Balanced is supposed to be quieter, but I don't think you will notice any dramatic difference unless your IC run between components is greater than 10ft.
7 responses Add your response
If both pieces were not designed with fully balanced circuitry: It's a waste of time, and you quite possibly will be subjecting your signal to extra, signal-degrading comversions/componentry(ie: differential amplifiers, phase splitters. If your interconnects aren't very long, you shouldn't be troubled by RFI/EMI, which is what balanced cables were created to combat. It can't hurt to compare single-ended and XLR interconnects, but be certain to do so at exactly the same volume levels, and with equal quality cables, so the comparison will be valid.
I concur with the previous comments, but I'll add that a balanced interface is more likely to be beneficial if you are using multiple dedicated ac power runs to your system.
That is often done to minimize noise coupling from digital components into analog components via their ac power inputs, by plugging the digital components into one dedicated line and the analog components into another.
However, it has the downside of possibly resulting in voltage differentials between the chassis of the digital and analog components, which would cause extraneous noise currents to flow in the interconnect shields. Those currents will be seen as signal in the case of a single-ended interface, but will be ignored in a balanced interface unless unusually severe.
The likelihood of that problem arising, even in the case of single-ended interfaces, can be minimized by having the multiple dedicated lines equal in length, and as equal as possible in terms of the total current requirements of what is plugged into them.
Agree with Al. Balanced helps with ground loops as well as EM/RF. Balanced also
runs at a higher signal level so it improves S/N. Balanced amplifiers are usually
found in pro grade gear and can usually handle tougher loads with higher
capacitance cables and longer cable runs without signal degradation. Some RCA
grade gear is pretty bad but most should be good enough that it won't make a
big difference. The more gear you have and the more connections you hve and
the longer runs you have the more likely you will benefit from balanced.
Thnak you to everyone for your answers. I'm runnibg an integrated amp to my CD with 1 mtr single ended ICs, they were built to be matched from Ridgestreet Audio. I was wondering if using Balanced would provide still an even greater degree of definition and resolution for me which you all have answered for me very well. As far as noise floor goes I also use PS Audio Noise Harvesters at each outlet which gave a (for me) dramatic difference in presentation. At worst the longest run I'd ever be using is 1 mtr so I guess I'll be Ok then. Agaain Thank you everyone for your help.