RCA to XLR help needed.

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
The more I've searched for answers the more confused I become so hoping you knowledgeable chaps can set me straight.

I've recently changed processors and currently only have RCA out available, which I would like to try running to the XLR inputs on my Nakamichi AVP1. I thought this would be as straight forward as buying either RCA-XLR cables or buying XLR/RCA adaptors to plug in to the back of the power amp. The more I looked into it, the more I found discussion about which pin's should/shouldn't be connected to which, pseudo balanced cables, ground problems etc that made me wonder if this is more complicated than I had first thought.

So for RCA pre out to XLR in on power amp, can/should I just buy some of these (see link) and connect to my existing RCA cables or is there a better way to go about it?


Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
Just be aware emotiva have different XLR pin layout to other brands, and being emotiva is made by tonewinner and tonewinner make nakamichi it's possible yours could be the same.

I have some rca-xlr cables I guess don't need then anymore could sell them. I've got four
 

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rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
There may be gain differences between the two inputs. I noticed using rca-xlr reduced background hiss as RCA is 31db gain and XLR is 28db but I have different brand of amp
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
The xlr inputs will not offer any sonic advantage over the unbalanced rca if you are running an unbalanced signal into them.

If you do want to try the balanced input, you can connect to pin 2 for signal and pin 1 for earth. This might be the inverted input, but as absolute phase cannot be heard, this really doesn't matter.
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
The xlr inputs will not offer any sonic advantage over the unbalanced rca if you are running an unbalanced signal into them.

If you do want to try the balanced input, you can connect to pin 2 for signal and pin 1 for earth. This might be the inverted input, but as absolute phase cannot be heard, this really doesn't matter.

I see...or at least I think I do. So you are saying there would be no benefit so I may as will just use the RCA inputs instead? And if I did want to try the XLR inputs I need some sort of custom made cable and not off the shelf RCA-XLR cables or adapters?
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
On most consumer equipment fitted with XLR inputs, the sensitivity will be the same for both the balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) inputs. In many cases, the unbalanced input is simply connected to the "Hot" input of the differential amplifier or line buffer and the "Cold" input will be pulled down to zero by a pull down resistor.

Standard wiring for an XLR is Pin 1: Signal ground - normally connected at the receiving end only to avoid earth loops, Pin 2: "Hot" or positive phase signal, Pin 3: "Cold" or negative phase signal. An old American standard had the positive and negative lines swapped, so pin 3 became the "Hot", but practically, this makes no difference, provided everything in the system is wired the same.

In a balanced differential line system, the "Cold" signal is a mirror image of the "Hot" signal. The reason for this is that any interference on the signal transmission between the sending and receiving equipment will affect both the positive and negative signals by an equal amount and be nulled out, as the "Cold" signal is phase inverted by the input differential amplifier.

A balanced input of the same sensitivity as the unbalanced will be louder, as you have effectively double the signal going into it, so when these are summed by the input amplifier, you get the reported 3db signal increase. Depending upon how the sending equipment creates the balanced signal, this can slightly improve the signal to noise ratio, but this is not always the case.

You won't need any special cables to run from the rca output to the balanced input. Some might have the ground and "Cold" pins connected together, but this was really only a requirement with transformer balanced inputs, which this amplifier doesn't have. If the amplifier has Hot and Cold reversed, your amplifier will operate out of phase, which cannot be heard, unless you have another amplifier in the system which is not phase reversed. The human ear cannot determine absolute phase, only the effects of 2 sources which are phase reversed in relation to each other - ie: speakers wired out of phase to each other, causing loss of bass and strange phasing effects at higher frequencies.

Tldr: Balanced inputs don't make a lot of sense on consumer equipment where connection lengths are less than 3m or so. They are useful for reducing hum loops and electrical interference in balanced configuration, but make very little difference sonically, if at all when connected in an unbalanced configuration.
 

orange55

Well-known Member
The more I've searched for answers the more confused I become so hoping you knowledgeable chaps can set me straight.

I've recently changed processors and currently only have RCA out available, which I would like to try running to the XLR inputs on my Nakamichi AVP1. I thought this would be as straight forward as buying either RCA-XLR cables or buying XLR/RCA adaptors to plug in to the back of the power amp. The more I looked into it, the more I found discussion about which pin's should/shouldn't be connected to which, pseudo balanced cables, ground problems etc that made me wonder if this is more complicated than I had first thought.

So for RCA pre out to XLR in on power amp, can/should I just buy some of these (see link) and connect to my existing RCA cables or is there a better way to go about it?


Thanks in advance for any advice.
I use these with no issue. Avoid the cheaper ones.

You can see my kit list in my signature and they don’t impact the quality of the sound.


