Canare L-4E6S cables with the DirectStream DAC


#1

Hi Ted @tedsmith

What are you thoughts about the Canare L-4E6S cable (Star Quad) for use as interconnects with the DirectStream DAC?

It’s quite affordable (and used in the Pro world for Mics etc). Do you rate it for use as an interconnect (either RCA or XLR), for use with the DirectStream DAC?

Cheers!


#2

It is an excellent cable. I also like Mogami W2893 a great deal.


#3

I haven’t tried either, but star quad is a fine way to build a cable and for ease of development I use a $20 25’ pro balanced mic cable. I think you can get away with lower quality balanced cables than you can single ended. I can definitely hear the difference between the development cables and the (much more expensive) cables I use in the rest of the system, but when I’m continuously connecting and disconnecting and moving things around the less expensive cables are fine and I can hear the things I value in the DS just fine.


#4
Ted Smith said

I haven’t tried either, but star quad is a fine way to build a cable

Thanks Ted! @tedsmith

I’m gonna try out an Oppo HA-1 with the DSD Snr for my desktop setup with headphones and try balanced and single ended cables. I want to hear if gain and volume control will be an issue with balanced but the star quad cables are cheap to try. And I may end up liking them so much that I don’t even feel the urgent need to upgrade

Just another question, can you see any issue with putting a HA-1 on top of the DSD Snr? I’m really lacking in space for the desktop setup but that would help save space.

Is there issues with having another big transformer so close to your DAC? I think heat shouldn’t be an issue because the HA-1’s Class A heat will mostly go upwards.

Any sensitive components that may be affected in the DAC?

Cheers


#5
Mi2016 said . . . and try balanced and single ended cables.
Do you plan to try the same cable, but with different connectors/configuration? Are you making your own or having them made for you?

Please report in with your observations and conclusions.


#6
Elk said Do you plan to try the same cable, but with different connectors/configuration?
Yes, the same Canare cable, I'm trying RCA vs XLR. I would default to XLR into the HA-1 if gain (and limited volume control on the HA-1 volume knob) wasn't an issue with my headphones. It might not be an issue - I'll need to test it out.

If it’s an issue with XLR’s (even with -20dB setting on the DSD Snr) then I will have to use RCA.

I also have the option of XLR4 with my Sennheiser HD800-S headphones (the headphones already came with both balanced and single ended cables which is nice of them)

The Canare cables are cheap so it’s not much to try.

I’m obviously hoping the XLRs work well and that I have a good range of volume control on the HA-1’s knob and then I’ll use balanced all the way

Another question for @tedsmith based on the above, is it true that balanced connections into the HA-1 (or any amp) suffer less from channel separation issues than un-balanced? So there’s less need to have to use the old thinking of, “best to use past 12 o’lock on the volume knob to avoid channel separation” ?


#7

As you say, the HA-1 itself runs warm, but it’s fine on top of a DS. At worst you may want to move it to the right side of the DS, but I doubt that the transformers will interfere in any case.


#8

Re channel separation: balanced cables are more resistant to interference than single ended. The DS has great channel separation. In the case of putting an HA-1 on top of the DS there’s no reason to expect channel separation issues at all with any reasonable interconnects (if you don’t tangle them together anyway :slight_smile:


#9
Ted Smith said

Re channel separation

Thanks Ted @tedsmith

Actually re: channel separation (maybe I used the wrong term, channel imbalance?) I wasn’t concerned about the DS at all. Moreso with the HA-1 if I can’t use much of the analogue volume control with the XLR inputs.

You know how with some analogue volume controls how you can get channel imbalance issues, say below 9 o’clock. Some pre-amp manufacturers say that to avoid channel imbalance, they recommend you use past 10 o’clock or even 12 o’clock on the volume knob.

I think I read somewhere that XLR balanced connections suffer less from this channel imbalance, than single ended design? Not sure how correct that is. If it’s right, then perhaps there’s no issues with being limited to say 9 o’clock on the HA-1, using the XLR balanced connections

I guess I’ll find out soon enough in my trial but I wonder how much of that is true


#10

While I may be wrong (standard disclaimer), I do not see what the interconnect would have to do with channel imbalance at low volume levels. This is an issue of the volume control pots and their linearity. Of course, if using balanced interconnects forces you to lower the volume control due to the higher signal level, then balanced interconnects would make the problem worse rather than better.

