Balanced usage with Opus 21

Hello All,
I've had my Opus 21 now for a couple months and love it to death. I'm NOT using the balanced outs as my MFa308cr only has RCA's. Could an Opus 21 user advise me as to what difference I'll hear if I get an amp with balanced inputs (yes, I know there is going to be a difference regardless because it will be a different amp) versus using RCA's?

Mucho thanks,
Tgyeti .... just Tgyeti

Are you currently using the RCA/variable output, or the fixed DIN output? According to RA, the fixed DIN output is better and you could keep your same amplifiers. Just purchase an unbalanced interconnect cable that is DIN on one end and RCA on the other end. I think RA recommends the cable from DNM, but others will work too.

I own the Opus 21, but I have not tried either the DIN or balanced outputs as I use mine connected directly to my power amps using the variable volume control.


I am an Opus owner and have been since its release (including the upgrades). I too love this player... sounds great and is a very versitile unit. I have used RCA, balanced and DIN outputs in various configurations. I agree with the owners and reviewers concerning the DIN output being the clearest and best path to the music. I DID NOT however notice a difference between the RCA and balanced outputs in terms of quality of the sound (I mostly have used the balance outs directly to a Krell FPB 300c amp).
About a year ago I inserted a preamp (AES AE-3 DJH Signature from Upscale Audio) and would recommend that you add a preamp instead of changing out the amp. I don't think you would gain as much by simply going from RCA's to balanced outputs. A good preamp allows you to use the DIN output and gives depth to the music and more weight to the bottom end. Without the preamp the Opus 21 had a great soundstage width but lacked depth in that soundstage. Just my experience and two cents.
The balanced outs will definitely give you better performance than the RCAs, although how much you'll notice will depend on how easily you hear changes in your system. It is not a "OMG, it takes it to a whole new level" kind of difference, but a subtle improvement in clarity.

Whether the DIN output will be better than the balanced outs will depend on the quality of the cable you can find with a DIN option. I compared an Audience AU24 DIN-RCA cable (into a Neutrik RCA-XLR adaptor into my balanced preamp) against Au24 XLR interconnects and found the performance of the DIN output to be better. Changing that to an Audience Conductor DIN-RCA cable, the Au24 XLR inteconnects performed better.
I believe that the Balanced outs use 2 DACs per channel and the RCA outs use only 1 DAC per channel. Much like the CD-55.

One could surmise that 4 is better than 2 ...but that isnt always so! Having said that, I prefer the balanced outs over the RCAs on the Opus.
I use mine balanced as well, and am curious why it will give me better sound than the RCA setup. Is it strictly a noise issue , or are there other reasons?
Thanks for the info,
If running direct to an amp it is far better to use the XLRs simply because of the higher voltage output. The difference between the RCA and XLR is more dynamic, and easier drive.
Distortion...I don't believe that to be true. I'm sure the Opus 21 uses all 4 DACs (2 per channel) regardless of which outputs you use.

Brrgrr...I would guess that it's a function of the Opus 21 being fully balanced in its design.
Phil, you're right. I studied my papers closely and it appears, that unlike many similar balanced devices, the Opus sums both DACs for the unbalanced output. My apologies and good call.
I guess what I'm in the dark about is WHY balanced is better than single-ended. What is the theory behind it? I notice that in England, balanced is much less prevalent, and am puzzled why that is so if it is technically a better system. Aside from what our ears tell us, is there a physical reason for it to be so?

Thanks for whatever info you guys can provide
I am an Opus 21 owner. I run RCA Tara Labs vector 1 RCA cables from CDP to my Edge G1 Preamp which is RCA ONLY. I don't run the CDP directly to my Edge G4 amp b/c I also enjoy analogue and don't like switching cables all of the time.

Can someone please explain what you mean by the DIN connection? Is there another way (that is better than RCA to RCA)to get the best sound from my Opus 21?

Also, I have been using a Shunyata Taipan alpha VX powercord for the Opus 21. I believe there may be a better choice such as the VH audio Airsine. I feel like the sparkle and air from the top end could improve when I compare the sound to my analogue setup. Does anyone have suggestions for a better powercord for the Opus 21?

The DIN connector on the back of the Opus 21 is not attached to the variable volume control inside of the Opus 21. I've read several accounts that suggest the DIN output sounds a bit better than the variable RCA output.

Since you use a pre-amp, you could use the DIN output from the Opus 21. You need to acquire a cable that is DIN on one end and dual RCA on the other end. I think Resolution Audio recommends the DNM cable, but they have a relationanship with DNM, so you need to take that into consideration. I know other cable vendors will build a DIN to RCA cable for you.

Some other component manufacturers use the DIN connector, so there are other cables on the market intended for a mixed DIN/RCA setup. Just be sure they are wired correctly for the RA Opus 21.


FYI, a no cost option with the GNSC mods to the Opus 21 are to have us bypass the volume control to the RCA outputs which negates the need to use a cable that converts DIN to RCA. For many people who use a pre-amp with the's a more desirable approach than being limited to certain cables.
Steve, as an owner of one of your Opus 21 modded units, I'm curious what your recommendation is for best sound, in your opinion. And as it is subjective,I trust others will realize it is just that. Your opinion.
If you'd rather avoid comment in a public forum, I will certainly understand

Carl, I think the opus 21 sounds excellent going direct but I do think it sounds a bit better going through a good pre-amp (how much better depends on the pre-amp). It needs to be a darn good one though to improve the performance. There is no doubt to me that its a bit better going through a good tube pre-amp...the question I guess is are you willing to pony up for a really good line stage if you have no other need for a pre-amp? I don't think it's absolutely necessary to use a pre-amp to get great sound from the Opus though...
Thanks for the reply, Steve. I use an ARC LS-15 at the moment , and am tickled pink with the sound I get. And that's really what it's all about,in my opinion.
Good job.