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Audiophile hi-fi market and balanced connections
post Aug 26 2012, 14:38
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Even many cheap-ish $100 sound cards have balanced connections.
Yet, for a $4,295 "audiophile" amp, it's somehow normal to have unbalanced analog only. (But hey, you get a "Digital Filter Slope" switch..)

Am I missing something or is this just regular audiofoolery at work?

I was doing some RMAA tests and the cables were very susceptible to outside interference. Place them next to some other (power) cables and you easily see 20dB of extra noise in the measurements.
Sure, it's not really a problem with short cables that you keep away from interference, but for premium/audiophile equipment I'd still expect balanced connections to be the standard by now.

This post has been edited by Brand: Aug 26 2012, 14:39
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post Aug 28 2012, 11:13
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ReplayGain developer

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Remembering for a second that audiophile equipment isn't always about how it actually sounds, or actually measures, but more about perception and myth, there's another factor: If the circuits in the devices being connected don't already use some kind of balanced signal topology, then adding a balanced output means adding extra electrical components in the signal path. In the audiophile mind, extra components = bad. They'd rather route their analogue audio cables more carefully (standing them on graphite blocks 10cm above the ground to avoid interference) than use a connection that natively reduces interference but introduces "unnecessary" electrical components. Plus there are far more tweako audiophile cables available in unbalanced than balanced form.

Some audiophile equipment offers both though.

IMO there is something to be said for good simple circuit design, and the simple (though sometimes naively applied truth) that adding more components in unthinking ways can simply add to noise. But beware of audiophile circuits that are simple because they reject all the improvements in circuit design of the last 70 years - these can have audible problems. Plus many modern ICs, used correctly, are phenomenal.

As others have said, most home audio doesn't need balanced audio. Where there are problems, it can solve some (e.g. interference), but not others (e.g. ground loops).

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