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Audiophile hi-fi market and balanced connections
Brand
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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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 28 2012, 12:51
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QUOTE (Brand @ Aug 26 2012, 09:38) *
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?


The latter.

QUOTE
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.


In the whacky world of audio's high end it almost seems like people want to make big steps backward in the interest of creating unnecessary audible differences. Take for example the SET amplifier which uses technology that was rarely if ever actually used back in the days when tubes were all we had. Better technology known as the push-pull power amplifier with inverse feedback was the rule for quality amplifiers. The most common SETs I saw back in the day were the audio sections of cheap receivers. Even TV sets, if they had pretensions to quality, used push-pull output stages.

Is hum a bad thing? One audio company proudly sold a CD with "Analog Dither" that included some 120 Hz hum. Just what you need to add to your "too sterile sounding" recordings. :-(

The practical reason that balanced I/O is the professional standard is that it is more foolproof and works more stably in complex systems. For example, the media booth at my church has close to 100 wall outlets, each with some kind of doo-dad plugged into it. They are all connected either directly or indirectly to the digital audio console. The whole system generally runs free of audible hum.

The biggest problem with hum comes from the electric guitars, and guess what, the standard there is an unbalanced connection. We finesse that with the standard tool - a "Direct Box" which is basically an isolation transformer that isolates the guitar's pickup coil from system ground (and vice versa).
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