You can short the outputs of the DAC so you can’t hurt it by trying different cable combinations. Simply use your ears - if you don’t hear a problem, don’t worry about it. Unbalancing the output means that some forms of noise that would be canceled by a balanced output won’t be as canceled, e.g. perhaps a little hum or hiss. This isn’t a problem with many systems, but it can be.
Thanks, Elk and Ted. I’m glad to know it doesn’t cause harm but I think I’ll disconnect the unused cable anyway. I’m the type that would imagine hearing some hiss. In fact I began this dual connection today because I brought over a headphone amp that only takes single-ended anyway. I had just pressed play when I remembered that the manual said something against doing that. The Y-connector is a good idea, I’ll look into that.
I have also considered using a Y-adapter on each XLR output channel on my DSD. But I have refrained from doing so because I was concrned about maintaining the sound character of my two xlr cables pairs (AZ Silver Ref II and PAD Aqueous Aureous). I presume that the non-matching materials of construction of the relatively inexpensive splitters I see commercially available would be detrimental in that regard. Conversely, if those splitters would not make any noticeable sound difference in the connected preamps or amps, then why not just use inexpensive monoprice-quality XLRs in the first place? The majority of experienced audiophiles claim that cables certainly do have different sound characteristics. So therefore one may conclude that unless the splitters are of the exact same materials and construction as the balanced cables themselves (i.e.: made by the same manufacturer), the sound will be effected, presumeably for the worse. Any other opinions about this?
The particular materials of a splitter don’t have to match the specifics of a given cable, but a splitter needs to be of a quality that it’s not the bottleneck in your system. Using a splitter sum the capacitances of the cables, that’s not great but if your cables aren’t high capacitance that’s probably not a problem. The Aqueous Aureos cables are a low enough capacitance that this shouldn’t be a problem.
Using a splitter with two different cables will “mix” part of the sounds of the cables. But with cables that are fairly neutral this shouldn’t be a problem.