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new cable for headphone : balanced or single ended

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 

Hello

 

I m looking for cable change  my headphone as the original one is 1/4 single end + 3 meters long

I want to go for a shorter version and different connector

 

Since I own a Rx Mark II amp and hope soon to upgrade to the Mark III, another question pop up : balanced or single ended ?

 

Does really the sound different ?

 

Thanks

post #2 of 45

Single ended unless you want +6dB of more volume.  This is really the only audible benefit to going balanced.  I have a fully balanced setup and have done a ton of testing.  The only difference is the volume as far as my ear can tell.

 

If it really sounded different we all would have fully balanced setups and more headphone manufacturers would make way more balanced headphones and especially sell the cables.

post #3 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Profucius View Post
 

Hello

 

I m looking for cable change  my headphone as the original one is 1/4 single end + 3 meters long

I want to go for a shorter version and different connector

 

Since I own a Rx Mark II amp and hope soon to upgrade to the Mark III, another question pop up : balanced or single ended ?

 

Does really the sound different ?

 

Thanks

i noticed a pretty big difference in going balanced with my sr-71b amp, yes the volume pot is louder, however i also noticed a wider soundstage amung other things. its definitly worth it IMO. i have sinced then changed everything over to balanced. i wouldnt ever go back to single ended.

post #4 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooses9 View Post
 

i noticed a pretty big difference in going balanced with my sr-71b amp, yes the volume pot is louder, however i also noticed a wider soundstage amung other things. its definitly worth it IMO. i have sinced then changed everything over to balanced. i wouldnt ever go back to single ended.

X-2 hands down balanced is only way to go

post #5 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooses9 View Post

i noticed a pretty big difference in going balanced with my sr-71b amp, yes the volume pot is louder, however i also noticed a wider soundstage amung other things.

Strange thing about us humans is that we tend to perceive a source that is slightly louder not so much as louder, but of higher quality. Unscrupulous stereo salesmen used to take advantage of this phenomenon and make sure that the system they wanted to sell was always demoed at a slightly louder level.

Although it doesn't explain it all, the equal loudness curves of our hearing bear this out. At lower levels we are much less sensitive to high and low frequencies and most sensitive at midrange frequencies. As volume is increased, the sensitivity curves start to flatten out.

That's what the "loudness" button you see on some stereos is for. When listening at lower than usual volumes, the loudness button applies a filter that boosts the low and high frequencies so the music sounds more like it does at higher volumes.

se
post #6 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooses9 View Post
 

i noticed a pretty big difference in going balanced with my sr-71b amp, yes the volume pot is louder, however i also noticed a wider soundstage amung other things. its definitly worth it IMO. i have sinced then changed everything over to balanced. i wouldnt ever go back to single ended.


Perhaps someone in the industry can comment on how this is possible in particular wider soundstage among "other things"?

 

Anyone?

 

As pointed out to me truly balanced setups all of the way up to the headphone and cable introduces more uncertainty than with a single ended setup because there are almost double the components.  For me it is not a matter of cost because I have a balanced setup and when I did the test I initially thought I heard "improvements".  I was very excited that my near balanced gear improved upon my single ended setup, but then after much more testing I found out that I could not hear the difference at all and it was the perceived increase in volume that made me think the sound quality improved.

 

Anyone want to conduct a blind test?

post #7 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post
 


Perhaps someone in the industry can comment on how this is possible in particular wider soundstage among "other things"?

 

Anyone?

 

As pointed out to me truly balanced setups all of the way up to the headphone and cable introduces more uncertainty than with a single ended setup because there are almost double the components.  For me it is not a matter of cost because I have a balanced setup and when I did the test I initially thought I heard "improvements".  I was very excited that my near balanced gear improved upon my single ended setup, but then after much more testing I found out that I could not hear the difference at all and it was the perceived increase in volume that made me think the sound quality improved.

 

Anyone want to conduct a blind test?

and who do you consider ''in the industry''

 

reguardless, i still feel like balanced is the way to go. i was using a toxic silver poison SE cable had the cable reterminated to rsa balanced, listened to the balanced setup for the first time, and i notice right away the soundstage was ALOT wider. i mean the other things more more subtle but the soundstage width was IMO most noteable thing off bat.

 

maybe this is so, that you hear increased volume and perceived ''more'' improvements because it was louder.

