Balanced ----- Unbalanced----


I am about to install a pair of mono channel equalizers from audiocontrol. My B&K preamp has balanced output, the equalizers have balanced input and my amplifier only has unbalanced inputs. Is there a point in using balanced connection between pre-pro and EQ even that the connection is then converted to unbalanced send the signal to the amp? Would there even be any sort of degradation doing that?

Thanks in advance.
It better than nothing! If the balanced standard is supported, then at least the connection between the preamp and the EQ is solid, even if the connection to the amp is only single-ended. The more information you don't loose, the better.
The more information you don't loose, the better

Ralph; what "information" will be lost when using an SE connection?

As a manufacturer who builds only balanced equipment I would take Atmasphere's advice with a grain of salt.
Because I have already a considerable amount of cables running by that side wall, I was concerned about noise and interferces by adding two or three more rca cables. That the reason why I thought balanced cables would prevent undesirable surprises. Are XRLs unnecessary?
Are XRLs unnecessary?

Yes, in a typical home application XLR connections are not needed. The only way to tell in your system is to try it.
Herman, the reason we make balanced equipment stems from my experiences in college, setting up Neumann microphones in the music hall. We ran 150 feet of interconnect. That's not something you can do with single-ended- too much high frequency loss. It was a simple leap to see that there would also be an advantage to balanced operation in the home. You'll note that I am not trying to sell this guy anything- he already has the equipment.

Even if the highs are rolled off out-of-band, phase shift occurs in the audio band. This can be audible. Additionally, SE cables are more prone to noise pickup, Maab has an opportunity to prevent noise pickup (which can obscure detail).

To run balanced lines you either use XLR connectors or 'stereo headphone' connections. The latter are more commonly seen in semi-pro gear for musical instruments and recording. XLR is the preferred connection.
I didn't accuse you of trying to sell anything to the guy, but as manufacturer of balanced equipment you have a vested interest in promoting that format. Someone considering SE or balanced should be aware of that.

We're not talking about 150 foot mic cables, we're talking a few feet of wire. Your concerns about noise and phase shift do not apply.

I do agree that an XLR connector is a much better device than an RCA phono jack or 1/4 inch jack
If an XLR connector is better, Herman, how so?
The physical connection of the XLR is better. They lock together and the contact from pin to socket is better. There is a clear standard so you can use connectors from different manufacturer's and not worry if they mate well.

There is no real standard for RCA connectors so one manufacturer's male might not mate well with another's female and vice versa. That is why some SE manufacturer's tried to move away from the RCA's, like Naim did with their DIN connectors, but it never caught on as a standard.
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No one can say that they are or are not necessary in your home environment

They are not necessary in the home enviroment.

The connectors are better but the topology is not.
Hi Herman, for cables alone the topology is indeed better. Before balanced line came along, transcontinental phone calls were impossible. HiFi did not exist in recordings. Balanced line operation transformed that.

Even in short runs that you see in the home the improvement is obvious. It allows you to have short speaker cables and long interconnects so you can put the front end of the system where you want it, rather than only between the speakers, without degradation. Once hearing what this offers, there really is no going back.

I might offer this technology, but its really a matter of I do it because it works. I certainly don't keep it a secret and I do stand behind it either way- I hope that's not a problem :)
Ralph, we've had this conversation numerous times. Just as firmly as you believe in the benefits, I believe that the simplicity of SET and SE outweighs them in the home enviroment. I don't think either of us will be swayed by the others arguments.

I am amused by the transcontinental phone call argument. Come on, who cares how phone calls are transmitted.

The argument that the "pros use it so it must be better" holds no water either. It is a different enviroment, different equipment, different purpose. Again, it has no bearing on this discussion.

My favorite is those who say they tried their balanced equipement in SE mode and balanced sounded better; therefore balanced is inherently better than SE. A ridiculous conclusion. It sounds better because they are using it in the manner it was designed to be used. If you try to run a late 60's muscle car on unleaded gas it won't perform well. These people would conclude that leaded gas is better than unleaded when the truth is the engines were designed for leaded, so they work better with leaded.

I do truly believe that you believe and practice what you preach, but if Conrad or Johnson got on here and started preaching the superiority of SE we would have to take that with a grain of salt too.
Herman, before balanced line occurred, you had to scream at the top of your lungs to make a call across the state. The fact of the matter is balanced line was a transformation because there was less information loss. Historically you may find it uninteresting, but the implication for the quality of the sound in your recordings was profound.

The idea the SE is simpler is a common misconception. At first blush, it appears that because balanced equipment has more parts, that the signal chain is more complex. In fact the signal often negotiates the same number of gain stages, sometimes less. For example, in an SET there are usually 3 stages of gain, sometimes two. In our amps, which are balanced, there is one. There are 3 stages of gain in our preamps, which includes the low output MC input. Most SE preamps have more stages than that.

Its not better because the pros use it, the pros use it because it works better. The balanced line system was designed with the specific intention of eliminating cable differences and interactions. The benefit is that you can use a cheap cable to the same effect as a really expensive cable- effectively eliminating a cost in your system. That's not something you can say about SE cables!
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How can you dismiss the benefits of common mode noise rejection?

How much noise can you pick up in a few feet of cable?

The benefit is that you can use a cheap cable to the same effect as a really expensive cable- effectively eliminating a cost in your system. That's not something you can say about SE cables!

So why do I see ultra expensive balanced cables as well as SE cables? I can make you an SE cable from magnet wire or a twisted pair of CAT5 cable that works as well as the expensive SE cable.

Herman, before balanced line occurred, you had to scream at the top of your lungs to make a call across the state

Once again, who cares what the phone company uses.

In our amps, which are balanced, there is one.

I have no access to the schematics of your amps, but I believe in order to do this you have many tubes in parallel which presents it's own problems. There is no free lunch.

Its not better because the pros use it, the pros use it because it works better.

Exactly, it works better in a very noisy studio enviroment with pro audio equipment when you are trying to record very low level signals. A situation that is never repeated at home.
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Herman, the phonograph is a very low output signal. MC cartridges are lower output than any microphone, even ribbon mics. Almost all cartridges are a balanced source; with output levels that low there is in fact a benefit to be realized in the home- lack of hum, even without shielding. This allows you to reduce capacitive effects on the loading of the cartridge, yielding greater bandwidth. Its easy to demonstrate.

The argument of short cables is a red herring. It all depends on the amount of electrical noise in the environment, not the length of the cable. So a one meter length can make a hell of a difference if you have a computer, RF issues, powerful magnetic fields (like from an amplifier), like Bob says.

Why you care about the history of the phone company is that it is a very dramatic demonstration of the value of intelligibility, hifi notwithstanding. Balanced line is that powerfully better.
It is better for that application butI don't have any transcontinental phone lines in my listening room. I also don't have any noise with 107dB speakers.

We're going in circles.
Points well taken Herman, but I don't recall suggesting that your stereo was noisy and had phone lines in it??