• To directly access the forum, ensure your bookmark url includes /forum.

XLR replaced with RCA

30hurts

Wammer
Wammer
Mar 13, 2013
159
29
33
UK
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Looking for some help on interconnects (please put the guns down!). I've always used mogami XLR from pre amp to power amp. Never really thought much about it. However out of interest, I swapped out the XLR for RCA and it sounds better. More natural, not as hard and sterile. The sound stage isn't as wide but music is much more enjoyable.

What's happening here? I think my power amp is not a truly balanced design, and also I was using an XLR microphone interconnect. Would this make a difference from say a hifi oriented XLR?
 
  • Like
Reactions: MVJ

hearhere

Wammer
Wammer
Apr 9, 2013
842
601
113
Portsmouth, UK
AKA
Peter
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
With comparable quality interconnects, the balanced XLR should be better than single ended RCA. But as you say, there may be 2 factors acting against this in your system. To get advantage of operating in a balanced system, both the source (preamp) and destination (power amp) should be truly balanced in their operation. Check out the spec of your kit. Secondly, as you suggest, the Mogami microphone cables may not be as good as your RCA cable. In a balanced true system, many claim that a less fancy XLR cable will sound as good as a fancy RCA one and the advantage of balance cable increases greatly with length. You don't need to spend a fortune on XLRs but they need to match the spec for the job in hand. Perhaps look for a pair of sensibly priced XLRs, but probably only worth it if your amp can take advantage of the balanced signal.
 

30hurts

Wammer
Wammer
Mar 13, 2013
159
29
33
UK
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
With comparable quality interconnects, the balanced XLR should be better than single ended RCA. But as you say, there may be 2 factors acting against this in your system. To get advantage of operating in a balanced system, both the source (preamp) and destination (power amp) should be truly balanced in their operation. Check out the spec of your kit. Secondly, as you suggest, the Mogami microphone cables may not be as good as your RCA cable. In a balanced true system, many claim that a less fancy XLR cable will sound as good as a fancy RCA one and the advantage of balance cable increases greatly with length. You don't need to spend a fortune on XLRs but they need to match the spec for the job in hand. Perhaps look for a pair of sensibly priced XLRs, but probably only worth it if your amp can take advantage of the balanced signal.
Thanks Herhere,

I've just double checked and it appears the Parasound A21 isn't truly balanced. The bottom end is alot better with the RCA connection as well as sounding more musical and faster. Looks like I'll stick with the RCA
 

newlash09

newlash09
Wammer
Aug 10, 2018
2,894
2,499
148
India
AKA
Y.Manohar
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
With comparable quality interconnects, the balanced XLR should be better than single ended RCA. But as you say, there may be 2 factors acting against this in your system. To get advantage of operating in a balanced system, both the source (preamp) and destination (power amp) should be truly balanced in their operation. Check out the spec of your kit. Secondly, as you suggest, the Mogami microphone cables may not be as good as your RCA cable. In a balanced true system, many claim that a less fancy XLR cable will sound as good as a fancy RCA one and the advantage of balance cable increases greatly with length. You don't need to spend a fortune on XLRs but they need to match the spec for the job in hand. Perhaps look for a pair of sensibly priced XLRs, but probably only worth it if your amp can take advantage of the balanced signal.
+1

In my own humble experience :

My chain = Esoteric balanced dac > kubala sosna xlr cables > MFA passive balanced preamp > cardass golden reference xlr > tube mono power amps.

I tried replacing either of these Xlr cables with a 20 GBP Pro grade mogami xlr. And the drop in SQ was very minimal. And only noticable in 2 ways, a slight increase in back ground noise, and when the track got very busy, I felt the more expensive cables did instrument separation and organisation better.

I replaced these 20 GBP Pro grade xlr cables between the dac and preamp with a expensive hifidelity HT-CR1 magnetic conduction RCA cables. I couldn't make out one from the other.

Then I tried using these 2 pairs of cables, between my preamp to poweramp. And the cheap XLR actually sounded a smidgen blacker than the costlier RCA's, with everything else being the same.

