The great myth of the XlR


Is it just me that likes the sound of RCA terminated cables better ?

Pleas dont come with the technical reason why xlr are superior im talking purely about how the sound.

(I know with fully balanced amps and cd players xlr are the way to go.)

In my experince rca cables sounds more musical pure and simple and have a more solid soundstage.

Xlr`s seem less musical but bigger soundstage more transperant but in a bad way.

Eny one that are hearing the same as me ?

First off, it is not a "Myth" as you call it under all conditions.
Second, if your equipment is "Truly" balanced it will sound somewhat better using balanced connections. (Read the Stereophile review on the Ayre AX7e integrated and what the reviewer had to say using single ended vs. balanced with this amp [which is truly balanced]) Just because it has XLR connectors doesn't mean a thing and if it is not truly balanced what you say could be the result-maybe.
Now, I would challege you to have a friend rotate cables in a random order without you knowing which is which and get you to say which is which in your system. Differences are very minute. Our brains can do funny things. Once you've made up your mind, all the evidence in the world will not change it. BTW, it's XLR not XIR
The great myth thing was to grab atension.

Sorry i meant xlr not xir im danish and my english skills refects on it.

Well with my former system my lyngdorf cd 1 player into a lyngdorf tda2200 with roomperfect the difference between rca and balanced was huge.

The balanced was a Vertex aq moncayou the rca was a tara labs .

with the xlr the sound was just to bright with tha tara rca the sound was much more smooth the difference was very aparent and a blind test was not needed.

It could be the tara labs cables that just fitted that system better buy in my experince cables dont make such a large difference so it must be the rca thing i think.

I absolutly agree that the mind can play tricks on you.

I had a hydra 8 4 shunyata anaconda cables in my system and
i was absolutly sure the made the sound much better that was until i removed them all and the hydra and plucked every thing into the wall outlets.
i more then gladly sold all the shunyata stuff .

I cant remember where i read it but the conclusion i have made refelcts at least on reviewers oppinion.

Having been and still am, a big Omega Mikro fan.They will not built their cables with XLRs.They say they have not found an XLR up to their sonic requirements.But,wouldn't you know that my new phono section operates better with XLRs and so I have had the arm terminated with them.I preferred not to use an adapter due to sonic degradation.
Whatever works for you if that is your conclusion you will sleep well at night. I personally found that the tonal qualities change very little between the two connections. The benefit of a balanced connection is less noise with a small increase in volume. Plus comparing different brand of cables is definately a contributing factor.
There are reasons you might prefer your RCA cables over XLR. One is that some XLR hookups on consumer equipment are not true balanced circuits. In other words, they equipment manufacturer has "faked it" in order to cash in on a trend in this area. A poorly faked circuit could sound worse.

Even with a true balanced circuit, a XLR connection typically has higher output (6 dB) than a single ended RCA connection. At worst this could overload the input circuit of the preamp or amp which would give a noticeable edge to the sound. At the other end, it may still be clean, but it might have you listening louder than you normally might due to where you are visually inclined to set your volume control. These factors would need to be closely examined before declaring a true sonic difference in the cables or cable format themselves.

I'm in the camp that when we hear a true difference (not a psychological one) there are always technical factors that can explain. They may not be the obvious or trendy explanations, but there will be an answer somewhere.
You would really have to compare the same cable in XLR and RCA configurations to know anything about the difference. Comparing different brands and different cables within brands is pretty worthless IMO.
It costs money to really experiment and find truths, something I did for years and finally got tired of it.
They're all sorts of reasons why things do what they do.
The bottom line is do what satisfies you. Look at all the cables for sell on this site! Cables get blamed for a lot of ills that are not their fault. I think a lot of people try and "Tune" with cables which is a mistake IMO. You end up getting a system to sound closer to what you want some of the time.
No cable is absolutely neutral and can only screw up the sonic picture. Cables cannot "Improve" sound over the original signal. They can "Adjust" it more to your liking but you have just given up any neutrality your system may have had.
Some music just sounds bad and it should be reproduced just as badly as it was recorded. If your system sounds good all the time, either you're playing the same disc over and over or something is amiss!