 

dracthelad

Active Member
Just been setting up my new (to me) Lyngdorf MP50 processor and want to connect my sub to it. I have an existing RCA cable buried in the wall but the Lyngdorf output is Xlr. Is one of the above adapters but female Xlr to female RCA the answer so I can just plug my existing RCA cable into it? I’ve read about different voltages and balanced/unbalanced etc and that you can even damage equipment in some cases, so I’m a little worried considering the cost of the equipment involved.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
The adapter will be fine. Any difference in output level will be correctable using the gain control on the sub.

Very little to worry about, unless you end up with a hum loop or interference, but if the signal was clean with your previous equipment, there's no reason it won't be with the new processor.
 

dracthelad

Active Member
Thanks for that, I’ll give it a try.
 

IWC Dopplel

Distinguished Member
Unless you are fully balanced then better to stick with RCA usually

The signal is a referenced to ground with RCA, -ve to +ve with Balanced

Not many set ups are fully balanced. Personally I think balanced is more about long runs for recording studios. Seems to be seen as a badge to high end so a lot fit pseudo balanced connections. In my experience balanced does not sound any better even when fully balanced
 

IWC Dopplel

Distinguished Member

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Modern, electronically balanced outputs should be connected to the hot and ground, with the cold connection left unterminated. Transformer balanced outputs need the cold side shorting to ground to provide a reference. I doubt if any current equipment uses transformer balancing, unless it requires galvanic isolation - such as outside broadcast vans or recording splits in analogue multicore systems.

If you are connecting an unbalanced source to a balanced input, just connect to hot and ground and either ignore the cold connection or terminate it with a 100 Ohm resistor.

You do not need or want to use any form of transformer coupling if you can help it. It can introduce distortion, phase shift and limit the dynamic range. Use them only to cure hum loops or induced noise.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Normally it is much better to use a balun to convert between unbalanced and balanced, and I've never heard of the issues noiseboy72 raises, except when not using a balun, i.e. the opposite case

Accordingly, Trinnov's recommendation (post #12) can only be confirmed. With Trinnov recommending this specific balun, and given that it's only a fraction of the cost of anything I've encountered, I would suggest that you do as Trinnov recommend.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Normally it is much better to use a balun to convert between unbalanced and balanced, and I've never heard of the issues noiseboy72 raises, except when not using a balun, i.e. the opposite case

Accordingly, Trinnov's recommendation (post #12) can only be confirmed. With Trinnov recommending this specific balun, and given that it's only a fraction of the cost of anything I've encountered, I would suggest that you do as
Sorry, I disagree. You are adding in an inherently lossy component - the transformer when one is not required. The cold signal is simply a mirror image of the hot signal and contains nothing more in terms of signal, so you can simply disregard it.

With all modern equipment using differential amplifier fed balanced outputs, a transformer will have an effect on the sound and this is likely to be detrimental.

Even with the incredibly rare transformer fed outputs, it was only necessary to short the cold to ground, as otherwise there was no reference point, as the signal was full floating. This is not the case with electronic balanced outputs.

Unfortunately there's a lot of misinformation out there regarding balanced and unbalanced signals, much of it put about by the manufacturers themselves. The advantages of balanced where short signal runs and low levels of electromagnetic interference are likely to be encountered are tenuous at best.
 

Doubleroll

Active Member
I posted this in the Lyngdorf MP-40 thread a while back in regards to I using xlr-rca cables or adapters:
My 3x Linn amps are all unbalanced and with the proper xlr-rca adapters or cables work perfectly as expected. You can make them yourself or purchase pre-made...Just need to make sure on either that pin 3 is lifted as per Lyngdorf guide:

Note: Differential balanced output connection means that PIN 1 is Shield/Ground, PIN2 holds audio signal and PIN 3 holds an inverted audio signal. If your power amplifier requires a single ended (RCA) connection, you must ensure that the PIN 3 is disconnected (lifted). PIN 3 in the MP-40 connector may not be connected to ground.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Unfortunately there's a lot of misinformation out there regarding balanced and unbalanced signals
This is indeed the case. Specifically the confusion between balance signalling and differential signalling. I did note that you (correctly) write "balanced differential line system".

Balanced signalling is about rejection of interference. If you're simply going to not connect the cold signal, you gain nothing by using a balanced connection and might just as well use an RCA lead.

Differential signalling has no effect on noise rejection, its main usage is to to meet low voltage requirements. Impedance / capacitance considerations are irrelevant at audio frequencies.
 
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oaklandraiders

Well-known Member
When I changed to the Neutrik convertor I got about a 10db boost vs the Emotiva XLR to RCA cable. I didn't need any extra bass boost :) so sub is adjusted accordingly on back panel.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
When I changed to the Neutrik convertor I got about a 10db boost vs the Emotiva XLR to RCA cable. I didn't need any extra bass boost :) so sub is adjusted accordingly on back panel.
Odd. The difference should have been 6dB.

XLR is 4V vs RCA's 2V. The Neutrik balun sorts this out whilst the "cable" simply drops half the signal (half of voltage swing = 6dB).
 

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