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Thread: up for discussion... balanced vs. unbalanced signal

  1. #1
    MySQL Error scott_fx's Avatar
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    up for discussion... balanced vs. unbalanced signal

    so i have probably a unique situation here and i'd like to get some discussion started.

    ok here is my issue. i have spent many hours on researching, purchasing, and adapting my system to use a completely balanced signal path. I have been doing a lot of research; as most of you know, on usb dac's and i'm wondering about if i'd be better off with a usb dac (namely the douglas nos usb dac: usb non oversampling dac with us in mind) over my soundcard. the major concern here is that the usb dacs are all unbalanced. I'm wondering how big of a hit this will make if the initial connection from the pc to the active xover is an unbalanced signal (after the active x-over it goes back to being completely balanced). the pro to this is the x-over and the usb dac will be inches from each other.

    just for comparison purposes here is my set up:

    via epia m10000
    echo gina 3g (5v balanced) or the douglas usb dac (4+ volts unbalanced)
    zapco sl-4 active x-over (balanced)
    (2)phaze/butler tube amps (balanced)
    (1)zapco 500.1 (balanced)

    so please lets get some discussion started to help me. i have custom made my interconnects for everything but the 'soundcard' to the x-over. so this is the time to make my choice.

    thanks in advance!
    scott
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  2. #2
    FLAC Jahntassa's Avatar
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    Well, as far as I was aware, the main feature of balanced audio was noise reduction, so I would think that having an unbalanced connection anywhere in the loop would make it more possible to induce noise between components.. But that's only based on my limited knowledge.

    Just curious, but why are you thinking of switching to the USB DAC? I would think the rest of the components you have in that setup far surpass any USB solution..

  3. #3
    MySQL Error scott_fx's Avatar
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    you are correct about the benefits of a balanced system. so i'm hoping that if my dac is mere inches away from the x-over that i couild skirt around any induced noise.

    the usb dacs that i've listened too (and research about) just add this seperation in the music. it's hard to describe but the usb dacs just step up the quality of the signal above anything i've ever heard.
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  4. #4
    FLAC Jahntassa's Avatar
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    That's a bit odd, I would've thought the Gina (or anything else by Echo, i've used a Layla myself) would've been yards better. Though I suppose I can attest to some things, like my Edirol UA-30

  5. #5
    MySQL Error scott_fx's Avatar
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    hmm... i guess i should just audition the echo before i toss it aside. i guess i could bug my buddy with the micro dac and compare the two. YAY more cable making! :-)
    New System in progress:
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    Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
    Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
    Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
    Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
    Transflective Xenarc

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  6. #6
    MySQL Error scott_fx's Avatar
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    in my talks with douglas (the creator of the usb dac that i've been telling people about) I may be able to audition one of these dac's and write up a review. he has a prebuilt unit with some nice burr brown opa2132 opamps which are supposed to be very warm and pleasant sounding from what i've read and what he's told me.
    New System in progress:
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    Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
    Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
    Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
    Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
    Transflective Xenarc

    My Car Pc Install
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  7. #7
    It ain't easy being a green moderator meddler's Avatar
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    yes. please let us know how good it is.
    Never let the truth get in the way of a good story

  8. #8
    MySQL Error scott_fx's Avatar
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    so i went ahead and ordered a special usb dac from douglas with the burr-brown opamps. I'm building a home pc (mainly for web/media stuff) and will hook up the various soundcards that i have and give a comparison on the three.

    the one's that will be under the spotlight are:
    douglas' usb nos dac
    echo gina 3g
    m-audio audiophile 192
    New System in progress:
    M10k
    Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
    Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
    Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
    Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
    Transflective Xenarc

    My Car Pc Install
    My Boat Pc worklog

  9. #9
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    hmmm, now you've peaked my interest, I know those burr brown op amps from back in the day as being extremely warm & sweet..... I used to sware by them, but most modern equiptment has gone optical, how does this solution you're working on relate to &/or compare to an optical into the h700?....

    since the 700 I've got to admit I've just been accepting what I got, & haven't really considered other options, as much as I love my h700 optical setup, I do think my systems were warmer & more natural when I used to run a f1 status head, line driven into a pair of eqt's....

    I always felt a slightly less rich & true sound was the tradeoff for the convienience of the h700... up until now it's been an acceptable tradeoff, for the convinences I get, but I'm thinking that the solution your looking at is more akin to what I'm more used to in real high end car audio..

    what are you looking to use for eq tunning?

  10. #10
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    I'm interested in knowing the results of this as well.

    And what you plan on using for tuning too

    Jan Bennett
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    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

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