RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?

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dburna

I have a desktop setup with an RCA source (iFi DAC) feeding a pair of Neumann KH120 active monitors. I had a pair of cheap-o Monoprice RCA-to-XLR cables in between, but things really improved when I replaced that with a (much) better RCA cable feeding a pair of Hosa RCA-to-XLR adapters. Lately, I have been wondering if I could improve things further by replacing the Hosa adapters with something better.

Main question is: is it worth springing for the Cardas RCA-to-XLR adapters (the regular ones, not the more expensive Clear) variants? Are they really significantly better? And, if so, does anyone have any recommendations for any other adapters that would be Meisterbrau equivalents (read: as-good or almost as the Cardas but less expensive). Mainly I'm trying to figure out how far up the food chain to go with adapters to get great bang-for-buck sound without buying/trying half-a-dozen different variants. If I'm going to move up from the Hosa, I'd like to get one (better) set and forget it from there.

Thanks in advance for your help,  -dGB

Elizabeth

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #1 on: 10 Dec 2018, 03:59 pm »
What quality of interconnect cable are you using? If this is a permanent setup, you could make a RCA out to XLR in cable. Or have one made by Cardas or Kimber. Say you are using Kimber PBJ IC. or Hero IC. it would be very easy to take off the end RCA and replace it with a XLR.
Some types of IC wires are way easier to turn into a RCA to XLR cable.
You could even buy ONE used single IC and cut it in half and make it a pair of IC with the RCA to XLR.
I have made such cables in the past.

As for the quality adapters.. They will last a lifetime. fifty years from now they will still be a good choice. If you go with good adapters..



DaveC113

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #2 on: 10 Dec 2018, 04:06 pm »
If it's more or less permanent an XLR > RCA cable is the way to go short of a trafo-based conversion system... Jensen sells decent SE > BAL converters, which is the best way to go imo.

For adapters Cardas clear will be good, others IDK. I'm not a fan of non-clear Cardas. ;)






dburna

Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #3 on: 10 Dec 2018, 04:10 pm »
What quality of interconnect cable are you using? If this is a permanent setup, you could make a RCA out to XLR in cable. Or have one made by Cardas or Kimber. Say you are using Kimber PBJ IC. or Hero IC. it would be very easy to take off the end RCA and replace it with a XLR.
Some types of IC wires are way easier to turn into a RCA to XLR cable.
You could even buy ONE used single IC and cut it in half and make it a pair of IC with the RCA to XLR.
I have made such cables in the past.

As for the quality adapters.. They will last a lifetime. fifty years from now they will still be a good choice. If you go with good adapters..

I am using a Stealth Audio PGS Gold RCA cable. It's a few years old now, but I have found it to be pretty darn good. A "minor" step up from Monoprice.  :lol: So yes, the cable is mighty fine, and definitely not the weak link here. I could go with a purpose-built cable, but that would probably be a semi-large investment, and I have this great PGS cable sitting around doing nothing so it was a no-brainer for me to use it. If I did decide to upgrade the cable, then I might opt for upgrading the source first to something that had an XLR out.

So with a very good RCA cable in place, what RCA-to-XLR adapter would you recommend? Should it be Cardas-or-bust, with nothing in between? Or should I consider something like a Neutrik instead? I have had very little experience with RCA-to-XLR adapters, so I really don't know the marketplace (or the relative performance of each) well.

Thanks, -dGB

DaveC113

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #4 on: 10 Dec 2018, 04:19 pm »
Most high end DACs use balanced chips these days, so XLR is the preferred output. If you're considering a DAC upgrade I wouldn't spend any money on anything until you do that.

dburna

Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #5 on: 10 Dec 2018, 04:25 pm »
Most high end DACs use balanced chips these days, so XLR is the preferred output. If you're considering a DAC upgrade I wouldn't spend any money on anything until you do that.

No, probably not going to upgrade the DAC any time soon. Would most likely make improvements to my main rig first. I was just saying that I would probably upgrade the DAC before I would put big money into an RCA-to-XLR cable. Really, I am selling the Stealth RCA cable short -- it really is excellent. I am not sure I would swap that out for a (most likely) lateral at best cable. Right now, it seems like the Hosa adapter is the weak link.

