file A Possible and Subtle Issue With Balanced Audio Cable Connections

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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 year 1 month ago
#23879
HI GE Gang,

Quite by accident, I have discovered and corrected a subtle problem with the balanced audio cable connections in my setup. Here are the details.

I have balanced audio cables connecting the analog output from my external DAC to my Integrated Amp. I also have some audio test files which show channel separation and phasing. Yesterday, I had the occasion to check channel balance on the left/right front channels (my Triton Ones driven by my Cambridge Integrated Amp). To my surprise, I could hear a dramatic difference between the loudness of my right channel versus my left channel. The right channel was much louder and much more defined than the left channel.

My first thought was that something had happened to the left channel sound - either in the amp or in the Triton One on the left side. However, after some checks, I became convinced that neither the amp nor the speaker was at fault.

So, I decided to swap the left and right signals in order to determine whether or not the problem could be moved from the left channel to the right channel. The easiest way for me to make that swap was to unplug the balanced audio cables from the DAC Magic and swap them. I made the swap and, to my surprise, both channels sounded normal and equal. Next, in order to return the signals to their proper left/right locations, I then swapped the balanced cables again, but this time at the Amp Inputs. The combination of these two moves returned the cables to their original left/right locations. The sound remained normal and balanced in both channels

At that point, I did a bit of research to refresh my understanding of what was happening with the use of balanced cables. When I read about how the balanced cables work by carrying a phase-inverted signal along with the base signal and the process of re-inverting the signals on the receiving end, I realized that what I had been hearing with the original problem was that the left channel signal sounded weaker because it was actually out of phase at the amp end of the path. By unplugging and re-connecting the cables, what I had accomplished was to correct a connection problem on the left channel side which allowed the phase inversion process to properly function again.

So, the point of this story is to periodically check balance and phasing if you are using balanced cables. A poor connection at either end of the cable can result in an out-of-phase signal being delivered to either or both channels.

Happy listening,

Art
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charliehatch Posted 1 year 1 month ago
#23881
Art,

My bet is that you had a poor contact in one of the connectors that killed one of the balanced signal lines. When you switched the cables you fixed the poor connection problem. I have often wondered about all those little XLR pins and how well they make contact in there.

You can also get contact cleaner stuff. I don't know how well that stuff works, but if you had a buildup of some oxide on one of the pins (or the female), that could create a problem.

My guess is that it was a poor mechanical connection. Good thing to keep in mind when something like this happens.

Thanks for the warning!

Charlie
2.0 System: Passport SSD USB > Oppo 105D digital out > Blue Jeans 1694A Digital Coax > DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4 DAC/Pre > Audience Au24 SX RCA interconnects > Bel Canto e.One Ref600M monoblocks > Audience Au24 SX banana speaker cables > Triton References
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WayneWilmeth Posted 1 year 1 month ago
#23886
Bro Art and Bro Charlie,
This is the stuff.





I bought a (not cheap) extension cable for my headphones from Audioquest, came from the Amazon. When I got it home it would not work, not at all, zip, Zero sound, nada. A little squirt of this inside the female socket where I could not see but must have been all oxidized, and magic, got sound.

Cleanliness is next to..........well, can make the difference.
Happy listening,
God Bless,
Wayne
God bless the child that's got his own.
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charliehatch Posted 1 year 1 month ago
#23887
That's the stuff that came with my Audience cables. Seems ok, although hard to clearly demonstrate the benefits.
2.0 System: Passport SSD USB > Oppo 105D digital out > Blue Jeans 1694A Digital Coax > DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4 DAC/Pre > Audience Au24 SX RCA interconnects > Bel Canto e.One Ref600M monoblocks > Audience Au24 SX banana speaker cables > Triton References
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WayneWilmeth Posted 1 year 1 month ago
#23888
When a brand new cable will not play, not allow a signal to pass, then play perfectly after being treated, that is not subtle.
It is good stuff.
Clean all your contacts, swim in it, bathe in it, ha ha.
God Bless,
Wayne
God bless the child that's got his own.
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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 year 1 month ago
#23889
Hi Charlie,

Exactly what I believed to be the case. Removing, swapping and reinstalling corrected the poor contact issue. I doubt that the cable itself is faulty, but I intend to periodically check the balance and phase of my Triton Ones. I now know exactly what to listen for.

Art
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