Are ballanced connections better?

Jus wandering as i have the option to use between my pre and power amps instead of single ended?

Below 60-90cm single-ended may be preferrable. But it depends on the product as the internal design may vary, it is up to each product-designer. You simply have to try both.

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Balanced is better if both components are truly balanced. Some companies put XLR connections on but the gear isn’t actually balanced, in that case RCA’s may sound the same or better. All things being equal XLR’s are better. They are gas tight and there are no fitment issues since XLR’s are standardized in size


As a generalisation, unless the connections are very short, then if both pre and power have balanced connections (as opposed to just XLR), then balanced is likely to be better. That is particularly the case for long cables, e.g. if placing power amps beside the speakers with preamp elsewhere, such as if wishing to minimise speaker cable length.

Balanced have the added advantage that the snake oil brigade don’t seem yet to have seen it as a market worth trying to tap, perhaps because the bulk of the market is professional audio. For anyone competent with a soldering iron it is not difficult to assemble your own, with excellent XLRs like those from Neutrik not expensive, likewise the excellent wires from Mogami (though sometimes not the easiest to find to buy).


The distance between which single ended outperforms balanced is a matter of debate. I see 90cm quoted above. The manuals I’ve read tend to indicate 2-3m.

Worth remembering that as far as a circuit goes, single ended is a simpler signal path. Balanced entails a balanced circuit of some design at both ends of which method and quality vary greatly. If the product is on the cheaper side and has a balanced input or output, it’s single ended option will almost always be better.

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There can be no hard and fast rule as to length beyond which balanced is likely to be better as it depends of course on the electromagnetic fields through which the cables pass, and how good the shielding is (in respect of which price is no indication), and very possibly on the specific gear being connected.


Theres a thought my exposure shoe box amps at the speaker end.

Frees up some rack space and could save a small fortune in speaker cable!

I don’t think exposure apply the same min speaker cable length like Naim

So true, but for how much longer?


No, Naim is the only brand of which I am aware that uses the speaker cable to as part of the loading of the amplifier. In general apart from Naim, the shorter the speaker cable the better.

I suppose until they become aware of an increasing number of audio files using balanced cables, and hence a ripe market of People seemingly very willing to part with money given clever marketing promises

There is a little bit of info on another thread regarding XLRs. I think the expensive brigade are already making inroads. :thinking::thinking:

It will depend on the pre and power amp in question and how the connection, balanced or single-ended, has been engineered.

Balanced can be good or bad, whether fully balanced or pseudo balanced, but it is not automatically better than single-ended, which can likewise be good or not so good, depending on how it has been applied and engineered.

It’s worth reading Naim’s white paper on their own choice of impedance balanced connection in the latest New Classic kit. It can currently be downloaded from the Tom Tom Audio site and should be on the Naim site soon.


It is important to distinguish between XLRs, which are simply a (good) design of plug/socket, and balanced cables and their connections which most commonly are XLRs. I may be mistaken (@Richard.Dane ?), but I don’t think Naim’s use of XLRs, for the consumer market at least, is anything to do with balanced cables, Richard’s reference to balanced impedance being something different.

Fully balanced between pre and power in the New Classic range, IIUC, and according to the Naim white paper downloaded from Tom Tom…

I might not UC though!

“Fully electronically balanced inputs on pre-amps and power-amps”

Someone more knowledgeable needs to read it X)


Barring the professional studio NAB300 and NAP250PRO amps, Naim’s use of XLRs has traditionally been for single ended use. This changed though with the Statement amp (and continued with the New Classic range) where the connection between pre and power amps using Cannon XLRs is balanced.


Thsnks for the clarification @Richard.Dane @ @gthack

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Ditto thanks for additional clarification from @Richard.Dane and @gthack.

Just for clarity in the linked thread the topic is concentrating on the new classic range and whether or not people had tried more boutique XLR cables or not and what, if any, differences were noticed.

There have been premium high end balanced cables for a long time. Mark Levinson, Audio Research had their own specifically made for their equipment. Also AudioQuest, Cardas, Nordost, pretty much everyone does Balanced interconnects. I kind of feel bad for those that have to demean everything they don’t understand.


Balanced cables & connections using XLR connectors, are the ‘norm’ in professional audio, where long cable runs are often needed and noise is to be minimised.

Balanced Audio

XLR Connector

(information above from Wikipedia)

Your favourite band (*) - or orchestra - was undoubtedly recorded using balanced connections… :open_mouth:

(* - Electric Guitars are a problem as they do not - normally - have balanced outputs.
This is where a DI box comes in, if a direct connection is wanted, for recording.
Reports say that for Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog, Jimmy Page’s guitar was DI’ed, straight into the Mixing Desk. )

It would be most interesting where people have done blind comparisons - which is very easy to do given a willing accomplice, but surprisingly uncommon…