-dGB

mick wolfe

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #6 on: 10 Dec 2018, 04:28 pm »
BAT also makes RCA-XLR adapters. Same price range as Cardas I believe....roughly $150.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #7 on: 10 Dec 2018, 04:31 pm »
I have a desktop setup with an RCA source (iFi DAC) feeding a pair of Neumann KH120 active monitors. I had a pair of cheap-o Monoprice RCA-to-XLR cables in between, but things really improved when I replaced that with a (much) better RCA cable feeding a pair of Hosa RCA-to-XLR adapters. Lately, I have been wondering if I could improve things further by replacing the Hosa adapters with something better.

Main question is: is it worth springing for the Cardas RCA-to-XLR adapters (the regular ones, not the more expensive Clear) variants? Are they really significantly better? And, if so, does anyone have any recommendations for any other adapters that would be Meisterbrau equivalents (read: as-good or almost as the Cardas but less expensive). Mainly I'm trying to figure out how far up the food chain to go with adapters to get great bang-for-buck sound without buying/trying half-a-dozen different variants. If I'm going to move up from the Hosa, I'd like to get one (better) set and forget it from there.

Thanks in advance for your help,  -dGB


Hi, I use to use XLR adapters when I first got my BAT preamp, Luxman DAC and Pass amp.  I bought the expensive Cardas adapters and 2 pair of cheap adapters.  I heard no difference at all. And my system is sensitive to cable changes.  My advice, save your money.

If you want a little better adapters as opposed to the cheap $16 ones, take a look at these gold plated-

https://www.moon-audio.com/moon-audio-rca-xlr-adapters.html

By the way, some companies make cables with an RCA on one end and an XLR on the other end.  Blue Jeans cables does on request.  You just need to call them. 

Here is a benchmark cable-

https://benchmarkmedia.com/products/benchmark-rca-to-xlrm-adapter-cable

https://www.amazon.com/Mogami-GOLD-XLRM-RCA-06-Unbalanced-Connectors/dp/B001LNN2GE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1544460086&sr=8-3&keywords=mogami+rca+to+xlr


dburna

Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #8 on: 10 Dec 2018, 04:48 pm »

Hi, I use to use XLR adapters when I first got my BAT preamp, Luxman DAC and Pass amp.  I bought the expensive Cardas adapters and 2 pair of cheap adapters.  I heard no difference at all. And my system is sensitive to cable changes.  My advice, save your money.


Thank you, sir. This is just the kind of real-world (A-B testing) experience for which I was looking. If you can't tell a difference in a system that good, I doubt I would hear a difference in mine.

Best regards, -dGB

sonicxtc

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #9 on: 10 Dec 2018, 06:06 pm »
I don't know if I should start a separate thread, but....I'm seeking "true" balanced to RCA adapters.

To run my system properly, I need to run two sets of cables: one to feed the MAIN amp and one to feed plate amps for sub-woofers.

I have a Mivera amp that should have had both RCA and XLR, but unfortunately was shipped with just RCA. My Comet Exogal serves as dac AND pre-amp and the Comet has BOTH RCA and XLR outputs. Previously, I could send the Comet's XLR output directly to my NCore amplifiers (XLR inputs) and send the Comet's RCA outputs directly to plate amplifiers [RCA inputs only] which run the sub-woofers using long RCA/RCA interconnects. That worked perfectly

HOWEVER, now I can only run the Comet's RCA outputs TO the Mivera's RCA inputs.
I TRIED to run the Comet's XLR outputs to the plate amps by using Comet's XLR outputs with "balanced" adapters [XLR to RCA] and it simply does note work. There is literally no sound. I checked the configuration. I emailed Exogal (Comet) and was told that the CONCEPT should work, but I MAY need TRUE balanced adapters.

Does anyone know what might solve this problem?
Can anyone recommend a proper XLR to RCA adapter that might resolve this issue?

FWIW, the adapter I used is a Hosa Technology "GXF-132 RCA to XLR3F"

Thank you for your feedback.

Elizabeth

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #10 on: 10 Dec 2018, 06:12 pm »
Sonicxtc you should start a new thread. This thread is not about the sort of condition you have.
I would think you need a pair of transformers... think  $$$

DaveC113

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #11 on: 10 Dec 2018, 06:27 pm »
I don't know if I should start a separate thread, but....I'm seeking "true" balanced to RCA adapters.

To run my system properly, I need to run two sets of cables: one to feed the MAIN amp and one to feed plate amps for sub-woofers.

