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12/18/14 at 21:56:26


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Why is so much Decware gear non-XLR balanced? (Read 521 times)
Steve Deckert
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Why is so much Decware gear non-XLR balanced?
06/11/14 at 18:12:33
 
Quote:
James wrote:
> Hi Steve
>  
> I'm interested in your TORII MK4 and will place an order when ready.
>  
> Question: Why do tube amps / gear mostly only have RCA inputs as opposed to XLR inputs?
>  
> I have always found XLR connections on solid state gear to sound much better in terms of bass, soundstage and details than RCA conncetions.
>  
> Isn't this the same case with tube gear?
>  
> I thought having a fully balanced connection is always more beneficial sound-wise.
>  
> In your opinion, are there any sonic differences if your amps ran RCA or XLR cables / connections?
>  
> Reason why i'm asking is that my current system consisting of Modwright and Accustic Arts gear all have XLR cables and connections but I want to go down your tube amp path and nearly all connections are RCA based.
>  
> Many thanks,
> James



Hi James,

With tube gear that only has 3 or 4 parts in the signal path, single ended adds no additional parts and preserves transparency.

There are different kinds of balanced outputs on audio gear...

1) differential balanced where the circuit itself is push pull.
2) non-balanced circuits that use an op amp on a tiny circuit board at the XLR jack to balance the output.
3) non-balanced circuits that use a transformer to balance the outputs.
4) placebo balanced where the non-balanced circuit simply uses an XLR jack vs. and RCA jack and therefor is not really balanced.

The only two options that may sound better than single ended RCA jacks are 1 and 3.  1 is rather rare in tube circuits and 3 is dependent on the quality of the transformer, which must be ultra wide bandwidth.

With our products being sold factory direct, many people don't realize they're buying at 60% below retail costs.  At these price points there is a lot of retail audio gear that fall into category 2, 3 with cheap transformers or 4 listed above.  

This is why we intensionally made all of our gear non-balanced until this past year where we will offer it done correctly.  Correctly done, it often will sound better than RCA's because there is more voltage swing to work with, translating into better dynamics.  Correctly done with an expensive transformer you also gain better imaging and openness with more dimensionality and a nice shimmer on the top end.  This is all assuming that your SOURCE actually SOUNDS better via it's balanced output vs. it's single ended RCA outputs.

Hopefully this helps!

Steve
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« Last Edit: 06/11/14 at 18:15:33 by Steve Deckert »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Why is so much Decware gear non-XLR balanced?
Reply #1 - 06/11/14 at 19:44:32
 
Quote:
Correctly done, it often will sound better than RCA's because there is more voltage swing to work with, translating into better dynamics.  Correctly done with an expensive transformer you also gain better imaging and openness with more dimensionality and a nice shimmer on the top end.


I agree with this wholeheartedly. Getting the XLR transformers added to my Mystery amp took it up another level. That shimmery top end and dynamics made all the music more life like and *in the room* feeling. I don't mean soundstage, but fast and lively like there are performers in the room.

Sometimes you don't know what you're missing till you stumble into it! I'm glad I did the upgrade!
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busterfree
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Re: Why is so much Decware gear non-XLR balanced?
Reply #2 - 06/12/14 at 03:35:07
 
Is there any issue if you use a DAC that has a transformer at its output (i.e. PS Audio DirectStream DAC) and a Decware amp that has a transformer at its XLR input?

Just curious...I don't have the DS DAC, and my Decware amps are RCA input.
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Lon
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Re: Why is so much Decware gear non-XLR balanced?
Reply #3 - 06/12/14 at 11:32:57
 
I don't imagine there would be a problem. Sounds like gresat sound.
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