reasons. For a balanced out to RCA a simple cable works better as DI boxes always introduce distortortion and limit the frequency response. It is important pin 3 is NOT connected.

Going from RCA to balanced is a bit trickier. This also requires pin 3 to be connected to pin-1.
From balanced (DAC) to SE RCA is usually not problematic as long as there are no ground loops.
The latter, arguably, can be broken using a DI box at the expensive of signal fidelity.
 
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Blumlein 88

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Benchmark has made one with floating pin3, but not currently available.
 

sergeauckland

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guitars and DI boxes makes sense for technical reasons. For a balanced out to RCA a simple cable works better as DI boxes always introduce distortortion and limit the frequency response. It is important pin 3 is NOT connected.

Going from RCA to balanced is a bit trickier. This also requires pin 3 to be connected to pin-1.
From balanced (DAC) to SE RCA is usually not problematic as long as there are no ground loops.
The latter, arguably, can be broken using a DI box at the expensive of signal fidelity.
Just to add, RCA to balanced is exactly as Solderdude describes. Join pin 1 to Pin 3, signal to pin 2. Balanced to RCA can be harder as it depends on what type of balanced output it is. It could be fully floating or centre tapped. If Fully floating, either transformer or electronically balanced, join pins 1&3, and take signal from 2. If centre tapped, again either transformer or electronic, leave pin 3 floating and take signal from pin 2.

If you don't know which, and the manual doesn't specify, Safest is to leave pin 3 floating and if the sound is OK, that's all you need to do. If the sound is weak and with no low frequencies, then join pins 1&3.

S
 

Blumlein 88

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Has anyone tried these?

I've not used those, but have some just like them from other brands. Works just fine, but you likely still have pin 3 grounded if that is a concern.
The OP could use the Emotiva cable he links to and these male to male couplers.
 

Ricardus

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If you really want it done properly a transformer is one option, but why not just use a balanced to unbalanced board using THAT chips which are designed to do the job properly? Kinda like this:


THAT makes a chip to go either way. The THAT 1646, and the THAT 1246. A friend of mine did some boards for each and gave me the gerbers, so I made up a bunch of both kinds of boards, and actually started building a stereo unbalanced to balanced box, but I haven't finished it yet.

If you're into DIY I can supply you with a board. I'm literally just beginning, and here's a pic of my boards. This one is unbalanced in to balanced out, but I have the boards for the reverse, too.
 

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Speedskater

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Back to XLR to RCA adapters:

There are three and a half types of balanced output stages:
1] transformer
2] impedance / passive
3a] active / powered / grounding tolerant
3b] active / powered / grounding intolerant

no single XLR to RCA adapter will work in all cases.
 

DVDdoug

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RANE has a chart showing all of the common cable-adapter options. If that works for you it's obviously the most economical solution. If you can make your own that's best because you know what you have. Most off-the-shelf adapters don't give you a connection diagram, but if you have a multimeter (or continuity tester) you can check/verify it.

Transformers can be almost perfect except there will probably be some frequency response variation, even in the best of them. The transformer should be 1:1 (A DI transformer for a guitar is a step-down so it reduces the signal and the impedance. But you'd be using it the other way, stepping-up from low-impedance balanced to high-impedance unbalanced.)

An active solution can be almost perfect too but all active analog electronics generate some noise.

B & H Photo offers a variety of passive & active converters. (They also have a big selection of cables & adapters.)



P.S.
Or if your DAC has an RCA output, just use it! ;)
 

Holmz

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Transformers can be almost perfect except there will probably be some frequency response variation, even in the best of them. The transformer should be 1:1 (A DI transformer for a guitar is a step-down so it reduces the signal and the impedance. But you'd be using it the other way, stepping-up from low-impedance balanced to high-impedance unbalanced.)

Should they be 1:1?

On the Hypex amps it says:
- XLR: 9dBu 2.18 Vrms
- RCA: 2 dBu 0.98 Vrms

That seems to imply a 2:1?
 

kongwee

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For a balanced out to RCA a simple cable works better as DI boxes always introduce distortortion and limit the frequency response. It is important pin 3 is NOT connected.
Assuming by removing pin 3 with a voltage drop will not affect the signal. In real world no. signal still affected. It is just like cover your ear with a cloth. You can alway tell your mind, there is no different.

If introduce distortion, the sound engineer will not handle you their DI boxes whether your pedal board has the same function or not.
 

Newman

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Should they be 1:1?

On the Hypex amps it says:
- XLR: 9dBu 2.18 Vrms
- RCA: 2 dBu 0.98 Vrms

That seems to imply a 2:1?
They should match your components' needs that are being connected...
 

Holmz

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They should match your components' needs that are being connected...

I guess may comment was too nuanced…

Explicitly:
- Most RCA levels are at ~1 V, and most XLR are 2, 4 or more volts.
- This would imply that a 1:2 winding would be better for a transformer for going RCA <—> XLR.
 

solderdude

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Assuming by removing pin 3 with a voltage drop will not affect the signal. In real world no. signal still affected. It is just like cover your ear with a cloth. You can alway tell your mind, there is no different.

If introduce distortion, the sound engineer will not handle you their DI boxes whether your pedal board has the same function or not.

Studio/recording work really has nothing to do with a DAC that only has XLR out and connecting that to an amp that has RCA inputs only.
2 completely different circumstances.
 

kongwee

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Studio/recording work really has nothing to do with a DAC that only has XLR out and connecting that to an amp that has RCA inputs only.
2 completely different circumstances.
Without studio knowledge, I won't match DAC XLR to any RCA input. Differential and single end connection are the stuff I learned in school. Nowadays 12 old years doing DAW with his guitar knows that too.
 
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