Should I buy XLR cables?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Sebastian.Athea, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Sebastian.Athea

    Sebastian.Athea Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Istra
    I recently got a new dac and headphone amp, both have XLR and RCA i/o. I have a few Blue Jeans LC-1s, but I don't have any XLR cables, will I get anything from XLR or should I just stick with coax?
     
  2. samurai

    samurai Forum Resident

    Location:
    MINNESOTA
    Personal decision.
    Maybe borrow from a friend and test them in your system?
     
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  3. Gie663

    Gie663 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Flanders (Belgium)
    I went the other way. My late Accuphase amp accepted both XLR and RCA, so I changed cables and experimented for a while.
    My new Lavardin amp doesn’t have an XLR connection however, so everything’s connected with RCA now.
    To be honest, rca or xlr, I don’t hear a world of difference.
     
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  4. Sebastian.Athea

    Sebastian.Athea Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Istra
    I would do that if I could, I don't have many friends who are into audio.
     
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  5. samurai

    samurai Forum Resident

    Location:
    MINNESOTA
    Sorry, I'm in the same boat so I understand.
     
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  6. I may be incorrect but it's my understanding that the benefits of XLR are for long cable runs, primarily.
     
  7. Sebastian.Athea

    Sebastian.Athea Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Istra
    From what I have read yes, but in analog audio application only. Both analog and digital video can work better over coax (SDI or RGBs) than hdmi (twisted pair). It's confusing.
     
  8. h46e55x

    h46e55x What if they believe you?

    Location:
    Gitmo Nation West
    XLR generally runs at higher voltage (4v vs 2v) than single ended RCA. On my NAD S300 with S500 CD the difference is huge (The XLR connection sounds much better). Your mileage may vary.
     
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  9. Myke Reid

    Myke Reid Forum Resident

    I recently replaced the RCAs from my Parasound P5 preamp to an Anthem amp with XLR cables. If there's a difference, my ears are good enough to discern it. Of course, YMMV.
     
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  10. CoolJazz

    CoolJazz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastern Tennessee
    The big difference that's always overlooked and never understood is that when you go balanced you are no longer causing the circuit loop to be sharing the grounds of the devices. It really matters.

    CJ
     
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  11. Sebastian.Athea

    Sebastian.Athea Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Istra
    Can you explain why is that important?
     
  12. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    XLRs mostly just offer an advantage if you are running relatively long lines.
     
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  13. Bill Mac

    Bill Mac Forum Resident

    Location:
    So. ME USA
    When using XLR cables (3' max) with an Emotiva XMC-1, Wyred 4 Sound amps and Oppo 205 my system is dead quiet. I can put my ear up to all five speakers and there is no hiss or hum at all. That wasn't the case when using RCA cables. So noise reduction or rejection is another benefit of using XLR cables even if the cables are short.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  14. Sebastian.Athea

    Sebastian.Athea Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Istra
    My phones are completely silent with LC-1 cables, even on volume levels higher than I would listen to, complete darkens.
     
  15. CoolJazz

    CoolJazz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastern Tennessee
    Because of how electronics works. You don't "cast" it from here to there. Each and every circuit is a loop. Each and every part of that loop is in play. When you share grounds, as forced by unbalanced interconnect, you share not just the elements of the original device, not just the interconnect, but also all the effects of the next device. And, when the unbalanced interconnect continues to another device, then it's noise and elements to!

    Ever seen numbers measured on a single device? Sure. Measured as a single device on a bench, only the device under test and the test instruments. Ever see numbers on a whole system in the real world measured end to end? Not I. Wonder how they'd look? Ever read on an audio forum of people talking about noise problems like hum, buzz and trying all kinds of things in the power side? Everyday we see them! Effects of that extra "other" path adding yet another connection between devices. Ever see folks talking about how much difference it makes when the background is blacker? Not just noise you here in the form of buzz and noise, but what happens when the quiet background gets quieter? Hmmmm....(so to speak.)

    Balanced interconnect when done right (isn't always), brings to you audio circuits that stand on their own merit and not just in combo with everything else it's hooked to.

    CJ
     
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  16. CoolJazz

    CoolJazz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastern Tennessee
    Thanks for representing internet folk lore yet one more time! It stands right along side internet science.

    Quiet a pair...internet electronics and internet science. That pair makes great reasons for electronic reproduction of audio. Which stands opposite of making music....

    CJ
     
  17. Sebastian.Athea

    Sebastian.Athea Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Istra
    Oh, are you talking about this?
     
  18. samurai

    samurai Forum Resident

    Location:
    MINNESOTA
    I've never known for sure whether XLR cables are superior to rca or visa versa, all else being equal.
    However, I do know that some components sound better through their XLR outputs and inputs.
    It's probably true that some components sound better through their rca's as well.
    Plenty of components are sans XLR connectors altogether, so pleasantly this whole topic would be moot.
    The only real way to find out though is through trial and error.
    So not as easy as yes/no. Clear as mud?

    **If the components are truly balanced designs you definitely should try balanced cables between them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  19. Sebastian.Athea

    Sebastian.Athea Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Istra
    I don't think mine are, I have THX AAA 789, and RME ADI-2 DAC.
     
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  20. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    XLRs will do jack diddly for any hum or buzz caused by a transformer. As for ground loops, it doesn't really fix those either. What they will do is better reject EMI from nearby components/cables.
     
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  21. samurai

    samurai Forum Resident

    Location:
    MINNESOTA
    I'd like to be more helpful.
     
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  22. CoolJazz

    CoolJazz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastern Tennessee
    Yes...he is talking about the issues of shared grounds. I remember that video...just didn't remember all the messed up spellings.

    Nice grab throwing that into the conversation!

    CJ
     
  23. CoolJazz

    CoolJazz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastern Tennessee
    This isn't about noise from transformers. And the mention of loops was really about the electronic circuit current loop more than ground loops. Though avenues through grounds does quickly become part of it.

    Perhaps you could discuss how when the audio path doesn't share ground, interconnected audio equipment would still have a ground loop.

    CJ
     
  24. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    XLR cables provide a lower noise floor - it's been well-documented. However, it's uncertain - and I would say unlikely - that you'd hear a difference between RCA and XLR when it comes to what I assume is a very short cable run, from your DAC to your headphone amp.

    When the owner of the Audio Science Review web site tests DACs and such that have both RCA and XLR capability, he usually finds around 10dB lower noise floor with XLR - but by the same token it's typically a difference between -95 and -105dB. Even with headphones I have my doubts that you could detect noise at -95dB, and therefore I would doubt that quieter XLR would make any difference. But who knows, it might make a difference. And even if you don't hear any noise with RCAs, you might detect a "more silent silence" with XLRs - with very low levels of noise or distortion we sometimes cannot detect them until we hear something that's cleaner sounding and we think, "Oh, there's less noise now; I didn't realize I was hearing any noise as part of the signal before."

    At any rate, a pair of short XLR cables surely can be had for not a lot of money, yes? So why not give them a try?
     
  25. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Floating the ground entirely from the chassis is what will alleviate ground loops. Problem is many XLR equipped gear is not truly balanced and doesn't have a good ground scheme. 9 times out of 10, the ground loop is not the result of an unbalanced connection, rather it's the difference in ground layout inside the gear and plugging of gear into outlets with different potential to ground. The main XLR advantage is the superior shielding to any EMI.
     
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