XLR or RCA cables


In my system I have an Audible Illusions preamp that only accepts unbalanced (RCA)outputs while my Ayre amps accept only balanced (XLR) outputs. I am currently running 2 meter RCA interconnects with adapters at the amp but was wondering if running XLR cables with an adapter at the preamp would offer any improvement. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks.
needarosa
For a 3 meter run, there should be no difference.
I don't know if the adapter will double the voltage coming out from preamp. But let's say - if it does, then you will have "gain" in the system. With gain, you will have to go much lower on the volume knob. But again - just a theory - since I am not sure if adapters will double the voltage.
How can an adapter double the voltage unless it has a transformer or a powered amp? Either way, it will introduce more complexity and the possibility of imposing something other than voltage on what should be a transparent link.

Since most "volume knobs" are really just attenuators, there is no real advantage in higher output voltage unless the preamp outpput was inadequate.
That is why I started with "I don't know".
A Great Northern Sound PASI unit by Steve Huntley would be ideal if you can find one. Takes RCA or XLR in and RCA or XLR out. I sold one on the Gon and have seen several others for sale over the years.
You could also run a want ad.
This is what you need

Jensen PI2rx Iso Max input transformer. They cost $200 from Jensen. Your RCA cable from the pre goes into the box and an xlr cable out from the box into your amp. The xlr should be short for best fidelity. Short being under 32 inches. The unit is passive so It does not plug in. It is exactly what you need and works like a charm.

I found no loss of fidelity at all. In fact my system sounded better with it as my amp is fully balanced and sounded better using the xlr input and true balanced signal from the Jensen. Amazing little input transformer.
Jensen makes great stuff.
To get all advantages of Ayre, you should use balanced preamp. In your case balanced or unbalanced doesn't matter.
The Jensen will give you the full benefit of balanced and that is why it is so wonderful. Many balanced preamps have the same technology right inside the preamp that the Jensen offers in this passive box.
I am currently running 2 meter RCA interconnects with adapters at the amp but was wondering if running XLR cables with an adapter at the preamp would offer any improvement.
In principle, using an XLR cable with an adapter at the preamp is the better of the two approaches, in part because it would provide somewhat better rejection of hum and noise. It corresponds electrically to the configuration shown in Figure 2.1 of this Jensen paper.

In principle, using a Jensen transformer would be a much better approach, as suggested above and as described in the paper.

As a practical matter, and assuming that you do not presently have perceivable problems with hum or noise, whether or not either of those alternatives would provide an improvement in your particular setup is anyone's guess IMO.

Regards,
-- Al
On simlar length runs with same type of cable, XLR just sounds more dynamic and more refined than RCA. Yes, I have taken into consideration that a XLR connection will sound louder and had adjusted volume control to compensate.

This I have tried on equipment with dual RCA / XLR inputs and outputs (Denon AVP-A1HD sound processor, Bel Canto DAC3.5VB MKII, Bel Canto REF1000MKII).

This is the reason why Ayre amplification has only XLR connections. When you had tried both, you would only want to use XLR.

(Audio)
Thanks to all for your helpful responses. The Jensen transformer sounds intriguing. Where can I get information on them or purchase one?
The Jensen transformer sounds intriguing. Where can I get information on them or purchase one?
Jensen Home Page (click on "Iso-Max Audio Isolators" in the upper left, and then scroll down)

PI-2RX Datasheet (same as PI-2XX shown, except with RCA input connectors)

PI-2RX Manual

It would be best to give them a call before ordering, though, to confirm that this specific model is what they would recommend for your particular system.

Also, if your amp(s) are monoblocks, to keep the cable length between transformer and amp short (as required for an "input transformer" such as this) you should get two of the single-channel version, which would be model PI-1RX.

Regards,
-- Al
Thanks again, Almarg etal.
My preamp (Dspeaker Dual Core 2.0) has XLR outputs and my amp has RCA inputs. I had Simplifi Audio make me a XLR to RCA DNM HFTN cable and have no issues with it. Perhaps that might be a good way to go?
Less in the signal chain is sometimes best.