Balanced vs Unbalanced


#1

Hello everyone…

Anyone care to try - if you’re able to - unbalanced vs unbalanced IC’s from your preamp to your amp(s) and see if you can hear any differences? I know this can be system specific as so many other things can be, but I’m curious if there’s a trend and/or mixed results.

If anyone reading is willing to do a little swapping and/or has done this and would like to share their results I’d love to hear…


#2

Often if you have a hum with unbalanced you may not with balanced. In my experience cheaper balanced cables can sound as good as more expensive unbalanced cables


#3

If I’m not mistaken, balanced will give you about 6db of gain.


#4

I have noticed the gain but in my situation there wasn’t necessarily more noise/hum over unbalanced - that had more to do with a preamp not being inserted in my system.


#5

As it’s been explained to me by one manufacturer of balanced amps and preamps, Since many balanced lines are driven at 600 ohms (like pro gear) I believe, that in itself takes the cable type more out of the equation compared to unbalanced.

The IC cables I’m using in my system are (cough) uber cheap mogami gold mic cables (which is their top end), since I’m using close to a 15 foot run to the BHK 300’s.

When the 300’s arrived I needed basic cables to get them running, and I never replaced them in the almost 2 years I’ve had them.

In a truly high end cable that length would be astronomical cost wise. In the 3 foot run from the DS to my balanced all tube pre amp, I’ve auditioned uber expensive cables and often the difference was subtle. Could it be that the run of mogami gold from pre to power was masking the difference? Possibly, but I’m more focused on trying to find the ideal speaker cable, since even some manufacturers have said that the speaker cable reveals more differences because of the higher current.

I’d love to try Teo liquid speaker cables - but they are quite expensive and I’m currently doing quad wire with my current set up.

Perhaps that will change with PS’s new speaker. Till then I’m making no investment in cables.


#6

It does make you wonder if the Mogami Gold could be the limiting factor. Not that I’m judging - far from it trust me. Like you related the cost of a 15 foot run could be crazy with higher end cables. That’s one of the frustrating things about higher-end cabling.

I’m using RCA’s from bettercables.com that run approx. $70 a pair for 1m. Still not cheap, but far from “high end” as far as some cable prices go. Still, I think they sound good. That being said, I’ve decided to stay single-ended instead of playing with balanced. I appreciate Ted’s advice that sometimes you cannot hear the difference, and if there is a difference it’s often small. I don’t even know if I could hear such a difference in my system. I did just do a swap out between balanced and RCA’s from my DAC to my S300 directly and couldn’t hear a difference, so I’m thinking this may also be the case with a pre-amp…or at least I’m going forward with that theory:)


#7

As I mentioned in another thread on this forum, I replaced single ended Luminous Audio Synchestra References with the same cable in a balanced version between my BHK pre and BHK250 amp. Noticeably better bass definition, a more fulsome midrange, slightly less sibilant artifacts on those parts of the audio spectrum prone to them. Additionally, the slight clicking noises I heard ramping the volume level up and down disappeared, complete quiet now. Paul McGowan discussed this issue in a YouTube video and opined that he couldn’t imagine why anyone would use single ended instead of balanced if they had the option. Well, other than obvious fiscal constraints, gotta agree with him in this case.