XLR balanced to 5-pin adapter cable?

Greetings from a New Member,

I have added a new RME ADI-2 DAC to our vintage 90’s Naim System and extremely pleased with the results so far but considering a tweak and not sure if it will work or not.

Currently using mid-range (for me) Audioquest Red River RCA cables from the DAC to the NAIT 3.

My first question is whether or not it is possible to change the connection from RCA to the balanced XLR outputs on the RME DAC by using a (2x) balanced XLR source to 5-pin DIN adapter cable to one of the available NAIT 3 DIN inputs ?

Might switching to XLRs from the RME further improve the sound ?

I am currently swapping RCA cables with a so-so ‘standby’ DAC that I keep with the Naim system and would rather use this as a permanent secondary DAC connected with the RRs.

I often ‘borrow’ the better RME DAC to use with the computer in my office and pair with Focal Alpha 50s (Balanced XLR) … but switching out the cables with the standby DAC back at the NAIM setup every time is a bit of a drag.

I assume this may need to be a custom cable (2x) XLR to 5-PIN DIN but not completely sure if this idea is an appropriate solution and don’t want to fry my equipment just flying solo on a ‘hunch’ that it might work. Admittedly a bit of a newbie with hybrid cable types - can’t seem to find any info about this specific configuration as 5-PIN connections are pretty rare these days)

Thanks for any advice !

~ dF

Both rca and din are single ended connections, so connecting to a balanced xlr is unlikely to yield an improvement.

Thank you for the feedback on sound quality - does anyone know if a (2x) balanced XLR output to a 5-pin DIN adapter cable for my NAIM Nait 3 integrated amp exists ?

Very unlikely.

Any connection going from balanced to single ended would be a bit of a kludge, so why would you even try to connect that way when you already have a single ended output available. The NAIM DIN input is single-ended so stick with that.

As said above most Naim NAC inputs are unbalanced, so called ‘single ended’, so if you have no choice from your source of using unbalanced outputs, then an option is to use a high quality balanced to unbalanced transformer from manufacturers like Canford. This correctly adjusts the balanced signals into a single unbalanced signal with the correct characteristics.
Canford devices are not cheap but are quality devices made for the professional audio industry.

Thank you all for your feedback - sounds like the simplest solution is to just leave my RME DAC in place with rca cabling and simply get another balanced dac to run my office w/ focal monitors and not worry about schlepping the rme unit back and forth.

Now I can forget about the ‘Y’ adapter cable idea and instead think about choosing my next dac !

Cheers !

RME already provided the optimal solution for you with the outputs labelled “unbalanced”. Also they say they provide 1 line output not 2. And if I remember they are DC-coupled outputs (no transformers) so beware of ground-loops.

Thanks Jan

This is the RME ADI-2 DAC FS and this model has both balanced & unbalanced outputs.

When I hooked up the dac remotely (away from the Naim setup) to the active Focal Alpha 50’s in my lower level studio commputer workstation the sound was definitely cleaner with XLR vs the RCA cables which were quite ‘hissy’ - enough to be distracting at nearfield monitor distance. Perhaps this was a ground loop in effect ? In this case anyway, the el cheapo $15 Balanced XLR cables definitely outperformed the $200 Unbalanced RCAs by a long shot.

This difference led me to my original question - wondering if it might be worth exploring a hypothetically cleaner sounding XLR hybrid connection from the RME to the Naim system in order to free up the single pair of rca inputs on the NAIT 3 integrated amp for a secondary dac that I could just leave connected at that location … but overwhelming advice (kindly offered) from members on the forum is to stick with unbalanced RCA lines into the NAIT3 and not overly complicate things.

So I will heed the sound advice offered & install the RME w/ RCAs with the Naim system and as a consolation, I’ll just need to pick another balanced DAC to keep me company in my studio (!)

The RME certainly has brought our much loved naim system from the early 90’s back to life - w/ MacOS + Audirvana 3.5.44 fed from a NAS system it really does sound good. Our poor old naim cd player doesn’t see much action these days of course.

Thanks Jan for the heads up on the ‘dc-coupling’ and I have highlighted that section in my manual for future reference.

I have a power conditioners installed at both hifi rack and studio, and with the RME ADI-2 DAC >>> RCA >>> NAIT 3 configured upstairs (at the Naim hifi location) there is not the same noticeable ‘hiss’ that there was downstairs with the active monitors and rca connections (same AQ RR cables) - so have hopefully avoided any glaring ground loop issues on that upper circuit where the RME DAC will now be kept.

