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January 21, 2011

What are “balanced connections” and the benefits of balanced cable?

Filed under: AV question — Tags: , , , — Alan @ 3:22 pm

Q. Some expensive A/V preamp-processors and power amplifiers offer “balanced connections.” And the new Axiom EP600 and EP500 subs also have them. What are they, and are “unbalanced” connections inferior to balanced? What would I gain in performance using balanced cable? – J.C.

Balanced Connector

Balanced Connector

Used almost universally in the world of recording studios and professional broadcasters, balanced cable use a three-wire cable fitted with very secure and solid “XLR” connectors (sometimes called “Cannon” connectors). The three-wire balanced configuration is composed of an outer shield surrounding two out-of-phase inner wires that carry the positive and negative portions of the signal. This enables running very long cables–hundreds of feet if necessary– between amplifiers and preamps or between microphones and a mixing console without picking up hum or interference and without significant signal loss.

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