 

but i particularly like my volume pot to be minute, i particualrly like small increments to increase the volume exponentially some dont like this. so with the RSA sr-71b on high gain, i would say i noticed the volume pot to get louder with smaller increments but IMO not overall loud in general without adjusting the volume.

 

actually i perceived the volume to be slightly lower because the soundstage was perceived to be wider...if that makes sense

 

maybe it doesnt. alls i know is i went balanced and love it.....maybe there are other factors that need to be taken into play here, 1, what amp are you using 2,what dac are you using 3,what cables are you using 4,what interconnects are you using

 

i mean one spends so much time debating on weather or not something makes a difference, personally i think it does, and really thats all that matters, its all subjective anyway so the op can either use subjective reasoning to influence his decision or use objective reasoning....

 

one of the other reasons i went to rsa balanced is becuase to me it seems like its becoming a audiophile grade industry standard, i mean ibasso likes the hirose, but rsa,alo,cypher labs and others have been incorperating the kobbiconn balanced cable more and more, and it seems like the 3.5 although probably wont be phased out completely, balanced does seem to be popping up more and more, and so to keep up with technology i went balanced.

 

also, even though i personally like higher gain settings, this doesnt mean im perceiving more sound quality, if thats the case, then i am perceiving more sound quality and actually listening to music through a amp on high setting yeilds better sound quality......i dont think so. at best it just makes the volume pot smaller so you can increase the volume louder in smaller increments, however that doesnt mean that i am listening to music louder than if i was to not be using any gains at all across the board the volume is the same becuase im listening to the music at the same volume gains or not, in other words, volume isnt influencing sound. and definitly not influencing sound quality. i mean gains Add volume but they dont add sound quality. i would say if you are letting volume influence your perception of sound quality, then its not sound quality but volume. but volume isnt influencing sound quality....thus canceling each other out as a subjective reasoning to the argument that loudness increases and influences sound quality.......esp if the volume is matched

 

blah


Edited by Mooses9 - 10/10/13 at 7:57pm
post #8 of 45

It's been around forever and there is no technical advantage to balanced other than noise rejection. It's the only reason it's used in pro setups. Nothing to do with sound differences. It will always be here but never be any standard for home use. Some of the worlds best mega buck amps are not fully balanced. There are some others advantages to balanced that may show up in dacs and power supply noise or artifact cancellation if the topology allows but that's probably not applicable here though I may have an example below. I could be mistaken about that PS particular example because I haven't really looked into it carefully. 

 

A balanced amp can sound different for a few reasons and most of them aren't about it being better. It really comes down to the individual amp and ground reference which can be less than optimal on either setup. A balanced amp is effectively 2 single ended amps with one being phase inverted. It's more difficult to make 2 absolutely inverse and identical amps than one and any difference in them will manifest itself as an amplitude error. Balanced also doubles the output impedance. It does take things like ground noise away from the audio path but that shouldn't be there anyway if you do single phase correctly. A balanced amp can sound better but it wont be because it's balanced. It would be because it's had more attention to detail or is simply a better design. Not because balanced it's inherently better. Things like proper attention to power supply and grounding will make much more important differences.

 

Lets say your portable amp uses a charge pump or switching type arrangement for the - phase supply voltage. It allows the the + and - V  to stay the same and stave off offset on direct couple designs as it looses V in use. However, they tend to beat some noise into the system. Here, a balance config may cancel that noise at the output and help the amp sound better but that's not my idea of a better mouse trap and the amp would need to be differential throughout to limit that noise. Better to be quiet from the start but, whatever works. 

 

Steve Eddy can feel free to clarify or correct anything he'd like.


Edited by goodvibes - 10/12/13 at 6:27am
post #9 of 45
I think it's important to distinguish between "balanced" and "bridged." Two single ended amps with one being fed an inverted signal is a bridged amp. Balance refers to a balance of impedances between the non-inverting and inverting lines to ground. This balance of impedances is critical for achieving the best common mode noise rejection. However common mode rejection relies on a differential input, and the input of a bridged amp is not differential so the whole purpose and meaning of "balanced" is moot. But there is a lot of misunderstanding out there about balanced interfaces and the term has been routinely misapplied to bridged amps.