So in my chain, I feel even a cheap XLR beats a expensive RCA as the whole chain is balanced. I've now moved the expensive RCA's to my turn table setup which is not balanced from phono to preamp.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Pedro2

zeta4

Wammer
Wammer
Sep 21, 2009
842
945
108
Oxford, , United Kin
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Thanks Herhere,

I've just double checked and it appears the Parasound A21 isn't truly balanced. The bottom end is alot better with the RCA connection as well as sounding more musical and faster. Looks like I'll stick with the RCA
Hi

Well I just checked the spec of the Parasound A21 and it is a fully complementary design by John Curl which I would call truly balanced. It also has both RCA (single ended) and XLR (balanced) i/p's. The i/p stage will be slightly different for each of these i/p's.

In my experience with designing power amps, complementary topology does help reduce distortion but only with even order harmonics.
So complementary or balanced amplifiers tend to have a different distortion spectra than single ended ones. You may or may not like the result.

So if you use the RCA i/p you may be adding a little more even order harmonic distortion or perhaps a little more noise. Either way you like
the result and that's all that matters.
 

TheFlash

Inactive
Wammer Plus
Jun 22, 2013
12,417
8,216
198
Rural Leics [system 1] & Kendal [systems 2 & 3]
AKA
Nigel
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Looking for some help on interconnects (please put the guns down!). I've always used mogami XLR from pre amp to power amp. Never really thought much about it. However out of interest, I swapped out the XLR for RCA and it sounds better. More natural, not as hard and sterile. The sound stage isn't as wide but music is much more enjoyable.

What's happening here? I think my power amp is not a truly balanced design, and also I was using an XLR microphone interconnect. Would this make a difference from say a hifi oriented XLR?
Apologies if answered subsequently but you swapped which Mogami (model) XLR cable for which (make) (model) RCA cable?
 

rabski

Everything in moderation
Staff member
Dec 2, 2006
33,754
21,652
173
Kettering
AKA
Richard
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Hi

Well I just checked the spec of the Parasound A21 and it is a fully complementary design by John Curl which I would call truly balanced. It also has both RCA (single ended) and XLR (balanced) i/p's. The i/p stage will be slightly different for each of these i/p's.

In my experience with designing power amps, complementary topology does help reduce distortion but only with even order harmonics.
So complementary or balanced amplifiers tend to have a different distortion spectra than single ended ones. You may or may not like the result.

So if you use the RCA i/p you may be adding a little more even order harmonic distortion or perhaps a little more noise. Either way you like
the result and that's all that matters.
This.

Different cables will make a minute fraction of the difference that the topology makes, and 'different' may well be 'better' to your own ears.

No need to overcomplicate things in the search for enlightenment. If you swap something and you prefer it that way, congratulations. Leave well alone and move on the obsessing about something else.
 

30hurts

Wammer
Wammer
Mar 13, 2013
159
29
33
UK
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Apologies if answered subsequently but you swapped which Mogami (model) XLR cable for which (make) (model) RCA cable?
Hi Flash I was using Mogami Neglex 2534 XLR Mic cable. I swapped out for some old van damme Pro grade classic XKE pure silver plated OFC RCA.
 
  • Like
Reactions: uzzy and TheFlash

simon g

Senior Wammer
Wammer Plus
Sep 11, 2006
2,486
1,258
193
Lincolnshire Coast
AKA
Simon
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
It may well be that one or both of your amps are not balanced designs, thus the XLR connections use 'converters'. Unbalanced may be the more 'direct' signal path.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheFlash

30hurts

Wammer
Wammer
Mar 13, 2013
159
29
33
UK
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
It may well be that one or both of your amps are not balanced designs, thus the XLR connections use 'converters'. Unbalanced may be the more 'direct' signal

It may well be that one or both of your amps are not balanced designs, thus the XLR connections use 'converters'. Unbalanced may be the more 'direct' signal path.
I found another Parasound A21 owner thread via google stating the RCA yielded better results too. I find this really odd as XLR is supposed to the gold standard on a fully balanced circuit. There must be something about the Parasound that prefers RCA. I've ordered an Atlas Equator Achromatic RCA interconnect to replace the temporary Van Damme one which hopefully should improve further.
 
  • Like
Reactions: newlash09

Forum statistics

Threads
108,006
Messages
2,286,749
Members
69,141
Latest member
mx2one