balanced vs. unbalanced sound quality

hi all i just got a theta dreadnaught amp and i currently have it hooked up through the unbalanced inputs.

i dont know very much about this topic, so i was wondering if i got balanced cables, would the sound quality improve? i will be using all 1 meter cables.

i know that higher end cables will sound better, but lets just say that the balanced cables would be of the same quality as the unbalanced.

thanks all,
My personal preference is balanced over rca. I've had amps that had hum with rca connections and once I switched to XLR, the hum was gone. People will tell you that there is no difference, but if you read the manuals of high end amps you will find instructions like the following:

The KSA has balanced and single-ended inputs ’. The balanced inputs use 3- pin XLRconnectors and the single-ended inputs use standard RCAconnec-
tors. Werecommenduse of balanced interconnects sonically, and electrically
because of their ability to reduce noise and not incur significant sonic loss due to extreme cable lengths.

There you have it. Good luck.
QUOTE, "Reduce NOISE, and NOT INCUR significant sginal loss, due to EXREME cable lengths." THERE you have it! That's exactly why balanced cables were developed, for professional use. The environment DICTATED it. Many power lines/transformers(RFI/EMI) and long cable runs inhabiting the same venue. If you don'r have a lot of cables in the immediate vicinity of your interconnects, you won't have a lot of noise. 1 Meter IS NOT an extreme cable length. If your preamp and amp are not both differentially balanced; your presentation may actually suffer. The only way to know for certain, is to experiment.
I just tried the balanced inputs on my pre and amp and noticed a big increase in overall quailty. I agree with Aaronmadler, both of the makers of my gear recommended the balance inputs and in my case they are right . By all means try it!
It depends on which preamp you are using. Does your preamp have XLR outputs? Or are you trying to use a RCA-XLR adaptor with a balanced cable?

One thing I would like to make you aware of. If by "higher end" you mean higher price, it doesn't automatically translate into better sound, it only means higher price.
This debate comes along often. It really depends on the components involved as there are numerous varibles. For short cable runs there`s no clear winner(very long runs favor balance cables).Some of the very best cost no object components are single end design per builder preference. Try both and see what you like best.
Jdub39 - I don't have a lot of experience with balanced vs. unbalanced, but I did have an amp that used both. When I first tried balanced it sounded much better, but then I realized that the balanced connections have more gain, i.e.: The music was a little louder. I believe much (maybe not all) of the "Balanced is better" is due to the increased gain.
So, did you level match?
Nineballg - I use 0.5m balanced with class D amp. Balanced cables have locking connectors. In addition they use male/female connectors preventing accidental touching of the input (exposed input always female).
to a certain extent it is almost pointless to ask other people what might sound good to you. while the quality of sound of balanced vs. unbalanced inputs is dependent upon the quality of the components as pointed out in another reply, from my perspective, you tend to get better sound from xlr inputs. it is true that you get a higher signal level from xlr output, but components of which i am aware tend to attenuate the xlr input signal to compensate. however, the higher signal also results in a better signal to noise ratio, so the signal might sound a bit cleaner. that said, don't expect the difference between balanced and unbalanced inputs to be "night and day".
Hi Sebrof, yes the adjustment for the 6db of gain was adjusted for with a trusty Rat shack calibrator. One of the biggest things I noticed was sound stage height and a more enveloping sound, excellent separation between instruments, more of a carved out center image with no loss of already great ambience retrival, and a harmonic bloom I didn't think was possible at this level. And to top it off, an over all cohesiveness to the music. After carefull listening, it didn't even sound like the same amp! (Halo A21)), after many RCA cables they all got me to about 75% of the potental of the amp. Balanced revealed the 25% RCA wont IMHO. Even my Anthem AVM 20 sounds more refinded. For me the urge to upgrade to a dedicated 2 channel preamp has been put to rest. Mabe a new dac?.
I had the same question on the same amp I own - Halo A21. The Parasound brochure does indicate using a XLR input for the best possible sound. But when I asked this same question to Parasound they mentioned that it did not matter. A search on the internet also mentions that use of XLR input on this amp takes it to an altogether new level. I will be interested in experimenting with the XLR inputs when I get my system out of hibernation.
It's component/system dependent.

