The manual for your integrated says the preamp out is SE only. That leads me to suspect that if you do use the balanced inputs it is going to be converted to SE inside the integrated anyway. If that is the case I see no reason to use a balanced IC.
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Technically speaking there should be a lower floor noise using XLR vs. SE, however if you are using a 1/m pair of interconnects I'm not sure you will be able to hear a difference in sonics. If you leave the volume at the same level the XLR will definitely sound louder then the SE, but in my opinion you wont hear improvement unless you have a need to run long interconnects.
I use the ARC Reference CD 7, ARC Reference 3 Preamp and Plinius Reference amp. I had to switch out some XLR interconnects to SE interconnects because even with the volume control set at the lowest level the volume was still louder then I wanted it, for example if I was listening to music and had a phone call or was talking to someone next to me.
Why don't you just try inexpensive XLR cables and see what the result is compared to the high priced RCA's that you are using? All that you have to loose is a few bucks, and I'm willing to bet that if you don't like them, you will be able to return them to wherever you purchased them. Likely you will want to keep them, however. Just my 2 cents worth. Happy Listening.
Herman, I checked the Classe manual and it states that "the Balanced input is a true differential high level input wired as follows: Pin 1 Ground, Pin 2 Positive (Non Inverted) Signal, Pin 3 Negitive (Inverted) Signal. It may be used with CD players that have a Balanced output, or any other high level balanced sources."
Lak, I kinda agree with you and have been confused by the recomendation from ARC that I have been missing getting the utmost from the CD 3 by NOT using Balanced ICs, I do know that Balanced ICs are supposed to have a lower noise floor but to change would I be spending money on diminishing returns? I've seen in the fourms prior that Balanced Ics are better for long runs especially when you are running longer than 1 mtr. I also am very comfortable with knowing where my volumne setting should be when I play my cds as well and additionally have been confused with the recent reporting in the foum of the output differences. So far both of your responces point to staying with SE cables though. Thank you both for your opinions so far, it does help me.
Just because the input is balanced doesn't mean that it isn't converted to SE at that point and remain SE throughout. The manual doesn't say so I have no idea which is correct, but it just seems strange to me that if the whole signal chain is balanced that they would only have SE output from the preamp.
I agree with the suggestion to just try it. Even if you buy expensive cables you can get them used for about 1/2 here and resell for the same if the experiment doesn't turn out for the better. That's 1/2 the fun anyway!
a lot depends on the gear and what it was optimized for. Both my Ayre and Parasound gear sounds much better using balanced connections; the Ayre esp.
If ARC says that is how it will sound best I would go with that advice. A mfg. only wants its gear to perform well. It also sounds, from your description of the Classe's balanced input that it to will sound better run that way too.
The only times XLR is usefull is when you use extremly long IC's. Or if you equipment is build for XLR. By that I mean that all the signal processing is balanced. Most of the time this is NOT the case since you need double the amount of components to do that. I think in 90%+ of all XLR ìn and outputs there is a circuit behind/before it that takes a SE signal and converts it.
Even Bryston is not build for XLR use they convert the XLR signal to SE and then amplify it.
Gotta thank you all for your responces as not only do they shed more light on the subject but also still more questions. Herman Thanks I now see where you're comming from and see a little better that I should also contact Classe and pose that question (which just might answer all my questions for me)!
Timrhu Thanks to you also that's a real generous offer that I just may take you up on!
Mordante Thank you as you and Herman are helping me to try to understand some (probably) basic differences that I just don't comprehend.
Lak, Konis and Cpk all excellent points and maybe with the way I've set up my rig Balanced ICs could also just be a point of diminishing returns for the extra expendure but, I'm trying to get the best out of my rig so that I can stop changing (but never say never). I'll also let you know what Classe says (I'll ask them if it coverts to SE or not) when I hear back too. Thanks again everyone.
Got the response back from Classe and is quoted as follows:
"When you use the balanced input on your CAP-151 these 3 signals reach a differential circuit that removes the noise using the principle I mentioned to you before. They are combined into a single low noise signal that is sent to the CAP-151 amplifier stage.
There is only one signal path to the amplifier stage, so single ended signals also travel down it. However they will not have benefited from the differential circuit so will be of a lower quality with more noise. This ultimately means that the Balanced input sounds better than the single ended inputs."
It sounds to me that the optimum path for best noise rejection then would be to use Balanced. Mordante & Herman this seems to also confirm the principle of an SE circuit in the signal path that you alerted me of. By lowering the noise floor I could possibily realize better definition and maybe resolution?
I'll also try to borrow a pair of Balanced ICs to check this out and again Thanks everyone for helping to further educate me with your answers, its gone a long way for me.
The rear panel of the CAP-151 is nicely laid out. There are four line level inputs and one balanced input. I was happy to learn that the balanced input is a true balanced differential circuit and not just an unbalanced input terminated with an XLR. This allows a simple CD based system to be balanced from input to output which increases resolution while lowering the perceived noise floor in virtually any system.That quote is from a TNT review.
I would not expect a quick response from Classe. Been there.
I'm a little skeptical of that claim.... "However they will not have benefited from the differential circuit so will be of a lower quality with more noise." Sounds like marketing hype to me. What do they mean by "lower quality?" How much noise can you pick up going a meter or so from the CD to the integrated? I run all SE with 107 dB efficient horns with tube amps and you have to get your ear up close to the horns to hear any residual noise. However, I'll fall back to an earlier post and encourage you to try it with used cables. You have nothing to lose and something to learn as well as gaining the peace of mind of knowing which you prefer.
Here is a quote from SoundStage reviewer Marc Mickelson: "Listening to the CD3 Mk II through its single-ended outputs didn't change the player's sound immensely, but did make for less-refined sound. Retrieval of inner detail was less pronounced, and the entire presentation didn't have quite the same level of easy resolution or verisimilitude. Single ended, the CD3 Mk II is still a very good CD player, but, in meaningful ways, it sounds better balanced"
Here's a similar take from a SoundStage review for the CD3's successor, the CD5:
"Via balanced connection to the Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk III, the CD5 played with slightly less noise in my all-balanced system. Id previously done a similar comparison between RCA and XLR connection with the fully balanced Ayre C-5xe and heard somewhat similar results from the CD5. In the all-balanced configuration, a faint haze fell away from the CD5s rendition of Telarcs wonderful recording of Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano (Telarc CD-60676). Bass transients became slightly cleaner, and the overall performance was more transparently rendered. Though not as distinct a difference as Id heard with the C-5xe, the improvement offered with balanced connection was definitely audible from the CD5."