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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Could someone tell me if balanced inputs/outputs are worth the extra money. I am considering the Lexicon MC-8(unbalanced)/Outlaw 770 combination or maybe the Lexicon MC-8(balanced)/Sherbourn 7/2100 combination. The second combo would be about $2k more which I could use for a Stewart FireHawk screen. All the equipment would be in a double wide rack including another samson 1000 amp used to power SVS ultra sub. Is the Sherbourn worth $1k more(msrp,as I cant seem to find any price on the internet other than the 2800 list) than the Outlaw. I've read lots of good reviews as far as sound detail of the Outlaw.


Thanks, Robert:)
 

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I would go with the MC-8. I have an MC-1 and it is excellent. If you don't have a long run between processor, and amp, you don't need balanced.
 

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"At home I have had some pretty wild nests of wires but never had a grounding or signal leaking problem I could not rectify by putting on my thinking cap and asking what I did wrong."


That sounds so much like something I might say, it's pathetic. I like your attitude! Just curious, what do you do for a living?
 

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For most home audio/theater applications, balanced connections are not very beneficial. You don't need the extra gain, and the relatively short runs don't need the balanced connection, especially if you take just a little time in routing all the signaling and power cables.


For the additional price you'd pay, it's almost definitely a wiser choice to put that money into better speakers, room accoustical treatments, or in your case a nice screen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks to all for the input. I think I will save $ since all the interconnects will be no longer than 3ft. I can spend the extra on soundproofing,etc and maybe a gift for the wife so she wont be so apt to complain about me spending upwards of $25k on a home theater especially since she is not much for movies. Thanks again. Robert
 

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I don't believe the Sherbourn 7/2100 is fully balanced internally, it just exposes balanced inputs. In anycase, using balanced cables really only makes sense if you're using monoblocks for each speaker where the amp is located near the speaker and away from the processor/preamp.
 

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There is no question but to go with balanced cables. They are definitely worth the extra $$ and clearly make an audible difference.
 

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ob, there most certainly is a question. Not everyone has an unlimited budget, yet you often give advice as if that is the case. Does 25K look like a limitless budget? No?


In that case, you have to make decisions as to where to best spend your money... i.e., make compromises where the impact to the final sound will be the least significant. Judging by the components being considered and the total budget, that extra $1000 would probably make a decent upgrade in speaker quality, or add room treatments that don't yet exist. Either of those will give vastly more return for the dollar than going with balanced interconnects.


Please be just a bit more thoughtful when dishing out advice. Spending $1000 on a piece of marble to sit on top of a CD player might be fine for someone with practically unlimited resources, but for the majority of users here it would be terrible advice, and a waste of precious budget. IMO, balanced connections should be used in two circumstances:


(1) when the difference in money really doesn't matter to you, meaning it won't compromise your decisions on other components, then "why not?" It offers peace of mind that any stray interference introduced into the cable will be largely rejected.


(2) when you have an installation configuration that would benefit from it, such as a 50 ft. run up a wall, through the attic, down another wall, around a door, and out to an amplifier in the far corner of the room (don't ask me why the run isn't just done with speaker cable...). Then perhaps it would be worth the extra money for the noise rejection ability of balanced connections.
 

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Bigus--I am not dishing out information for an expensive system. The difference in cost for XLR termination vs SE is nominal --perhaps no more than $75 per termination and the effect far surpasses a SE termination. I still contend that balanced terminations is where it is at. BTW one can go to Good Guys or Radio Shack and buy cables that are terminated in XLR. If I remember it was you who said that the type of cable used does not make a hill of beans in sound reproduction. If this is the case then one can buy generic cables that are XLR terminated. So I respectfully disagree with your comments that one can save the money for XLR terminations and use what is saved for room modifications etc.
 

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ob, reread the initial post. The cost delta in equipment alone is $2000 in this case to have XLR connections (and, as is stated, the Sherbourn amp may not actually use the differentially balanced signal as it's intended). That $2000 would be better spent on room treatment or speakers.


That's not including cable price differences, which you are correct in assuming I would think should be negligible, as good quality cables in either format can be very inexpensive. A ~$75 per termination delta for XLR is ludicrous... there is no need to spend $75 on the entire interconnect.


And again I must disagree with your assertion that "the effect far surpasses a SE termination." This guy said his runs are all 3 ft., and the difference would be extremely difficult to measure - let alone hear.
 

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If you are thinking balanced, make sure these pieces are fully balanced. Some manufacturers do not make separate circuits one for balanced and one for single ended. Pieces like Krell, Levenison use true balanced inputs and ouput separate stage. B&K have balanced but do not use separate circuits.

You do not get the same sonic benefit if it isn't fully balanced.


Also, in IMO balance would be it strongest for fronts and center speakers. I would not use balance unless it was fully balanced throughout the signal path.


Hope this helps!


Ross
 

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It seems you are out voted on this one Bigus. I agree with Ross that the biggest advantage is to use XLR terminations on front end speakers
 

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Well I agree with Bigus.


I also recall a few similar posts from oneobgyn that make impractical gear suggestions to the masses.


Unless the gear being connected is separated by more than about ~15feet, or it is specifically designed to operate better using balanced connections, there's no practical reason for using balanced connections/cables. The noise rejection benefit is a non-issue in most setups. The extra gain is a placebo as far as sonic benefit goes (louder does not equal better). And just buying any balanced cable to solve a ground loop problem is not a sure bet either, since most balanced cables ship with all three connections tied at both ends, leaving you to disconnect the ground (not to mention all the video and other interconnects that could potentially cause loops).


As far as the original question goes, I would guess that the Sherbourne is probably an all-around better amp just from what I've read, since I haven't listened to or seen either of these in person. But the purchase choice should made taking into account the whole picture, not just the type of connections employed. To spend $2k more just to get balanced connections is short-sighted - it's pretty easy for a manufacturer to design a terrible piece of gear and then add balanced connections to it, which costs very little to them per channel. If you're going to put extra money into a better amplifier design, signal processing, sonic performance, power supply, build quality, warranty, support, ..... then great. I'd bet that with the gain staging set up properly, no-one could tell the difference between a balanced versus unbalanced MC-8 connected to that Sherbourne amp (which has balanced and unbalanced external connections, but is not a differential amplifier all the way thru). I think it's ridiculous that Lexicon charges so much more money just to slap on a differential analog output stage and XLR's (probably less than $5 per channel) on products like the MC-8/12 which already has such a high retail price and fat profit margin. A couple hundred bucks I could understand, even though they should be there in the first place. I'm shocked that they charge an additional $1k.


I think all the gear mentioned is pretty good quality stuff, but some have pricing which is friendlier to the consumer rather than the manufacturer. You have to decide where to draw the cost/performance line.
 

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I agree with Bigus and I run balanced to the front mains.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by oneobgyn
It seems you are out voted on this one Bigus.
:p :D
 

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That's very true. Sherbourn does not have fully balanced internal parts in their amps.


If you're looking to save some money, but still get fully balanced circuitry in your amps (and the benefits), ATI has come out with two new lines of amps (same designs, just that one works at around ~200 watts/channel and the other at ~300 watts/channel). They are built very, very well (the attention to detail is superb) and are much more musical than their earlier models. I have an earlier AT1505 right now, and have been happy with it.


However, you do need to have a pre-amp with fully balanced circuitry as well.


Dan
 

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I'll have to agree with Bigus as well.

I'd use XLR if I had a lot of RF noise, or long interconnects. But since his cable length requirements are only 3 ft, I'd go with the less expensive RCA connections. That $2k price difference would be better spent on speakers or acoustic treatments, IMHO.


Sorny
 
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