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 4 responses by strats

Thanks shannere! This is helpful. The DA06, has no volume control, right? Did you connect it to a Pass preamp? Were the connections from the DAC to preamp and preamp to power amp the same for the comparisons (single ended / balanced)? Roughly how long were the interconnects?

Was it the same with the Bryston DAC?
Thanks for all the responses! This is very helpful. 

@georgesallit325, I considered the option of a single ended DAC into an XP12 and then going balanced from there to the amp. That could still be an option. I'm just concerned that it might not reach the level of the Lampi's volume control. It sounds like you have had a good experience with it though. How does the XP22 compare to the XP12? I would love to get some impressions. There seems to be very little about this comparison online.

@david_ten , my speakers are Pure Audio Project Trio 15s with Voxativ PiFe wood drivers. The input to my DAC is from a Signature Rendu SE. 
Thanks @david_ten . This makes sense. I was hoping to get the best fit DAC and then build up other relevant accessories over time so I could get both over time. Having said that, I already have 3 dedicated lines. My power amp and DAC are each on their own dedicated line (everything else goes into a power conditioner on the third line). The DAC line has a Furutech GTX-D NCF outlet. The amp is on a Maestro outlet (it sounded fuller to me than the Furutech, at the expense of some precision).

Are there any power cords or interconnects that you would particularly recommend for this setup?
Thanks for all the feedback everyone! Just wanted to report back on what I ordered. I purchased a second hand Golden Gate 1 (balanced with volume control). This has been refurbished at the Lampizator factory with a few upgrades and it is on its way. I also got RK KR242 tubes with a RK KR5U4G rectifier. I ordered a Lampizator flagship power cord as well. I can’t wait to hook it up!