BHK Pre connection to power amp question - Cable related


Taking ownership of a new poweramp and I’m able now to connect to the my BHK pre by balanced XLR connection.
From user feedback, the new poweramp sounds best via its balanced input, so all good on that front.
XLR it is.
The thing is…cabling, and which option to take in my setup?

DSS dac to preamp via XLR using a superb 0.5m Wireworld cable
BHK Pre to [old] poweramp - 1m RCA cable.

The RCA cable is now out the picture and will be used elsewhere.

XLR cable wise, I have:

  • 0.5m I used to connect DS to BHK (high end cable and best sounding)
  • 1.0m good but not exciting cable

Where to put the fancy 0.5m XLR - Dac or Poweramp?
Being XLR I’m sure cables don’t make as much of a difference as RCA, but I can still hear a difference.

Where is most bang for buck?

  • Between BHK and poweramp
  • Keep using it to connect Dac to Preamp

Guess it may come down to which unit, amp or dac, is more sensitive to XLR cable change?
Or it might not even matter - anyone tried this?

I guess you would want the best connection between Pre and Power as it feeds your whole system, but also wouldn;t want to miss out on any of the Windom magic from the Dac.

Thanks for any input. :slight_smile:

Just from my personal experience. . . I always have found the best process to be to put my best cabling at the source. . . so I recommend the DAC. Even with power cables. . . wall to regenerator would get the best cable.

Since you only have two optional configurations, my recommendation would be to try both and let your ears decide. You mention that you are hearing differences with your better XLR cable so I would trust your ears over any generalities or “rules of thumb”.

Yeah, I hear you on that one.
Always listen for myself with most stuff.

Just wondering the most, I guess, if I need to be thinking about this as I’m using XLR and not RCA.

Happy to switch it on and enjoy, but if there’s some well worn wisdom out there, I’m always happy to learn. :slight_smile:

Actually testing the theory that “balanced cables all sound the same or have few differences” in a system with decent resolution will quickly disabuse most listeners of that belief. I hear differences among XLR cables as obvious as those I hear with single ended interconnects. Not sure what your power amp is, but the BHK pre and BHK amp combination is extremely revealing of cable differences in my experience.

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I’m with Lonson on this one. I prefer to keep my best cables earliest in the signal path. Depending on the cables though, best might be relative. Though it will take some time, I definitely recommend playing with the two different configs, and see which sounds best. Report back, I’d like to hear your findings.

Thanks Guys,

Will try both and report back.

Ok, tried both cables in different positions.

Best use is “good” XLR cable between Pre and Power amp.
Not much difference in sound quality (though is slightly better sounding) but main reason is that the volume clicks in my BHP Pre have now gone.
Not the relay clicks at 25 and 53, but the single digit clicks moving up the volume scale.

With the “lesser” XLR between amps it is still there.
For that reason, we have a winner!

Interesting how all the different variables come together, hadn’t expected the volume clicks to be affected, but there you go.

Congrats! A nice byproduct of your outcome is that your listening experience from all of your sources should benefit by having the better XLR cable between the pre and power amps.

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:thinking: Does that make any sense?

Make sense…In what way?

That you would hear clicks with one and not the other? And the “better” cables are not transmitting something to the power amp that the lessor cables do?

Both good questions,
To which I have no idea why!

Can understand going from rca to XLR ‘tween pre and power having an effect on noise, but difference between XLR cables?
Must be in the implementation I guess?

Noticing big differences by the way with my BHK Pre over XLR…

Not “louder” at same volume, exactly, know about the dB difference but doesn’t sound any louder, but feels louder.
More dynamic and grabs your attention much more.

Maybe the way to go with the BHK?

From reading around online, my poweramp’ s best input is XLR (Recapped Meridian 557).
Feel as though I’m getting great synergy, even if only because I’m not fixated on the “new gear” but more on music I know inside out sounding a lot better.

Know for a fact that I’m hearing more of what my PS Audio kit is doing with a better power amp.
Gift that keeps on giving…as they say.

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I have a DSD DAC going into a BHK Pre into a BHK250. Had AQ Yukons and upgraded both to AQ Earths. Saw significant sound quality improvement in all parameters usually talked about.

I experimented with a Yukon in the #1 connect position (DAC to Pre) and an Earth in the #2 (Pre to Amp). The SQ deteriorated to what I perceived to be equivalent to using two Yukons (my original connects). In other words, it seemed that SQ was limited by the least quality cable.

Then I switched positions with the Earth at #1 and Yukon at #2. Same result, indicating that it did not matter where the least quality cable was positioned.

My experience would indicate that, in my system, improving one cable alone does not improve SQ.

My DSD DAC is fed by an AQ USB Coffee and my Focal 1038be by AQ Castle Rocks from the BHK amp. All are connected to a P15 regenerator. it is entirely possible that results may differ using a different USB cable, different speaker cables or speakers, or the use of a regenerator.

That is why the advice of letting your ears do the deciding in your system is the ticket.

Interesting findings and thanks for sharing! I haven’t toyed around with this idea much because I always end up getting the same level cables for the system and get all of the cables at the same time.

James, the reason I have all PSA gear (except for the speakers, for now) is on the assumption that gear voiced similarly would yield the best SQ.

It would take a lot of research to know if that is true. However, anecdotally, in my experience, my rig began to sound more musical and realistic the more PSA components I added.

When I mixed very good components before from different makers I never got that so I decided to try a different approach and it’s worked out beautifully.

Some friends from the local audiophile club have brought their all-the-same brand gear over to audition and nothing yet has produced the sense of realism I hear in the PSA Audio chain. I don’t doubt there are some brand lines at various price points that do.

Probably the best that can be said is that gear designed to work together and voiced to have a consistent sound signature has greater odds of reproducing music more realistically. I chose that approach and it’s worked out quite nicely for my ears and listening room.

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