Recommnedations for moderately price balanced IC's, and adaptors to an RCA end

The title of  the thread may be a bit unclear. However, I need recommendations for a "moderately" price balanced interconnects.  Also, are there quality adaptors to convert a balanced end into an RCA input or output without major signal loss??

I want to use my Rogue Sphinx hybrid integrated as a pre-amp because it has a variable output (pre-out) for an second amplifier, and connect it to a Balanced Audio Technology VK-200 amp that will  only accept balanced. IC's  

The Rogue integrated has all RCA input and outputs .Therefore, I also need a recommendation for two XLR to RCA adapters.   Eventually, I will buy a separate pre-amp, possibly the new Rogue RP-1.  

Thank you  

Try Signal Cables, theirs are very good, and reasonable as well.

Mogami Gold 2534 analog cables are available with mixed RCA/XLR connecters. I use all XLR cables to connect 3-way active stereo crossovers, processor and amps.  I’ve used 2534 cables with mixed connectors from a pro to amps. The signal transition through different connectors is musically smooth and well balanced.  Mogami’s digital 110 ohm AES and 75 ohm RCA cables are very clear in my experience with transports. They’re on Amazon, audio storefronts, and Ebay from top sellers.      

Cardas makes XLR-to-RCA and RCA-to-XLR adaptors, but they aren't particularly moderately priced considering the fact that they are made of brass, a not particularly good conductor.
However, I need recommendations for "moderately" priced balanced interconnects. Also, are there quality adaptors to convert a balanced end into a RCA input or output without major signal loss??

Define "moderately".

If by that you mean as inexpensive as possible, you might want to go and check out a big musical instrument store, (around here we have "Guitar Center" stores).
These types of stores will have the cheaper types of adapters you are looking for.  They tend to sell professional equipment so they should be made decently, and yet cost just a few dollars.  (I have a pair of RCA to XLR adapters that were all metal, and sounded just fine.)
They have balanced cables too, but I have no idea on the quality of those, as I did not try those out.

My two cents worth.
Good luck in your search.

If your system can take silver without being bright, I recommend the xlr cables from Mark Tunis. I have them on my warmish sounding amp and they are great. Dirt cheap too.

Why do you need a xlr cable? Your current Rogue is not balanced, neither is rp-1. Just order a hybrid cable with male RCA and xlr ends.
Isn't the BAT VK-200 fully balanced? How does that work, using an unbalanced RCA to XLR cable into it? Not saying that it wouldn't work just wondering if there might be concerns? 
That’s an excellent question, Mesch. And in fact some balanced amps, such as most or all of the the Audio Research Reference series amps, won’t work properly when provided with unbalanced signals via adapters. In those cases apparently only half of the balanced signal path within the amp would see a signal, resulting in a drastic reduction in power capability among other consequences.

However the manual for the VK-200 indicates that it can accept unbalanced inputs via adapters. So presumably its input stage has both differential inputs and differential outputs, which when provided with a single-ended input would provide the rest of the amp’s internal signal path with a balanced pair of signals, although presumably 6 db lower in volume than if a balanced pair of inputs were provided.

Sunnyjim, I would have some concern about subjecting the Sphinx’s RCA output connectors to the weight of an RCA to XLR adapter plus the weight of the XLR connector on a cable and the weight of the cable itself. So I would either purchase an adapter cable as has been suggested, or use RCA cables in conjunction with adapters such as this one at the amp’s inputs.

You might also consider a Jensen Transformer, configured to provide RCA inputs and XLR outputs, although the cost would obviously be much higher than the cost of a pair of adapters. It would convert the unbalanced signal for each channel to a true balanced signal pair. In doing so it would eliminate the possibility of ground loop issues, and provide noise rejection comparable to the performance of a fully balanced interface.