Bridging is a good technique to use when you want to achieve a maximum voltage swing when dealing with limited power supply voltage. Early car audio amps took advantage of this (along with low impedance speakers) to get the most out of a12 volt power source. But beyond that, it offers no particular advantage when you're able to determine your own power supply voltage.

se
post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibes View Post
 

It's been around forever and there is no technical advantage to balanced other than noise rejection. It's the only reason it's used in pro setups. Nothing to do with sound differences. It will always be here but never be any standard for home use. Some of the worlds best mega buck amps are not fully balanced. There are some others advantages to balanced that may show up in dacs and power supply noise or artifact cancellation if the topology allows but that's probably not applicable here though I may have an example below. I could be mistaken about that PS particular example because I haven't really looked into it carefully. 

 

A balanced amp can sound different for a few reasons and most of them aren't about it being better. It really comes down to the individual amp and ground reference which can be less than optimal on either setup. A balanced amp is effectively 2 single ended amps with one being phase inverted. It's more difficult to make 2 absolutely inverse and identical amps than one and any difference in them will manifest itself as an amplitude error. Balanced also doubles the output impedance. It does take things like ground noise away from the audio path but that shouldn't be there anyway if you do single phase correctly. A balanced amp can sound better but it wont be because it's balanced. It would be because it's had more attention to detail or is simply a better design. Not because balanced it's inherently better. Things like proper attention to power supply and grounding will make much more important differences.

 

Lets say your portable amp uses a charge pump or switching type arrangement for the - phase supply voltage. It allows the the + and - V  to stay the same and stave off offset on direct couple designs as it looses V in use. However, they tend to beat some noise into the system. Here, a balance config may cancel that noise at the output and help the amp sound better but that's not my idea of a better mouse trap and the amp would need to be differential throughout to limit that noise. Better to be quiet from the start but, whatever works. 

 

Steve Eddy can feel free to clarify or correct anything he'd like.

so if its not about it being better, BUT a balanced amp can sound different....then what is the perceived difference in the sound indifferent? 

 

either way not trying to start a flame war here. 

 

i would say that one drawback of the rsa or hirose balanced connections, is the fact that if you have other none balanced amps, you are going to need to get a adapter to accept either hirose or rsa to 3.5mm which kinda sucks.

 

but if you plan on staying balanced no problem........or if your iems or fs headphones have removeable cable capability. you could always get different cables...

post #11 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooses9 View Post
 

i noticed a pretty big difference in going balanced with my sr-71b amp, yes the volume pot is louder, however i also noticed a wider soundstage amung other things. its definitly worth it IMO. i have sinced then changed everything over to balanced. i wouldnt ever go back to single ended.

Yea I felt the same about, my HE 400 and DT 880. It may depend on the amps.

 

I can say my Audio GD 10ES2 SE sounded better than my Matrix M Stage, but... the Balanced out... was a new level for my DT 880! 

 

That said, if you take the plunge to Balanced, make sure you've got enough cash for a new dac, amp and the cable 

post #12 of 45
Thread Starter 

Hi

 

Ok , I think I will go for single end one at first otherwise investment cost will be too high.

I don t know if I will feel a difference with my portable gear , so let s be reasonnable for once :-)

 

Thanks

post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Profucius View Post
 

Hi

 

Ok , I think I will go for single end one at first otherwise investment cost will be too high.

I don t know if I will feel a difference with my portable gear , so let s be reasonnable for once :-)

 

Thanks

lol i havent been able to be that in this hobby EVER lol,,,,,,,good luck, im sure you will enjoy one way or the other

post #14 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Profucius View Post
 

Hi

 

Ok , I think I will go for single end one at first otherwise investment cost will be too high.

I don t know if I will feel a difference with my portable gear , so let s be reasonnable for once :-)

 

Thanks

Indeed, I have a pair of SE w1000x that still floor me with the depth and clarity of thier sound stage. They are not super wide, but the instrument seperation and depth and focus of the sound stage are phenomial! That said, my SE closed headphone has a more intimate and slighty more 3D sound stage than my two wide [slighty more shallow] fully balanced Open Cans, so that said, there's nothing wrong with SE.  I found that the benifits of Balanced are worth the cost, BUT that said... a "better" headphone is a better investment! So enjoy SE for as long as you can my friend :D 

 

And my point u guys, A Great SE can will most likely beat [or match]  a Good balance headphone, meaning if you like good... the cheapest upgrade is to get great! [Ie better headphones]  

post #15 of 45

 

:D

 

se

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