RCA to XLR adapters…

I apologize if this has been covered before – I did a couple of searches in the archives, but I didn’t find it. I recently acquired a balanced preamp (Audio Research) and, of course, my CDP (Rotel) is single-ended only. I currently have a pair of typical Chinese-made adapters, which I purchased locally. Since I am at least 10 months away from a CDP upgrade, I am thinking that it would be worthwhile to invest in a pair of better quality adapters. Therefore, I am looking for a pair ‘audiophile’ RCA (female) to XLR (male) adapters.

Thus far, the only ones that I have found are the items on the Cardas website. I was wondering if anyone knew of any other quality adapters that I might consider before making a purchase.

My other option would be to have someone like Signal Cable make me a custom RCA to XLR cable. Naturally, such a cable would have little resale value. In addition, it might be a step backwards when compared to my current Tara Labs RSC Air 3.

What do you think? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Magnan Cables

They did some for me and am very pleased.
It is definitely not worth having a cable made for this. You won't be getting the benefits of the balanced circuit anyway so the slight loss in performance experienced using the adapter will not matter. If you plan on upgrading your CDP with in a year I would suggest just staying with what you have now and put the money towards a good XLR IC, assuming you choose a balanced CDP to go with the AR. I lived with an XLR/RCA adapter for almost a year between my BAT CDP and pre. There is a definite improvement removing the adapter and taking advantage of the fully balanced circuit. And I was using quality BAT adapters. Hope this helps.

The neatest solution is to have an unbalanced interconnect made up with RCA on one end and XLR (wired unbalanced) on the other end. No adapters.
Even after you go fully balanced, you can always keep a set of RCA>XLR cables around for those times when you have a source w/only RCA's. I use a set for my tuner.

Since you're using a CDP, I suggest wiring as follows: Pin 1 (ground) to the shell of the RCA and Pin 2 (+) to the center tip. Leave Pin 3 open.

If you have somebody make a cable for you, they should ask what type of application it's going to be used for.

I've had "standard" RCA>XLR cables (both Pins 1 & 3 to RCA ground) which resulted in distortion. Same thing when using adapters.

Not all CDP's will respond like this but mine did, so I made my own cables after finding out about the differences between transformer & digital based pieces, courtesy of Jon Risch.
I would suggest purchasing a new CD player with Balanced outs. Take advantage of the Balanced connection. No Adapter is a good Adapter. Trust me.

Audio Research sells the adapters you describe for $50 pair. Call and talk to Leonard Gustafson.
I also had Signal Cable make a rca to XLR custom cable, it solved the problem and sounds great. They use their balanced cable and terminate one side with an rca (mine are Bullet plugs but you can get the standard plugs too).
I highly recomend them.
I second the recommendation for A2Zcables.com.
I did not price all the cables at A2Z cables.com, but the 12 foot component video (Belden) they advertise at $95.00 is available at Blue Jeans cable for $60.00.

So if your building a specialty cable that may not have great resale, I suggest paying as little as possible, especially when they are identical materials and terminations.

To answer the original question, Purist Audio builds an RCA (female) to XLR (male) adapter, and it sells for about $100.00 with a discount. This is a valid option if you already own an expensive cable and don't want to pay to have it re terminated and /or wish to retain the XLR configuration (using converter only when needed).
Thanks for all of your responses.

After additional consideration, I am even more convinced that I don’t want to purchase a specially made cable for this application – I am quite satisfied with my Tara Labs cable. I think that I will get better bang for my buck just buying a high-quality XLR adapter and staying with my current RCA cable.

I will check out the adapters from Cardas, ARC, and Purist Audio, for sure. If anyone knows of any other audiophile-quality XLR to RCA adapters, please post them here.

Thanks again!