Regarding cables you are spot on, only way to be sure is buy both a xlr and rca from same brand and then see what fits my system best and i happen to like the tara labs house sound.

The neutrality thing well each has his owen preferencen.

But i dont agree with you at all that if every thing sounds great then somthing is wrong.

I have a friend that owens linn klimax solos with carefull chosen components the are as transperent as it gets but i have listend to almost my intire cd collection on that system and not one sounded bad all where musical and fantastic sounding .

On my own tact millennium is just as transperane and just as detajled but in my system 25% of my cds sounds not good 10 % sounds horrible the rest sounds fantastic.

I dont beleive in total neutality at all thats for studios, live music really sounds horrible if you studi it.

What you are describing is the system screwing up the music and with some cds thise faults are better hidden, not the other way around.

As a musician i go for hifi which brings the emotion of the music to me the rest has no menning to me, and i have countless times found myself bored with much of the gear today and espicialy so called neutral speakers the tear the music apart.

If i whant the most detajld neutal detajld sound i can pick up my martin d45.

Im a sonus faber speaker lover and know that with carefull setup you can better the real thing.
Well.....If the system really needs to be fully balanced to sound superior using XLR connections; then single ended RCA might just be better in systems that are not fully balanced (or at least no worse).

Not rocket science....just common sense.
Ah the Great Myth!!! I am a dealer for deHavilland electronics, perhaps the finest sounding single ended amplifiers and preamplifiers available. I have yet to find a balanced set up that conveys the music and emotion. It can't be just me, speak up boys.
My point is not all recordings are good. You will always have some that don't quite cut it and the system should reflect that. If a known bad recording sounds good, then you have a system that is not neutral. BTW, neutral to me is not a preference. It either is or it isn't. After 40 years of playing with this stuff, I can pretty much tell you if a system is neutral. Most aren't!!!! Some don't like neutral (as in your individual preference statement requarding this point.)A truly neutral system will not "Tear" the music up as you say. If it does, then it is not neutral. But you should only get what is on the recording, nothing more, nothing less. Anything else is ---distortion!Therefore, not all recordings sound the same nor are they all good. This has been discussed in many other threads. Neutral does not mean thread bare or unmusical to me.If somethings are better hidden, exactly how do you get your equipment to "Hide" just the stuff you deem unfit? If it hides anything, how do you know it isn't hiding something you really want. A system cannot be selective. It either presents the entire signal for better or worse or it distorts it---plain and simple.
BTW, no way it hell you better the real thing. If you have bettered it to your ears you have created some sort of euphoric distortion! The "Real" thing is what we strive to reproduce, nothing more, nothing less. To pretend anything else---well, it goes without saying.
It is like home theater. Most people like its sound. Is it accurate or neutral? Not on your life. It is music manipulated to the extreme, compressed and presented as a poor representation of what was originally there. Does it sound good? Sometimes. Is it accurate or neutral? In no way shape or form.
So Sounds real _ audio. Is it the equipment or the cabling? And why wouldn't a balanced system not be able to convey the music and the emotion. Kind of a misguided blanket statement from a dealer wouldn't I would say? Wouldn't have anything to do with this equipment being ONLY single ended would it?
And "Best sounding?" I think this will be in dispute until the end of time or i-pods take over!
For what it's worth Musical Fiedlity only uses RCA connectors on their stuff....I assume they must know something about what sounds good.
I know what the original poster is referring to although I would describe it a bit differently. Single ended (unbalanced) systems sound softer, rounder, lower-res, and therefore friendlier. That can translate to being "more musical" in some cases if running those same components in balanced mode is too revealing of limitations of the equipment's parts quality, circuit quality, etc...

I have purposely run some more affordable solid state systems unbalanced even though they are truly differential circuits with XLR connectivity because I wanted to tame brightness, grain or harshness. But with our very best vacuum tube gear, running balanced reveals more detail, a lower noise floor, better dynamic contrast and yes, more musicality with no downside.
Sounds_real_audio: "I have yet to find a balanced set up that conveys the music and emotion."

