What is the benefit of balanced xlr cables - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 22 Old 11-22-2014, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
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What is the benefit of balanced xlr cables

I just bought a marantz av7005 that has balanced outputs for xlr cables and I have a b&k st 125.7 s2 to hook it to also have a older Cambridge audio cd6 that has balanced connections on it.what are my befits to switching to these cables over my rca stuff.What is a good brand without breaking the bank,I've used blue jean cable,kimber kable,and synergestic THX

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post #2 of 22 Old 11-22-2014, 11:58 PM
 
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If your system operates without any hum or noise issues now, there'll be no advantage to balanced cables. With balanced connections it's all about noise immunity, but many unbalanced systems don't suffer noise anyway. However, if do have issues with ground loops or noise picked up on interconnects, balanced interfacing may help. It's typically of more advantage for longer cables, or room-to-room connections.

Any balanced cable would be fine. Blue Jeans is great stuff.
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post #3 of 22 Old 11-23-2014, 07:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Thirsty93 View Post
what are my befits to switching to these cables over my rca stuff.
Balanced connections remove the possibility of ground loops. They also give much better signal to noise, because they have a very high common mode rejection ratio, unbalanced connections don't. You should always use them if you have the option. There's no benefit to buying high priced cables. The only thing I'd be mindful of is the quality of the connectors. I only use name brand, Neutrik, ITT Cannon, Switchcraft or Amphenol. Avoid generic connectors.
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post #4 of 22 Old 11-23-2014, 07:15 PM
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Quibbles: XLR's don't always break ground loops (depends on other circuit parameters), but they do provide the option to lift the ground on one end if required to break a ground loop, something a conventional RCA cable does not offer. XLR (balanced) connections don't usually provide a significant increase in SNR but do indeed provide better noise rejection and will reject common-mode noise within the common-mode bandwidth of the Rx and Tx circuits. They often offer higher signal level, which may or may not benefit a given system. A truly differential design also rejects even-order distortion terms so they may offer lower overall distortion. In short, what Bill said; they (usually) offer higher performance. May not be audible in most consumer systems unless there is high noise and/or ground loops involved. Required for most pro installations and particularly for live sound (questionable environments!)

+1 on getting good connectors; I have dealt with a number of lesser-quality connectors over the years and they are a PITA at best.

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post #5 of 22 Old 11-23-2014, 08:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post
Quibbles: XLR's don't always break ground loops (depends on other circuit parameters),
Ah, someone who gets it!
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but they do provide the option to lift the ground on one end if required to break a ground loop, something a conventional RCA cable does not offer.
Actually most XLRs provide a means of making the ground loop worse by optional grounding of the shell as well as pin 3. The Switchcraft QG series started this rather bad idea, which started as an intention to ground the shell as an EMI shielding advantage, but the result is connecting chassis ground to signal ground, which in many cases makes things worse. The option to lift the ground to pin 3 (and/or the shell) at one end is, of course, an internal wire snip, but is an advantage that's been used many times.
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XLR (balanced) connections don't usually provide a significant increase in SNR but do indeed provide better noise rejection and will reject common-mode noise within the common-mode bandwidth of the Rx and Tx circuits. They often offer higher signal level, which may or may not benefit a given system.
I'll just add that no balanced line receiver circuit, even those transformer based, have flat CMRR over their entire bandwidth. CMRR is often specified as a single figure, it should be a graph of CMRR vs frequency. But agreed, the CMRR is the advantage, pretty much the only advantage.
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A truly differential design also rejects even-order distortion terms so they may offer lower overall distortion.
Sometimes, but not always. It depends on the distortion mechanism and resulting nonlinearity. Within a balanced amplifier there are opportunities for distortion cancellation, not so much at the interface.
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In short, what Bill said; they (usually) offer higher performance. May not be audible in most consumer systems unless there is high noise and/or ground loops involved. Required for most pro installations and particularly for live sound (questionable environments!)

