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Thread: To balance or not to balance . . .

  1. #11
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: North Down /Northern Ireland/ UK

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    I'm Neil.

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    I run a lot of actual balanced, dual differential designs and I feel that despite there being extra cost in having separate left and right channels, this duplication does bring sonic benefits. Having an xlr out or input does not mean its actually a balanced design.

    If the products have both rca and xlr outs and ins and are not true balanced designs, there might be a small improvement over rca if where you live is a noisy place re rfi and interference, but if not rca, single ended might sound as good, or better, depending on how the xlr connections have been implemented.
    Regards Neil

  2. #12
    Join Date: Dec 2014

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    Many years ago I worked in the theatre and, in my spare time, dabbled in live music.
    In that context XLR, or simply Cannon, plugs were ubiquitous and fairly early on I got plenty of explanations as to why; very long cable runs and very secure (usually locking) connectors. If you worked in that environment you found out pretty quickly why the secure connections were paramount (usually the hard way ) as well as the godsend that is gaffer tape....

    Outside of that , XLR connections in the vast majority of domestic settings are IMHO just another way of chucking money down the drain ... along with pointlessly fancy and exotic RCA plug materials.

    I would be more concerned with the limitations of the Toslink connection (if optical) than the questionable benefits balancing might bring.
    Last edited by mikmas; 09-12-2019 at 13:10.

  3. #13
    Join Date: May 2018

    Location: Woking

    Posts: 563
    I'm Chris.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikmas View Post
    I would be more concerned with the limitations of the Toslink connection (if optical) than the questionable benefits balancing might bring.
    Thanks Mike, interesting. I'm getting the impression it is both slight overkill in my situation as well as a potential money pit (like most things!).

    Could you elaborate on the "limitations" of the Toslink connection at all? (It is optical).

    I have a good cable with solid connections at all ends (over 1.5m so no reflection issues). I do have to run the X 2 of them, one from streamer to digital EQ and one from the digital EQ to the DAC. As I mention in the first post I wonder if there are benefits to be had by effectively replacing the Toslink (unbalanced?) cables with AES/EBU (balanced?) cables?

    Cheers for your input.
    System 1: - Amp - Musical Paradise MP-701 - Neurochrome 686
    - Source: Linn LP12 (AT-OC9XEN) - D-Klimo LAR copy - Novafidelity X12 - Musical Paradise MP-D1 mkII -
    - Speakers: Cambridge Acoustic "Grand Master Evolution" Subs: - REL T3's -

    System 2 - Amp: Marantz 1060
    - Source: Audio Technica LP5 - EAR834p clone - Pioneer N-30K - Musical Paradise MP-D1 -
    - Speakers: Loth X BS1's - Sub: REL T3 -

    System 3: - Amp: Custom N-core 300B SEP -
    - Source: Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 - Topping E30 -
    - Speakers: Quad 63's -

  4. #14
    Join Date: Dec 2014

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    Quote Originally Posted by Opti-cal View Post
    Thanks Mike, interesting. I'm getting the impression it is both slight overkill in my situation as well as a potential money pit (like most things!).

    Could you elaborate on the "limitations" of the Toslink connection at all? (It is optical).

    I have a good cable with solid connections at all ends (over 1.5m so no reflection issues). I do have to run the X 2 of them, one from streamer to digital EQ and one from the digital EQ to the DAC. As I mention in the first post I wonder if there are benefits to be had by effectively replacing the Toslink (unbalanced?) cables with AES/EBU (balanced?) cables?

    Cheers for your input.
    TBK optical are generally more restricted in terms of bandwidth compared to coaxial SPDIF (or USB) although I use both and find little to choose between them in my set up .. although I don't bother with DSD etc. so YMMV.
    My biggest gripe with optical is the distinctly shoddy connector standard that has caused me grief on many occasions - either not fitting at all or even falling out when a heavy lorry passes the house
    Worse is before I realised how bad it is and put intermittent dropouts down to all sorts of other factors ... causing pointless hours of wasted sleuthing chasing after the wrong culprits

    Incidentally, I can't really see how an optical digital signal could be either balanced or unbalance so don't quite follow your train of thought on that one - also not versed at all on AES/EBU (I'm sure someone with the nous will pop along soon though ... )

  5. #15
    Join Date: May 2018

    Location: Woking

    Posts: 563
    I'm Chris.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikmas View Post
    Incidentally, I can't really see how an optical digital signal could be either balanced or unbalance so don't quite follow your train of thought on that one - also not versed at all on AES/EBU (I'm sure someone with the nous will pop along soon though ... )
    It was literally news to me (this morning!) hence a lot of the musings . . . I don't quite understand it either but I'm furiously trying to find where I read it . . . . sifting through 300 pages of search history as I type . . .
    System 1: - Amp - Musical Paradise MP-701 - Neurochrome 686
    - Source: Linn LP12 (AT-OC9XEN) - D-Klimo LAR copy - Novafidelity X12 - Musical Paradise MP-D1 mkII -
    - Speakers: Cambridge Acoustic "Grand Master Evolution" Subs: - REL T3's -

    System 2 - Amp: Marantz 1060
    - Source: Audio Technica LP5 - EAR834p clone - Pioneer N-30K - Musical Paradise MP-D1 -
    - Speakers: Loth X BS1's - Sub: REL T3 -

    System 3: - Amp: Custom N-core 300B SEP -
    - Source: Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 - Topping E30 -
    - Speakers: Quad 63's -

  6. #16
    Join Date: May 2018

    Location: Woking

    Posts: 563
    I'm Chris.

