What's the advantage of balanced outputs?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Doug_Z, Nov 30, 2002.

  1. Doug_Z

    Doug_Z Agent

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    I am considering buying 3 powered M&K 150P's for my front 3.The salesman tells me if I do I really need to buy a pre/pro with balanced outputs and plug the 3 fronts into the balanced outputs. I would then buy a separate 4 channel amp which would also be plugged into a pre/pro balanced output and it would power 4 side/rear non powered SS-150's.

    My question is what is the advantage of the balanced(XLR) as opposed to unbalanced RCA outputs? I was going to buy the B&K 507 receiver until the salesman told me this would not work. I am now leaning toward the B&K 50 because of the balanced outputs(and upgradability)

    The other option is to go with the 507 receiver and non powered speakers but I am worried about powering 7, 4 ohm speakers with a receiver(even the B&K). Sorry for the probably basic question, to a lot of you, but I can't find the answer(re balanced outputs)anywhere. Thank you. Doug
     
  2. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    Balanced Outputs are beneficial for long cable runs. If you are using the Ref50 as the hub of your house's HT, and are using multiple zones say for a bedroom upstairs with long cable runs between the processor and amplifier, then balanced cables will give you lower noise and a better signal transfer than using RCA type cabling. For short runs, say 10 feet or less, there is a general consensus that balanced cabling won't offer much if any improvement in the sound.
     
  3. Doug_Z

    Doug_Z Agent

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    WOW....I was NOT going to use the cables for a long run or for multiple zones. I was only going to use them to plug into the 3 front powered M&K 150P's. I was also going to plug the The 4 channel amp which would drive my 4 non powered rears. The salesman was trying to convince me that with powered speakers you will not get full benefit unless you plug then into balanced outputs on a pre/pro. Do most of you agree with Evan that the salesman is wrong and I could go with the B&K receiver? Thanks again. It's great to be able to take advantage of the vast knowledge out there.
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    don't see too many people buying powered speakers but those that do in professional applications typically run balanced setups bypassing the rca's. out of curiousity, what is it that pointed you this way. myself, i've nothing against that approach. have you considered contacting m&k to see what their position is?
     
  5. Doug_Z

    Doug_Z Agent

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    I have contacted M&K and asked several questions but not one regarding balanced outputs and the powered speakers. The reason I am leaning toward the powered M&K fronts is because I have heard both the powered and non powered S-150's and the powered ones sound much more dynamic and detailed to me.

    Also those who have reviewed the speakers say that the 4 ohm M&K's are perfectly matched with the internal 180 watt amp. They are biamped. Of course the reviewers are not always correct and I have not listened to both side by side. One store had the non powered ones playing Attack of the Clones and powered by the Pioneer 49txi.The other store had the powered ones plugged into the Rotel 1066 pre/pro and the rears driven by a 4 channel Rotel amp. Attack of the Clones was also playing there.

    So............Chu.........your implication that I may be over doing it by going with powered speakers may have merit.I know Pioneer is not known for it's strong amp section.Looking back it may be if the non powered M&K's (they are exactly the same speaker,but no bi-amplification)were driven by an equally strong Amp the non powered ones would have sounded just as dynamic and detailed.But the B&K 507 is probably the receiver I would go with and I just can't imagine it could deliver the same powerful (almost religious) experience.

    I would really be interested in Chu's and other reaction to my experience. Have others had similar experiences with powered speakers or am I off base,for HT purposes only. I could also go with the b&k 50 with their 7 channel amp ? Thanks for your expertise. By the way Chu were saying balanced inputs would or wouldn't make a difference in sound quality. Doug
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    First let me say I'm not about to question your particular choice in speakers. If M&K is what does it for you, and the powered ones made it work, then that's the way it should be. As always, I urge people to evaluate the speakers in their own homes and to seek out a place that has a consumer friendly return policy. I have no idea if you're 'overdoing it', but being as the speakers have an XLR input and thinking to myself, that perhaps there might come a time when i just might be increasing the distances, then I'd be seriously considering the merits of a pre that did balanced outputs.
    As far as balanced outputs making a difference in sound, I'd say no but I'd temper that by pointing out their superior immunity to interference as the distances increase. Keep in mind though that I'd fully expect the powered and non powered speakers to sound different from each other but that's not because of the balanced wire, its because one set of speaker is powered and one isn't.
     
  7. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    Doug,
    Evan is right. Balanced cables offer improved noise immunity over long runs. When I bought my pre-pro, I had the choice of balanced or single ended. Since all my equipment is in a rack... and the balanced option was an additional $1K, I decided to go single ended.

    Chu also makes a good point, though, that powered speakers may end up a long way from the preamp. That might be a good reason to go for balanced.

    As far as powered speakers... if you like the way they sound, go for it. There are definite advantages to active speakers: exact match of amp to driver, elimination of passive filter insertion losses, increased output capability from bi-amplification, etc.
     

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