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

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

  1. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    Thanks. I have inserted a ? in the title to try and calm things down a bit.
    radamel and linnfomaniac83 like this.
  2. MikeMA

    MikeMA pfm Member

    Interesting thread. I've had kit with both types of connector over the years and I've not heard a blind bit of difference between them during casual listening in a normal domestic environment with short cable runs, so I've tended to stick with RCA as I have more of them!

    Having just seen Arkless's post I have to confess that I'd assumed that RCA=unbalanced and XLR=balanced, but I now understand that is not always the case, so in reality I've no idea what I may have been comparing in the past, though I'm pretty sure the XLR equipped kit I currently own has balanced outputs, and unbalanced RCA outputs, and I still cant hear any difference.
    duckworp likes this.
  3. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    The designer of your amp included 3x balanced XLR inputs and yet only 2x RCA, do you think we should ask his opinion or just take that of one magazine reviewer (who sells expensive cables ;))
    and one turntable manufacturer (who now also sells expensive cables ;)).

    Interestingly Hans-Ole Vitus worked for Texas instruments the same as the designer of my amps Tom Christiansen of Neurochrome Engineering.

    Tom is happy to state that fully balanced signal transmission is superior to that of single ended, he has both measured and heard the difference.

    So why not drop Hans an e#mail and post his view also ?
  4. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    Vitus say the balanced inputs are better. But in the instance of the identical cable I used it didn't prove to be the case. That's why I find it so interesting as I was always going to buy XLR to use the XLR inputs to make use of the fully balanced. But then I do an A/B of the two and the opposite to what I expect happens.
  5. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.


    Obviously I rule out any cable differences as I always do and always will!
  6. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    That may well be the case and I’m sure they’ve taken measurements of their kit to back that up... but ultimately, the end user may (and in the case of the OP, does) prefer the sound when using unbalanced connections. Ultimately, we all have our personal preferences.

    And as Jez pointed out, different topologies sound different and it certainly isn’t the case that fully balanced designs are universally designs are always better than unbalanced designs. It’s all in the implementation. Also bear in mind that a manufacturer/designer will always champion their own designs as “the best”. In the case of Vitus, the designer believes that balanced is the superior connection method with his designs... he’s hardly going to add “but manufacturer x makes and unbalanced design that outperforms our designs”.
    duckworp likes this.
  7. awkwardbydesign

    awkwardbydesign Officially Awesome

    Because it seems to be about cables (although it isn't really) which gets certain people frothing. A Pavlovian response, by now.
    And yes, hifi forums ARE like this, often far worse. You should have tried HiFi Wigwam before it was emasculated! But don't give up, just try to tune out the frothiest ones, and don't get sucked in.
    Note to self; must take my own advice.:rolleyes:
    MikeMA, radamel and duckworp like this.
  8. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe pfm Member

    Unfortunately I've yet to find one.
    Most forums are manufacturer specific, meaning that it's nearly impossible to get an unbiased view.
    Then you get the more mainstream forums, typically populated by people with little or no exposure to anything beyond what they've bought following hype'd recommendations that they read on the net.
    In years gone by, we used to have both the Wam and PF in common use, and PF tended to be a lot more chilled. Unfortunately the seeming demise of the Wam has pushed people together.

    The closest place I've seen is a US site called Audio Afficiando's. They're quite happy to listen to comments. The problem is that many of the areas very much feel like they're being used as advertising pieces for some of the resident posters. So I'd certainly question the validity of a lot of the comments.

    If person's here could be somewhat more polite towards each other, PF would be the perfect forum.
  9. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    Exactly right, how did it become about cables? It is nothing about cables. That was what was confusing me, why it suddenly became about cables, when it was about balanced and unbalanced inputs/outputs.
  10. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    Much is down to the annals of history here... Phono is a type of plug first introduced by RCA back around the 30's as a cheap means of adding "Aux in/out" to table radios etc. XLR is a type of connector introduced by Cannon and was often referred to as "Cannon XLR" in the past.

    It's true to say that in the vast majority of occasions when you see an XLR connector in audio it will be for a balanced connection. It doesn't intrinsically mean balanced though and they have been used for left, right and ground and as power connectors for low voltage and all sorts of uses. In pro gear you will also see TRS (tip ring sleeve) 1/4" jack plugs, Lemo connectors and locking DIN connectors, amongst others, used for balanced.

    Aficionados of balanced could do well to look up "the pin 1 problem", which some will find interesting. IIRC Jensen and Rane have good stuff about it on their sites...
  11. Paul R

    Paul R pfm Member

    It's not a complex argument, you could attempt to comprehend and rebut. But I guess not.

    It's not dismissal.

