Balanced Cable Discussion

#1

This thread is meant discuss anything related to balanced cables, including:

  1. Vendors, product lines, and quality
  2. Materials and construction (e.g., copper, silver plated, silver)
  3. Do it yourself construction methods, tools, and pitfalls

I recently went wild in buying balanced cables for all of my decent headphones. Some of these were intended for mobile use (short and light), while others were simply for the pursuit of better quality.

As this was a trial and many were for use in less than ideal conditions, I kept the costs to a minimum. I’ve been satisfied with the eBay vendors below, but am wondering about other sources and methods now.

Dyson Audio – Based in the USA with many products in the $50 to $100 range:

https://www.ebay.com/str/dysonaudio

eachdiy17 – Based in China with many products in the $20 to $50 range:

https://www.ebay.com/usr/eachdiy2017

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#2

Ahhh ya beat me to it,

doing a 2 part Cable review featuring a >$100 category focusing purely on build quality, value, availability and customer service

An then a second separate part featuring my subjective impressions of a wider range of cables, with many over $100 as I do feel the assembly [how it’s wound, weaved, dampened, shielded ect… ] and metal have an impact on sound quality!

But I’ve got… quite a lot of cables actually with a variety of metal types and assembly methods.

I’ll go into more detail here shortly once I have something more fleshed out,

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#3

I’ve had great sucess with Blue Jeans Cable making me custom Belden 1508a Balanced XLR Y cables. I run six amp channels (six speakers) of two channel, and a two channel balanced headphone amp, which I can accomplish with two sets of XLR outs (and four balanced y cables) from my preamp. The cables sound great and wont break the bank.

https://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/balancedaudio/index.htm

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#4

Nice thread guys it’s what we needed.

#5

I see one of the cables I made in the picture.

I don’t make that configuration anymore, nor do I use the same wire (not because it was bad, just because I’ve found better at the same price and from a more reliable supplier), nor any of the same connectors, so I would not bother including it.

Beyond which it was not built for commercial or custom sale, and no one else can get one anyway.

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#6

I thought I recognized, a cable that looked “similar” to your current setup. I was going to comment on it but didn’t want to assume.

#7

Anyone else notice that Massdrop released a 2.5 mm to XLR-4 adapter for $20 recently:

Massdrop 4-Pin XLR-to-2.5mm TRRS Adapter

image

This acknowledges the need for both mobile and desktop connections – without having to buy two cables. It also provides support for the 2.5 mm format (4.4 mm?). I’d buy one if I didn’t already own one.

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#8

I picked one up… I don’t need it but Semper Paratus…

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#9

Well I’m not listing yours as a commercially available cable, in fact It an another cable pictured there there are what I consider “DIY” builds or “enthusiast built”. A DIY Build or enthusiast built are usually very much custom orders and done based around a price point. An yours plus the other are of good quality an reflect the level of detail one can get from a member of the DIY/Enthusiast Community! I in fact found my first cable builder by simply asking who would want to build a cable in one of the DIY Cable Threads on Head Fi! From there I found Peterek [who no longer makes cables]

Thus my aim was to compare commercially available stuff what’s been built by members of the community. Additionally when last we spoke about cables you mentioned it “wasn’t anything” special. So I felt that it along with the All black cable under-neath the brightly colored copper cable, would make good examples of very functional [nothing special in terms of sound quality] DIY builds.

That first picture is also a feature that focuses just on Build Quality, Value and Availability. Hence, I wanted viewers to see what kind of quality they can get from an enthusiast. Though your not one any more, still I wasn’t going to reveal the cable’s origin for many of the reasons you your self listed.

The second below is a feature about sound quality where yours is not listed nor being compared. Though I would have loved to feature your flagship build in the second part if you had it ready

also, that adapter is pretty cool!

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#10

Just trying to save you some effort on something that isn’t available anymore, and the external heat shrink on which went a bit wonky over time.

My flagship cables are “ready” and have been finalized for a good while now. I have elected not to make them broadly available at the moment primarily because I don’t have the time to build them in a responsive enough fashion. I do not wish to be part of the “pay now, get your cable several months from now” model that seems to be part-and-parcel of the boutique cable industry right now.

