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Changing from RCA to XLR, which cables should i buy?


beerandmusic
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I wouldn't buy those. There is no screen visible in either picture of the cable ends. Balanced cables are usually two cores or four cores plus screen. Quad core is generally regarded as having advantages for long runs in noisy environments, but for a 1m run is unlikely to make much difference. Nor are the make of XLRs specified, so they could be any old rubbish. The absolutely standard XLR connector is made by Neutrik, and good brands of cable include Mogami and Canare. Here is a Mogami page about one of their cables:

 

MOGAMI® - Neglex Quad Cables

 

You should be able to get decent leads with Neutrik XLRs and reputable wire for a relatively modest amount. If you are in the USA, bluejeanscable have a good rep.

 

Balanced Audio Cables at Blue Jeans Cable

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I wouldn't buy those. There is no screen visible in either picture of the cable ends. Balanced cables are usually two cores or four cores plus screen. Quad core is generally regarded as having advantages for long runs in noisy environments, but for a 1m run is unlikely to make much difference. Nor are the make of XLRs specified, so they could be any old rubbish. The absolutely standard XLR connector is made by Neutrik, and good brands of cable include Mogami and Canare. Here is a Mogami page about one of their cables:

 

MOGAMI® - Neglex Quad Cables

 

You should be able to get decent leads with Neutrik XLRs and reputable wire for a relatively modest amount. If you are in the USA, bluejeanscable have a good rep.

 

Balanced Audio Cables at Blue Jeans Cable

 

 

ok thanks for the info....

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yw. Also the sleeve has been cut very messily. The Ghent cables in your second post look fine, assuming the parts are genuine and not copies. But I've never heard of the company so if it was me, I'd find a similar cable from someone with an established reputation for supplying the pro market.

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…if it was me, I'd find a similar cable from someone with an established reputation for supplying the pro market.

 

For example,

 

Redco Audio - Audio/Video Supplies and Accessories, Custom Cables and Panels, and more

 

I have a bunch of XLR cables from them, and I've been very pleased with the quality and service.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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Most people (especially Americans) are going to instantly say well balanced is best... But I was ask WHY you feel the need to change? What issues are you trying to overcome? What equipment are you using?

 

And having said all that, if you feel cabling matters with RCA, it matters no less with balanced / XLR.

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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A correctly designed and installed balanced interconnect system is the better choice.

What are the problems with RCA unbalanced interconnect systems?

Why they are hum, buzz and ground loop issues.

Not to mention interference issues.

That's just complete rubbish. Or at the best it's an opinion not a fact.

 

Hum, buzz and ground issues are not the result of RCA unbalanced interconnects, they are the result of badly matched / designed equipment and balanced connections are a bandaid which cover up these issues.

 

A correctly designed and installed unbalanced system does not have issues of hum, buzz or ground issues.

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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A correctly designed and installed unbalanced system does not have issues of hum, buzz or ground issues.

Then why are there so many threads on so many forums about hum and buzz?

 

Yes, it's possible to design equipment to reduce or eliminate these problems. But that doesn't help the rest of the hi-fi world.

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Take a look at Sommer Carbokab. These are top of the line. Reasonable also.

I make my own with Carbokab, Canare, Gotham, or Bekden. All are very good.

I like Anphenol and Neutrik XLR's. Have some expensive XLR connectors that are not as well constructed. Or engineered in the areas of strain relief or reduction in metal mass.

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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Then why are there so many threads on so many forums about hum and buzz?

 

Yes, it's possible to design equipment to reduce or eliminate these problems. But that doesn't help the rest of the hi-fi world.

Yawn... As I say some people just assume balanced is superior and you appear to have your head stuck in that philosophy. Balanced is good if you are running long cables, or have strong interference or you have very low signals (eg. microphones). The downsides of balanced is an increase in the complexity of circuitry, and in most cases balanced to unbalanced (and vice versa) conversion as signals enter and leave equipment. Most equipment is NOT inherently balanced.

 

Certain issues can be solved switching from unbalanced to balanced, but unless you have these issues you aren't going to improve anything.

 

That's why I ASKED what the OP was hoping to achieve!

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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the only reason I 'NEED" xlr is because i need to run 2 sets of outputs.

My DAC has rca and xlr, but can only output to one or the other.

my xlr will be for stereo and my rca line will be with sub.

i know i could just turn off the sub, but i just "think" i would want a direct xlr line when i am just running stereo, not wanting the needed "Y" in the path for when i use a sub.

