Transparent Interconnect Question....

I have an Ayre V-3 amp and a Krell Showcase Pre/Pro and have decided to purchase some Transparent Interconnects 1 to 1.5 meters in length. I understand that these 2 units are fully balanced. My question is the following...

Would it be better to run balanced Transparent Ultra MM Technology or for roughly the same price purchase Tranparent Reference MM Technology with an RCA connection?

Also, how about Transparent Reference MM Balanced vs Transparent Reference XL RCA?

Please let me know. Although I appreciate all responses, I am not interested in knowing other cable suggestions at this point. I have heard at least 15 other brands and prefer the Transparent. Thanks
I can't think of a single reason (in your situation, given your equipment) that you shouldn't choose balanced over single-ended; and not just for noise rejection (which shouldn't be that big a deal for just 1.5m anyway) but because you get so much more signal out of the balanced output of the preamp -- I think that would trump using a slightly less expensive (but good quality) balanced cable over a more expensive single-ended one.

OK, whose gonna take the first swing!?

I agree that noise should not be a concern, but choosing a cable because it is louder at a given volume setting makes no sense to me. You can always just turn the preamp up a bit. Choose the cable that sounds better.

Although I don't think balanced designs offer any inherent advantage in a home in enviroment, if the equipment you have was designed from the beginning to operate in balanced mode, which I believe yours was, then it will generally perform best with balanced cables.

I've tried a lot of different Transparent cables, and even though I like them I've found that a lower level will sometimes outperform a higher level in a given situation. Unfortunately for you this is one of those times where you will have to try it to be sure. Fortunately they can easily be had for prices you can resell without much if any loss.

What I don't like about Transparent besides the high price is the stupidly confusing labeling system they use where you can end up buying less than you thought or an old model unless you really study up on it. A Reference XL is a different cable than a Reference with XL technology? Whoever came up with that is an idiot.
Nsgarch...OK. I'll bite!

Balanced output provides twice the signal, but twice the circuit noise as well. Since signal/noise ratio is what matters you need to find another reason for balanced. A balanced interface avoids noise pickup in the wires, and only the noise picked up in the wires. For a 1.5 meter run this ought to be a non-issue.

FWIW, I do use some balanced lines, including 25 foot runs to my power amps. Why? Because the electronics have that kind of interface. Results are no different from single ended, in my case.
Actually, I was generalizing about "twice the signal". It does happen, but not always is it a factor of 2. And I already mentioned that noise cancellation is not the issue for 1.5m. What is really important is that (according to Eldartford) both the amp and preamp have truly balanced output and input circuit topology. Using them results in:

1.) Optimum signal transfer.
2.) No need to go through the unit's inversion circuits to convert to SE at the preamp and back to Bal at the amp. Thus eliminating two inversion steps for the signal.
3.) Better signal-to-noise ratio at the amplifier (since it doesn't have to work as hard to produce the same output.)

These (and there are other) reasons should be enough to produce audibly better results for the balanced hook-up, even if the cables themselves are one level down in quality from the single-ended ones.

1.) Optimum signal transfer.

Optimum in what way? That's kind of generic, like "it's better because it is better."

2.) No need to go through the unit's inversion circuits to convert to SE at the preamp and back to Bal at the amp. Thus eliminating two inversion steps for the signal.

There is no conversion to SE at the output of a typical preamp. The non-inverting portion of the balanced signal is used for the SE output and the inverted signal simply remains unused. I agree with your point about converting to balanced at the input of the amp.

3.) Better signal-to-noise ratio at the amplifier (since it doesn't have to work as hard to produce the same output.)

If it is producing the same output then it is working just as hard no matter what you feed it.. Once the conversion is done at the input it acts just as if had been fed a balanced signal.

If there were not a separate buffer circuit in the preamp to keep the SE output electrically separate from the balanced output, you could not use both outputs at the same time. With Krell, Levinson, ARC, and most other premium preamps, you can use the SE and the Bal at the same time because one (or both) are buffered. If the Krell is Bal circuit topology to begin with, then it's likely only the SE output is buffered.