Best regards,
-- Al

mensch, if there's no technical mismatch like input/output impedance, etc, between the BAT and Rogue, there should be no concern. I have a full Bat system, but sometimes I use the amps with my CJ preamp, which is, of course, single-ended. I'm using only the hybrid interconnects, no Jensens, and, especially, no adapters. I own two pairs of Cardas adapters, the older big ones, and the smallish, shiny newer ones. They suck. I  also never had the ground loop problem that the other poster mentioned. Of course, if the Rogue is an incompetently designed piece, then anything negative is possible. Personally, I would never mate the Bat piece with Rogue, as I don't think they're in the same league. But that's me.'re spinning your wheels to think you will get balanced performance using an RCA adapter. 
Hi,  is  $750.00 out of your price range?,  this is not an adapter, rather a state of the art accessory that you can have all XLR, RCA, and mismatch the termination's to accommodate your needs,  post or email me directly,  this is a new never done before product in the marketplace 😎
Al's advice is spot on. One note - if you're considering adding a Jensen transformer into your setup, you need the PI-2RX to go from unbalanced input to balanced output. Pay particular attention to cable lengths as the output cable length needs to be 2 feet or less in order to minimize loss.

Thanks to all who have responded.  I need to consult Victor K. at BAT to ask him about the XLR to RCA type cable, and probably reconfirm the use of the Rogue variable pre-out with a fully balanced amp.  BTW, Mogami makes such a cable, and also a XLR to XLR cable, both sell for approx between $40-50.recommeded by one of the above members. I Have not checked out the Signal Cables recommended by another.

To Almarg and Hasmarto:  The Mogami cable XLR(female) to  RCA (male connectors) are all of one cable, not an "ADAPTOR" ADD ON to a XLR to XLR cable.  The drawback according to Mogami is that you lose the benefit of reduced noise offered by XLR to XLR which somewhat defeats part of the purpose of using a fully balanced amp.

I understand, Hasmarto's claim that the Rogue Sphinx is not in the same league as the BAT VK-200. As noted the new Rogue RP-1 uses only RCA inputs and outputs, but the pre-amp should be superior to the pre-amp of the Sphinx v.1 or the  upgraded Sphinx v.2. 

 Lastly, I have no intentions of keeping the Sphinx v.1. but also looking for pre-amp with possible both XLR and RCA connectors. I have a Ayre CX-7e mp CD player which is outstanding and has an XLR outputs which an a fully balanced cable should improve its performance

So as it stands, I just need to find  a pre-amp with at least 3 XLR connectors: two obviously for the amp, and one for Ayre CD player. It would be nice to find such a unit with a remote control, and the bonus of of a good quality phono stage. I am not interested in a built in DAC, or HT processor or loops.

AL, thank for the tip about the Neutrik adapter:  Also the headsup about ARC pre-amps not working with a XLR to RCA cables; I saw an ad on AG for a brand new ARC LS-17SE, but it has NO phono stage, (not sure about the remote)  I am also concerned about your comment about a possible reduction of 6 db in volume using an XLR to RCA cable.  I will have to e-mail Victor K. at BAT to get his thoughts on this issue.  Thanks again to all responders!!  Jim     

Jim, a few further comments, and some corrections to what may have been inadvertent miswordings in your post:
To Almarg and Hasmarto: The Mogami cable XLR(female) to RCA (male connectors) are all of one cable, not an "ADAPTOR" ADD ON to a XLR to XLR cable.
You would want a male connector at the XLR end as well as at the RCA end. XLR male connectors mate with XLR inputs; XLR female connectors mate with XLR outputs.
So as it stands, I just need to find a pre-amp with at least 3 XLR connectors: two obviously for the amp, and one for Ayre CD player.
You would of course need a left and right channel pair of input connectors for the CD player (given that per your comment about not needing a built-in DAC you are intending to connect the analog outputs of the CD player to the preamp), and a left and right channel pair of output connectors for the amp.
AL, thank for the tip about the Neutrik adapter: Also the headsup about ARC pre-amps not working with a XLR to RCA cables; I saw an ad on AG for a brand new ARC LS-17SE, but it has NO phono stage, (not sure about the remote)
My comment about ARC was that many and perhaps all ARC ***power amps*** (not preamps) that provide only XLR input connectors will not work properly unless provided with a true balanced pair of signals (which a simple connector adapter or adapter cable will not provide). As I mentioned, though, according to the manual that is not the case with the BAT VK-200.

