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However, regarding XLR to RCA, as pointed out, it's not apples to apples unless using same brand and series.
Even if the Belden is highly thought of by some. You also have to consider who is promoting the Belden, its it the cheap crowd who wouldn't spend money on a good cable...
...or someone who actually owns a quality brand and thinks Belden is a comparative good value.
Actually, the Belden 8402 is highly regarded cable and supposed to outperform cables costing hundreds of dollars more. You can read more about these specific Belden cables and what many AC members think about them here...http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=144415.0
I agree with much of your conclusions, your exercise was good for showing you heard a difference in cables. However, regarding XLR to RCA, as pointed out, it's not apples to apples unless using same brand and series. Even if the Belden is highly thought of by some. You also have to consider who is promoting the Belden, its it the cheap crowd who wouldn't spend money on a good cable or someone who actually owns a quality brand and thinks Belden is a comparative good value.
The best way is to use very expensive transformers, and obviously this is almost never done inside a component. Usually, it is done in a far inferior way, often using very inexpensive opamps. So in this case the balanced signal is derived from a SE signal but it won't be of the same quality because it's gone through a bunch of cheap parts to arrive at it's current balanced state.
Not only this, but gear is designed to be primarily balanced or single ended. It is problematic to mix the two if you want best results, as there is no great way to convert between the two formats......one thing you can be sure of is comparing RCA to XLR outs in such a device is absolutely not comparing cables, or comparing formats in an "apples to apples" kind of comparison. Because of what I've described you really can't do a totally fair and balanced comparison...
Dave,Implementation is what counts. In my experience, the THAT1200, THAT1646 and a few other TI operational amplifiers are sonically transparent - and I have done these comparisons against some lofty transformers, such as Lundahl cobalt amorphous core, etc.... Excellent implementation and design from Neurochrome and AMB. These include:Neurochrome THAT ReceiverNeurochrome THAT DriverAMB Alpha 24Weiss OPOne should not generalize just based on cost. But I do agree, most 'commercial' designs use inferior design for the conversion of balanced to unbalanced. DIY'ers have an advantage in that we do not have to subscribe to commercial cost minimizing measures. High quality measurements can reveal these differences and it takes the ability to make these measurements (properly) to design these products! Best,Anand.
Okay, assuming that is true, considering how unfair the conditions were stacked against the unbalanced TEO cables, it makes them all the more remarkable. I have a fully balanced system, which as you suggest would be very much advantageous to the balanced cables, and yet the unbalanced TEO's sounded superior to balanced Belden cables in the context of a fully balanced system.
In a high end system (assuming all component choices are between high-performing components) I'd go so far as to say they can be more important than component choices. Especially IC cables. There is no way to get back the loss of resolution a great majority of IC cables produce.
Generally, a component is either designed to be balanced or single ended and sounds best that way despite the fact it may have both XLR and RCA jacks. So, comparisons between RCA and XLR cables are generally not an apples to apples comparison, and probably depends on other factors besides the cable type.
....I wasn’t sure which cable would offer the most musical satisfaction; good arguments could be made for both and frankly that’s why I decided to buy both of them. I should also point out that my amps only have one input – and it’s XLR. As much as I love my mono-blocks, this limitation is something of disappointment that I have come to terms with. As a work around I use an RCA to XLR adapter. This adapter is a 2” thick chunk of metal that fits between the end of the cable and the back of the amp. Yikes! That can’t be good. What effect will these adapters have on the sound? ....The associated gear used in this test:• Nuprime DAC-10• DAC Maraschino King Cherry mono-blocks amplifiers• Spatial M3 Turbo S open baffle loudspeakers• Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme Speaker Cables
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