Single-ended vs. Balanced input for Pass Labs XA30.8 (input will be a Golden Gate DAC)

I'm seriously considering getting a Lampizator Golden Gate DAC (with volume control) and it would go directly into my amp (Pass Labs XA30.8). I will be placing the DAC very close to the amp and use a high quality interconnect between the units. The interconnect will about 2 feet long.

Now I need to decide if I should get a balanced or single ended Golden Gate DAC. The obvious benefit of single ended is that it is a lot cheaper, and trying out new tubes will be a lot cheaper.

I often hear people saying that Pass Labs amps sound better when using balanced inputs (from a true balanced source) rather than single ended inputs.

I would love to get impressions of people that have tried out both single ended and balanced inputs into Pass amps. Is there really a sonic advantage to balanced even for short runs with high quality interconnects? If you have tried both, how much of a difference do you hear?

Another option is to get a single ended Golden Gate DAC without a volume control and connect it to a high quality balanced preamp. However, from the discussions that I have read on the forums, it sounds like I would need a really expensive preamp to sound better than the Golden Gate's volume control, which would defeat the purpose. So, I would like to avoid this option. Moreover, I personally have not found a preamp that I have loved (although what I have tried is at a very different price point). I currently have a Benchmark DAC3. I have tried a (PS Audio BHK Signature, Schiit Freya, and Linear Tube Audio MircoZotl preamp). All had some advantages, but in all cases, I much preferred the Benchmark plugged in directly to the amp.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Showing 1 response by audiojan

With Pass XA60.5 using the balanced input vs the single ended is quite a noticeable difference. More space around instruments/individuals and more depth to the room.