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‘Unbalanced is Best'? a comparison of balanced and unbalanced

Discussion in 'audio' started by duckworp, Jun 29, 2018.

  1. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    So Max thinks and Sue says, conclusive evidence indeed.

    You might think that selling £ 1K. cables would allow enough profit to purchase some test gear and provide some substantiation as per my video posted above.

    But once again you are having the 'I think this sounds better' debate.

  2. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    This isn’t a thread about the Townshend interconnect. No one was trying to sell me something I hadn’t asked to buy.

    All I was doing was saying that, as a surprise to me, the rca version of a lead sounded better than the xlr and the same experience was found by hifi-critic magazine. What else can I use but my ears to tell me it sounded better? That magazine also spoke to an engineer who postulated why the rca would sound better, something to do with extra circuits in balanced, but I don’t claim to understand the engineering.

    Please, ignore Max and Sue, it was merely an off-the-cuff remark by Sue when I asked prior to listening whether she had a preference for the xlr or the rca. There is no great claim by max, just an off-hand remark my Sue which I now wish I had not mentioned as you seem to have become fixated on it.

    I understand that there are other engineers who think differently, I am not doubting that, and in the article in hifi Critic the writer actually says that when he questioned the manufacturer of the DAC the designer/engineer claimed a balanced output will be better. But when he listened he found otherwise.
  3. Re-Joyce

    Re-Joyce ... Jason H that is.

    Balanced between pre-amp and power amp is better for my Dynavector stuff.
    I preferred single ended with a Rega Isis into the same pre-amp but my Micromega DAC was better connected balanced.

    My conclusion is that the circuit implementation is more important than the cable type. Which happily agrees with my expectation bias.

  4. Snufkin

    Snufkin pfm Member

    This exactly what I have found. In addition to this, when using a Blu-ray player with a balanced audio out there were distinct sonic gains over the RCA's with this unit. My assumption is that they put more effort into the balanced out circuit, a feature of the player, than the RCA's.
  5. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    So if you listen to say Later the Jools Holland live programme you can see that all the microphones are connected by by XLR plugs.

    But you claim in your OP that unbalanced is best, perhaps you should write to the BBC and tell them of your findings.

    Or does the 'magic' of unbalanced cables cure the shortcomings used by the professionals of XLR in the recording.
  6. JensenHealey

    JensenHealey pfm Member

    There may well be (I am sure there are!) good technical reasons for using XLR on microphone cables. Quite different from an RCA vs XLR debate on line levels in a domestic home.
  7. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    XLR V RCA on turntable interconnect carrying a 0.25 mV signal ?
  8. Paul R

    Paul R pfm Member

    If balanced is not either the same or better than single ended then you have poorly implemented equipment, or at least poorly implemented balanced connections.

    Which is fine, but it is daft to draw a general conclusion about architecture from it. And this point should be too obvious to need stating.
    cooky1257 and Timcat like this.
  9. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    In a studio or in a Live situation balanced is by far preferable. In fact the hifi Critic writer is a recording engineer and categorically states this. It is just in the domestic environment where he is postulating that the unbalanced could be better.
  10. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    ...and yet his use of balanced xlrs in his recordings doesn't prevent the information getting on to tape that then miraculously is revealed by RCA's....just saying. Anyone charging £1k/m is taking the piss.
    Timcat likes this.
  11. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    This kind of thinking is somewhat amusing.

    People who believe that some technical solution must always be at least as good as the alternative when confronted with examples that appear to contradict their belief rapidly dismiss them.

    And they dismiss it by usually saying that the equipment in question is poorly implemented or not properly designed.

    So apparently Vitus and Ayon and or D Sonic must have poorly implemented balanced connections...

    And I don't think that anyone here was trying to draw general conclusions.
  12. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    The hifi critic writer did not state how much his xlr and rca interconnects cost. That was not the point of his article. They may have been basic stock £10 interconnects for all we know. Why are you trying to derail the thread? Please don't bring this around to a debate on the value or not of high end cables. What is it about this forum that a few people want to turn everything into an argument about spending money on cables? The proposition of the hifi critic article has nothing to do with expensive cables. Nothing. It simply compares two identical interconnects, identical except for one being XLR and one RCA.
  13. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    You don't get to control the debate-it's a forum, you ignored 2 huge elephants in the room; ie how many were on the listening panel and how does balanced manage to preserve 'musicality' in the recording process but seems incapable of doing the same in the opposite direction? '£1K/m is taking the piss' is not an attempt to derail 'your' thread, it's an observation and opinion on a fact that was brought up by someone else.
    I'm not sure what you want tbh, so hifi critic does a comparison with a not specified cable in both balanced and single ended config-its enough to cheer you up but by your own words it could be a comparison using pretty naff theres nothing to conclude.
  14. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    It really comes down to the equipment you're using. If both products are fully balanced designs then balanced XLR should sound better but otherwise, if the components aren't fully balanced and require extra circuitry to create a balanced output/input stage, it would stand to reason that single ended RCA sounds better... unless you have a significant cable run of course. I don't know much about Vitus kit other than the fact that it's expensive and well though of.
  15. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    I don't know what your intention is.

    But what does it have to do with balanced Vs unbalanced?
  16. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    Why should a well implemented balanced circuit always sound better than unbalanced?
  17. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    The listening panel? It was me in my room and the Hi-Fi critic writer implied it was him and possibly one other, I don't have the article to hand.

    So that means that there is no statistical basis to the testing, and whats more my testing wasn't blind so was clearly biased as I must have wanted the RCA to sound better because, because...not sure why, just becasue.

    So you were right all along! Well done.
    ex brickie likes this.
  18. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    Then answer the questions I've asked-you cant though can you, you are the one trying to divert the thread not me, I'm still waiting for an answers to 2 questions......?
  19. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    Please post the spec. for the input sensitivity of your amp and the output from your DAC/CD both on the balanced and single ended connections.

    Perhaps this will shed some light on the matter.
  20. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    Sorry if asking for more info has upset you, enjoy your cables, no one is telling you that you are wrong so relax.

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