I am also concerned about your comment about a possible reduction of 6 db in volume using an XLR to RCA cable.
That is relative to the volume that would occur if the amp were provided with a balanced pair of signals each of which has the same amplitude as the unbalanced signal you would be providing it with. It would be compensated for by increasing the setting of the volume control. Unless you are presently using the volume control in say the upper 25% of its range it’s probably not a significant issue.

Best regards,
-- Al

Check out JW Audio.

I found out about them here on an audiogon forum.

The prices are more than reasonable and they come with a 30 day money back guarantee. 

The quality is really great compared to some of the high priced interconnects and cables I auditioned.

Everybody should try out their stuff.

Just upgraded from a Lyra Kleos to an Atlas and the speaker cables which are so inexpensive do full justice to this jewel of a cartridge.


Ayre K1xemp......perfect for you   See if you can locate a good used one.

Al, Thank you for the corrections. I am sorry I misstated  your previous comments. As you can see despite being involved in audio for 40 years, I am ignorant of this XLR technology

Let me clarify. a few mistaken points I mentioned before either on this thread or previous one  I spoke to Mark O"Brien  at Rogue Audio today.  He informed me that "Line 3" of the Sphinx integrated is an input, not an output. There is an area on the back of the Rogue Sphinx sectioned off that has a variable and fixed output  The "variable" output is the one he recommended for hooking up the BAT VK-200 amp,  So you have out of the pre-amp stage into the BAT amp, and the signal travels through the speaker wires to the speaker.  OK. 

I also mentioned to Mark what you noted about losing signal strength up to approx 50 %, and Mogami 's claim that using an XLR to RCA connector will not reduce the noise produced by an RCA to RCA IC.  It will stay the same.  Mark is not a fan of XLR ICs. More or unless claiming they will produce only some reduction of noise. He also noted that a fully balanced pre-amp will cost a lot of money. A member however claims there is a BAT 31SE for sale on AG for $1000.  (Hare to believe, unless it is an "as is" piece).

I don't really  do not need a fully balanced pre-amp  According to you, just  I will need two cable XLR outputs for the BAT amp, and two XLR output cables from the Ayre CD player to the  XLR inputs on the pre-amp.  I hope I got this correct this time

BTW, I believe on another thread, I was asking about the variable output. and you consulted the Sphinx manual.  I responded to both you  and  think "Mensch",  but my response was lost in Audiogon cyberspace.

In this lost e-mail, I mentioned that I had called Rogue, and was told by one of the techs  that variable( pre-out) output runs through an "op-amp", and not the "tubed" section of the Sphinx pre-amp stage. He also noted the sound may not be quite as good, with a minimal loss of sound quality. O'Brien more or less confirmed the same fact to me in today's conversation  I mentioned in my e-mail that unless I am wrong the so-called pre-out  was not a true or standard pre-out like the one in the Creek 5350SE Classic which I owned about 7 years ago, using it with a pair of Red Dragon M-500 Class D mono block amps. 

However, I don't know if  op-amps are a standard design component for pre-amp outs on integrated amps in which you can separate the amp from the pre-amp stage.  O'Brien claims that using variable pre-out on the Sphinx will still allow control of volume and other features on the integrated amp

BTW, I mentioned  before that about one year ago, I changed out the two standard tubes in the Sphinx to Mullards 4003CV tubes. This was recommended by a member who claimed it cut "much" of the glare, and brightness from the sound which was an artifact of the Hypex spinoff of class D amplification. It did work as billed by the member.  

NOTE:  the Sphinx v.1 manual is poor. There is no photos or line drawings of the back of the amp. They can do better!

I think I am somewhat back to Square One because one of benefits of XLR to XLR interconnects was the reduction of noise.  I did buy the BAT VK-200 amp The deal was too good to turn down.  Thanks again for all you advice and comments....... Jim   

Check out I purchased a pair of RCA to XLR cables from them to connect a DAC to a headphone amp. I found them on E-bay. I thought them to be of good quality for the price (~$20/pair).

