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XLR to RCA converter on interconnects


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The problem:

RCA  output to RCA input, but we would like RCA output to XLR input.

What  cables are available?

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Note that any unbalanced RCA to balanced XLR configuration will lose any benefits the balanced connection provided, essentially being no better than an unbalanced (RCA-RCA) lead.  However, I do acknowledge that there are times when this type of lead is required due to limited options on the hardware being connected. 

 

An internet search will reveal:

 

• There RCA - XLR are converters available (with gender variations):

882-na2mpmf.jpg?v=1-0

 

 

• There are RCA - XLR cables available

41lERLoDgKL._AC_.jpg

 

I'm sure that many cable companies will have them in their catalogue, and many companies that make boutique cables will be able to make them. 

Bill, on the SNA forum, will probably be able to make some for you. 

 

Edited by audiofeline
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If your going down the RCA to XLR path, I would stay away from converters and just buy rca to xlr cables.    Ive never really had a lot of confidence or success with any converter 

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  • 4 months later...

Hi folks,

 

I've got a related query to this one. Happy to move to separate thread if that's more appropriate but I've been chastised for creating them unnecessarily before 😳.


I need to hook up an unbalanced pre-amp output (Marantz receiver) to a pair of powered monitors that only have XLR input (PMC TB2-SAii).

I have connectors (Amphenol RCA and Neutrik XLRs) and Shielded TP Cable (Mogami Neglex 2549 "microphone" cable) on hand. Hoping to put something together that will work well out of that. Obviously a preamp with balanced output would be better but we're talking 2m cable runs so it's fine to go unbalanced.

 

As far as I know (from reading here and other forums) - when using a cable like 2549 (shielded twisted pair) to make an unbalanced cable, one would normally use the pair inside for signal and then connect the shield to ground only at the upstream end. 

 

However, the PMC manual suggest that when using an unbalanced source with them, Pins 1 & 3 on the XLR should be soldered together at the monitor end.

 

from the manual:

image.png.71a14e6d7ead663d787456a30f19c74a.png

 

Also found this relevant pic posted by Bill in another thread that shows what PMC is recommending in the 2nd diagram:

image.png.72492103a740e7c117ddf5ca474d07a1.png

 

Worth noting is that the Marantz is a double-insulated unit (not tied to mains earth) but PMCs are grounded via IEC Earth pin.

 

So my question is regarding what should I do with the shield in this case?

I'm thinking to go against the usual "tie it to the sleeve at the upstream end" since that unit doesn't have a real earth anyway and the "downstream" end does have proper earth and suggests in the manual that pins 1 & 3 be connected at that end.

 

Alternative could of course be to use the shield as the RCA sleeve connection and connect to Pins 1 & 3 at the other end and use both connectors of the twisted  pair inside for the tip/signal/pin 2 and thus approximating a coax cable (with, I think, a little more capacitance).

 

To me, the first option (shield connected only at XLR end and connecting Pins 1&3 together would be better but am interested in what others think.

 

Thanks,

-Matt

 

 

 

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small update - currently running them for a test using Marantz preouts ->  RCA interconnect -> RCA to XLR adapters -> XLR interconnect to the speakers and all is fine. No hum, noise or any other issue so I don't think there will be any issue with either option I've got.

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I am no expert but just thought I would share this from my own experience.

 

I recently acquired a power amp that only has balanced inputs. My phono preamp has balanced outputs but my preamp only has unbalanced inputs & outputs. Naturally I thought of XLR/RCA adapter.

 

I have read online that, as previous post has suggested best go XLR to RCA cable instead of adapter. However, I planned to get a new preamp to go full balanced and don’t want to have to get rid of the XLR/RCA cable later on and tried out the adapter instead.

 

Anyhow, I tried a few connections and I was surprised in two scenarios which I got better sound from the XLR/RCA adapter instead of just RCA/RCA using the same RCA interconnects.

 

1. phono preamp XLR outputs >  Cardas Clear adapter > RCA cable > preamp RCA inputs 

 

vs

 

phono preamp RCA outputs > RCA cable > preamp RCA inputs 

 

where the preamp has only RCA inputs/outputs 

 

2. phono preamp RCA outputs > RCA cable > Cardas Clear adapter > preamp XLR inputs 

 

vs

 

phono preamp RCA outputs > RCA cable > preamp RCA inputs 

 

where the new preamp has balanced inputs/outputs 

 

DC03D228-A735-4C29-AA2F-3C5682FF62E0.thumb.jpeg.82321ecc4efb28f819e494305c7df2ea.jpeg
 

 

 

 

 

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Interesting finding Dave! My guess is the internal circuit topology of the phono pre plays a role here (fully balanced all the way through vs singled ended gain stage(s) with a balanced output stage) but either way I'd not expect your outcome.