End of thread.
I like the more secure locking connection that XLR connectors provide, and the better grounding between components. However, you do pay more, sometimes significantly more, for good XLR connections on gear.
My vote goes to balanced . Lower noise floor and bigger sound stage .
>>12-09-10: Tmsorosk
Lower noise floor and bigger sound stage<<

Not true at all.

System/component dependent.
Tmsorcsk, Yours is a generalization with many exceptions. I`ve heard many comparisons where single end was either as good or in some cases clearly better. As stated above system dependent always.
Charles1dad ... most things audio have exceptions . I guess in stead of saying my vote was for balanced , I should have said my personal experience and preference was for balanced . I have had no less than 4 solid state power amps , 4 solid state preamps , 1 tube preamp , and 2 C.D. players in my system in the last 12 years or so , and have found fairly uniform results with cabling this way . I'm wondering if your preference is based more on tubes ? Ether way happy listening .
It has been my experience that if a component is designed properly balanced, it will yield better performance...lower noise floor, etc. There are some components that have XLR outputs and claimed balanced operation, but they are "posers" and are really not balanced circuits....therefore, no increase in performance is obtained.
Yes bigger sound stage and lower noise, I agree 100%.
System/component dependent

It's that simple.

12-11-10: Audiofeil
System/component dependent

It's that simple.

"system/component dependent" is just a catchphrase that doesn't really tell the reader anything. exactly what is it about the system and/or component that you think would limit the performance of balanced inputs vs. unbalanced inputs?
Performance and/or selection of cables, balanced or single ended, depends on the system components.

Simple enough for you deadw8?

12-12-10: Audiofeil
Performance and/or selection of cables, balanced or single ended, depends on the system components.

Simple enough for you deadw8?

just because you apparently don't know enough to offer anything more more than content-free buzzwords and pabulum is no reason for you to become insulting just because i am querying you to find out whether you actually know what you are talking about. i mean, if you don't know what you're talking about, then don't comment. your repeated assertions of "i have experience" that you seem to offer in response to any questioning is just not very persuasive.
Cable selection/performance are system and component dependent.
Coming back to this old thread where I once posted, with specific answers to the Parasound A21 amp. Here it is:
Im not afraid to say it. That Audiofeil guy can be compared to two things: a broken record and summers eve. "Cable selection/performance..." ahh shut up. Xlr's took away a hum coming from my speakers, and lowered my noise floor, but I'm sure it could be dependent on whether you can hear or not.
Good to know you got the XLRs. Did you compare before/after with the RCA? Did you get the bass back?
Hey Milpai! I actually just bought a cheap pair from, ahem, best buy, and i did get more bass, lower noise floor and no hum! I'll be ordering the cables you suggested once funds are available. On a side note, I was talking to a guy from gik yesterday and he suggested I move my speakers back a foot or two and move pull my listening chair 3 to 4 feet from the back wall... Anyhow, when I feel like moving them, I may do so and see what happens.
My experience is this. If your system is fully balanced from source to speaker terminal, as is mine, you'll probably get better sound using balanced interconnects. I tried some inexpensive XLR interconnects on a lark, just to hear what balanced might sound like. The improvement over my expensive single ended interconnects was immediate and material.

It is system dependent. But in a system where all the components are fully balanced, balanced is the way to go.
You are right, the true is either type of cable may be the better solution depending on the system`s make up.
In certain configurations the RCA cables will be equal or better in sound quality. Audiofeil was right in saying it really does depends on the'individual' system(components involved and circumstances).For limo`s particular case the balance was the superior choice.There is no universal right or wrong here.