BHK components: your experience with balanced vs. single ended


#1

I recently purchased a new BHK 250 stereo amp to complement the BHK preamp I’ve been using for several months. Having been a long time reader of audio forums I think it’s fair to say the prevailing opinion from most audiophiles regarding balanced vs. single ended connections is that there are lesser differences to be heard between balanced cables and their connectors than is the case with single ended cables. I more or less accepted this idea and purchased a pair of Wireworld Eclipse interconnects, a mid level price cable that is generally thought to have a good performance/price balance.

Since the day I installed the BHK 250 amp (and Wireworld cables) I found my system’s previous balance to be altered too far in the direction of overly energetic and edgy sound, definitely not conducive to relaxing into the music and forgetting about the gear. I experimented with different power cables, tubes in the BHK’s, power conditioners for source gear and the preamp and nothing really changed - still too edgy and energetic. However, when I swapped the balanced Wireworld interconnects from the preamp/amp connection to the output of my JL Audio F112 and reinserted the single ended Luminous Audio Synchestra References I’ve always preferred - Voila! - balance and harmony restored. I cannot believe how BAD the balanced Wireworld cables sound in comparison.

So I’m curious if any of you other BHK component owners have had similar experiences. Have you found great differences in balanced cables or various brands of XLR connectors? I think the thing for me to do at this point is to see if Luminous Audio might have a set of balanced interconnects to audition. FWIW, I’m using Tidal Piano Cera speakers which are quite revealing speakers although not the ultimate in treble extension.


#2

As a follow up, I’ve answered my own question (partially) by installing a set of Luminous Audio Synchestra Reference XLR cables in place of the RCA version between the amp and preamp. Right off the bat, those that say there are “minimal” differences in XLR cables hear in ways that don’t correspond with what I hear. The XLR version expands on the virtues of the RCA version and furthers the differences between two brands of cable. Paul McGowan’s advice and opinion that there’s no reason to use RCAs in place of XLRs in the BHK platform seems completely validated from this initial trial. I look forward to replacing all the other single ended cables with their balanced versions.


#3

Interesting - thanks for posting. I am using mogami Gold XLR’s between a balanced tube pre and my BHK 300’s. Since the run is about 15 feet I have been hesitant to upgrade with premium XLR’S due to the cost, and it’s not that easy to find a pair that long for audition.

I’ll see if I can find some Luminous for audition. I wouldn’t mind a slightly smoother sound since my TAD drivers are beryllium.


#4

If your question is: do balanced inters sound better, my answer is Yes.
If your other question is: is the difference minimal, my answer is No.
I wouldn’t ever use SE again. But that’s my ears, my system.


#5

Further listening with the Wireworld Eclipse 7 XLRs linking my Luxman D-05 SACD player and RCM Sensor Prelude phono stage to the BHK pre has been interesting. The excessive brightness I hear when linking BHK preamp and amp with the Wireworld is not nearly as apparent when used with other components. The Eclipses don’t sound bright at all with the RCM Sensor and only slightly so with the Luxman. This further confirms what most of us know, it’s about impossible to make blanket statements about how any given cable sounds because of synergy variables.


#6

What tubes do you have in the pre?


#7

Ever since the BHK 250 entered my system, I’ve been working to get a tonal balance more to my liking. Tube rolling in the BHK pre was the first place I started. Phillips white label SQ 6922s, Amperex oval getter 6dj8’s, Matsushita 6dj8s, Sylvania JAN 6189s, and what’s in place now: RCA 12au7 clear tops. The biggest thing that’s helped restore a tonal balance I like was replacing the BHK 250’s stock tubes with Raytheon JAN 7308’s, those are really nice in the amp. Also been trying various Wireworld, Harmonic Technology, Mojo Audio, & Furutech power cords. The Tidal Piano Cera speakers I use are not forgiving of harshness in recordings and I’m always looking for that sweet spot that balances listenability with sub-par or “hot” recordings and sounding the best possible with great recordings.


#8

I have Wireworld Eclipse 7 XLR and Silver Eclipse do not hear any brightness


#9

You and lots of other listeners love Wireworld. As we know, it is all about system synergy (and our preferences.)


#10

I have little experience with Wireworld products but they produce some good cabling. I’m running a full loom of Siltech cables. The 330 and 550 series and I use Siltech power and usb cables and I’m a believer in their quality and presentation. My system is totally quiet with great detail and imaging. They are never bright even though they are made of silver and some gold alloy.


#11

I have tried many cables in my system, both single ended and balanced, and found the Wireworld Eclipse 7 and Silver Eclipse to be on the on the bright and analytical side of things as well. MG AU2 silver balanced cables are detailed, dynamic and full in my system. Also some of the better VooDoo cables such as Renaissance sound good to me. But the real sleepers are the Amadi Maddie Signature cables that only cost $350 for one meter. They sound far better than they have any right to.


#12

Zu Audio Event XLR. Open, neutral, thin, flexible, like (cooked) spaghetti, reasonably priced.


#13

I’m using AntiCables XLRs on my BHK combo with very satisfying results.


#14

I find single ended is the most natural presentation
more organic less disjointed
sound builds froh low too highs
as is in a live presentation
concerts never sound etched balanced sounds forced
ive tried both i stick with rca single ende