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The Harbeth User Group is the primary channel for public communication with Harbeth's HQ. If you have a 'scientific mind' and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - audio equipment decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual Science of Audio sub-forum area of HUG is your place. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and should be accessible to non-experts and able to be tried-out at home without deep technical knowledge. From a design perspective, today's award winning Harbeths could not have been designed any other way.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings area is you. If you are quite set in your subjectivity, then HUG is likely to be a bit too fact based for you, as many of the contributors have maximised their pleasure in home music reproduction by allowing their head to rule their heart. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area only, although HUG is really not the best place to have these sort of purely subjective airings.

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{Updated Oct. 2017}
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Balanced / unbalanced

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  • Balanced / unbalanced

    After 35 years I have finally purchased a pre-amplifier. It has dual mono stepped attenuators and is entirely passive. It has power only for the electronic display. It will also allow me to implement balance control, as my left ear seems to be ageing faster than my right.

    I now have the option of balanced or unbalanced connections between my DAC, through the pre-amp and into the amplifier. All three have RCA and XLR connections, the pre-amp both in and out.

    I know the DAC outputs 1v via RCA, 2v via XLR, but it also have a good internal volume control so I can limit it. The amplifier has plenty of power.

    Cable runs are minimal. I appreciate consumer audio XLR cables are a fortune, however I would source 1m cables from StudioSpares, the top line being 15 each.

    Can I have the pluses and minuses of using balanced or unbalanced connections, or is it a non-issue?
    Is there a greater risk of overloading and clipping?

    Many thanks

  • #2
    Balanced / unbalanced.

    Originally posted by ssfas View Post
    After 35 years I have finally purchased a pre-amplifier. It has dual mono stepped attenuators and is entirely passive. It has power only for the electronic display. It will also allow me to implement balance control, as my left ear seems to be ageing faster than my right.

    I now have the option of balanced or unbalanced connections between my DAC, through the pre-amp and into the amplifier. All three have RCA and XLR connections, the pre-amp both in and out.

    1. I know the DAC outputs 1v via RCA, 2v via XLR, but it also have a good internal volume control so I can limit it. The amplifier has plenty of power.

    Cable runs are minimal. 2. I appreciate consumer audio XLR cables are a fortune, however I would source 1m cables from StudioSpares, the top line being 15 each.

    Can I have the pluses and minuses of using balanced or unbalanced connections, or is it a non-issue?
    Is there a greater risk of overloading and clipping?

    Many thanks
    ad 1) If there is attenuation provided there shoud be no problem.

    ad2) Not at all. There is a huge market of second-hand and very good XLR domestic interconnects for a fraction of their initially asked price. The point is the cable was no diy class but manufactured by reliable maker so that to avoid bad connection, which can be disastrous. In XLR connectors all this mumbo-jumbo ideology with Mendeleev table is worth nothing - it is enough if the cables are made of good ofc copper and the interconnect is properly shielded from outer electromagnetic influences. Don't buy cheap poorly manufactured supermarket cables. Too risky to use with so good and expensive hi-fi equipment! It is not the matter of of the wire material only!
    In case of passive pre-amp the best would be use of short interconnects - not more than 30 to 50cm (some minimal length of flexible cable between both plugs is essential for staunch coupling).

    ad3) If you have truly balanced source and pre-amp XLR option provides a stereo output signal from a balanced stereo input signal connected to both the left and right XLR inputs. All the advantages of balanced line transmission will be realised with good rejection of noise and some freedom from earth or ground loops (hum). In theory the stereophonic image should be a bit better (realistic).

    ATB

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    • #3
      Hearing imbalance

      Some years ago I once tried a RCA/unbalanced vs XLR/balanced but could not hear any difference. I still use XLR/balanced in both my systems though!

      Regarding your ears, the problem is, at least in my case, that only some of the frequencies are reduced in one ear (my right as it happens). These are higher ones, such as 7kHz say. The bass and most frequencies are the same for both ears.

      Comment


      • #4
        RCA v XLR

        Originally posted by ssfas View Post
        After 35 years I have finally purchased a pre-amplifier. It has dual mono stepped attenuators and is entirely passive. It has power only for the electronic display. It will also allow me to implement balance control, as my left ear seems to be ageing faster than my right.

        I now have the option of balanced or unbalanced connections between my DAC, through the pre-amp and into the amplifier. All three have RCA and XLR connections, the pre-amp both in and out.

        I know the DAC outputs 1v via RCA, 2v via XLR, but it also have a good internal volume control so I can limit it. The amplifier has plenty of power.

        Cable runs are minimal. I appreciate consumer audio XLR cables are a fortune, however I would source 1m cables from StudioSpares, the top line being 15 each.

        Can I have the pluses and minuses of using balanced or unbalanced connections, or is it a non-issue?
        Is there a greater risk of overloading and clipping?

        Many thanks
        I bought budget priced XLR's from the local PA store, they were about $30 for a 6 foot pair, sold as microphone cable. I know XLR typically is preferable for input to a pro power amp as they typically have input sensitivity around 1.5V. In a second system I am running RCA into a pro amp and with a 2V input via a passive volume controller find that ample signal to drive the speakers to sensible volumes, more if needed.

        My passive is running a 3ft rca seemingly without issue, I know some passives use power to ensure they can drive cable runs sufficiently.
        Getting to know my C7ES3

        Comment


        • #5
          Basic cables

          Hi..i am a new user here.

          As per my knowledge in XLR connectors all this mumbo-jumbo ideology with the 'Mendeleev table' is worth nothing - it is enough if the cables are made of good ofc copper and the interconnect is properly shielded from outer electromagnetic influences. Don't buy cheap poorly manufactured supermarket cables. Too risky to use with so good and expensive hi-fi equipment!

          It is not the matter of of the wire material only. In case of passive pre-amp the best would be use of short interconnects not more than 30 to 50cm

          Comment


          • #6
            Cables - zero interest in the studio

            Originally posted by LemPyle View Post
            Hi..i am a new user here.

            As per my knowledge in XLR connectors all this mumbo-jumbo ideology with the 'Mendeleev table' is worth nothing - it is enough if the cables are made of good ofc copper and the interconnect is properly shielded from outer electromagnetic influences. Don't buy cheap poorly manufactured supermarket cables. Too risky to use with so good and expensive hi-fi equipment!

            It is not the matter of of the wire material only. In case of passive pre-amp the best would be use of short interconnects not more than 30 to 50cm
            I have just had a look at the websites of two well-known UK cable suppliers, one consumer, on professional. Both offer a wide range of products. Curiously, the consumer supplier does not mention cable length, whereas the pro supplier has a huge range from 0.3 to 50 meters.

            As far as prices, and assuming the consumer cables are about 1.5m, at that length the pro supplier's price range for a pair is 25 to 30. The consumer supplier's price range is 145 to 2,700, and the average is over 1,000.

            As far as quality, most use Neutrik connectors. The pro supplier assembles on site using Sommer cable and given the many 10,000's they've sold, I reckon they know how to put them together.

            If there was demand in the pro world for a better, more expensive cable, someone would supply one. There isn't and they don't. That's good enough for me. But don't let me stop anyone spending 2,700 for a pair if it makes them feel good or thinks it is so expensive it must be better.

            Comment

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