+1 on getting good connectors; I have dealt with a number of lesser-quality connectors over the years and they are a PITA at best.

IME/IMO - Don
+1 to all of that.
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post #6 of 22 Old 11-23-2014, 08:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post
Quibbles: XLR's don't always break ground loops (depends on other circuit parameters)
True, as not all manufacturers do balanced connections as they should. This explains:
http://www.rane.com/note110.html

OTOH most pro-sound manufacturers do it right. I've worked with hundreds of pro-sound systems with a complexity that is almost mind-boggling, with literally thousands of feet of cable that, if unbalanced, would result in ground loop noise that would render them useless, and none of them ever had any audible ground loop noise.
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post #7 of 22 Old 11-23-2014, 08:49 PM
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To expand on this subject a bit more, there's a nice app note by Bruno Putzeys that talks about proper wiring of XLR connectors in balanced equipment (the AES48 standard, which avoids the so-called "pin 1 problem" when properly implemented).

I think I could dig up the original Neil Muncy article upon which AES48 was based. If anybody's interested, you can send me a PM.

The long and short is:

If all electronics in the system have balanced inputs and outputs, and all are implemented in accordance with AES48, hum rejection is optimized. Such a system will have many ground loops, but the method of AES48 makes the system almost completely immune to them.

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post #8 of 22 Old 11-23-2014, 09:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
True, as not all manufacturers do balanced connections as they should. This explains:
http://www.rane.com/note110.html

OTOH most pro-sound manufacturers do it right. I've worked with hundreds of pro-sound systems with a complexity that is almost mind-boggling, with literally thousands of feet of cable that, if unbalanced, would result in ground loop noise that would render them useless, and none of them ever had any audible ground loop noise.
Most pro gear got it good enough, but if you actually go measuring CMRR, you find out there's quite a wide range. Getting CMRR to 70dB broadband is not trivial unless you use some of the packaged balanced line chips.

The "phone company" does it with balanced lines, and in the old days for dedicated analog audio circuits, transformers on each end, and unshielded twisted pair. Worked fine for miles, and we equalized out to 20KHz (telco did it to 15KHz). Still balanced UTP, but now it's all digits. Hundreds of UPTs laying together in a cable for miles, no hum or crosstalk until something got wet.
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post #9 of 22 Old 11-23-2014, 10:02 PM
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I used to work telco, install/test/cutover Central Offices in the 80's replacing real telephone offices with digital simulations, as one grumpy old C.O. tech said.

Here's (typical) where the cable pair that went to your landline phone got jumpered to a cable that goes to the switching equipment:


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post #10 of 22 Old 11-23-2014, 10:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RayDunzl View Post
I used to work telco, install/test/cutover Central Offices in the 80's replacing real telephone offices with digital simulations, as one grumpy old C.O. tech said.

Here's (typical) where the cable pair that went to your landline phone got jumpered to a cable that goes to the switching equipment:
Love it!
I used to work in broadcast engineering. You telco guys aways amazed me, freakin' wire rock stars. A bunch of us broadcasters arranged for a tour of our big-city CO once, absolutely mind boggling.
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post #11 of 22 Old 11-25-2014, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by RayDunzl View Post
I used to work telco, install/test/cutover Central Offices in the 80's replacing real telephone offices with digital simulations, as one grumpy old C.O. tech said.

Here's (typical) where the cable pair that went to your landline phone got jumpered to a cable that goes to the switching equipment:



Looks something like underside of my computer desk only much better organized.
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post #12 of 22 Old 11-26-2014, 11:07 AM
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Thirsty,

There's 2 possible benefits to a home user. You have the highly unlikely situation where you, say, live next to an electrical station and you get a lot of noise in your system. The other, highly unusual, happening is when you use audio separates and you need to have your amplifier in say the basement and you have your pre in the attic. The XLR helps for long runs. 99.99% of people are going to have the two sitting on top of each other or in the same rack.

