Balanced headphones w/ an unbalanced amp

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by phishneslo, Oct 30, 2012.
Page 1 of 2
  1. phishneslo
    Can this be done using a balun (Or vice versa - unbalanced headphones with a balanced amp) ?

    If so, what would be the downside, compared to just having an unbalanced setup to begin with?

    Is this essentially what the re-zero trs adapter does?
  2. Anda
    Balanced headphone on single ended amp, yes.
    Single ended headphone on balanced amp, no.
    The "downside" is that you need an adapter for the first option (eg. 4XLR to TRS).
  3. ardgedee
    "Balanced" headphones are headphones wired up like ordinary stereo speakers, that is, the left and right channels have separate + or ground lines rather than sharing a common ground. From the perspective of the headphone, there isn't a meaningful distinction between + and ground, and you can use "balanced" headphones on many appropriate single-ended or balanced amplifiers, including speaker amplifiers: A lot of people drive the AKG K1000 or HiFiMan HE-6 from the speaker taps, although most headphones are too sensitive to get a lot of audible benefit from doing this.

    Using "balanced" headphones requires only a plug adaptor and no additional circuitry. Many cable makers will build high-quality adaptors for you, and it's easy to do yourself if you have the tools and soldering skills.
  4. volcom17
    Sorry to hijack on your thread but if you have SE amp with balanced headphones, does it matter if your source is balanced or not? And what do you mean by a balanced source? Many thanks.
  5. Jhawkins
    Here's another question.
    If you have a balanced source, and a balanced amp...but only an rca interconnect cable...would rca to xlr adapters actually work and send a balanced signal to the balanced amp from the balanced source?
  6. ardgedee
    A proper balanced connection requires positive, negative, and ground lines for each channel.
    If you're willing to spend what it takes to have all-balanced hardware, why wouldn't you be using the appropriate cables?
  7. Jhawkins
    Just curious what would happen. 
    Soon enough I'll have a balanced headphone amp, and I will ultimately be using balanced cables between my source and the amp.  
  8. Hooster
    Or just positive negative for each channel and a common ground.
  9. DutchGFX
    So I am putting a 4 pin mini XLR into my Q701's. Will this significantly change my sound sig without a balanced amp? I don't really want it to, only when I use a balanced amp. It's really just a fun project. But once I have the 4 pin XLR in place, where can I get a cable that will let me use that jack with a 1//4" jack?
  10. jamato8 Contributor

    Just make one. You just run the negative signal wire on the adapter to the ground of the 1/4 plug, so two will go there and then you have the R and L channel. Almost all my phones are balanced and I have adapters for 1/8, 1/4 and other balanced outputs. Very versatile.
  11. DutchGFX
    Problem is, I've never made a cable before. I don't even know what wire to use :frowning2:
  12. raybies
    Sorry for resurrecting this thread but what about vice versa; unbalanced 3.5mm headphones + 3.5mm > 4.4mm adaptor in to a balanced source?
    I'm receiving conflicting information. but I thought an adaptor was made for the very purpose.
    The balanced amp say only balanced connections support native DSD, with an adaptor would it still be native DSD?

    3.5mm unbalanced headphone (R/L/Gnd) > 4.4mm adaptor > 4.4mm Balanced Amp (R+R-/L+L-/Gnd)
  13. Themordent
    The adapter you mention cannot convert cans wired for unbalanced into balanced. The R- and L- of your headphones are soldered together as GND and they cannot be decoupled by something like an adapter. You would have to rewire them.

    This is why balanced-to-unbalanced is fine, as it is just an adapter that bridges the two negative differential pins together as a GND terminal (making it equivalent to a single-ended wiring scheme). The reverse doesn't quite work.
    Ripsnort likes this.
  14. raybies
    I'm very aware I can't make an unbalanced headphone balanced, I just need to know if the adaptor will allow me to plug an unbalanced headphone in to a balanced port.
    So if I understand correctly Unbalanced Headphones can never be plugged in to a Balanced port with an adaptor?

    So the adaptor doesn't just discard 1 x R, and 1 x L.

    I'll give you the practical application.

    Denon D5000 require a fair amount of juice to get them moving.
    Sony Walkman SE out is 50mW, but the balanced port is 200mW and supports Native DSD, I don't really want to buy another set of Headphones.
  15. Themordent
    To be honest, I'm not even sure that is what the adapter does. I cannot say what the 3.5mm side pinout would even look like because the idea of this adapter is so silly.

    Secondly, assuming the adapter is actually as you specify, let me make sure this is right: You want to run the Walkman's balanced output for extra power because your cans need them, but instead of running balanced cable you want to use an SE-to-balanced adapter to discard half of the differential signal coming from the DAP... which puts you at exactly the same power output as the SE port. Is the above correct?

    If so, then I truly don't see the point. Makes me wonder why such an adapter even exists (allows you to use a balanced port to run SE signals?).
Page 1 of 2

Share This Page