RCA or XLR to connect Atom HE to active speakers

Further research prior to getting my HE and PMC or ATC actives. This time I’m enquiring about the speaker connections.

For those with active speakers. What are your thoughts around the pros and cons of using the RCA or XLR preamp outputs. Which do you use and why?

Where there are properly balanced connections, I think the general recommendation is to use them, instead of RCA. This is especially the case for longer runs, such as loudspeaker connections.

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Hi @rhodsutton, thanks for your input.

I’m a novice when it comes to active speakers but I read elsewhere on this forum that ‘the pre-amp output is pseudo balanced i.e. balanced impedance. Great for long runs (for example, to active loudspeakers) and cancels noise pick up’.

In my case the cables will only be 2 or 3 meters so I wonder if any benefit of XLR will be negated.

I could compare XLR and RCA and probably will at some point but initially I plan to get either or.

Cheers Paul

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I don’t see any downside to using XLR if you have balanced inputs/outputs. By design, properly implemented balanced connections have superior noise rejection compared to unbalanced and this is particularly helpful for long cable runs. I use 4m XLR cables between my preamp and power amps but I can’t tell the difference between unbalanced and balanced connections in my room. Perhaps one might hear a difference if your electrical environment is noisier than mine.


At only 2 - 3 metres, the benefits of a balanced cable may not be noticeable. I had an HE and used the balanced outputs to my power amplifier. I had to buy a cable so, I thought, why not buy balanced.

I no longer have the HE, but you should refer to the user manual to get confirmation regarding whether or not the connect is balanced or pseudo balanced. I tried to do this on the Naim website but, following their recent website upgrade, I am no longer able to access any manuals. Another bug for Naim to resolve, no doubt.

This… :crazy_face:

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On my 272/XPSDR to ATC 40A I went from RCA/XLR to DIN/XLR (with the same cable) with a clear improvement, as soon as I have the 222 I will use XLR/XLR even over short distances.

I would try to use the same connector at each end. If your speakers have an XLR input then use the XLR output on the HE.

Hi @paulbysea, the speakers and the atom HE have both XLR and RCA inputs/outputs

I would use the XLR then.

XLR’s innit! :innocent:


When I had active speakers with my Atom HE I tried both RCA and XLR. The XLRs were noticeably more quiet compared to the RCA cable which added more hum and noise to the signal even if only noticeable. I would always go with XLR if you have that possibility as it is far less sensitive to these kind of problems, if at all.