If true, I guess the question then is how recording studios manage to record anything of value. Their places are chock-full of balanced cables.

I'm sure your electronics are very good and frankly it is silly to try and use balanced cabling on equipment that is not designed for it in the first place. Alternatively, if you're comparing your setup to different equipment, there are way too many other variables in that situation to blame everything on a pair of wires.

Frankly there is rarely any legit need for balanced cabling in a home environment, but it is a bit of a fad in the high-end market these days.

However, I find it sad when a subject like this ends up with people making rather nonsensical, prejorative statements to defend their preferences.

Simply put, balanced cabling serves a specific purpose. Many aspects of the professional audio world simply wouldn't work very well without it. Be grateful that it is there for the people who need it and don't worry about it if it doesn't float your boat.

You're absolutely right. A good system MUST have the ability to sound absolutely horrible. My epiphany regarding this came when I listened to a live Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac album my friend brought over. I thought it sounded like a bad recording until it hit me that it sounded EXACTLY like a typical (lousy) rock PA system from the sixties.
As to your comments about neutrality, I can only say amen! If it ain't neutral, it ain't high fidelity (anybody remember what that means besides me, you and some of my friends?). Instruments should sound like themselves, not like what you wish they sounded like.
I knew i was not the first to notice this.

Again i must state that with a truly balanced design like ayre using xlr is most duffently the way to go.

Now my tact amp is indeed a truly balnced design (if i read it right) but my slimdevices transporter is not.

I think il just have to try for my self.
Hi bigtee

Very interresting discussion we have here .

I agree that a bad recording should sound bad if a system is neutral, problem is many times its the system that destroys the pitch and timing in the music or just soound so over analytical that the music just happen to sound faulted where it really is the system thats doing crime.

I had the full lyngdorf audio roomperfect system with 2 tda2200 digital amps 4 speakers and roomperfect roomcorrection.
With that system only handfull cds sounded great rest sounded like crab lyngdorf audio will say its just because its neutral but its the other way around the system is digitaly colourd and some cds just dont show that tendeci that much.
When it got the top line millennium mk3 that is just simply a better amp then the tdas and everything sounded simply better and this amps is suppose to be eveen more neutral.

Speaking of neutral.
Most good systems sounds different with different cds because the dont colour the music.
MY frinds top notch linn klimax system takes this much futher here within the individuel track the sound changes.
You can listend to a track and then suddenly it changes pace or shifts down to a much much deeper frq or the soundstage widens if the music demands it its like there is no compression at all.
This must be what is called neutrality.

I agree that standing infront of a big stage and here Pink Floyd live with a cold one in you hand is in some ways the ultimat goal to reproduce.
But this can never happen i think and we can only mimic it to some extend.

What i mean when i say that you can exceed the real thing , is that with carefull setup and carefull selected components you can experince somthing different then live music a new preception of the music.

When i started out in hifi i listend to lost of different system wilson ,jamlab audioresearch, rotel and many others, and none excited me much it all sounded like a more detajled versions of my littel dennon system .
then one day i wheny into a shop and actuined the sonus faber cremona with linn chakra gear.
The room was around 40 sq meters and it was a very good acousticly speaking with tall seeling and hard wood floor and the speakers was set up just right.
Then i experincs a audio epiffany .
And that made me fall in love with this hoppy and sonus faber speakers.

it sure diddent sound like live music but it sounded like a dream where the speakers had a singing angle like voice.
There are really no words that can describe what i heard that day.
It was transending, and in my oppinion it was better then the real thing, or at least as good as hearing it live in person.

Do a real violin hurt your ear when playd live ?

In many systems symbals can sound like torture, what people will say is thats how its sounds in reallity.

Well it dos not i have play rock musik for 15 years and i can asure you a symblal dos not sound like have it dos in many systems.

As i see it if you want absolut neutarlity buy a studio monitor, but that is made to studi sound if thats your thing.
Me i get bored after 5 minuts higeend or not.