The benefit for the AV manufacturer and sales channel is that they can put XLR cabling in their higher end models and convince you that life is a Hans Christian Anderson story and that you need these type of cables for something other than the two above. These folks use it to segment markets.

My best analogy is that it's sort of like living in the tropics and putting chains on the snow tires you have on your truck just in case it snows.
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post #13 of 22 Old 01-05-2020, 07:21 AM
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So do any here buy connectors and make your own interconnects?
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post #14 of 22 Old 01-05-2020, 05:45 PM
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So do any here buy connectors and make your own interconnects?
Yep! I use Mogami cable. Belden and Canare are good too. Belden makes the only in-wall rated one that I'm aware of. I'm sure there are others that I don't know about, but if that was important to you...

http://www.mogamicable.com/category/...lity_balanced/

http://www.mogamicable.com/category/...crophone/quad/

Available in multiple colors. I prefer the quad-cable.

Neutrik connectors:

https://www.neutrik.com/en/products/audio/xlr

There are several, but Markertek is a good source for all of these items:

https://www.markertek.com/

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post #15 of 22 Old 01-05-2020, 06:19 PM
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So do any here buy connectors and make your own interconnects?
I used to, especially when I worked in broadcast and ran my own PA. But nowadays I wouldn't bother as I don't have any of the jigs I made any more. There are plenty of sellers who make for the broadcast industry and small studios and they'll only be a fraction more expensive than you can source the parts for, and they'll most likely do a better job than you. My local place has a simple online form, connectors are all Neutrik and the cables are Canare, so it's a matter of selecting lengths, cable types and numbers and waiting for the courier.


The only reason I see as a benefit in DIYing, apart from the "I made this" is if you have some specific aesthetic need. If you do DIY, Neutrik or Switchcraft connectors and a suitable Belden, Canare or Mogami cable. I've used many kms of all 3 and have no real preferences.

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post #16 of 22 Old 01-06-2020, 05:57 PM
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Thanks for the info guys.
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post #17 of 22 Old 01-06-2020, 07:00 PM
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Thanks for the info guys.

It's actually fun (for me) to build them on my own. I do like right-sizing everything, so all of mine are custom lengths - whatever I needed - that was the length. No slop, no spaghetti, keeps all nice and tidy. Neutrik also has lots of accessory options, like colored rings for the connectors to readily identify who's going where if you want to get that detailed. (Maybe other brands do too....) Yes, it's a bit obsessive....

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There's a great argument for making your own for in-wall applications because it is much easier to thread a wire through a tiny hole or a tight space while it is no larger than the cable's main body. Then once the wire is successfull fished through the wall and emerges out the other side then you can terminate it [add the big ol' RJ11 plugs, RCA, F-pin, dual banana plugs, etc.].
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post #19 of 22 Old 01-07-2020, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
There's a great argument for making your own for in-wall applications because it is much easier to thread a wire through a tiny hole or a tight space while it is no larger than the cable's main body. Then once the wire is successfull fished through the wall and emerges out the other side then you can terminate it [add the big ol' RJ11 plugs, RCA, F-pin, dual banana plugs, etc.].

Yep, been there, done that!

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post #20 of 22 Old 01-09-2020, 05:20 AM
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Just been reading this out of interest. Great info on balanced cables/connections. Love this forum.
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post #21 of 22 Old 01-10-2020, 04:53 AM
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Belden makes the only in-wall rated one that I'm aware of. I'm sure there are others...
Back when I was installing pro audio systems, our company (LD Systems in Houston) used West Penn 451. Parts Express sells some no-brand-name installation mic cable that I’ve had good luck with in home installations.

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post #22 of 22 Old 01-10-2020, 04:54 AM
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So do any here buy connectors and make your own interconnects?
If you're interested in doing that, you can find a "how to" tutorial in my signature.

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