This would allow you to use your Sphinx as a pre with the BAT amp while looking for your pre of choice without feeling the need to jump to fast. I think you have found a great amp. One deserving of the right pre. Once the right combination is found I am confident you won't miss the Sphinx, itself a good product for the $$. 
I'd recommend you search eBay for used balanced IC's of the brand you REALLY want. Setting an eBay search will get you emails when something comes up.  A few months ago I got an email about a single 18 foot XLR cable from the brand I wanted. $168 delivered got me what would have been about $1K new. Fortunately, the company that manufactures them is about a 30 minute drive away.  They re-terminated them for me into (I bi-amp) 4 XLR to double single ended jumpers for amps that run balanced by double single ended (vintage Sumo) and a 2.5 meter XLR pair.

Be very aware of if you are splitting XLR to two +/- rcas or two which are +/ground, -/ground.
Hi Jim,
He informed me that "Line 3" of the Sphinx integrated is an input, not an output. There is an area on the back of the Rogue Sphinx sectioned off that has a variable and fixed output The "variable" output is the one he recommended for hooking up the BAT VK-200 amp
Yes, that is what I had said in one of your other recent threads.

In this lost e-mail, I mentioned that I had called Rogue, and was told by one of the techs that variable( pre-out) output runs through an "op-amp", and not the "tubed" section of the Sphinx pre-amp stage. He also noted the sound may not be quite as good, with a minimal loss of sound quality. O’Brien more or less confirmed the same fact to me in today’s conversation I mentioned in my e-mail that unless I am wrong the so-called pre-out was not a true or standard pre-out like the one in the Creek 5350SE Classic which I owned about 7 years ago, using it with a pair of Red Dragon M-500 Class D mono block amps.

However, I don’t know if op-amps are a standard design component for pre-amp outs on integrated amps in which you can separate the amp from the pre-amp stage. O’Brien claims that using variable pre-out on the Sphinx will still allow control of volume and other features on the integrated amp

Yes, we had discussed that in your other thread I linked to above. The hope and expectation, that seems reasonably consistent with the comments by Mark and by the Rogue tech you spoke with previously, is that the implementation of the Sphinx’s variable pre-out, while less than ideal, should be good enough to allow you to benefit from the power amp upgrade, and provide you with reasonably good results in the near term. Note the word "minimal" in the comment by the Rogue tech, with Mark apparently having commented similarly.

I don’t think it would be meaningful to think of the op amp implementation of that output as being "true or standard" or not "true or standard." It is simply one way of implementing a pre-out, and I’d feel certain that approach is not unique to Rogue.
I think I am somewhat back to Square One because one of benefits of XLR to XLR interconnects was the reduction of noise. I did buy the BAT VK-200 amp The deal was too good to turn down.
I don’t think you went wrong, by any means. The noise reduction that can be provided by a balanced interface (and also its reduced susceptibility to ground loop issues, that may cause high frequency noise as well as low frequency hum), is probably not a significant issue in the majority of home audio setups. That potential benefit can be expected in most cases to be overshadowed by differences in the quality of the particular component designs. And specifically in the case of many components that are not "fully balanced" but provide balanced interfaces, that potential benefit can often be outweighed by implementation of the balanced interface that is sonically compromised in the interest of keeping costs down. Such as by the use of a cheap op amp to generate one of the two signals in the balanced signal pair, by inverting the other one.

I would expect an Ayre or BAT fully balanced preamp to be a great choice, if you can find one at a suitable price point and in top condition. That’s a big "if," of course. But within your price range a preamp having an unbalanced internal signal path while providing XLR inputs and outputs might turn out to be easier to find and (depending on the specific design) a comparably satisfactory choice.

Good luck. Best regards,
-- Al

There are two approaches to converting. One is to simply use the + and - leads as the center and shield in the RCA end.  This is the simplest way when your source is balanced.

The other is to use a high quality transformer such as from Jensen Transformers.  This is the best solution when your destination requires a balanced input but your source is not. It also solves ground loop issues.  Many like the sound too.

I believe you can also find simple, direct adapters using the first solution. Both should be available through Jensen.
Here's a good source for adapters:

Parts Connexion Cardas Adapters

Thanks again to Almarg and others who have responded with very good  and plentiful advice


To Mensch, your last response makes good sense because I don't want to jump too fast  buying  a suitable and quality fully balanced or partly balanced pre-amp to accommodate BAT VK-200 amp. 

