To XLR or not to XLR, that is the question!

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by BarryL, Nov 13, 2003.

  1. BarryL

    BarryL Auditioning

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    I have a new B&K Ref 50 preamp and a B&K 200.7 Amp. I can either used balanced XLR connectors or standard unbalanced RCA interconnects.

    1. What is benefit (if any) of using XLR balanced connections?

    2. I can get a decent grade 1 foot XLR connector which is essentially a microphone cable. Is a microphone cable what we are talking about?

    Thanks,
    Riprazor
     
  2. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    The main benefit of balanced cabling in noise rejection (esp over long distances). I find the locking aspect of XLR connections to be an added bonus, but certainly not one I'd consider performance specific...

    You can simply buy microphone cables, yes. I would recommend cables built from Mogami or High-End Belkin Cable (or the Canare Quad stuff is also good) and name brand connectors like Neutrik, Higher End Whirlwind or Switchcraft.

    Sometimes it's good to build or have these cables built- just so you know what quality components are going into the construction.

    -Vince
     
  3. BarryL

    BarryL Auditioning

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    Thanks much Vince!
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    1) It's not so much the cable or the connections per se, it's that you've got (presumably) balanced circuitry at both ends that provides a benefit. Rather than have one line signal, you've got two although they're of opposite polarity. Numerical benefits are seen in a couple of areas. First, there is a reduction in hiss of approximately 3dB by virtue that it's balanced. Secondly there is an enormous reduction in noise pickup of 40 dB or more.

    2) It can be, yes. Inexpensive sources of XLR connections abound and ready sources can be found at places like Guitar Center (they're all over the country, like Burger King). Some time back I recall someone posting a link for what appeared to be pretty inexpensive cables. If I can locate it, I'll repost it.

    An additional benefit of XLR is that the connector and connection itself is much more robust than RCA's.

    So will you realize an audible benefit? That really depends if you've got audible noise to begin with or exteranlly generated fields that are inducing noise in your RCA's. Generally, XLR's have their greatest utility in very long distances. Seeing as you've got it, regardless if there's an audible benefit or not, I'd use it. It seems to me the prudent thing to do.
     
  5. BarryL

    BarryL Auditioning

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    Again thanks to all for the post. At some point I may need to remove the amp from the rack to make space at which point the fact that the XLR's do not degrade the signal is good to know.

    Barry
     
  6. DennisF

    DennisF Extra

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    I've had to do this. The amps are in the basement, hung from the joists in a rack directly below the audio stack. Even so close, I've had to use 4m connects. There is audible noise when the system is quiescent. Unfortunately I don't have the balanced connects. If I did, you can bet I'd use them.
     
  7. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    If the noise is originating between the preamp and amp there's a few things you can do.

    First, you should take a look to see if you've got external sources of generated hum. Things like dimmers, walwarts, halogens, fluorescents, etc. come to mind. I'd simply remove the potentially offending devices or turn them off and listen to what happens. Also a ground loop as a result of your cable are potential sources. Simply disconnect them totally from your system.

    Second you could try a better shielded interconnect but if that doesn't work you might be out the money.

    Thirdly, I rarely ever recommend a particular product however worth very serious consideration is a product called the EbTech Hum Eliminator. It sits as an interface between your amp and preamp and acts as a quasi-XLR interface. Basically you connect your cables into one end and then another set of cables goes into your amp. You can find it at Guitar Center (check your yellow pages or online for the location of one nearest you). They do dicker on price and if it doesn't work, you can return it and get your money back. An individual on this forum who had hum induced by a refrigerator successfully used the product and got a spectacularly quiet background.
     

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