 

If the phono preamp is fully balanced, then the RCA sockets are probably doing exactly the same thing adapters do (pulling -ve half of the balanced signal to ground). If it's really single-ended internally but with a balanced output driver stage that you're again making unbalanced via the adapters, then all things being equal, I'd expect that to sound worse than coming straight out of it single-ended. 🤷‍♀️

 

Maybe it is the latter and the balanced output stage is adding something you like... 

 

Out of curiosity, what's the phono preamp?

 

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1 hour ago, synthi said:

Out of curiosity, what's the phono preamp?

 


Luxman EQ-500

Edited by MoveD
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Aha! Ok so the Luxman will have transformers on the outputs. Just a guess but maybe the impedance of the downstream unit matches better to the XLR output’s transformer than the RCA one. Really just a guess but they might be different spec because of the expected Input impedances. 

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Going from an balanced output to a single-ended input is easy, just ignore/short one of the balanced leads. The other way is less straight-forward. You could do a resistor divider with ground being the mid-point, but this would ruin both the output impedance of the source, as seen by the amp, and the input impedance of the amp, as seen by the source. Apart from going active, the only straight-forward passive solution is using transformers.

 

Regarding impedance matching, this does not play a role in analog audio interconnects. The sources are always as low impedance as practical, and the amp inputs are always as high impedance as possible. This is the exact opposite of impedance matching. We’re not dealing with power transfer here, but ideal voltage sources into high-ohm sinks.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I find that the best cable will generally win out, not decided if you have xlr to rca or xlr adaptor for a rca interconnect. 

   I have a balanced pre amp with phono stage with balanced and xlr output. 

  I have cardas golden reference xlr cable and Nordost Valhalla and JPS Alumina rca ic.  I use neutrix xlr adapter at the preamp.

  Both rca cables with xlr adapter sound better than balanced cable. 

 

  Bottom line. Don't be afraid to use xlr/ rca adapters with rca cables. 

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  • 1 month later...

Interesting experiments according to @metal beat’s findings.

 

Luxman EQ500 Phono Preamp - Nagra PL-L Preamp

 

1. Comparing 

 

XLR Output > Input A - Lenehan Foilflex XLR - XLR

RCA Output > Input B - Kondo KLS VZ II RCA - RCA

RCA Output > Input C - Shunyata Venom RCA - RCA

 

B602C2AD-D0CD-4E2D-A992-9952C2664B21.thumb.jpeg.1f80848f7d7a81706ee12ffb3bcdd6cc.jpeg

 

1809E13C-922D-402A-9CE9-F6B7D68B981A.jpeg

 

I used my remote which I can just press a button to switch amongst inputs A, B & C effortlessly where A is XLR input, B & C are RCA inputs.

 

I prefer the sound of C with. Shunyata Venom just a tiny bit smoother than the Kondo but very very close, almost no change in sq. Both RCA sounds better than the Lenahan Foilflex XLR.

 

2. Comparing 

 

RCA Output > Input A - Kondo KLS-VZ II RCA  + Cardas Clear Adapter into XLR input

RCA Output > Input C - Shunyata Venom RCA - RCA

 

I now like Kondo KLS-VZ II just a tiny bit more as the sound now is a tiny bit smoother than Shunyata Venom. Again very very close. The Cardas Clear seems to have smoothen the sound of Kondo...

 

3. Comparing 

 

RCA Output > Input A - Shunyata Venom RCA - RCA  + Cardas Clear Adapter into XLR input

RCA Output > Input B - Kondo KLS-VZ II RCA - RCA

 

I now prefer the Shunyata Venom again. It seems to be just a tad smoother and more details over the Kondo KLS-VZ II

 

86CB4E89-E400-47DD-9E2A-F4D1288A31D9.thumb.jpeg.5d45a489cc73dc5673faf5bfe31ff98a.jpeg

Edited by MoveD
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2 hours ago, MoveD said:

3. Comparing 

 

RCA Output > Input A - Shunyata Venom RCA - RCA  + Cardas Clear Adapter into XLR input

RCA Output > Input B - Kondo KLS-V2 II RCA - RCA

 

I now prefer the Shunyata Venom again. It seems to be just a tad smoother and more details over the Kondo KLS-v2 II

 

 

 

Appears that your preferred listening configuration is simply following the Cardas Clear adapter around.

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It seems that way. Perhaps the XLR input on my preamp is slightly better than the RCA inputs.

 

I was surprised to find:

1. How close both the RCA cables sound in terms of quality and characteristics.

2. I thought I would prefer a direct RCA connection without an adapter but I was wrong. 

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