check out analysis Plus same price rca's and xlr's
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I think it's for one of two reasons. . .
First, the balanced configuration may actually warrant the added expense because an additional run of the signal wiring is needed. Some cables like the Kimber silver streak I believe, are configured single ended with a single run of silver for the hot side, plus a run of copper for the neutral (one silver/one copper). In the balanced version a second run of silver was added for the negative run (two silver/one copper). Add in (potentially) more expensive termination and you might have a reasonable justification for the doubling the price. I'm unfamiliar with Audience's cable construction but this could be the reason for the differential.
For the cables where the price difference is modest, the cable manufacturers may be sourcing bulk three conductor wire and then using it for both their single ended and balance configurations (essentially not using one of the conductors for their single ended versions). In this case there's not a material difference in their production cost. Or they are sourcing non-exotic bulk wire in both two- and three-conductor configurations and and again, there's not a significant cost differential.
Second, is that more people don't do what you've done (question the logic) and therefore the manufacturer get's away with doubling the price even if it's not justified by material costs.
XLR requires one more wire. Price varies on type of XLR connector. I have a 1m pair in house with $230 in just the connectors.
Only if your components are differentially balanced (DB)designs will XLR cables do much for you. That said, DB defines hi-end. Finally, we are seeing more and more manufacturers using DB.
Because they can is a good answer. Although a good XLR with gold pins is only slightly more expensive then some RCA's and considerabley less then the better ones. So this is not a good reason. The extra wire thing....well that's the manufacturers problem for not designing a balanced cable to begin with. Generally the shield is what is referred to here as the third wire, so any twin axial with shield can be used as a single ended cable or balanced. Discovery Cable has never charged one penny more for balanced cables and never will.
And for your second part, yes some electronics are not true balanced (phase correct and phase inverted) even though they have XLR's.
Yes, I would be stunned if any cable sold as a balanced cable was not truly balanced. I think people are getting confused due to the fact that many so-called balanced inputs and outputs on equipment are not balanced, and extending that assumption to cables.
A lot of the reason for the difference, IMO, is that in many cases the balanced cable is quite different from its namesake single ended cable, and in others it isn't.
So, for example if you use a 3 wire braid as a single ended cable the best sound comes from connecting two to the earth and one to the signal. For a balanced cable you connect one to each of hot, cold and ground (and putting more conductor on ground is not beneficial.
But in other designs I have seen the wire involved can be 50% more or 100% more in the balanced version of the cable. And the balanced connectors can cost 3 times as much in some high end lines. Whether this justifies a higher price to you depends on whether you are an economist, a cost accountant or conspiracist.
What happens if you get single ended wires re terminated?, the Audioquest Mont Blac cables we use are being sent out to the factory to re terminate for use with an ARC REF3 pre and Aesthetix amp..........both of which are made for balanced operation. Is this a bad idea and if so how come nobody mentioned it?