A funny thing about speakers is the way the all sound different in have the presend the music itsself, so what is neutral really ? with hifi.

There is more to it then the tonal balance.

Its not just about being neutral thats the goal because nothing really is .

Speakers can be created so the have soul and hart in have the presend the music itsself sad that most manufactors with white coats and to many pensels in the suit dont see this as a goal.

If you listend purly to live recordings it would make a littel sence i ges.
What draws me to hifi is not to recreatd the real thing because it really sounds not that good unless you are there or are doing it yuour self.
But the emotinal easpect surtenly but its almost aways wiped away with a studio monitor like sound.

With hifi its possible to recreate a more intense emotinal experince then live.
Even better then then real thing so to speak

But hey we all have different goals with our system nothing is more right then wrong some likes it analytical some dont.

Virtualimage-glad someone gets it! High Fidelity has wondered way off its original goals. It's sad. It seems now whatever suits an individuals taste (sound wise,) then it is automatically labeled high fidelity. High fidelity is about reproducing the original source as accurately as possible. It was never so much about sounding good(which leaves everything open for interpretation.) So many companies are proceeding with this premise to the detriment of audio. Of course, companies must market and sell what consumers want. I can take some pretty inexpensive components and make them sound good!
And just for the record, I have never heard a system approach the real thing! And I've heard and owned some mega buck stuff. It has always sounded pretty much what it is-a facsimile.
My point is that you can never recreate the real thing, so why try to force hifi into somthing it can never be.

Most comapnys try to strive to what you are referreing to as neutal of high fidility but in reality the are missing the point.

I musy say that i have been amazed to find out that hifi popple many times have littel or no undersatnding about what creats good music and why its alsmost a divine part of the human life.

This is not amid at enyone in this treat but to my utterly amazedment many hifi people use music only as a messarment tool for how the hifi fidility are in the given system, completly overlooking the real importants.

i have a tact millennium mk3 that has been moddified to such a extend that the stock one sounds brok in comparison and i can asure you that its the closest you can get to recreating have a acoustic guitar or have a violin or a voice actually sounds, but in reality this has very littel to do with true musicality.

The most important thing in creating music is getting the pitch and timing right and every thing is in tune.
As a musicain i know this very well.
The better a system is to preserving this the more musical it will sound.
Very few components gets this right.

Its here we can talk about real neutrality .

A system that can preserve thise important musical clues will sound musical neutral, amd completly change nature with different genres or dynamic shifts
The tonal colur has ver very littel to do with this.

No matter how colourless or transperant a system is if it dossent get the pitch and timing right it will distord the music to a more or less extend and thats why some cds sound bad and some dont.

Some cds just show this faults more.

You say that the better a system is the worse a so called bad recording will sound , this is not my experince when systems that gets the pitch and timing right .
listnig to systems that are good at this can be a revelation with before bad sounding cds
Unfortunately, pitch and timing fall into another one of those elusive categories. Ones man pitch is another mans distortion.
How can you have decent timing in speakers (which I'm assuming we're talking here) with high order crossovers destroying the phase relationships and drivers even being wired out of phase?
I know amps with high negative feedback have timing issues.
Also, to elaborate on Cd's, a lot of them are recorded with phase and timing issues. This would account for some of the "Goofy" sound you receive from some of them.
Now, back to my bottom line, you can include timing and pitch variables in with all the rest. How do you know when the timing is right when it should have been wrong with the recording? You follow this? They're no absolutes. Everything is pure conjecture on the individual listeners part. This is why we have so many amps, speakers, etc.
Everyone has a different idea. Everyone wants to "Tune" a system to their specific sonic specifications.
I play sax and have for many years. They're so few speakers (and/or systems) that can reproduce sax realistically, it's truly worrisome. Spending great sums of money for something that is inaccurate by any definition doesn't make sense to me when you can honestly do it much cheaper and meet the sonic criteria of "Good sound."
Therefore, you try to purchase as honest and accurate a system as possible using test results, listening results and other criteria that gives you a fair chance at true accuracy. My belief is a good, honest and accurate system will provide greater long term satisfaction than a system that gets it right some of the time.
Look at how much is for sale on A'gon. All these people aren't trading up! Dissatisfaction runs rampant. There's a reason for this.
I see your point.

