Rowland Continuum 500, RCA vs. XLR

I recently got a Continuum 500 and using it with an RCA I/C to my Accuphase DP500 CDP. I understand this CDP is a fully balanced design, as well as the C500. I am trying to decide whether it is worth changing my I/C to XLR, or just leave it. I use a 1.0M RSA Poiema for my I/C and changing this to XLR is not cheap, so would appreciate thoughts from C500 owners who have compared it on RCA and XLR mode.
Definately. I also have the Continuum 500 and you will benefit from using the XLR. Jeffs products are truely balanced and you will get lower noise floor and more resolution.

You will benefit slightly by changing single ended to balaanced interconnect ONLY if both cables are of absolutely the same quality.

If your single ended interconnect is of superior quality then keep it - you will have much more joy (less noise and more resolution too)

Finally, I doubt if Continium 500 is fully balanced versus only balanced input (with XLR).

If its fully balanced i.e. balanced from the unput to output then you must ask manufacturer and not this forum - how they treat the signal coming from RCA input.

For example, while I use single ended cables my two monoblocks treat them in fully balanced fashion. i.e. from the input to the output I have two signals - equal but opposed polarity.

Simontju - Continuum 500 is a class D creature. It cannot be balanced input to output. It has balanced inputs and fully balanced pre but it's converted to duty cycle (time) in analog modulator to finally drive full Mosfet bridge.
Kijanki - " Continuum 500 is a class D creature. It cannot be balanced input to output" - is nonsense, sorry.
Amplifier can be in fully balanced or single ended mode regardless if it modulates amplitude or pulse width.

As I wrote - I operate my two monoblocks (class D) in fully balanced mode: from input to output. Otherwise, I spent $10k (retail) on 2nd amp without having a slightest understanding of what I am doing...


Simontju - I just cannot imagine how. Output is not balanced (H-bridge in not same as "bridged"). Would you suggest two separate analog modulators? And each of the driving what? Feedback connected where? It wouldn't make any sens.

A little more about H-bridge. 4 Mosfets switch output between V+ and GND (changing polarity). It is done only to avoid using bidirectional supply and has nothing to do with being bridged.

If you use second monoblock to run bridge mode than I think you're mixing balanced with bridged. You could possibly put two monoblocks for each channel and connect one wire of balanced input signal and the GND to each input (+ phase reversing circuit) but it would not make any sense. Am I missing something?
" suggest two separate analog modulators?"
Yes, and everything else - two monoblocks, not one monoblock

"...You could possibly put two monoblocks for each channel and connect one wire of balanced input signal and the GND to each input (+ phase reversing circuit) but it would not make any sense. Am I missing something?"

Yes, I use single ended input so I use hot (+ phase reversing) and GND. If I do not to phase reversing then I music i.e. signal cancellation.

Moreover - I carry thes signals directly to speaker binding posts: red - to positive and black to negative....

Balanced signal transmission, BY DEFINITION, is transmission of two signals, equal in magnitude and opposite phase - ITS DEFINITION, I have nothing to do with it...

Also, my amps are not ICE-based if this of any logic....I wound't know...

Simontiu - Continuum 500 couldn't be balanced all the way thru because of its output stage (already bridge).

Do you know of any fully balanced (input to output) Class D amps (not counting DIY seettings). I don't even know traditional fully balanced integrated amp - do you know? It is probably not very common.

Your amps must be Channel Island (Hypex based) or other design.

This phase reversal means that it is not fully balanced (am I missing something). In order to create fully balanced system you need to get fully balanced output and connect each of the output signals to separate amps' inputs and connect ground of the preamp to ground of the inputs. Two output signals of balanced preamp are already i opposite phase - no need to reverse. Each power amp has signal related to GND but the output signal depends only on the difference (speaker between amps removes ground dependency). If you need to reverse input signal - it means that at one point you use the same signal to create different polarities and therefore you are not fully balanced - you're just bridged to get 4x power.
Balanced cables provide three benefits. You get locking connections in every case, and if you are running a significant distance you will have less signal loss than single ended, and better quieting capability as both poles are within each run. That's it. All other benefits are imaginary.

If your cables are only a meter or two, don't waste your money on the changeover. You might be able to imagine an improvement, but nothing will have changed.
Hello Kijanki: If I understood your last post correctly ( I am not sure if I did ) then you are correct. My system is not fully balanced (nor did I ever claim it). The key is in your own phrase: "If you need to reverse input signal - it means that at one point you use the same signal to create different polarities " - yes and from THAT point (input to the amp to be specific) to the speakers binding posts - its fully balanced signal transmission.

Enourmous (IMMENSE!!!!) advantage of this approach is (as oppose to balanced cable WITH true balanced input which reduce RANDOM upstream noise) the distortion caused by amplifier are NOT random - this is very specific function of the design (and, of course, tolerance of the parts and craftsmenship). Almost identical but of phase - and when they arrive to speaker - they cancel each other (while signal double and noise increase by square root only - which is fine but not big deal as proponents of balanced inputs/cables try to make - see the question of the thread and post above mine).
So in principle you have (amplifier's) distortion-free music coming from your speakers. Consequently, your presentation not only will have better detail bit much more noticeable - three dimensionality i.e. space and palpability of the instrument.

Simon - I understand advantage but you have to pay for it. I'm more experienced on electronics side of things than audio.
Let's get back to a practical discussion of does it make a difference. I moved from unbalanced to balanced ICs with my C-500 (congrats on you purchase, BTW). My run is only 1-meter, but the CD/SACD player and Rowland are only an inch apart from one another in a relatively congested cabinet. I figured with all the potential for RFI and EFI with speaker cables crossing and ICs running every which way, why take a change? I use Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval.

Could I hear a difference? No. I suspect that the C-500's operation in DC mode has much to do with that. My initial impression, with unbalanced ICs, was of absolute background silence. That silence got no more absolute when I went to balanced ICs. If you change brands of ICs you'll hear it with the Rowland. If RFI is relatively low in your area and around you audio equipment, then you're not as likely to benefit.

Thanks Dcstep, that's helpful. The response I got from JR suggested that XLR will always be quieter, though this did not seem to be a factor in your case. My I/C length is also only 1M.

I guess I should do this upgrade only if I really wish to upgrade the I/C in absolute terms, rather than for the reason of moving from RCA to XLR. One question though.. was your source fully balanced. In my case I think the Accuphase DP500 CDP is stated to be fully balanced, at least on the brochure. Maybe this would account for some difference.
My Playback Designs MPS-5 is "stated to be" fully balanced also. Analysis Plus ICs are about the same in balanced or unbalanced configuration, so it was really just a matter of getting the balanced ICs.

Thanks. Btw this was JR's response on my question regards difference in C500 between RCA and XLR..

"When RCA inputs are chosen, the negative polarity of the signal is connected to the input ground, in our components. Unlike many audio products,there is no addition or subtraction of circuitry in the Continuum regardless of which input is used. Therefore, single-ended signal transmission cannot be as good as balanced because the signal reference is ground, and ground will always be noisy and different throughout an audio system.

If you want to know more, you can read some of the info on our website. The above explanation is simplified, of course."
JR is surely right. The question is will you hear a difference in your system. I didn't, BUT I don't regret the balanced ICs. I figure, an ounce of prevention...

YMMV. It's system and environment dependent.