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

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

  1. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    I never mentioned foo or saving anyone but I did mention £1k/m for an interconnect is taking the piss. I’m free to express that view even as an aside. And you continue to antagonise, why?
  2. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    What made you think I was referring to you specifically?

    "Guilty" conscience?
  3. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    The question is difficult to answer as it isn’t an exact science and the question doesn’t really make sense to me. Getting something recorded and playing something back are different processes. There is never going to be an exact replication of the two.
    1.If you sit at a concert which is being recorded the recording is not going to sound like the sound you experienced at the concert as a listener.
    2.Then if you take what was recorded and play it back with no mixing or mastering it will likely sound dreadful and will sound nothing like what you may have just thought you recorded.

    So the process of recording with balanced mics then goes through a mixing process and a mastering process. The end result, played back via balanced or unbalanced is not related to the recording process.

    So I didn’t answer the question as it didn’t actually make sense to me as I can't see the link between the cable used to record the sound and the balanced or unbalanced link between the playback source and the amp.
  4. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    At least you have now attempted to. If the means of connection ie balanced, manages to transfer the musical information to tape then it should be just as transparent in the other direction. That is in no way suggesting single ended shouldn’t be just as transparent but the subject of the thread implies it is actually more transparent...
  5. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    That’s interesting in that you equate transparency as an interchangeable term to the enjoyment of the sound. I’m not sure that is always the case. I heard an amazing Tube system at the Bristol show by a Californian company called Von Gaylord. It was a really beguiling sound but I would not have described it as transparent. So me saying I like a the unbalanced sound more than the balanced doesn’t necessarily mean it is more transparent.
    The most transparent speaker I have heard is a Magico S3ii, but I didn’t like it so much.
  6. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    So you attribute the beguiling sound to the fact the system was using single ended connections? I’d argue if the interconnection methodology is transparent then the valve amps, turntable or what have you is free to do its ‘musical’ stuff and beguile away.
  7. duckworp

    duckworp pfm Member

    No no, sorry I wasn’t clear. I was just saying that transparency doesn’t necessarily mean better for me. So the fact that I liked the single ended more than the balanced doesn’t mean it is definitively better - but just it appealed to me. Maybe listening to the same system you would prefer the balanced. The sound of the Von Gaylord tubes in Bristol was nothing to do with balanced or not, I was just using that as an illustration of why transparency may not = better.
  8. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

    By transparent, in this context, do you mean to say that the connection between source and amp loses absolutely nothing that may be audible?
  9. Colin L

    Colin L LOU Attitude Adjuster

    This thread seems to be between the single-minded and the unbalanced. Ironic really
  10. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    I’m confining notions of transparency to the connection methodology and as others have said, under normal circumstances either option should be perfectly satisfactory when implemented properly.
  11. cooky1257

    cooky1257 pfm Member

    You’ve used up all your lives matey over and out lol
    Joe likes this.
  12. radamel

    radamel Music Fiend

  13. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    As with anything it’s down to implementation.
    In a noisy environment, with a high output impedance, or over a long distance, a balanced connection is going to outperform an unbalanced every time.
    A badly implemented (cheap low bandwidth transformer etc) balanced connection in a quiet environment will show no advantage.

    In terms of noise performance an unbalanced connection is highly reliant on competent impedance and level matching which is why you don’t see it used much in the pro audio arena.
    There are other reasons like differentiating between input and output connections, reliability, conformity and ease of disconnecting and reconnecting.

    A well implemented low impedance unbalanced connection over a short distance cannot be improved by sending the signal through lots of additional circuitry to gain no improvement in noise performance.
    ciderglider and awkwardbydesign like this.
  14. ricko01

    ricko01 Active Member

    In my opinion/experience/testing, XLR is better.

    My XLR fetish extends to being balanced from my cartridge, (as they are inherently balanced) thru phono amp, pre-amp and power amp and also in my digital domain.

    BUT that is with my specific gear... which is not to say that with a different combo of gear, RCA wouldnt be better due to the internal implementation of the XLR conversion.

    And thats the core point here... how its implemented...which will dictate whether RCA in a specific situation is better than XLR.

    Few manufactures are fully balanced inside their components so typically there is a conversion from balanced to single ended [and back out to balanced for say a pre-amp].

    And thats where quality can break down.... how the conversion to/from singled ended to balanced is done.

    Therefore the key is to ensure that your equipment manufacture spent the time to implement the conversion circuitry correctly and not just as a "feature afterthought"


    PS... As a side note, my XLR experience was taken to a new level when I inserted a TVC pre-amp into my audio chain. Now I wont boldly say that therefore TVC's are better than an active pre-amp but there are some strong technical reasons why a TVC pre-amp would make the most of XLR inputs and outputs.
  15. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Yes, I saw through those transparent speakers years ago. :)
    Joe likes this.
  16. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    I avoid such bullshit stuff as this and enjoy the best of both worlds - RCA out of my preamp into XLR on my power amp...hedging my bets :)
    misterdog likes this.
  17. awkwardbydesign

    awkwardbydesign Officially Awesome

    BTW, duckworp, it would help if you quoted, at least part of, the posts you are replying to. I can't figure out who they are!
  18. rich46

    rich46 quad rules

    one important thing in domestic systems you can site the power amps/psus away from the sensitive equipment , also have shorter speaker cables. this combination made a real improvement to my system .. more and more units have balanced in/outputs
  19. Paul R

    Paul R pfm Member

    I disagree with your imputation of magic to circuit topology. So I don't bother to parse your posts in detail.

    This thread is supposed to be about interconnects, source to power. If SE and balanced don't sound the same in a domestic environment then you have a problem, either of environment or design. In either case fixing it would be more rewarding than posting dorpily on a forum or, worse, wasting a page with unsupported assertion in HFC.
  20. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    Unless you're an engineer you are in no position to agree or disagree (that applies to just about everything on hi fi fora!). If you think the thread is about interconnects or power leads you may even be on the wrong thread!

    That's me out of this thread anyway. As usual no one is interested in facts or indeed in anything that actually matters. It is, as are almost all threads on all fora, about trolling and to give people who half understood a badly written and technically wrong magazine article or "something I read somewhere" to show off just how little they understand the entire concept...
    radamel and AndyU like this.

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