IPB

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

Audiophile hi-fi market and balanced connections
Brand
post Aug 26 2012, 14:38
Post #1





Group: Members
Posts: 321
Joined: 27-November 09
Member No.: 75355



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
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
 
Start new topic
Replies
dumdidum
post Aug 27 2012, 09:23
Post #2





Group: Members
Posts: 57
Joined: 21-January 12
From: Germany
Member No.: 96595



QUOTE (Brand @ Aug 26 2012, 15:38) *
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.

i haven't done any tests myself but lots of anecdotal evidence says otherwise. better noise rejection of balanced doesn't seem to make a difference for your typical hifi usage scenario.

QUOTE (Brand @ Aug 26 2012, 20:29) *
But I don't see any technical or cost-associated reason for this to be restricted to premium priced models.

i can think of two:

(i) balanced cables do not sound better, they just reject noise better. once again, lots of anecdotal evidence suggests noise rejection by the cables rarely becomes an issue in consumer applications. it's different in pro-audio applications where you may have to run very long cables, you may have to run cables by sources of noise (e.g., fog machines, strobes and other lighting, some other PA equipment, appliances, etc.), you have long chains (where the chance of ground loops is higher). it's not cost-effective to included balanced connectors if they're not needed.

(ii) balanced TRS and balanced XLR are quite uncommon in consumer audio. what good does a consumer amp with balanced inputs if consumer don't have other devices with balanced outputs? inclusion of features that go unused doesn't make sense (well, unless we're serving "check-box" customers that pay a premium for incredibly long feature lists).

This post has been edited by dumdidum: Aug 27 2012, 09:29
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Brand
post Aug 27 2012, 15:18
Post #3





Group: Members
Posts: 321
Joined: 27-November 09
Member No.: 75355



QUOTE (dumdidum @ Aug 27 2012, 10:23) *
(i) balanced cables do not sound better, they just reject noise better. once again, lots of anecdotal evidence suggests noise rejection by the cables rarely becomes an issue in consumer applications. it's different in pro-audio applications where you may have to run very long cables, you may have to run cables by sources of noise (e.g., fog machines, strobes and other lighting, some other PA equipment, appliances, etc.), you have long chains (where the chance of ground loops is higher). it's not cost-effective to included balanced connectors if they're not needed.

Here are my measurements: LEFT with the random placing of the cable, for the RIGHT one I placed the cable carefully, to avoid some power cords (which you could get in a typical hi-fi setup, no strobes etc.).


Maybe the noise is audible, maybe not.
But I believe a balanced connection would handle noise rejection better.
Unfortunately I don't have a soundcard with balanced I/O here to test it. If someone does, some tests would be welcome.


QUOTE (dumdidum @ Aug 27 2012, 10:23) *
(ii) balanced TRS and balanced XLR are quite uncommon in consumer audio. what good does a consumer amp with balanced inputs if consumer don't have other devices with balanced outputs? inclusion of features that go unused doesn't make sense (well, unless we're serving "check-box" customers that pay a premium for incredibly long feature lists).

Of course, you need the whole chain to be balanced, if not it doesn't make sense. This not being common in hi-fi is exactly what I'm complaining about. It's a chicken and egg situation.

My point is not that balanced connections would necessarily offer audible improvements (although I think they would in some cases), it's that the audiophile hi-fi market priorities are twisted.
If you're into audiophile stuff and you care about little details, balanced connections is one of the first things you should use (assuming you're using analog interconnects).
More important than stuff like expensive speaker wires and 32bit 192khz DACs and whatnot.
And the extra cost of balanced I/O doesn't seem to be a good excuse either, if not you wouldn't have balanced I/O in cheap gear.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Arnold B. Kruege...
post Aug 28 2012, 13:04
Post #4





Group: Members
Posts: 4485
Joined: 29-October 08
From: USA, 48236
Member No.: 61311



QUOTE (Brand @ Aug 27 2012, 10:18) *
QUOTE (dumdidum @ Aug 27 2012, 10:23) *
(i) balanced cables do not sound better, they just reject noise better. once again, lots of anecdotal evidence suggests noise rejection by the cables rarely becomes an issue in consumer applications. it's different in pro-audio applications where you may have to run very long cables, you may have to run cables by sources of noise (e.g., fog machines, strobes and other lighting, some other PA equipment, appliances, etc.), you have long chains (where the chance of ground loops is higher). it's not cost-effective to included balanced connectors if they're not needed.

Here are my measurements: LEFT with the random placing of the cable, for the RIGHT one I placed the cable carefully, to avoid some power cords (which you could get in a typical hi-fi setup, no strobes etc.).


Maybe the noise is audible, maybe not.
But I believe a balanced connection would handle noise rejection better.
Unfortunately I don't have a soundcard with balanced I/O here to test it. If someone does, some tests would be welcome.


Back in the day when I was running the PCAVTech web site, I rather quickly rediscovered the benefits of using audio interfaces with balanced inputs for making all of my measurements. I had been here before with analog measurements in the 1980s. I did much of my work with an audio interface called the CardDeluxe that had balanced I/O. The way I interfaced it to unbalanced sources was is described in this document:



Rane Note 110 - a classic

Figure 4, circuit 18.

QUOTE
QUOTE (dumdidum @ Aug 27 2012, 10:23) *
(ii) balanced TRS and balanced XLR are quite uncommon in consumer audio. what good does a consumer amp with balanced inputs if consumer don't have other devices with balanced outputs? inclusion of features that go unused doesn't make sense (well, unless we're serving "check-box" customers that pay a premium for incredibly long feature lists).

Of course, you need the whole chain to be balanced, if not it doesn't make sense.


False.

There's no problem with unbalanced circuitry as long as it is well-designed, inside the same box, and uses the same power supply. Most audio gear that is balanced at all is only balanced at the inputs and outputs.

There's no problem with unbalanced circuitry as long as you keep the levels up and avoid grounding problems and other sources of hum pickup. Of course that makes systems with unbalanced connections fiddley, but in a small system that is not taken down and set up a lot, it is usually a very manageable situation.

The long term solution to hum in interconnections in consumer audio systems is to go digital. Hence HDMI. BTW, the physical interface that HDMI is based on is balanced I/O. Optical I/O finesses the problem by avoiding the low end of the EM spectrum totally, and SP/DIF is supposed to be implemented with transformers that avoid many potential grounding problems.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Posts in this topic


Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 



RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 26th December 2014 - 03:12