Optimum signal transfer in Bal mode (compared to SE) occurs because the amp is receiving (from the preamp) a full strength push-pull signal around ground. A SE input (at the amp) must first go through an inverter circuit which takes the SE input signal, divides it into two SE signals, inverts the polarity of one of them, then recombines both parts as a balanced signal which the amp circuit has to see. But that "manufactured" balanced signal won't have either as low a noise floor or as high a signal strength as an actual balanced input signal coming straight from the preamp.

So with a (stronger) Bal signal at the input, the amp uses less (possibly half as much) gain to produce the same output voltage as when using a SE input. That results in greater headroom (less distortion at a given ouput to the speakers) than when using a SE input. So it's not just about less noise but better quality as well.

Checking the output specs for preamps that offer both types of outputs, you will notice the Bal outputs are usually rated at around twice the voltage as the SE outputs.

i would call transparent, be specific about what you're connecting to what, and let them provide the answer. in my case, i have a rowland consumate preamp, and because jrdg strongly encourages the use of the balanced inputs due to the fully balanced circuit design, i got a pair of trsp bal.ref (w/mm tech) to connect my dac (m.lev 360s) to the preamp.
and it does sound very very good.
as for the (very) confusing trsp. model designations, it goes like this- 1.ultra 2.ref 3.ref xl 4. ref mm 5.opus.
simply state "current production" which implies all have "mm" technology. "old" trsp cable unfortunately is not as good as the new stuff imho. my wild guess/answer to your question- get ultra bal- current production.
I've used Transparent Ultra Balanced, Ref with XL Balanced and now Ref with MM RCA.

From my experience, the improvement from Ultra to Ref with XL was very obvious. Less so from Ref with XL to Ref with MM.

Although the above did not point to a definite comparison result, but I would imagine a model line upgrade would be better than the change from RCA to Balanced within the same line?

BTW I am using fully balanced gears.
nsgarch, I can't imagion were you came up with your explaination of an input SE stage, it just isn't true.

Most of your other points seem "made-up" too.

As an example, if you take a balanced connection and just connect the pos or neg leg to ground, everything would work fine without the mumbo jumbo you describe. That is basically a SE connection.

oh, the main benefit to balanced connections is that the grounds are isolated between equipment.

rats, the situation you refer to is one where the Bal and SE jacks are internally wired together. A typical example are amplifiers that have both Bal and SE inputs, but to use the SE, you need to install a jumper clip into the XLR jack, usually between ground and the XLR's negative hot pin. This is because the RCA hot is connected internally to the plus hot of the XLR while the RCA neg is connected internally to the neg hot of the XLR. The jumper connects the RCA neg to circuit ground in order to make the SE input work. Only now, you are definitely driving only half of the amp's input circuitry with signal.

So you are right, in that you don't HAVE to have an inverter at the input, but then the relative benefits of using the Bal inputs just increase.
If you equipment benifits from balanced (my Gamut CD1R does) then balanced transparent is the way to go, but to truely take advantage make sure you can also do transparent speaker cable, so if that means a step down, then do it.

I found the latest MM to be vastly better than XL even on the Reference (and I use to own Reference XL Single Ended (not with XL) and the Reference with MM XLR is superior in my system.
KMILLER5-I recently answered a very similar question via A-B audition, as follows:

All Audio Research Equipment with true balanced circuitry--AR DAC 2, AR Pre-Amp, AR Amp. Kept a Transparent Reference MM running from the Amp to the Speakers, and Transparent XLR, Balanced cable running from the AR Pre-Amp to AR Amp throughout the testing.

A-B tested the cable running from the AR DAC 2 to the Pre-Amp with SE Transparent Reference vs. XLR Transparent Ultra. There was a difference.

One man's findings: clearly more clean volume with the XLR Ultra--perhaps a tad "tunnel like" but nothing that jumps out at you unless you're comparing it to Transparent Reference.

With the SE Reference, there was more detail and a wider range of detail. For instance, Diana Krall's voice sounded great with the XLR Ultra, but that slight lip smack she does at times, just sounded more "present" with the SE Reference--you knew she was just a feather's width away from the mike with the SE Reference.