As I mentioned before, I DON'T WANT to necessarily buy an outboard  phono stage and headphone amp or box . That is two more cables and also more potential headaches .I realize that a separate phono stage like the Musical Surrounding Phonophemon II  is an excellent  choice because I owned one  about 4 years ago. However, 75% of  my listening is by CD, and the rest LP's. I could easily live with a Project RPM-3 table packaged with a Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge

The easiest solution might be to buy the new Rogue RP-1 pre-amp reviewed by Stereophile   in the August 2016 issue . It has a MM/MC phone stage, an improved and higher gain headphone amp and a better remote with some additional features.  I am sure other reviews will follow.

However, as I noted before, the Rogue RP-1 uses only RCA connectors. Nevertheless,  it should provide a almost major step up in sound quality from the pre-amp stage of the Sphinx v.1. (I hope)  

The question is ( and maybe I missed something that Almarg noted  before)

 1) do XLR to XLR  IC's  "insignificantly" reduce RF noise carried by RCA cables. resulting in blacker grounds and improved clarity and transparency??  2) As Mensch noted, he acquired a "pair" of XLR to RCA interconnects through for less than $20.00 Several other members offered other brand name XLR cables or a combination of balanced to unbalanced IC's,

Almarg clarified about the  potential loss of volume employing an XLR to RCA cable as offered by Mogami, and others  However,I did not mention to Al,  I operate the volume in the range between 12 o'clock  to 2 o'clock.which may be greater than "upper 25% " of its range" as noted

. If  MY volume setting IS NOT as Almarg commented.  IN THE 25% UPPER RANGE.  then it is not a significant issue. I do play it loud, but not head banger loud.  Also,  the potentiometer of Sphinx seems to gain well at about 12 o'clock high, but the remote,  seems  to step the volume up  in 2 db increments, unlike the remote of Bel Canto Pre3. Its volume gain via its remote was more subtle and controllable.  

The issue for me is:....  I don't want to crank the volume up to 3 or 4 o'clock  high on either the Sphinx v.1 integrated or the new Rogue RP-1 pre-amp as a consequence of using  XLR to RCA cables.  If so, then I must search for a pre-amp that is either fully balanced or mixture of balanced and unbalanced connectors.  I need to understand more about the volume range I am operating  to make it  loud to my satisfaction   Thanks to all,   Jim 

Hi Jim,
do XLR to XLR IC's  "insignificantly" reduce RF noise carried by RCA cables. resulting in blacker grounds and improved clarity and transparency??
There's no universal answer, as it depends on many component, cable, system, and setup dependent variables.  As I mentioned, though, more often than not I would expect other factors to be more significant, such as the quality of the single-ended to balanced converter circuitry in components that have unbalanced internal signal paths (i.e., that are not "fully balanced").
I operate the volume in the range between 12 o'clock to 2 o'clock.which may be greater than "upper 25% " of its range" as noted
When I referred to the upper 25% I was thinking in terms of the physical position of a typical rotary-type volume control, which would have a range of adjustment from a minimum of perhaps 7 o'clock or so to a maximum of perhaps 5 o'clock or so.  So 2 o'clock would not be in the upper 25%. 

I haven't been able to find a spec or measurement of the gain, if any, that the Sphinx provides between its line-level inputs and its pre-outs.  But given that according to Stereophile's measurements the overall gain of the Sphinx between its line-level inputs and its speaker outputs is 31 db, and the gain of your VK-200 is spec'd at 25 db, it seems conceivable to me that on some recordings you might find yourself turning the volume up to the 3 or 4 o'clock positions you indicated you would prefer to avoid.  Personally, though, I would not consider that to be an issue.  And in fact it might even be desirable, as in some designs high settings of the volume control may lessen any sonic side-effects that may be introduced by the volume control mechanism itself.

Best regards,
-- Al

Al, Thanks again. for your comments and advice

 You should open an audio consulting business.  Jim

Jim, sorry, I won't bring up the subject of a line level/separate phonostage idea again. If only the RP-1 had XLR outs.  In your shoes I think I would continue looking for a used BAT 31 or 31SE with the recognition that my budget my have to be increased $300-$500 (somewhat of a guess). Advantages would be a truly balanced design and compatible pieces.
Forgot to mention:  If I had to pay AL for the knowledge gained from him via this forum I would be broke! 