However correct pitch and timnimg will always have a possitiv influence on how the playback is.

I have not heaard of a recording where the producer would intensionaly distord the timing and pitch in the music .
Or the musicians playing out of tune.
Playing music live is about getting this as correct as possible.

Its actually very hard to get every pitch and timing in the perfect order.

The best source at least the digital ones are the ones that are most precise in this matter.
The nova physics memory player is on of them , the linn sondek cd 12 is also a great excemple.

Regarding speaker corssovers the sonus faber cremona uses a 1 order design , of the simpelst layout.
The moddify the drivers to sound have the want the too so the can design the corssover this way.

Its the most musical speaker i have heard yet right or wrong.
The Sonus Faber is a good speaker. Expensive seeming for what you get but decent non the less. They do have a "Warmish" sound and are not the last word in inner detail. I have had the good fortune of having a local dealer with a good friend who sells Sonas Faber. I have listened to them many times.
Vandersteen is another speaker that comes to mind with phase (and time alignment.) I'm a big fan of the Quatro and 5A series speakers.
BTW, it takes more than just a 1st order crossover to do the trick. B&W uses a first order on the tweeter but a higher slope on the midrange and woofer.
Sonas faber is not a time and {phase aligned speaker} in the truest sense. They do have a first order crossover which is good but some of the other required elements are missing.
Now, with CD players, part of the problem is in the mastering of the discs. A lot of the producers don't give a crap about time, phase or anything else. When you send a signal through an equalizer, you change its time and phase characteristics. A single capacitor will have an effect!
It doesn't have to be deliberate, it just turns out that way because they don't care for the most part. The are processing the signal to get a desired sound and in this process destroying the time and phasing of the original master recording. This is why a lot of people like vinyl. Some of this issues are removed. (I will add though that not all vinyl is good either.)
I thought the SACD format was a step in the right direction and still do. It was much closer to analogue and for the people who couldn't hear the difference, well maybe they needed a serious equipment upgrade. The differences were readily apparent. Some compared the hybrid discs using CD vs SACD and I agree, sometimes the differences weren't there. I think there's a reason for that but that's for another day. However, if you took a copy of a single SACD vs a CD, it was apparent WITH well recorded material to start with.
Then we get to the CD player itself. My God, how much does the signal travel through till it gets out the other side? They're some really crappy players that cost an arm and leg!
It still all boils down to what the individual likes and wants. It has nothing to do with High Fidelity. That is one of the most overused words around. See, now we need to define High Fidelity! Obviously, it means different things to different folk.
If you are truly happy with your systems performance, pat yourself on the back. You're one of the few! But don't think for a minute as the years go by that your taste and wants will not change. You'll get on the rat race at some point. I just got tired of the rats winning!!!!!
I am a dealer for deHavilland electronics, perhaps the finest sounding single ended amplifiers and preamplifiers available.
You have got to be kidding on the preamp!
Regarding speakers discussing wich one is the best makes as much sence to me as argumenting on what is best a blond girlfriend or a brunet.

We agree on that recordings can be very faulted but the aswer to why some recordings sound bad or unmusical is a more complexted matter.

Getting to the bottom of what neutrality is.
You described that you have not heard a system that can reproduce the sax in a beleiveble matter.
This infact has very littel to do with pitch and timing isue its in audioble noise and glare.
The less noise and glare the more you hear the detaljs and there for the instrument.

What got me into thise fully digital tact amps was it was the most detajld amps you i could buy.
The are basicly a dac with power the will only accept a digital signal from a transport and the signal stays digital until the speaker terminals.

Jean yves kerbrat is one man that searces for the truth and if you vissit his hompage you will see 5 tact 2150 amps fully moddified replacing cary triods driving a five way hornsystem using the digital crossovers .