Guess: Transparent says the difference between the Ultra and the Reference and the Reference and the Reference XL is a matter of build quality tolerances. I'm just guessing, but I'd say it was also a matter of design. Somehow the Reference shunts away the grit and grime of stereo electronics more precisely than the Ultra. Not that the Ultra is in anyway worse sounding, but in a way that the Reference is better sounding. I know, sounds crazy.

A final guesstimate: there may be something going on along the line of synergies within model lines, ie. all ultra interconnects vs. all reference interconnects.

Hope it's not too late, but if you've decided already, let us know what you found... WM2001
I have an exact suggestion. In your system try any cable that you can borrow in both balanced & unbalanced. You will then notice how much of a difference balanced makes. I tried Transparent in my system in several ways. The balanced didn't make a difference in certain versions (different preamp or CD player or amp) of my system. In my current system running balanced is a revelation. The noise cancellation properties of balanced in only a 2 Meter run was significant beyond belief. On another note, then you can find out if you should go up a level w. Transparent. I would characterize Utra vs. Reference as being a big step up but I wouldn't know the difference between the current generation w. MM. I have owned XL tech. Also the step up is mostly apparent only after all cables are upgraded. This means that your system will sound as good as its weakest link (this is an exageration) and your final upgrade w transparent will show the biggest difference.

The difference between MM & XL technology is very apparent but for me the difference between Ultra w. XL tech & Reference w. XL tech was more apparent & if memory serves me correctly I was rewarded w. greater transparency & much closer to the music. The MM changes the character of the tonality making the treble more natural & the bass is more resolved. It is significant but if you have a system that is bright I would go for MM tech, if your system isn't bright I would go for lower level w. XL tech & maybe balanced. The typical characterization is that a lower level cable w. MM tech is better than the next level up w. MM tech. I don't know this to be the case. But the difference between my speaker calbes & interconnects was as I described above for going up to MM tech. I still don't have MM tech from my preamp to amp so there might be a bigger step once the entire chain is upgraded. This is typical of transparent so I am saving up for the next one & looking for it here on Audiogon.

Hope I helped you. You can email me offline if you need more help.
I am currently auditioning the MusicLink Balanced and the Super SE. For my system I just ordered 2 pair of the balanced. 1 for my Benchmark DAC1, and 1 for my Manley Monoblocks.
OK, the battle is over. If you recall, I have mag's 3.6, Manley 250 monoblocks, ARC LS-15/PH-3, Cal Audio/Benchmark DAC1, and LP-12. I have auditioned Kimber, Analysis Plus, Nordost Quattro Fil, and Transparent, balanced/RCA and Transparent was the clear winner in my system. Specifically, the Super/Musiclink Balanced was more acoustical, and forward in that I felt closer to the music. My reference was KCAG which I have had for several years. I was surprised at the difference even though my buddy stated some technical reason that Transparent cable was not ideal with a tube amp. Yeah right. Accordingly Transparent is now my reference cable.
It's pretty funny until you hear it yourself that a cable can make that big of a difference as a component! It's what caused me to go Transparent years ago and upgrade each year.

It's funny I have audiobuddies bring over there cables all the time to show how much better they are and my system takes several steps backwards with each trial..... Hearing in your own system is believing!
Hi Chris! Long time since we last spoke and hope things are going well in AZ. Actually an audiobuddy, "Cytocycle", brought his Transparent Reference I/Cs to my house and have never had anything else since. I've got the Ultra MM's throughout and was thinking about upgrading to a Reference MM from the CD source to the Placette ALS. Think it would be worth it, I mean a significant gain? You still have the Wilson's? ...norm.
Hey Norm! Still have the Wilsons, and bought a Wilson sub also. I'll be in Colorado Springs for handful of days starting today, next trip I'll in August we should hook up.

The ultra MM is so good I'm not sure the extra money towards reference MM. It would be better to see where your system is at...then again every time I have been suprised and that interconnect between source and preamp is a very key one!

Drop me a note sometime