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Mixing RCA and XLR?


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As many of you know I have just completed (or is it ever really completed 🙂) my audio room in my new address here in the Denver area.  The room has taken a long time, not the least of which was Covid interruptions, etc).  Also, the walls and ceiling were designed by Jeff Hedback, my remote acoustics magician, and the results are, so far, incredible.

 

OK, so one main goal of my new setup was going to be going all balanced.  I was able to get smurf tubes in the walls for the rear surrounds, etc and fish/pull balanced cabling though.  Success. 

 

First step was to get the 2 channel setup going.  However, my new (balanced) front channel amps are having an issue (another story, another time) so they are back at the US repair site for warranty work.   In the meantime I was very surprised to find that, with simply Monoprice XLR to RCA adapters I was able to use my single-ended amps (Perlas) for my main front two stereo channels, into my Aerial 20T V2s and they sound very very good.  (NOTE: all of this RCA and XLR discussion is simply to get me to a point where I can establish speaker positioning in the room, with SQ (sound quality) taking a back seat for now.  This is NOT about SQ at all).

 

OK, so now that I have very good (maybe not perfect) sound in the room, and have established the general positioning of my main speakers, I can move on to the positioning of my height (Dolby Atmos, used with pre/pro signal path) and surround (Aerial LR5s) speakers.  The Atmos positioning is easy, and frankly I am pretty sure I have my surrounds in a great spot, about 100-110 degrees.  HOWEVER, I am now in a real quandry.  My balanced multichannel dac will not be here for a couple more months (long story, another time, involves my upcoming knee surgery, etc) but I want to see what tweaking I can do to the center and surrounds (tweeter height, surround tilt in degrees, etc).  BUT...the current multichannel dac I own is the exaSound e28 which, in my config, is single-ended.  Yes, I know I could send to George and have converted to mini-XLRs but not going to do that as this is temporary.  SO......can I use adapters to go the other way??  Meaning, can I take rca outputs and put (the correct gender of course) XLR adapters on them and plug them into my balanced cabling?  Or do I need some sort of transformer, or even rca adapters at the far end (and dust off more of my older single ended amps)??  I am an idiot about these things.  Again, other than horrible hum, I am not focused on perfect sq right now.  Thanks! 

Ted

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3 hours ago, ted_b said:

As many of you know I have just completed (or is it ever really completed 🙂) my audio room in my new address here in the Denver area.  The room has taken a long time, not the least of which was Covid interruptions, etc).  Also, the walls and ceiling were designed by Jeff Hedback, my remote acoustics magician, and the results are, so far, incredible.

 

OK, so one main goal of my new setup was going to be going all balanced.  I was able to get smurf tubes in the walls for the rear surrounds, etc and fish/pull balanced cabling though.  Success. 

 

First step was to get the 2 channel setup going.  However, my new (balanced) front channel amps are having an issue (another story, another time) so they are back at the US repair site for warranty work.   In the meantime I was very surprised to find that, with simply Monoprice XLR to RCA adapters I was able to use my single-ended amps (Perlas) for my main front two stereo channels, into my Aerial 20T V2s and they sound very very good.  (NOTE: all of this RCA and XLR discussion is simply to get me to a point where I can establish speaker positioning in the room, with SQ (sound quality) taking a back seat for now.  This is NOT about SQ at all).

 

OK, so now that I have very good (maybe not perfect) sound in the room, and have established the general positioning of my main speakers, I can move on to the positioning of my height (Dolby Atmos, used with pre/pro signal path) and surround (Aerial LR5s) speakers.  The Atmos positioning is easy, and frankly I am pretty sure I have my surrounds in a great spot, about 100-110 degrees.  HOWEVER, I am now in a real quandry.  My balanced multichannel dac will not be here for a couple more months (long story, another time, involves my upcoming knee surgery, etc) but I want to see what tweaking I can do to the center and surrounds (tweeter height, surround tilt in degrees, etc).  BUT...the current multichannel dac I own is the exaSound e28 which, in my config, is single-ended.  Yes, I know I could send to George and have converted to mini-XLRs but not going to do that as this is temporary.  SO......can I use adapters to go the other way??  Meaning, can I take rca outputs and put (the correct gender of course) XLR adapters on them and plug them into my balanced cabling?  Or do I need some sort of transformer, or even rca adapters at the far end (and dust off more of my older single ended amps)??  I am an idiot about these things.  Again, other than horrible hum, I am not focused on perfect sq right now.  Thanks! 

Ted

Ted, Lundahl makes a transformer solution that should work. I use pair to go balanced to single ended out of my Spring 2 into my tube preamp. Stay away from adapters.

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2 minutes ago, ted_b said:

Bob, thanks, but these work the other way around?  My need is a single ended source into balanced gear.

It should but contact the US distributor to be sure. He is on the Lundahl website.

