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Amp Balanced Inputs

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Evan S, Dec 4, 2001.

  1. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    OK, total moron question.

    Auditioning the Anthem MCA 5 Amp...heard many great things. Upon reading some product literature it says that the amp can handle both RCA and Balanced inputs.

    What exactly are balanced inputs and how do they differ from the sound? What benefits can I expect from this and do I need a special Pre/Pro to handle this kind of connection?

    Thanks.

    -Evan
     
  2. keith fox

    keith fox Agent

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    Evan,
    You are on the right track. Balanced connection require a receiver or pre-pro with balanced outputs. (I am not aware of any receivers with balanced connections)
    Think of them like the difference in video connections, composite on the bottom, s-video in the middle, and component on top.
    Similarly Balanced connections can enhance the sound aspect of your HT system.
    Try demoing the MCA5 with the Anthem AVM2 or AVM-20. Have the demo person switch between balanced and unbalanced connections and have a listen for yourself [​IMG]
    Keith
     
  3. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Moderator

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    Evan,

    Balanced audio signals are a different protocol from the unbalanced signals normally used in consumer equipment.

    Briefly, with unbalanced signals the signal (-) is connected to the cable’s shield and thus to the chassis of the components at both ends. Balanced signals have a separate, independent lead for the signal (-) that is not attached to the shield or the equipment chassis.

    Without going into a lot of technical detail, the advantage of balanced signals is superior noise rejection over long distance. As such, they are used extensively in pro-audio applications, where signal runs are often over 100ft. However, for the short signal paths of residential applications, balanced signals are not needed, but they do offer the advantage of high-quality XLR connectors, which are far superior to RCAs in construction and durability.

    For some reason you only see balanced connections on high-end home audio gear. Some people think balanced signals sound better; but it involves added internal circuitry – which is usually something high-end proponents don’t like – curious, huh?

    Unfortunately, a balanced signal path requires that equipment at both ends support the protocol. So in order to take advantage of the Anthem’s capabilities, you will need a pro-amp with balanced outputs, as Keith mentioned.

    Happy Holidays,

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  4. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    Thanks guys. Seeing as I won't be able to afford Anthem's Pre/Pro right now and will probably have to settle on the Outlaw 950 when it comes out, I probably won't use the feature anyway, but here's another question.

    If I did go that route, where could I get the XLR connection cables? Are they marketed at places like Bettercables.com or do I really have to search for a connector of this type? How expensive are they also?

    Thanks again.

    -Evan
     
  5. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    I’m sure a cable outlet can sell you really high-priced balanced cables, Evan. However, if you want something more down-to-earth, just get some so-called mic cables at a pro audio or guitar shop.

    Radio Shack also sells mic cables, but the connectors are rather cheap. However, this is more of an issue for high-abuse stage applications than home use. The problem with mic cables, though, is they usually come in long lengths. You will have a better chance of finding some short ones at the pro audio or guitar shops than Radio Shack.

    As for price, you should be able to get some decent short cables (between 2-4 ft.) with high-quality Switchcraft or Neutrik connectors for under $10 each.

    Happy Holidays,

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  6. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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    Evan,

    Balanced cables are not necessary IMO, especially for short distances.

    How did you like the MCA5? I have not seen anyone carrying Anthem around here. I am told MCA3 and MCA2 would make a better combo, but of course it doubles rack space and icreases cost. Could you tell any difference in dynamics and power reserve between them? Also, how is the pricing with your dealer.

    Gil
     
  7. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    I really liked the Anthem...the dealer only had the MCA 5 set up so I couldn't compare with the MCA 3 or 2. The sound was neutral, not overly warm or bright...sounded like a great amp in the $1000-$1500 range.

    As for pricing, my dealer is quoting me full retail ($1500), but I haven't seriously started negotiations. An acquaintance of mine was able to get this dealer down to $1150 for the same amp, but that was at a once a year markdown sale. I think I can get him to go to $1300 easy.

    Plus, this amp sounds great with the Paradigm Studio 40's I'm considering.

    You know that Anthem is made by Sonic Frontiers, the same company that makes Paradigm right? You are in Boston, a quick ride over the Canadian Border to Montreal could get you the Anthem real cheap due to the exchange rate right now. That maybe the way I go for both the Amp and the speakers.

    -Ev
     

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