 

i would also consider getting a preamp, if i knew if there was a preamp that i could defeat any processing completely (just using it as switch), but nobody suggested there was such an animal in another thread?

 

e.g. dac rca out to preamp in to at least one output that was just straight through line level unaffected by volume and tone controls?

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also just curious, for those that think xlr would be better than rca, do you think cheap xlr cables (e.g. $20/cable ofc belden or canare with gold plated neutrik connectors) would be better than higher grade silver rca interconnects that are $200? I would never spend that much but my brother gave them to me (d lin's silver bullets).

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the only reason I 'NEED" xlr is because i need to run 2 sets of outputs.

My DAC has rca and xlr, but can only output to one or the other.

my xlr will be for stereo and my rca line will be with sub.

i know i could just turn off the sub, but i just "think" i would want a direct xlr line when i am just running stereo, not wanting the needed "Y" in the path for when i use a sub.

 

i would also consider getting a preamp, if i knew if there was a preamp that i could defeat any processing completely (just using it as switch), but nobody suggested there was such an animal in another thread?

 

e.g. dac rca out to preamp in to at least one output that was just straight through line level unaffected by volume and tone controls?

 

Get two RCA Y adapters and forget about the balanced.

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also just curious, for those that think xlr would be better than rca, do you think cheap xlr cables (e.g. $20/cable ofc belden or canare with gold plated neutrik connectors) would be better than higher grade silver rca interconnects that are $200? I would never spend that much but my brother gave them to me (d lin's silver bullets).

There is more to it than that. We have to look at it as an interconnect system. This is looking at 'better' from an engineering point of view as it relates to background noise and interference.

But a correctly engineered XLR interconnect system (and it's easy to do correctly) is equal to and better than most high end hi-fi components, RCA interconnect systems.

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I use a lot of Mogami cables for microphone lines in recording. I have both Mogami Silver series and Mogami Gold series in varying lengths up to 100 ft. I've never had one fail. They are well constructed of good quality materials. They should be more than adequate for your stereo system.

George

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Then why are there so many threads on so many forums about hum and buzz?

 

Yes, it's possible to design equipment to reduce or eliminate these problems. But that doesn't help the rest of the hi-fi world.

 

Usually the people who have these problems don't know what they're doing. So, if they run into problems with SE cables and components, they tend to blame it on the equipment. I prefer balanced myself, but I wouldn't avoid SE gear for fear of getting a hum.

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the only reason I 'NEED" xlr is because i need to run 2 sets of outputs.

My DAC has rca and xlr, but can only output to one or the other.

my xlr will be for stereo and my rca line will be with sub.

i know i could just turn off the sub, but i just "think" i would want a direct xlr line when i am just running stereo, not wanting the needed "Y" in the path for when i use a sub.

 

i would also consider getting a preamp, if i knew if there was a preamp that i could defeat any processing completely (just using it as switch), but nobody suggested there was such an animal in another thread?

 

e.g. dac rca out to preamp in to at least one output that was just straight through line level unaffected by volume and tone controls?

 

For your 1st paragraph, if I'm reading it correctly, you can only use one or the other with your DAC. If that's the case, I don't see how you can use a balanced connection and SE at the same time. Since you don't have speaker cable inputs on your sub, you either need to split the signal, or get a preamp with 2 sets of outputs. You should have no problem splitting the signal. Since your sub only supports SE connections, just use that and don't worry about balanced.

 

"i would also consider getting a preamp, if i knew if there was a preamp that i could defeat any processing completely (just using it as switch), but nobody suggested there was such an animal in another thread?"

 

I believe I did answer it, but sometimes I mess up and the posts don't always go through. I think you are confusing processing with active circuitry. Most mid to high end preamps don't offer any type of signal processing to begin with (tone controls, balance, etc..), and the ones that do usually provide a bypass feature like you mention. That said, the signal is still going through the preamps active circuitry. And depending on the quality of the preamp, the signal will be effected greatly, for better or worse. If you remember, some of us recommended you use a passive, or a source with a volume control, in an attempt to not run the signal through a low quality preamp. Personally, I feel that if you can't get a good preamp, don't get one at all. You can get lucky, but in most cases, they just do too much damage. If you read other posts where people are pulling their hair out trying to get their system to sound right with tubes, cables, AC, tweaks, etc.., the main issue is most likely the preamp, and they just don't realize it. If you've read some of my other posts, I'm very reluctant to recommend specific products because we all have different tastes. It would be arrogant of me to tell you to buy something just because I like it. I would only recommend that when it comes to preamps and source matching, be extremely careful because a lot can go wrong.