And while I have a good number of pieces built, particularly of the modular series, sending those out for review ahead of being ready to sell them on more than a special-request basis isn’t very useful.

One question though, how am I not an enthusiast any more?

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#11

I’ll start saving now for a set of your modulars, in the hopes/chance this becomes fully realized…I’ve had cable envy ever sense I first saw them lol

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#12

Your a Professional Enthusiast in my eyes which is the best kind of professional! An thank you for looking out with regards to time

Though your right, maybe the term “enthusiast” isn’t correct. I’m refereeing to cable builders with not a lot of experience but a lot of enthusiasm! I’ve gotten a few cables over the years from such enthusiastic but less experienced builders, and their prices are always the best. An any time I’ve had issues they’ve been super happy to make repairs as needed! An with these super enthusiastic builders comes a longer wait time and more patience as you understand said individuals are learning how to better what their doing. So maybe Enthusiastic Student Cable Builders, or something less wordy would be a better way to describe them and their market segment!

So I guess what I’m trying to convey is the difference between buying from a DIY Student VS an experienced Professional. When you choose to buy from some one learning to build it’s an experience! As you get to know the person and join them in their journey for knowledge! I’ve many conversations between me and my previous cable guy about different idea’s and things to try. The cables I got from him in that first year of his where also different, as we experimented with different materials! Though after a while, he got a solid idea of what he liked, and what made the most sense for him and his business so the relationship changed as did the product.

That said, if your in the camp that doesn’t feel that cables make an audible impact and your not in a rush time wise and you can afford the time required to ship said cable away… then buying with a DIY Student is very cost effective! An I certainly enjoyed my experience with them, though when I started to explore how cables CAN make an audible difference I also started to shop with far more experienced builders as… there experience and expertise was audible! Even dollar for dollar some of the more experienced builders I’ve worked with have produced excellent products at a very competitive price, which reflects not only their experience in the work it self but also the relationships that they’ve developed over time!

Concepts I’d like to explore with my upcoming comparison! An again, I’ve enjoyed many conversations with you @Torq an you certainly strike me as having a vast pool of experience! Far from the enthusiastic students I referred too. An maybe it isn’t fair to lump your cable in with theirs, though it’s not being compared in the “subjective listening” portion so I still think in terms of build quality it’s relevant!

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#13

I thought about picking that up. I almost made one of them myself a while back, but ended up getting one for Norne Audio, who, like @torq says, make it after you pay for it, and they took way too long, and ended up giving it to me for free! I owe them one in the future.

The MD price though is definitely worth it. It would cost just about that much to make your own and may not look as nice.

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#14

Hi guys, I need to pick your brain I use this adapter to try and save ware on my Dap’s balanced socket. What I would like to know is can I leave the adapter plugged, in minus headphone cable of course, and use the 3.5 mm socket next to It and run in 3.5mm mode without blowing my Dap to hell? Below is a link to the adapter in question, oh and my Dap is the Pioneer XDP-300r.

(https://www.kenable.co.uk/en/audio-cables/audio-adapters/7264-kenable-4-pole-25mm-jack-socket-to-right-angle-plug-av-cable-adapter-gold-007264-5055383472642.html)

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#15

See Moon Audio for relevant info:

https://www.moon-audio.com/single-ended-versus-balanced-connection

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#16

Another great source of cables is found on ebay…seller name is artcticcables

He will make cables to order and they are very good quality build. I’ve bought two from him. One XLR extension headphone cable, and one XLR headphone cable, including an RCA adapter. Here is one of his listings.

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#17

This is a great article but even after reading it I cannot find an answer to my query. I might just be me being thick but there you go.:slightly_smiling_face:.

Thanks for the link anyway.

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#18

Let’s set the Bat Signal to call for @Torq?

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#19

Agreed. Thank you for your help though, I appreciate it.

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#20

It should be fine.

If the XDP-300R uses switched-sockets, and the 2.5mm connection has priority, then doing so may result in the 3.5mm jack being disconnected while you have the adapter plugged in, but that’s unlikely.

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