Balanced XLR Output for Blu Ray Audio, any benefits? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 12-22-2013, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
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You guys are very knowledgeable, I have been enjoying reading the posts for the past week since I started to research. I tried to find the answer to my question but I can't find a truly clear answer regarding using XLR balanced out to listen to a movie using headphones. I would appreciate any insight any of the knowledgeable people here may have on the subject. Thanks for your time and input in advance.

 

I have had my Sony Wega TV, Sony ES DVD/CD player, and Sony ES A/V Receiver for 10 years now and am considering upgrading to the Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD blu-ray/dvd player, Azur851C CD Player, and Azur 751R receiver to go along with my purchase of a new Sony Bravia 4K TV.

 

My question surrounds the benefits, if any, of listening to Blu-Ray movies using symmetrical XLR analog output. I own a Sennheiser HDVD800 amplifier and HD800 headphones. The pairing of this amp and this headphone are incredible using XLR for LP's, SACDs, and listening to movies using digital output sound incredible as well, the Burr-Brown DAC build into the HDVD800 just handles the DAC better than anyhing my ears have ever heard. Every little nuance of a 5.1 or 7.1 mix is converted perfectly to Left and Right analog sound.

 

The thing is, my Sony ES player doesn't have XLR outputs so I've never had the chance to test what a movie might sound like if using a balanced XLR output to the Sennhesier HDVD800 amp, instead of sending the digital signal as I do with my current setup.The Cambridge Azur752BD also does not have XLR outputs, which is why I would also upgrade to the Azur851C CD player which does have XLR outputs for the purposes of listening to music using Analog signal. But going with the Cambridge products won't help me for movies, I'd be in the same position I am now. But the Oppo BDP-105 and the Marantz UD7007 blu ray players do have XLR outputs. Instead of buying the Azur 752 and 851, I could just buy Oppo or Marantz and get a Blu Ray/DVD/CD player that has XLR outputs. I'd prefer the Cambridge products, but if there is going to be some sort of benefit of listening to movies using the Balanced/Analog XLR output from the blu ray player instead of feeding a digital signal to the Sennhesier HDVD800 amp and allowing it's DAC to convert, then I would go with one of those two Blu Ray players that have the XLR outs.

 

It really is a technical question, I do not have an advanced enough knowledge of the technology, or experience ever hearing a movie track using Analog, to determine if allowing the Oppo or Marantz player to directly read the audio data from the Blu Ray disc and output an analog signal directly to the Sennheiser amp is going to give me a cleaner reproduction of the audio track than sending a digital signal from the Blu Ray player to the Sennheiser Amp and letting its' advanced DAC do the converting to analog before it hits my ears.

 

I have a nice Klipsch 7.1 surround sound setup, but you know, sometimes its late at night and blasting the speakers isn't an option, which is why I have the Sennhesier HD800 and HDVD800.

Thanks again for the assistance.

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post #2 of 5 Old 12-23-2013, 06:17 AM
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The advantage of balanced connections is that they can span a greater distance without getting noisy. That is why they are used in pro audio. There is generally no advantage to them in home audio because normally everything is in the same room so there are no long runs. That is why they are rare on home audio equipment.
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post #3 of 5 Old 12-23-2013, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

The advantage of balanced connections is that they can span a greater distance without getting noisy. That is why they are used in pro audio. There is generally no advantage to them in home audio because normally everything is in the same room so there are no long runs. That is why they are rare on home audio equipment.

That was the impression that I was under, until I moved up to better quality equipment with XLR connections and tried it for myself. There is more to it than just having the potential to be better over long runs.
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post #4 of 5 Old 12-23-2013, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

The advantage of balanced connections is that they can span a greater distance without getting noisy. That is why they are used in pro audio. There is generally no advantage to them in home audio because normally everything is in the same room so there are no long runs. That is why they are rare on home audio equipment.

While distance can be a strong contributing factor to noise pickup, there is a certain amount of noise that is usually involved in just passing an audio signal from one chassis to another.

Most of the noise reduction benefits in balanced connection accrue at the input. So if you have a device with an active or transformer balanced input, it can be advantageous even if used with equipment with unbalanced outputs. You just need to use the right cable which is usually wired like this:

http://www.rane.com/note110.html

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post #5 of 5 Old 02-18-2014, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

The advantage of balanced connections is that they can span a greater distance without getting noisy. That is why they are used in pro audio. There is generally no advantage to them in home audio because normally everything is in the same room so there are no long runs. That is why they are rare on home audio equipment.

Not true. Fully balanced differential amplifiers are a better design the unbalanced designs. The problem is many pieces of gear are not internally balanced, then all you have is ground separation, and that will be valuable dor longer cables, yet no significant audio advantage.

If one has all internally balanced equipment, then the XLR output and input connections will greatly improve, so much that a quality, a pair of well made, but mid-priced XLR cables will sound better than the best MIT, Audioquest, Straightwire, or whatever you wish to compare. This is why the higher-end cables are offered with XLR, they are simply better with the separate ground, and any internally balanced amplifier for head gear will be superior to that with only RCA.

The important factor is: does the equipment has and internally balanced design? We know Balanced Audio Technology is, and so are the more recent Audio Research and most mage by Bryston and Classe, but those on an Anthem, with no pin for RCA use, or toggle switch are just giving an option to use balanced XLR cables.

Some pro-gear has the same, some has a higher voltage output for XLR, and some are actually internally balanced and quite expensive.
Regarding high-end headphomes, I doubt it will be worth looking for the deature, unless you have high-end stereo speakers.
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