Stupid Questions.
Sep 9, 2015 at 6:11 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 2


Headphoneus Supremus
Dec 9, 2014
Hey guys. I have some really basic questions that I should know the answers to, and I have tried searching for the answers but nothing exact has popped up for my particular questions, so here I am. I have done a ton of saving of the last few years and am blessed to have some great gear, but my knowledge does not live up to the quality of said gear really. 
1. Do I need a balanced DAC to get a true balanced system? My DAC (resonessance labs concero HD) only has a left/right RCA output and a digital output. RCA is unbalanced, right? My amp has a balanced output setting (4 pin XLR) and my headphones are balanced capable. Would I need a new DAC with left/right XLR (3 pin) outputs to get a balanced signal to input into my amp? Or does the amp take the signal from my DAC, balance it, and then output to my headphones? 
2. Gain. Currently I am running the gain on my amp at about 1 o'clock medium gain, the computer output at full (macbook pro) and the player (Fidelia) very low gain. Is this optimal? I assume running the computer at full volume is a good idea, but would it be better to run my amp at lower gain, and run Fidelia at higher gain? Or does it not matter at all?
3. Double amping? Sometimes I am in the basement, and my headphone rig is upstairs, so I am left trying to make a make shift set up to listen to tunes. Obviously the ideal would be to get another DAC/amp downstairs, but I am broke, so thats not in the cards. I know it is not optimal, but I can plug my headphones directly into my Macbook Pros built in output and get ok sound and volume no problem. I own an ALO audio National portable amp, which has 1/8th" input and output, nothing else. What I have been doing is running my Macbook Pros built in output into the National, running on the high gain setting with the knob at about 1 o'clock, and Fidelia again at very low gain. Is this the best I can do with the gear I have? Or is running an amped signal out of the macbooks built in output into another amp and then into my headphones a bad plan? Obviously something like the LH Labs Geek Out would be a good idea , but as I said I'm broke so its not possible right now.
Thanks for the help, and sorry for the dumb questions. 
Sep 9, 2015 at 6:19 PM Post #2 of 2
You'll still get balanced output on your amp, but if you want the entire chain to be balanced, you'll need XLR cables and outputs for the DAC too. It may or may not make an audible difference, depending on how your equipment is designed.
I recommend setting the volume of everything but your amp to maximum, to control the volume with your amp.
I wouldn't worry about double amping in that scenario. In fact, right now I'm using a 3.5mm stereo plug / 2 RCA plug cable to connect my laptop to my speaker amp, which powers my STAX system.

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