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    I usually hate linking to slightly generic sites and neither of these were where I read about the digital signals being balanced this morning, but both mention the fact that the signals are designed to run over "balanced" cables. I'm sure the site/thread I can't find right now, did say something about Toslink/Coax being unbalanced in some situations.

    As I say it was very recent news to me as I was of the mindset that digital is digital and the balancing of cables was only applicable in the analogue domain.


    https://www.hifi-advice.com/blog/aud...-and-st-glass/

    http://www.lavryengineering.com/wiki/index.php/S-PDIF
    System 1: - Amp - Musical Paradise MP-701 - Neurochrome 686
    - Source: Linn LP12 (AT-OC9XEN) - D-Klimo LAR copy - Novafidelity X12 - Musical Paradise MP-D1 mkII -
    - Speakers: Cambridge Acoustic "Grand Master Evolution" Subs: - REL T3's -

    System 2 - Amp: Marantz 1060
    - Source: Audio Technica LP5 - EAR834p clone - Pioneer N-30K - Musical Paradise MP-D1 -
    - Speakers: Loth X BS1's - Sub: REL T3 -

    System 3: - Amp: Custom N-core 300B SEP -
    - Source: Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 - Topping E30 -
    - Speakers: Quad 63's -

  7. #17
    Join Date: May 2018

    Location: Woking

    Posts: 563
    I'm Chris.

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    Just to clarify here I wasn't talking about an optical cable specifically being balanced or unbalanced, just reading back it does sound like I was grouping all digital cables in the same category. Confused myself a bit as I have the option of coax from my streamer but can only use Toslink if going through the digital EQ. Unless I use the AES/EBU input of said digital EQ. As my current streamer does not have AES/EBU output I'm stuck with Toslink for now at least.

    I also didn't realise how the digital signal of AES/EBU, Coax etc could be balanced or unbalanced but it seems they can be.

    Updating this thread as I read up so probably going to read on a bit more before posing uneducated musings and guesswork!

    All contributions very welcome.

    Cheers
    System 1: - Amp - Musical Paradise MP-701 - Neurochrome 686
    - Source: Linn LP12 (AT-OC9XEN) - D-Klimo LAR copy - Novafidelity X12 - Musical Paradise MP-D1 mkII -
    - Speakers: Cambridge Acoustic "Grand Master Evolution" Subs: - REL T3's -

    System 2 - Amp: Marantz 1060
    - Source: Audio Technica LP5 - EAR834p clone - Pioneer N-30K - Musical Paradise MP-D1 -
    - Speakers: Loth X BS1's - Sub: REL T3 -

    System 3: - Amp: Custom N-core 300B SEP -
    - Source: Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 - Topping E30 -
    - Speakers: Quad 63's -

  8. #18
    Join Date: Dec 2014

    Location: UK, inactive

    Posts: 1,573
    I'm inactive.

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    Quite enjoyed the, albeit highly subjective, experimentation by the guy in the first article Chris - until I realised he was talking in the context of 25 meter runs ... at which point I lost interest ....

    If Barry pops back at any point he always has a lot of knowledge about the specific electrical properties of a whole host of interconnect types (including digital) ... maybe even pester him for clarification

  9. #19
    Join Date: May 2018

    Location: Woking

    Posts: 563
    I'm Chris.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikmas View Post
    Quite enjoyed the, albeit highly subjective, experimentation by the guy in the first article Chris - until I realised he was talking in the context of 25 meter runs ... at which point I lost interest ....
    Precisely why I loath linking to that kind of stuff . . . except to occasionally prove I wasn't imagining it or going mad!

    So many variables, cable aside. Almost makes you just want to stick a TT on the end of some unbalanced RCA's . . . .
    System 1: - Amp - Musical Paradise MP-701 - Neurochrome 686
    - Source: Linn LP12 (AT-OC9XEN) - D-Klimo LAR copy - Novafidelity X12 - Musical Paradise MP-D1 mkII -
    - Speakers: Cambridge Acoustic "Grand Master Evolution" Subs: - REL T3's -

    System 2 - Amp: Marantz 1060
    - Source: Audio Technica LP5 - EAR834p clone - Pioneer N-30K - Musical Paradise MP-D1 -
    - Speakers: Loth X BS1's - Sub: REL T3 -

    System 3: - Amp: Custom N-core 300B SEP -
    - Source: Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 - Topping E30 -
    - Speakers: Quad 63's -

  10. #20
    Join Date: Dec 2014

    Location: UK, inactive

    Posts: 1,573
    I'm inactive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Opti-cal View Post

    So many variables, cable aside. Almost makes you just want to stick a TT on the end of some unbalanced RCA's . . . .
    With you on that ....

    Kind of makes you long for the days when digital was just 'no-fuss' 0s and 1s ..... I remember the first time I foolishly read an in-depth article about why digital coax has to be longer than 1.5 m

    .... almost made me weep for the lost innocence

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