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Is There an Up-To-Date Balanced Amp List?

  1. MorbidToaster
    Been doing some looking but can't seem to find one that's up to date. Looking at my options for a balanced system (hoping 4 pin, but 3 pin is always an option).
    I know about the Apache, WA22, gd Phoenix, Violectric V181, HeadRoom Balanced, EC Balancing Act...
    That's all I can grab off the top of my head. What other options are there floating around?
  2. brasewel
    The Super 7 is not a balanced amp, it just has the port for the K1000. It's probably a push-pull amp.
    EC ZDT, Einar VC 01i, Blossom BLO-0299, RWA Isabella, RWA Isabellina, Little Dot MK VII, Little Dot MK VIII SE, Apex Pinnacle. A lot of other amps are available that are push-pull including the Headroom BUDA, Leben etc
  3. MorbidToaster
    Thanks for the correction...but still trying to see if there's a list somewhere.

  4. Uncle Erik Contributor
    The problem is that not every amp that claims to be balanced is actually balanced.

    The definition of being balanced is likely to touch off a fight.

    You'd best spend a little time learning about them before you spend money. You could be purchasing a single-ended amp with XLR jacks. Quite a few who flog "balanced" amps are actually listening single-ended. Then there's the question as to whether balanced provides any benefit - another flamewar.

    I take a more purist approach. The source needs to be fully balanced and the amp should be two amps, with two separate power supplies. Others will disagree.

    So do some homework and figure out what you're really looking for. The word "balanced" gets kicked around as a status symbol, but how will you get the supposed benefit if you buy one of the single-ended amps with XLR jacks?
  5. brasewel
    ^^ I agree. Use balanced where it makes sense not just for the sake of saying you got "balanced" components. You may end up with a balanced amp since it sounds great, not because it's balanced.
    I think I've mentioned this in another thread. 
    A balanced amp for dynamics and orthos makes no sense, unless the amp has insufficient power in SE mode or you need tons of voltage swing.

    For an electrostat amp, balanced is the way to go, unless you can design a good single ended to differential input stage

  6. dadab12
    I've been told that the HD800 really benefits from a balanced amp with an aftermarket balanced cable. is that a myth? cause I was thinking about going to a balanced amp route with a Double helix complement cable using my HD800, is that a mistake?

  7. brasewel
    ^^ It depends on the amp really. IMO it has nothing to do with being balanced. When paired with the right tube or SS amp, the HD800 sound really good.
    The real advantages of balanced amps is elimination of outside interference but with such short cables it's irrelevant.
  8. MorbidToaster
    Oh of course. I'm planning on doing much more research before a purchase. I'm still a skeptic on whether it makes a difference or not, but I want to explore all my options, and hear what people think. 
    This thread wasn't really like...GIMME A LIST SO I CAN BUY ONE. It was trying to find a list so I could do much more research. I've noticed more and more as I understand the concept of balanced set ups, there are many that in fact are just SE with XLR jacks.
    It may in the end prove a futile venture, but just doing some exploring never hurt..

  9. fdhfdy
    Seemed you had listed most of balanced amps avail on the market. Maybe there are just a few more like
    Blossom Blo-0299 Balanced Headphone Amp, rudistor rp030/300 and forthcoming darkstar from ray. Ohhh, one more, if you are insterested in "pipe bomb" go talk to gilbert from Blue circle. :)
    It really depends, my single ended Zande Deux Se blow away my laker's  balanced v181(well am not so sure if its fully balanced) without a adoubt.  V181 is a nice amp by itself, but just not the same level as zd.
  10. MrQ
    I see no one has mentioned a balanced ß22.
  11. nattonrice
    Any diy amp that isn't fully differential (almost all of them) can be bridged (balanced) easily if one wished to do so.
    Using the presence balanced inputs and outputs is a pretty poor way to classify amplifiers.
    All of the ones you have listed are vastly different with one of the only similarities being that they have the same connectors at the front and the back.
  12. Currawong Contributor
    I am going to admit first I haven't tried enough amps to be able to say for sure, but one of the benefits of the balanced gear I have tried is the wide soundstage.  I've also owned a single-ended dual-mono amp that was similar.  My impression now, while not fully understanding audio circuitry, is that it has to do with design of the amp what benefits there will be in those choices made by the designer.  Balanced is just another design (circuit) choice from the perspective of the designer and their goals, but happens, from the viewpoint of the end-user, be a much more significant one due to the different plug(s) required on the headphones and the increased cost being that the amp has all its circuitry doubled, at least in the case of most solid-state designs.
    What would be more important than whether or not to go balanced would be to consider what goals one has with one's system. Buying gear that is higher-end you'd hope would give you more detail out of your music and better performance when the music is more complex, taking away more layers between you and the music, so to speak. This would also have a lot to do with the kind of music you like. A useful question is: Do you feel something is missing from your headphone experience?* At the very least this may relate to something simple, like the amount of bass, yet other times it may be something like instruments sounding less digital. From there it may be easier to suggest what to upgrade next.
    But then, this is Gear-Fi and who doesn't want to take a shot at something potentially better for a while? 
    *Such as speakers? Sorry, had to make that joke.
  13. dadab12
    This is really complex, I'm sure alot of HEad-fiers here are obsessive at some degree, they like to upgrade and "feel" the difference between each gear and really enjoy the all journey of that, like myself but how would you feel when you reach the level where there is nothing that you could upgrade anymore to feel the difference, what then? it's scary for me and how funny that may sound, I don't know how I would react to perfectionism.
    This is really weird to me cause I just enjoy everything about it and not only the music by itself..

  14. brasewel


    I think I have pretty much reached that level with the gear I have. With the exception of my headphones, I don't see myself upgrading my amp or dac. After listening to most of the high-end amps I am very happy with how my rig sounds and it sounds pretty damm good. At this level, getting more expensive gear is not going to improve the sound but just change the signature.
  15. Uncle Erik Contributor
    dadab12, it really depends. Not all amps are created equal, especially balanced ones.

    I've heard balanced amps, but prefer to run the HD-800 single-ended. I've found them best with a single-ended tube amp with a refined power supply. The HD-800 is extremely sensitive and revealing. When it comes to tubes, an excellent power supply is essential. A balanced amp with a lousy power supply won't sound as good as a single-ended amp with an excellent power supply. You have to have plenty of filtration and, hopefully, regulation. When you get into high-end tube amps, all the extra money goes into the power supply. Generally, you want a tube rectifier and the more chokes, the better. Those give you especially clean B+ power, which is combined with the signal. If you're getting noise in the B+, the HD-800 will let you know. You're better off with an excellent single-ended amp than a balanced one that lets some noise through.

    As for the aftermarket cables... that's another discussion. I am not a believer. You might want to read some threads in Sound Science before spending a lot on one.

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