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your goal, but it seems like you are not taking the correct aspect of the advice here?

You have two unbalanced inputs on your Nait 3 (RCA and DIN); you have two DACs with unbalanced (RCA) outputs that you wish to use. At present you are swapping the RCA - RCA cable to switch inputs, but wish to avoid this inconvenient hassle.

You would benefit from getting an RCA to DIN cable made, I think.

The distraction of the balanced XLR output available on the RME (and useful when you sent that directly to the balanced input on your Focal monitors) has led you somewhat astray - you asked about getting an adapter cable, but not the right one…

You can still achieve what you want, moving only the RME itself (and not the wiring connections) between your main system and your studio by using the unbalanced connection with the Naim and the balanced with the Focal. The improvement you heard with XLR vs RCA as inputs on the Focals is not a factor in what you can achieve with DIN vs RCA inputs on the Naim. You would then leave your ‘secondary’ DAC connected to the Nait3 via the existing RCA to RCA connection.

I think the confusion, per your phrasing on the advice given, is about your desire to use the balanced XLR out on the RME, rather than using its (unbalanced) RCA out going into the (available but unbalanced) DIN input on the Nait3. Hoping you can arrange to get the cable rather than scouting for another DAC, and apologies if it’s me who’s confused on the various options under discussion!! Enjoy your systems, lots of fun that RME DAC. I’ve used mine, with regular studio XLR cables, into a pair of active Dynaudio monitors… very useful and nice.

Regards alan


ps - I am assuming that the DIN and RCA inputs are separately available and selectable on the Nait3… if that’s wrong, then I’m an idiot and making a bad suggestion!!! Sorry, just realized a huge potential error on my part!

Thanks ‘Alan33’

Now this is exciting news !

Agree that I had headed off down the wrong road with the XLR route as you suggest - and your RCA >>> DIN cable suggestion really makes perfect sense.

I do have a Naim Tuner and a Naim CD connected to the NAIT 3 but that still leaves the ’Tape’ & ‘VCR’ selectors (DIN inputs 4 & 5) available.

I am hoping one of these will work with a custom RCA to 5-PIN DIN cable as you recommend - the back panel of the amp does not specify balanced or unbalanced. Would you (or another reader) perhaps be able to tell from attached photo if this will work ok ?

Thanks for the great idea & hope this works - it will sure save a lot of re-rigging hassle if it does.

I will comb through the Naim forum for RCA >>> DIN cable recommendations - any particular one that jumps to mind for this particular pairing ? Sky is definitely not the limit cost-wise :slight_smile:

DIns 4 and 5 also allow for output e.g. for tape recorders. Just dont connect those pins or use a DIN → 4 x RCA interconnect. Doesnt matter if you do, you’ll just have 2 extra RCA’s with nowhere to go.
Look for a standard Naim interconnect aka “lavender” (a reference to the slight purpleish hue of the grey cable) 2 x RCA → 5 pin DIN, or a Chord one.

This is the Naim “lavender” (this one has a 4 pin din but otherwise the 5 pin din version is identical).

To the right of the inputs, the wiring pin diagram is what you need. It is definitely not balanced, and there is a shared negative pin for the inputs. This will definitely work fine.

I see Robert has supplied the Naim cable info for you… but if you are a little bit handy (or anyone you know is) then you can easily make such a cable yourself with decent four-lead wire (Mogami is a popular brand) and the appropriate 5-pin DIN connector at one end (make a note of which colour you solder to which pin, and solder two wires to the pin marked -ve), then use two RCA connectors at the other end (the centre pin is +ve, the outer ring is -ve).

Be careful to note the wiring diagram doesn’t specify PIN numbers, but the convention (ie usually but not certainly) is to illustrate what you see - in this case the socket, and thus the same orientation as the “inside” of the male connector that you will be soldering to.

It’s not expensive to get good quality wire and connectors, so if cost is at all an issue, or if you just want to verify that it works as you hope, then you could be very pleased with the result of a home-made cable. I understand that there are quite a few custom companies (possibly including Witch Hat) that will make up these types of things as special order (make sure you give them that photo!) but I have no idea of price.

Really glad you have a cool path forward to explore. Take your time, be careful, practice if you are not experienced, and have fun!

Regards alan

Gentlemen - can’t thank you enough for the responses.

Exactly the sage advice I was hoping for on this forum and I know I will have fun tracking down (or customizing) such a cable.

I now that it’s a kooky situation & you’ve managed to save me a few costly missteps !

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