Most cartriges are inherently a balanced output to begin with, those with 4 isolated terminals. Couldn't you simply change the RCA connector to a Cannon plug (XLR).
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Agreed, you don't need anything else if you get the VPI box. It was easy to install, and sounds great.
FYI, if you are interested in buying one, I have one that I've been intending to sell, but haven't taken the time to list yet. I switched to a single ended phono stage, and don't need it anymore. Feel free to email me if interested. Cheers,
Seamaster, Most importantly, you need a true balanced phono stage. Without that, no cable is going to bring you the benefits (or liabilities, if there are any) of balanced operation. Try to find out about your phono stage before you spend any money on cables or boxes. What Bob Bundus wrote about cartridges is correct, but the downstream amplification stages have to be balanced as well.
Hey, thank all of you for quick response. Things are clearing up. I am now ready to get turntable, to see what is all about. I have been using Meridian G08 as source, and enjoyed the balanced set up very much. Is Nordost Valhalla wiring so much better than stock? What is the sound signature difference?
My set up:
WooAudio WA22 preamp/headamp
Melody M880 KT88 50wpc monoblock
Martion Logan Preface (for now)
Is the WooAudio a full-function preamp, or just a linestage? Is it balanced? You can't determine that simply by the fact that it does or does not have XLR inputs and outputs. If it's only a balanced linestage, you will need a balanced phono stage. The phono amplification (at least) needs to be done in balanced mode for you to realize the benefits of balanced operation.
I personally dislke Nordost cables, but that's me.
The best way to burn in tonearm wire is NOT by playing records.
Get some solid core copper wire about the guage of the cartridge pinouts. Connect this to 2 male RCA jacks. Plug these jacks into your CD player and the bare wire ends into your cartridge clips. Then plug the tonearm interconnect into your regular preamp (not the phono stage).
Play CD's for a 100 hours or so and you will have burned in your whole analogue wire connections far more thoroughly than 1000 hours of turntable time.
Seamaster, Do you own a balanced phono stage? If not, don't bother with the rest of it. You will gain nothing but complexity. See my post above. Your cartridge is an inherently balanced source, but it doesn't know or care whether it is driving a single-ended or balanced phono stage. In the former case, one side is connected to ground. In the latter case, that side is now connected to a second amplification stage as the "negative" half of the signal.
Lewm, to be technically correct:
In a single-ended setup, in which (in each channel) one of the pins of the cartridge is connected to ground, the phono stage amplifies the signal present at the other pin of the cartridge with reference to ground. In a balanced setup, in which none of the pins of the cartridge is connected to ground, the phono stage amplifies the difference signal between the two pins of the cartridge; no reference to ground is present. That's the advantage of going balanced: No reference to ground with all the noise, grunge... present there.
Scousepast, do ou mean that the JPS IC is better then Nordost or that JPS also makes tonearm cable?
Does anyone know of some truely balanced phono amps? In the past I have been looking at the CEC PH53. But I'm not sure about that one. Also as far as I know the Blue Amp Surzur and the Model 42 are balanced but those are outside of my budget range.
Mordante, no worries. FWIW, though, I don't think people buy our stuff because its tubes. They seem to be buying because its transparent and neutral. Also, the preamps were designed as stand-alone phono reproducers. They have the bare minimum to make them work with Aux sources.
The big issue that you run into with phono preamps in their own chassis is the connectivity that is introduced in getting the signal from the phono preamp to the line section. The problem is that if not controlled, the interconnect cable can be a major contributor to artifact in the system. So if you want to do it right the output of the phono stage should be designed to control the cable.
I have yet to see any phono section that does that.
If you have the phono section in the same chassis with the line section, this problem is overcome.
It apparent that most people do not realize that one of the functions of the preamp is to control the artifact in the cable (that is why the balanced line system was developed). If the balanced standards are followed, the cable will have no artifact at all. But most high end manufacturers are not cognizant of these facts so as a result, despite being balanced you still hear cable differences with their gear!
I agree with Ralph (Atma-sphere). Why would you ever buy a separate phono stage when you can get a full function preamp with built-in top quality phono for fewer total dollars (as compared to phono stage plus separate linestage) and without the compromises associated with the separate boxes? (Compromises: (1) with separates you need another IC that can/will inevitably color the sound/cost money, and (2) the phono stage usually needs a buffered output stage so it can drive that IC, which ALSO adds a coloration.) As for tubes vs ss, I think you may be cheating yourself if you categorically eliminate one type or the other based on that distinction alone. Disclaimer: I own and use an Atma-sphere MP1. Other balanced phonos, both tube and ss: Ayre P5Xe, ASR Basis, BAT, Aesthetix Io (but lower priced models are not true balanced), Hagerman Trumpet. There are many more but my mind has gone blank, as usual.
Srwooten, Do you know that (about the Xono) for a fact? I was under that impression for quite some time, but I think recently I read some contrary evidence. For one thing, I don't think it has XLR inputs, only XLR outputs. I am sure an e-mail to Pass Labs would clear up any doubts. The Aqvox is another like that; the maker makes some ambiguous statements regarding whether it is balanced or not.