Out of curiosity, why are balanced outputs "an absolute requirement" for you?
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It's partly a cultural thing I think. Not much British gear is balanced. It may be to do with us Brits using short interconnects and long speaker cables. I think you colonials tend to use much longer interconnects, where true balanced is of more value. Speaking to UK manufactures, as I have at shows, they seem pretty dismissive of the benefits of balanced connections. It does also give real manufacturing cost savings of course. Most of my interconnects are 1mt. I have never been in a position to use balanced connections.
I would disagree with Bob_reynolds in that it DOES matter if the unit is fully balanced or not. Why have pseudo balanced connections if the signal is to go through a bunch of bandaid phase-splitter and summing-amp stages for the sake of achieving "balanced" components. Either do it right all the way or don't bother at all. And yes, the RCA connector is a pain and a joke.
As for balanced connections making a difference on components that are truly balanced and that have both XLR and RCA connections, with the Aesthetix Io into the Aesthetix Callisto, the XLR cable here significantly outperforms the same model RCA cable in the context of portrayal of space alone. This is one example where the difference is enough to make anyone believe they were not the same components when driven by the same model cable.
The value for the CMRR only exists if we do not bandaid the signal path to achieve complimentary phases from a signal that started out as single-ended. If much degradation is done to the signal to create these 2 phases, there is likely more to be lost than any benefits to be had through the reduction of noise due to running a complimentary signal.
As for an engineering argument here, there are far too many implementations in a circuit design as well as cable design to botch up any number of cases here. If someone is gung-ho over the benefits of CMRR through balanced design, do it correctly throughout or don't do it at all. Attempting to reduce the noise floor does not guarantee you will not cause greater destruction to the signal in the process.
I ran with truly balanced ARC and BAT products for nearly a decade from phono cartridge and DAC to the amplifiers and when I switched to running a 10m Purist Dominus RCA IC from the Aesthetix Callisto to CAT JL-3 amps, ironically, I had more resolution than before. And therefore it was not the toplogy but rather the implementation.
Bob - I thought you had no comment. And please define for me reality.
This thread relates to home consumer products and not recording studio products. What recording professionals may need and use in a studio is for the most part, not at all what I want duplicated in a home system. Oh yes, we all know that the recording professionals know the "reality" and the rest of us know nothing. And this is evident by the poor implementations of many profesional electronics engineers who manufacture and design home audio components. Thanks for the tip.
As for what meter I use, that's an easy one: my ears. A rack of HP and Tektronix test equipment showing me a lower noise level means nothing to me when it is a clear I can hear other sonic improvements in a product that indeed has higher noise. Getting all wrapped up in CMRR is putting a blind eye onto everything else in with the signal.
This is becoming much like a "power cables can't possibly make a difference" thread so I'm out.
(You had a valid argument against balanced). So BOB do you have 100 feet of XLR cable in your home system??????????. It is in the implementation. (Fortunately the professionals in the recording, mastering and broadcast studios understand reality. Regarding this increase in "resolution," whose resolution meter did you use to measure it?)So BOB do you have a mixing board with 10,000 slide switchs on it.