The BAT preamp is a true balanced design from input to output. There are not that many that are really balanced. The Atma-sphere from what I understand is another one.
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All of Sonic Frontiers present pre-amps, ie the Line 1,2 and 3 are fully balanced. The new SE versions would also be fully balanced. But you're right, you have to specifically ask a knowledgeable rep., or see literature, of the product to know for sure.
BTW, not everyone agrees that fully balanced operation sounds best-- this is an area of contention, and their have been many threads discussing the subject. I don't use XLR, but then I haven't given it a fair trial either. Sonic Frontiers and Madrigal both strongly recommend balanced. Good Luck. Craig.
All ARC preamps with AES/EBU (XLR) connectors are balanced as are all Madrigal products. If nothing else, the AES/EBU connector puts the + and - part of the signal on identical pins. The RCA connector puts the + on the center pin and the - on the outer shell. This cannot be as good as it is asymetrical. Also, balanced cables have a male connector at one end and a female at the other so you don't have to "follow the arrows". When you hear the "click" as you plug in a balanced connector, you know you have a good contact. All in all, a much better way to hook up audio gear.
Thanks for your responses guys. My Joule Electra LA-100 MkIII is a very good sounding preamp to my ears. . .but it's single-ended. I really don't want to have to replace it simply to get balanced connectors.
Garfish, I've heard the same thing you have in the debate about which is better. I'm using 1 meter IC's, so it's not a matter of long cable runs. I guess I'll stick with what I have.
I'm currently doing A/B testing of the Electrocompaniet
EMC-1 and Sony 777es to determine which sounds better in my system. At this time, the Sony is winning. Since it doesn't have balanced outputs, the question would be moot. However, and this is where it could get tricky, I'm thinking of upgrading the EMC with the 24/192hz upgrade card. If this should prove to be the ticket for redbook, I'll be pondering the same question again.
I guess there's always something on the horizon to think about. Sometimes I wish I could simply relax and enjoy the music. Although, tweaking is what make the hobby so much fun (and expensive).
i personally prefer balanced but i think it is way down the list of significance in system performance. execution of circut design is way more important than balanced verses single-ended. i like the symetry of the balanced concept and the noise rejection makes sense but i have not compared the 2 approaches enough to say there is a consistent difference in performance.
if you are happy with your current single-ended gear i wouldn't switch just for that design issue. if you were to re-think your whole system and go balanced that would be the time to do it.
Thanks, Hakan. I read your post with great interest. Are you saying that the upsampling 24/192 dac for the EMC-1 can be used as an outboard dac with the Sony 777es as well as the Emc-1?
I thought the upgrade was an internal plug-in card that could only be used with the EMC-1. If not, then that would be wonderful. I would definitely give that a try before deciding on which machine to keep.
Please let me know if I've misunderstood you. Thanks for leading me in the right direction.