Perhaps I misunderstand your question.

J.P.


#11

Hi mate, I read somewhere that balanced audio connections suffer less from channel imbalance than single ended audio design. But I can’t find where I read it. The only google results I could find today, related to this say:

“Ground loops. Balanced systems don’t ground a pin, meaning if there’s any ground voltage imbalance between a pre and amp, it won’t be part of the signal chain. With an RCA connector it almost always must be.”

and

“At higher frequencies, the output impedance of the output amplifier can change, resulting in a small imbalance. When driven in differential mode by two identical amplifiers, this impedance change will be the same for both lines, and thus cancelled out”

But definitely, balanced connections and cables may make things worse if you’re having to use even lower positions with the volume knob, since channel imbalance also has a lot to do with the amp design and when things become linear with the volume knob position.

I guess I’ll find out myself soon enough when I demo the HA-1 with both balanced and single ended cables. Fortunately the DS has -20dB gain attenuation which I can use to potentially keep balanced connections throughout and use more of the volume knob at the same time.

Cheers


#12
Mi2016 said

But definitely, balanced connections and cables may make things worse if you’re having to use even lower positions with the volume knob, since channel imbalance also has a lot to do with the amp design and when things become linear with the volume knob position.


I skipped over that part of your posts since it doesn’t match my experience and I’d never heard of such a thing in any way, shape or form. Still I don’t know everything and haven’t used every piece of equipment out there so perhaps someone could have designed something that worked that way. I just don’t know how or why.

#13
Ted Smith said
I just don't know how or why.
Excellent, I was asking, not telling, so if you don't understand it, that's good enough for me :-)

Looking forward to trialing the HA-1 this weekend and seeing what gain issues (if any) I have with RCA vs XLR outputs of the DS.

What volume knob position do you like to stay above Ted, with your HA-1 when using headphones? @tedsmith

Above 9 o’clock, or above 12 o’clock?

Cheers


#14

I’m not into the rules of thumb for volume knobs. If you have a preamp use it to set whatever level sounds the best and doesn’t cause fatigue. I keep my DS at 100 when I’m using an analog volume knob down stream (unless, of course, that would overload something - pretty unlikely.)


#15
Ted Smith said

I’m not into the rules of thumb for volume knobs.


Thanks @tedsmith

Do you have any preferred in-line balanced XLR attenuators that you could recommend?


#16

No not really - I’d look for good quality connectors.


#17

Below is a link to a pair of attenuators I found in a similar search.

http://www.ekmpowershop16.com/ekmps/shops/rothwellaudio/balanced-in-line-attenuators-3-p.asp

I have not tried these but they seem like good quality. You can get -10dB, -15dB or -20dB. Good luck.


#18

Thanks, GoldenJacks seem to have good reviews on this forum and a few others and the common thing I’ve seen is they don’t alter the sound character, only the gain.

So I’ll try that if I find gain to be an issue. Fortunately they’re not too expensive. But I’ll try RCA and XLR and the DS’s -20dB function and make a decision about the GoldenJacks attenuators after that.


#19
Ted Smith said
doesn't match my experience and I'd never heard of such a thing in any way, shape or form. .
Ok I found the source of my confusion - a mistake on my part. From the Oppo HA-1 website it's channel separation where they discuss balanced as being better than single ended:

“The balanced headphone output provides twice the voltage and four times the power of the single-ended output, enabling the HA-1 to drive the most power hungry headphones. It also provides better channel seperation by eliminating the common ground return path.”

https://oppodigital.com/headphone-amplifier-ha-1/headphone-amplifier-HA-1-Features.aspx

Which is what you said also.

This has nothing to do with channel imbalance - my error there.

I did ask Oppo Support about channel imbalance (I used the right term thankfully there) and which position on the HA-1 volume knob does volume tracking becomes linear and channel imbalance issues disappear.

Waiting for a reply.


#20

Ok got a quick reply from Oppo.

For their HA-1, past 10 o’clock is better and closer to 0dB is ideal.

If system gain allows (as always)