LPspinner wrote: the build quality and the choice of internal parts is more important than adhering to a single dogmatic view that only encompasses one aspect of a whole raft of considerations.
Hi LPspinner, no dogmatism intended from my side, we’re only trying to find out what’s behind the story of balanced versus unbalanced phono preamps. The list of false debates is already too long, push-pull against single ended, tube versus solid state, analog versus digital, and so on. Fortunately some of this debate takes place elsewhere, not here.
I also agree with you that comments by manufacturers need to be read with a grain of salt. However, I assume you would agree that this is also true for comments made in a public forum such as this one.
Now, thanks to steerpike and others we are now learning that carts do actually not deliver balanced signals, so the question comes up whether it really makes sense to choose a fully balanced design in a phono preamp. Heck, does this mean that all the manufacturers and magazines have been BS-ting us stupid, technically unexperienced, audiophiles? Is this the whole truth, or is there perhaps something else that we have overlooked in the debate so far?
lfleib wrote:This is very confusing for those of us who are not electrical engineers. Mr. Karsten is saying the opposite of what most others say. I'm referring to using the cartridge as a differential balanced source, and a balanced system using fewer parts.
I believe ifleib has a point here. I can only take note that the engineering world is not too different from ours, people don’t necessarily agree on all the choices one can make. I would love to see a reply from Karsten-Athmasphere to one of the key points raised in this exchange - that carts are actually not balanced as is often claimed.
Anyway, here’s the graph from the Italian mag that I had promised. The article actually started with a good question: if one starts from the assumption that normal line-out line-in connections have less degradation because of balanced cabling and plugs, does it not make even more sense to use this type of balanced connection also between carts and phono preamps, where the signal is even smaller and therefore more sensitive to interference?
Here’s the graph:
What they did: they put the same signal through a balanced cable into the balanced and unbalanced MC entries of the AM Audio phono preamp (unbalanced by adding XLR-RCA plugs to the same cable). The cable length was not specified, but it was long enough to be put on a TV cathode tube monitor before reaching the preamp. The results are astounding, particularly if one looks at the two graphs on the right, when the TV monitor was on.
Now, one could perfectly argue that no serious audiophile would be foolish enough to use a phono interconnect that is long enough to cross a TV monitor on its way to the phono preamp. Agreed. However, it still give us food for thought.
It appears that balanced connections and phono stages can have advantages despite the fact that carts are actually not balanced as is often wrongly claimed.