To Almarg, Mensch and those who responded: 

I bought the BAT VK-200 amp and hooked it up to the Rogue Sphinx integrated amp's variable output (pre-out) using a pair of Signal Audio Cables (that is, XLR male to RCA male). They supposedly take 50 hours to break in.  The VK-200 is an excellent sounding amp with deep bass, and detailed midrange.

Almarg was almost right on the money about some loss of volume because of the IC cable used  Actually, this is not totally conclusive on my part  I first  played Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" CD, and it was loud at 12 to 1.00 o-clock    I followed with a specially produced classical music  sampler offered by the magazine, HI-FI Plus. This CD was produced to showcase microphones produced by Neumann and Sennhiser engineers  The CD's sound quality is very good, but not spectacular.  When I got to the excerpt from Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite"  ( the Finale), I gunned the volume a bit more, and discovered that at a point it got no louder. I looked at the volume control and it was at  5  o' clock.  The difference in volume  levels between the  two CD's  "may" (I say may) be attributable to the output level  that each CD was recorded. It also could be what Almarg suggested a consequence of not using a XLR to XLR interconnect, despite the fact that the amp is designed for  both balanced and  unbalanced operation. The latter needing an adaptor. or XLR to RCA cable.  Cheers, Jim 

Sounds like the HI-FI Plus cd was mastered at low volume and you max out the gain in the Sphinx pre. 
Sunnyjim & Mesch, thanks very much for the nice words.

Jim, I'm hard-pressed to think of a musical passage that is more likely to bring out a marginal volume range/system gain condition than the finale of the "Firebird," due to its incredible dynamic range.  Perhaps that is why you chose to listen to it in your initial evaluation.

I have on LP the digitally recorded version of the Suite that was issued by Telarc ca. 1980, with Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony.  Like most or all Telarc recordings it was subjected to little or no dynamic compression when it was produced, the result being that the whisper-like level of the opening notes will tempt one to turn up the volume control higher than on pretty much any other recording I can think of.  While some of the notes a few minutes later, especially the one at the very end, will reach or exceed the maximum sound pressure level that can be produced by many highly regarded systems.

Depending on how much dynamic compression was introduced when the version on your sampler was engineered it seems conceivable to me that both of the factors you mentioned, plus the dynamic range of the recording, plus the possibility I mentioned earlier that the unspecified gain between the Sphinx's line level inputs and its variable line-level output may be little or none, may all have contributed to the fact that you max'd out the volume setting on that recording.  Hopefully that will not happen with very many of your other recordings, until such time as you purchase a preamp.

Best regards,
-- Al

P.S:  For those who may be interested, the finale of the Robert Shaw/Atlanta Symphony/Telarc recording of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" that I referred  to begins at 17:23 of the following YouTube video.  You'll have to turn the volume on your computer speakers **way** up to hear anything at that point, but be sure to turn it down as the music gets louder!

-- Al

Almarg,  Thanks for the response.  So far so good using BAT VK-200 hooked to the pre-out of the Sphinx integrated. I was playing the last LP of the "Mozart's Six Sonatas Dedicated to Haydn" played by the Quartetto Italiano on a the Philips label. Even though the pops and clicks, the recording is still stellar, and VK-200 lent a greater sense of presence to the performance.  I quirkily followed up with Grateful Dead's "Europe '72 CD which supposedly  was remastered with reduced noise compared the original LP with the booklet insert of pix from their famous tour.  It sounded good and I could hear the ambience of the Olympia Theater in Paris playing  "Sugar  Magnolia"  They really were on their game on this tour.  However, while listening, I wondered if this recording could have been much better, that is more definition, clarity, transparency in the midrange  I know that the Dead's sound crew recorded on tape directly off of the mixing board which probably has both pros and cons. 

This issue "clarity" may be the "stuff" for a new thread. This issue  haunts Derek and the Dominos's album "Layla"   Magnificent playing from the band especially Clapton and Duane Allman. I have the gold Mobile Fidelity CD and though better than the LP version, it still sounds somewhat muffled or lacking in overall clarity. However, some track sound better than others, especially "Little Wing", "Key to the Highway" and "Nobody knows when You are Down and Out"