    The Ayon that the HFC writer used contains an inherently balanced DAC. They then choose to use a pair of dual triodes to perform balanced I/V conversion, balanced to single ended conversion and output drivers for both balanced and single ended. Which cannot be done properly with the devices they chose. Poorly implemented by definition. A balanced output from this CDP would pass through less electronics than the unbalanced, if implemented without compromise.

    Don't know anything about Vitus, other than a CDP they make uses an AD1955 DAC, which has a balanced current output. So again, more electronics to make a single ended output without losing DAC performance. Poorly implemented is demonstrable for the Ayon, so QED. I'd be surprised if the D-Sonic didn't require more electronics to implement its single ended input, but it's an obscure setup. So 'duckworp' (the sound of his hifi?) prefers the sound of more electronic stages and Pearl Acoustics chooses inherently compromised equipment.

    You didn't bother to read either the thread title or the HFC article referenced?
  12. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    People were quick to accuse posters of derailing the thread-not true, questions and observations were raised, zero froth, zero aggression from those posters(me included). The froth came from the OP and Radamel happy to derail the thread by refusing to engage with what weren't even oppositional positions, rather mere attempts to dig deeper and seeking clarifications re this 'test'(which tbf implies more than one bloke in his hifi room) and the types of gear involved. Someone mentions £1k/m and all hell breaks loose.
    No one said the OP was wrong in his personal findings or choices. FWIW starquad sounds better than standard balanced in my own main balanced system-no idea how it would sound wired for single ended use, two other rooms with decent kit in use single ended. All sounds good to me.
  13. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    The OP has PM'ed me with some queries to which I have replied.
    Interesting to see what results.
    duckworp likes this.
  14. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    Or it could be that the documentation written by technical people is difficult to understand by laypeople. Giving rise to false beliefs.
    radamel and duckworp like this.
  15. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    I think that people are intelligent enough to decide for themselves and may do whatever they want with their own money;

    And I think that people should be able to express their listening impressions/ opinions.

    And I don't think people necessarily want someone to protect them from foo.
    duckworp likes this.
  16. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    Hang on a minute, do we mean a balanced circuit, a differential circuit or one that's both.

    And the Op is a massive multithread troll.
  17. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    You'll not be surprised to hear that I believe the exact opposite!

    Marketing bullshit has been responsible for forming the vast majority of the "beliefs" of many audiophiles and the most of it is total bollocks! It has become so ingrained and "accepted wisdom" in many cases that even scientific proof that they've "been had" only strengthens their "faith"... ANYTHING rather than them having to admit that the £1K thingummyjig they were conned into buying and have poured much purple prose of praise onto on various forums, not only doesn't work but can easily be shown as having had zero possibility of ever working when exposed to a little scientific analysis.

    People may not want protecting from foo... but with things like this out there they certainly need protecting from it....
    They of course have a right to decide what to spend their own money on, but if even slightly interested in the above product they can't be said to have the intelligence to!
    As P T Barnum famously (didn't) say "there's one born every minute"
    Nic Robinson likes this.
  18. Joe

    Joe pfm Member

    This statement is meaningless in this context. Of course people can do what they want with their money but their 'intelligence' when applied to their spending surely comes from a decent inquiry into and knowledge of the subject.
    They would educate themselves from ( amongst other things ) reading forums this this one. So a debate occurs between the 'for' and 'against'

    ... and both sides do express their opinions ... you just don't seem to like the opinions from those you don't agree with or who don't agree with you.

    ...and you know this how?... asked them all have you?

    You are maintaining that foo does exist and people don't want to be cautioned against it? Really?
  19. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    Not really. Just three.
    1. I started a poll on power cords last week which seems to go for ever. I can't stop that.
    2. I started this thread this morning as I just read the article in HiFi critic, as I genuinely thought it was interesting, and through some people's replies (once the cable slurs were out of the way) I have learnt a lot about what balanced and unbalanced means. I feel genuinely enlightened.
    3. And on the basis of the recent power cable threads, over lunch me and my friend wrote a quick parody of a power cable thread. Perhaps wrongly we thought it worth sharing. I guess that could be considered trolling. If so then it can be taken down. It made me smile doing it though. Sorry if you thought it poor. I admit it is written from the pov of someone who is engaged with Power Cables, so definitely biased!
    awkwardbydesign likes this.
  20. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Having posted the second epistle on this thread, I'm amazed at the fervent intercourse racing away into 5 pp. Some of the posts have definitely been unbalanced, i.m.o.. I thought the opening post by Duckworth was interesting and informative, but I momentarily lost sight that it was still a cable thread (beloved of Joe, for some arcane reason).

    The vast majority of fishies are balanced contributors, but a few cable thread groupies should consider being cannonised.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
    duckworp likes this.

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