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There was a thread on this;just 10 days ago.I'll do a recap for ya. It went something like this: Everybody seemed to agree;bal. is better. ( IF ) everthing is bal, /from start to finish. Some equipment is only balance "pass- thru " If everything is bal. capable /do the bal. thing /no adapters/ it will be/sound better.
HI Willyb XLR is the term used when a component is a balanced inputs. The cable in question looks nothing like a rca cable. You will see instead three male ends of three female ends depending on whats going where. As for differences I have heard balanced is a little less noiser but unless you are running long runs or your gear is all balanced(inputs,outputs)rcas are the more common connectors. Hope this helps.
Willy, did you send me an e-mail about my BAT VK-200? It has only balanced inputs, which means you will need a preamp with balanced outputs or an adapter that goes from RCA (single-ended) to XLR (balanced) to put between your preamp and BAT. A system which combines balanced and single-ended (XLR and RCA) will not sound as good as one that is all balanced. It will not necessarily sound worse than one that is all single-ended, but it might. The true advantage of using balanced connections is the cancellation of noise induced in a long run of interconnect.
XLRs are a type of connector with three pins in a round shell. They're typically used for carrying a balanced signal connection, though some manufacturers who have XLR connectors on their gear do not necessarily have balanced connections - they simply have a single ended connection wired to the XLR connector to make their single ended gear compatible with other pieces that have XLR connectors.
If the designed cut corners when designing the gear, the XLR connector will have double the output of a standard RCA connector. If properly designed, the unit will have the same output on RCA and XLR.
XLR inputs are balanced inputs. Here is the techie version (I am sure that I will be corrected if I am wrong.)
For the connectors, one wire connects to the + gain, the other to the - gain, and you are and ready to go. So the XLR/Balanced inputs have 3 wires (one for + one for - and one for ground (neutral)) and 3 contacts to carry the signal to the balanced circuitry.