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For your 1st paragraph, if I'm reading it correctly, you can only use one or the other with your DAC. If that's the case, I don't see how you can use a balanced connection and SE at the same time. Since you don't have speaker cable inputs on your sub, you either need to split the signal, or get a preamp with 2 sets of outputs. You should have no problem splitting the signal. Since your sub only supports SE connections, just use that and don't worry about balanced.

 

"i would also consider getting a preamp, if i knew if there was a preamp that i could defeat any processing completely (just using it as switch), but nobody suggested there was such an animal in another thread?"

 

I believe I did answer it, but sometimes I mess up and the posts don't always go through. I think you are confusing processing with active circuitry. Most mid to high end preamps don't offer any type of signal processing to begin with (tone controls, balance, etc..), and the ones that do usually provide a bypass feature like you mention. That said, the signal is still going through the preamps active circuitry. And depending on the quality of the preamp, the signal will be effected greatly, for better or worse. If you remember, some of us recommended you use a passive, or a source with a volume control, in an attempt to not run the signal through a low quality preamp. Personally, I feel that if you can't get a good preamp, don't get one at all. You can get lucky, but in most cases, they just do too much damage. If you read other posts where people are pulling their hair out trying to get their system to sound right with tubes, cables, AC, tweaks, etc.., the main issue is most likely the preamp, and they just don't realize it. If you've read some of my other posts, I'm very reluctant to recommend specific products because we all have different tastes. It would be arrogant of me to tell you to buy something just because I like it. I would only recommend that when it comes to preamps and source matching, be extremely careful because a lot can go wrong.

 

i can use both, just not at same time...they are switchable from dial on front.

my thinking is that i would want to use the xlr to amp only most of the time, but when i want the subwoofer, i would use the rca which will be "y'd".

....but maybe i won't hear any difference whether use xlr or rca w/y (with sub off)

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If you remember, some of us recommended you use a passive, or a source with a volume control, in an attempt to not run the signal through a low quality preamp..

 

someone mentioned a schiit, but it won't work...it just allows you to switch between 2 inputs for one output ...it wont work.

 

 

is there another recommendation for passive switch? I don't even need volume....but others said i can just use a "Y"...no need to get a switch at all.

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Just buy a pair of balanced interconnects (gold series) from Mogami. No less than Ralph Karsten of the owner and designer for the superb Atma-Sphere company recommends them with his amplifiers and preamps that run into the many thousands of dollars. These are extremely affordable, actually, they are the equivalent of dirt cheap in the world of cables.

 

I've had excellent experiences using them, even versus some very pricey alternatives.

 

JC

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Look at this one. It does what you're asking for.

 

CIAudio PLC-1 Passive Preamp at Music Direct

 

It may be over budget, but its the kind of component you can keep for a long time. If and when you decide to sell it, you shouldn't lose too much because it holds its value pretty well. Also, the web site I just mentioned has a good return policy so there shouldn't be too much risk.

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To the OP, 17629 had the best response. Why do you have a sub? If music sounds better with sub, as it will if you've set it up well, then you should RUN it with a y-split rca cable split at the DAC. Forget about the XLR cable because it will screw up your sound. Why? Because it will be connected at all times at the amp and its reactance will detract mildly from the performance of your rca cables.

 

IF your sub has xlr inputs you could run all balanced: use an xlr splitter at your DAC output; I've made that work; there are a couple of decent xlr splitters available. Again, split at the source. If your DAC has good balanced circuitry it will likely perform better using the balanced outs. As others said, Redco, Blue Jeans, and Markertek will build good Canare or Mogami star quad cables for you with Neutrik connectors.

Mac Mini 2012 with 2.3 GHz i5 CPU and 16GB RAM running newest OS10.9x and Signalyst HQ Player software (occasionally JRMC), ethernet to Cisco SG100-08 GigE switch, ethernet to SOtM SMS100 Miniserver in audio room, sending via short 1/2 meter AQ Cinnamon USB to Oppo 105D, feeding balanced outputs to 2x Bel Canto S300 amps which vertically biamp ATC SCM20SL speakers, 2x Velodyne DD12+ subs. Each side is mounted vertically on 3-tiered Sound Anchor ADJ2 stands: ATC (top), amp (middle), sub (bottom), Mogami, Koala, Nordost, Mosaic cables, split at the preamp outputs with splitters. All transducers are thoroughly and lovingly time aligned for the listening position.

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