XLRs | AES48 Standard | Matrix Mini-i 3 Pro | Benchmark DAC3B


An observation:

I had (until a few hours ago) a Benchmark DAC3B. I just shipped it out with a sale. I was using a Benchmark StarQuad XLR between the DAC3B and the Benchmark HPA4 preamp. Both of these Benchmark units support the AES48 standard for XLR connections. A pair of these StarQuad XLR interconnects cost $72.

https://benchmarkmedia.com/collections/cables/products/benchmark-starquad-analog-xlr-cable  (StarQuad XLR)

The rest of my chain use StarQuad XLR to the AHB2 amps and Benchmark SpeakON speaker cable to Thiel CS3.7 speakers. All my cables are burnt in well including the next cables I describe.
https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/7605

I also tried the Audience AU24SE XLR cable between the Benchmark DAC3B and HPA4. I first listened with the StarQuad XLR for about a month, then I tried the Audience AU24SE XLR for about a month, I finally switched back to the StarQuad. At one time I thought the Audience was slightly better (since I spent more)  but after a bit more time I decided the StarQuad was the same and I would stick with the StarQuad because the Benchmarks benefit from professional XLRs that carry the signal at 22+ dBU signal (this is from their web site). The Audience cables are consumer cables at 14 dBU.

Here is the Audience AU24SE.
https://www.thecableco.com/cables/interconnects/au-24-se-version-xlr-interconnect-pair.html ($1450)

So today after the sale of my DA3B, I moved my 1/2 as expensive Matrix Mini-i 3 Pro DAC into the same spot as the DAC3B. I stream from a ROON Server via a Sonore microRendu. I will likely drop the microRendu once Matrix completes ROON READY certification for the Mini. So at the moment I have everything the same except the Matrix replacing the DAC3B.

I connected the Matrix to the StarQuad XLR and listened. What the heck, it sounded awful. I believe that Matrix DOES NOT support the AES 48 standard for XLR connections. I have not doubled checked this but I doubt a consumer audio company goes to the extra effort to do that. There is a Matrix technician posting on ASR forums and I will ask him/her next on the DAC's AES48 support.

I then switched out the StarQuad XLR and put in the Audience AU24SE XLR. Wow, the sound was great. Almost as good as the DAC3B with the StarQuad or AU24SE. So in the case of the Matrix the more expensive interconnects made a massive difference.

The only thing that I can think is the factor here is the support of the AES48 standard for XLR interconnects. 

BTW - the only reason I sold the DAC3B was to raise some cash for an investment. I hope to buy the AudioByte VOX | ZAP | HUB to replace the DAC3B in a few months. I may get the DAC3B again if the AudioByte is not as great as everyone says.

yyzsantabarbara
I thought AES 48 was simply them addressing the pin1 problem. I can't imagine not supporting it all it does is ground pin 1 to chassis. 
Not all companies support this. I asked Luxman about the m900u amp and c900u preamp and they do not support it. That was one reason against getting the Luxman because I wanted to run between 15 - 30 feet of XLR cable between the preamp and amp. I did not want to pay a fortune for "audiophile" cables at that length.

Only companies that I know that support it is Atma-sphere, Benchmark, and Bryston. These are companies that I asked. I am sure there are others.

I believe AudioByte DACs are also not supporting this. My next DAC will be the AudioByte VOX so I was interested to find out this info. I need to search my emails to confirm this.

http://www.atma-sphere.com/en/resource-why-balanced.html

https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/application_notes/balanced-vs-unbalanced-analog-interfaces

Tim de Paravicini made his EAR-Yoshino pre-amps in accordance with AES48, via his superior balancing transformers (routinely used in the studio work he did a lot of). 
Here is the response from the Matrix regarding AES48.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/info-on-new-matrix-audio-mini-i.15095/pag...

The Matrix sounds great but I needed to use the Audience AU24SE XLR's with them.