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1 hour ago, ted_b said:

Bob, thanks, but these work the other way around?  My need is a single ended source into balanced gear.

Hi, just looked at the site and they do have a configuration that should work for you. Look under Problem Solvers.

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Bob,

thanks but this is a temporary problem and not something I want to throw thousands (or even hundreds) of dollars at if I don't have to.  Remember, I have six channels to deal with. 

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1 hour ago, ted_b said:

Bob,

thanks but this is a temporary problem and not something I want to throw thousands (or even hundreds) of dollars at if I don't have to.  Remember, I have six channels to deal with. 

Ok, I understand. You could go on Sweetwater Audio site and look for BALUNs (Balance/unbalance) for lower cost solutions . There are some I checked out years ago before I got the Lundahls. Just avoid simple adapters as they are likely to cause problems. 

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19 hours ago, ted_b said:

As many of you know I have just completed (or is it ever really completed 🙂) my audio room in my new address here in the Denver area.  The room has taken a long time, not the least of which was Covid interruptions, etc).  Also, the walls and ceiling were designed by Jeff Hedback, my remote acoustics magician, and the results are, so far, incredible.

 

OK, so one main goal of my new setup was going to be going all balanced.  I was able to get smurf tubes in the walls for the rear surrounds, etc and fish/pull balanced cabling though.  Success. 

 

First step was to get the 2 channel setup going.  However, my new (balanced) front channel amps are having an issue (another story, another time) so they are back at the US repair site for warranty work.   In the meantime I was very surprised to find that, with simply Monoprice XLR to RCA adapters I was able to use my single-ended amps (Perlas) for my main front two stereo channels, into my Aerial 20T V2s and they sound very very good.  (NOTE: all of this RCA and XLR discussion is simply to get me to a point where I can establish speaker positioning in the room, with SQ (sound quality) taking a back seat for now.  This is NOT about SQ at all).

 

OK, so now that I have very good (maybe not perfect) sound in the room, and have established the general positioning of my main speakers, I can move on to the positioning of my height (Dolby Atmos, used with pre/pro signal path) and surround (Aerial LR5s) speakers.  The Atmos positioning is easy, and frankly I am pretty sure I have my surrounds in a great spot, about 100-110 degrees.  HOWEVER, I am now in a real quandry.  My balanced multichannel dac will not be here for a couple more months (long story, another time, involves my upcoming knee surgery, etc) but I want to see what tweaking I can do to the center and surrounds (tweeter height, surround tilt in degrees, etc).  BUT...the current multichannel dac I own is the exaSound e28 which, in my config, is single-ended.  Yes, I know I could send to George and have converted to mini-XLRs but not going to do that as this is temporary.  SO......can I use adapters to go the other way??  Meaning, can I take rca outputs and put (the correct gender of course) XLR adapters on them and plug them into my balanced cabling?  Or do I need some sort of transformer, or even rca adapters at the far end (and dust off more of my older single ended amps)??  I am an idiot about these things.  Again, other than horrible hum, I am not focused on perfect sq right now.  Thanks! 

Ted

 

IMO, yes you can. I do this all the time for quick testing whether on the test bench or for a listen in the audio room. While it's obviously not ideal and sometimes the noise might be a problem, for the most part, it'll work and I have never damaged anything using a converter over the years.

 

Congrats on the new place and "sounds" like lots of fun ahead with the sound quality with multichannel especially once you go all-balanced with the new DAC.

 

Archimago's Musings... A "more objective" audiophile blog.

Free The Music - No MQA!  :nomqa:

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Archimago,

Thanks.  There is a chance my issues have changed for the better.  If I get my balanced dac in here soon, then my issues are all balanced to rca, being that my fronts are temporarily single-ended Perlas and the center may also be a single ended amp til mine get back.....the surrounds are balanced and good to go.

 

This is definitely a cleaner scenario than I described just yesterday above, but I am still going to just use those Monoprice XLR to RCA dongles.  Since I now have only 3 channels to temporarily worry about, would having decent Lundahls (or their equivalent) for the main two channels (instead of dongles) make THAT much difference.  The main issue I have right now is that the center image of the stereo pair, albeit solid and unwavering, is a bit shouty...and I blame the dongles.  Overal soundstage is wide, imaging is great..but I have nothing to compare them to, since the room is so new.  I am less worried about the center channel itself; a dongle may suffice until my amps get back.  The Lundahls are about $300 for the pair and that's not exactly chump change, especially given their temporary basis.

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All of the gear my good buddy Tommy O'Brian of the Digital Amp Co (please, if you consider class D, check them out, you will be happy) makes is fully balanced only and he includes rca/xlr adapters in case you have rca outs on your source. When i used to need them, i upgraded to ones made by Cardas which were a noticeable improvement over the supplied ones (Neutric?). Im not competant to say that they will work in all situations. Great story on the Room!  Congrats!

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