He takes getting rid of audioble noise to the extreme having his own powerplant for pure audio and people working on his amps reguarly.

His goal is purly to reproduce have a instrument sounds in real life.

My tact millennium is the reference amp in the tact audio family and it has been moddified to the limit .
It is in another league then eny of jean yves amps.
Feet it with a equal kvality source and it will take you all the way down the rabbit hole.
Its the only amp i have heard that can reproduce the timbres of a acoustic guitar in a beleiveble matter.

Stock it was very detajled but after the mod what happent was the noise and glare where audioble gone making it even more detajld but at the same time more smoth.

What that did was making every thing sound real , scary real .

This is one type of neutrality you can athive where all glare and noise is gone leaving only pure sound enhancing the hifi parameter like soundstage seperation and detajl extraction.
But this has nothing to do with neutral musicality

There are much more to it then that.

Pitch and timing has nothing to do with noise or glare , infact hearing it done better or worse might not even be heard with a solo instrument.

But when the music startes and all the littel rytmic changes , basslines instruments , different frq all have to fit in as perfect order as possible it will become very clear how important this is.

This is the other kind of neutral
if a system distords thise musical clues its not neutral no matter have noiseless and transperant the sound may be.

The best gear or precerving this is i have heard is linn klimax gear,
It just gets the bass and rythme right , its also the most mucial neutral hifi i have heard it simpley gets out of the way of the music or in other words destord it to a lesser extend .
It really needs to be heard to be understood, I sure did not until i got exposed to it.
Linn fanatics swear to the this and treassure it namly because of the pitch and timing correctness, and there ingeneeres feel very strongly about this matter.

Regarding sources im am a beleiver in the source first theory.
The speaker can only reproduce the signal its feet.

The company that moddified my millennium also specilizes in being on the forthfront of digital sources having esoteric ,wadia , dcs , and the likes in there hall of fame latly its a northstar heavily moddified and a slimdevices also moddified on the top of the list.
every thing gets decussed to great lenght on there forum.

The real next level of digital playback will ironicly not be from the cd but from a hardisk.
Because music played back as a file can be in bitperfect kvality where a cd drive playing music in real time simply dont get everything right.
however the most importenat part still lies in where the digital signal is converted into analog signal

The nova physics memory player that uses this tech is said to be the best transport today.
What reviewers and people say above all is have musical it is.

I have a slimdevices transporter that uses the same basic technology but it also has a great dac in it.
In the add the say that the soundkvality will supass that of even the most excotic cd player , the say this because it has a bit perfect audio circuit and also xtremly accurate in pitch and timing.
In reality it really dossent mostly becaus perfect timing and bit perfect siganl goes right out the window when you have noise and glare fron the powersupplyes.

Mine dos not have the glare or glassyness
the lyngdorf cd-1 it replaced had just as big soundstage and just as much detajl but then the compariosn ends the transporter has a ease and musicality that makes the cd-1 sound like a machine instaed of a music.
Its just as detajld if not more but its all in perfect order and nothing stick out using a simplyfied term.

Hifi as a hoppy is a journy and i sure havent seen the best yet but i do know now that musicality lies in the pitch and timing.

There is not rights or wrong some like it analytical some romantic but pitch and timeing done right will never be a bad thing , if it was then the person dont like music pure and simple.


Sorry guys to interrupt!!!

Not kidding at all. Now that I am in my 60's I have given up the fantasy or should I say the "hype". I just want music to sound like live music. I gave up being a would be reviewer and analyzing details. If you have a chance to listen to one for a week or so you might agree. Short term listening might lead you to think you were missing something, long term listening might lead longer term listening.
Well, I think we've gone full circle here so I'm bowing out. Enjoyed it.
Me too

This must be somkid of record in the chaning subject category .

What it all comes down to enjoy your music

regards and happy liestnining
Soundsreally says:
>>I gave up being a would be reviewer and analyzing details.<<

OK, but how can you give up something you never weren't?

Interesting concept.