I have a Mivera amp that should have had both RCA and XLR, but unfortunately was shipped with just RCA. My Comet Exogal serves as dac AND pre-amp and the Comet has BOTH RCA and XLR outputs. Previously, I could send the Comet's XLR output directly to my NCore amplifiers (XLR inputs) and send the Comet's RCA outputs directly to plate amplifiers [RCA inputs only] which run the sub-woofers using long RCA/RCA interconnects. That worked perfectly

HOWEVER, now I can only run the Comet's RCA outputs TO the Mivera's RCA inputs.
I TRIED to run the Comet's XLR outputs to the plate amps by using Comet's XLR outputs with "balanced" adapters [XLR to RCA] and it simply does note work. There is literally no sound. I checked the configuration. I emailed Exogal (Comet) and was told that the CONCEPT should work, but I MAY need TRUE balanced adapters.

Does anyone know what might solve this problem?
Can anyone recommend a proper XLR to RCA adapter that might resolve this issue?

FWIW, the adapter I used is a Hosa Technology "GXF-132 RCA to XLR3F"

Thank you for your feedback.


Simplest solution is to install XLR ins on the amp.

maxima95

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #12 on: 10 Dec 2018, 09:04 pm »
Mivera has separate XLR and RCA wiring harnesses with the requisite connectors. 

Of course you have to open up the amp, but the changeover is not that bad.

JackD

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #13 on: 11 Dec 2018, 01:36 am »
Agree, just contact Mike and get the XLR harness and make the swap.  Probably a ten minute job and cheaper and easier than what you are proposing.  If you do decide to by adaptors just buy the Neutrik ones from a pro audio store like Full Compass.  Like Larry said the "name" brands are no different just expensive. The Neutrik's will cost about $25 for the pair.

Early B.

Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #14 on: 11 Dec 2018, 02:24 am »
I bought the expensive Cardas adapters and 2 pair of cheap adapters.  I heard no difference at all. And my system is sensitive to cable changes.  My advice, save your money.

Same here. I have a set of the most expensive Cardas adapters you can buy. They're no better than the "high end" ebay adapters you can get for $30 a pair from China. A Neutrik connector is all you need. Spend a bit more for the rhodium version if it makes you feel better. 

sonicxtc

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #15 on: 12 Dec 2018, 12:37 pm »
Thank you to DaveC113, JackD, Maxima and EarlyB and Elizabeth (and anyone I missed).

Yes, it would seem that swapping the Mivera board makes sense to allow for direct XLR connection.*
And, yes if I go with XLR adapters, then I'll aim for "good enough" quality because they will only be feeding the sub-woofer (Hawthorne Augies) plate amps. I'm still not sure WHY I have no sound at all using the current pair of XLR adapters.

*The main reason I wanted to find a workable XLR adapter for THIS situation is that I wanted to use Dave's Zenwave D4 RCA interconnect.


barrows

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #16 on: 12 Dec 2018, 04:58 pm »
Best option will be a cable terminated directly with RCA at the source end and XLR at the destination end.  Adapters just add extra connections and noise.  There are quite a few cable companies which would be happy to make such a custom cable.  Alternatively, anyone with some soldering skills could re-terminate any XLR cable with an RCA plug at the source end.

Meicheng

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Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #17 on: 12 Dec 2018, 11:07 pm »
You can buy rca to xlr cables from Monoprice.  They are quite inexpensive but work fine.  Using a set myself between my IceEdge amp and Nuprime preamp. 

Early B.

Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #18 on: 13 Dec 2018, 12:05 am »
Side note --

XLR cables are typically more expensive than their RCA counterparts. If one's budget doesn't allow for the XLR equivalent, I'd suggest using adapters on RCA cables. While I don't doubt that sonic differences exist with vs. without XLR/RCA adapters, I just haven't heard it in my system, and I've been going back and forth with using adapters for many years.

 

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: RCA-to XLR Adapters - are there significant differences?
« Reply #19 on: 13 Dec 2018, 12:35 am »
Agree, if you are going to buy XLR adapters then might as well get an RCA-XLR cable, unless you like your current RCA cables.  Although I seriously don't think you will hear a difference using the adapters.

I am thinking about getting a Don Sachs preamp to replace my BAT but I want to keep my XLR cables, so I may be using an XLR adapter in reverse to connect to the new preamp as it is single ended.

https://benchmarkmedia.com/products/benchmark-rca-to-xlrm-adapter-cable