Balanced Cable for Sony DAPs

I have a Sennheiser HD1 which I believe is not a balanced Headphone. However there are cables available that can be used with the headphone that have the 2.5 mm connector on the headphone side and a 4.4mm balanced plug on the other and apparently to a few who purchased it it does work when plugged into the Sony WM1A. My question is does this cable give the headphone full balanced connectivity with all the sound quality advantages even though the HD1 is not balanced?

No, it will not be balanced. You’re combining the grounds going into the headphone so instead of R+ R- L+ L- the Momentum is only seeing right, left, and ground.


Not only is it not operating in balanced form, for some sources doing that sort of thing will damage the source, so I’m surprised people are selling cables configured that way.

Every balanced-output device I have, that isn’t just single-ended internally with a convenience “balanced” output connector, specifically warns against such cable configurations.


Yup forgot about that too; I’ve had people ask me to make single end to balanced adapters and I’ve had to refuse because of the potential dangers of this.

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Thanks again for clearing that up. So if I can’t connect my HD1 via balanced jack on the Sony WM1a or the ZX300 what would be a good DAP upgrade over my current IPOD PRO - CCK 3.0- Jitterbug - Dragonfly Red? From what I’ve read it would appear the SE outputs in those Sony DAPs may not offer an upgrade.

I’d say that’s inaccurate … the SE output on the WM1A sounds clearly better than the Dragonfly Red. The balanced output sounds better still, but the SE output is still one of the best I’ve heard from any portable device (and I’ve heard, and directly compared, quite a few).

The issue is more that the HD1 really aren’t at a level where they’re going to show the differences readily enough to be worth doing such an upgrade purely for immediate sound-quality purposes. If the DAP will be driving other, better, cans in the future then that’s one thing, or you need the all-in-one functionality of a DAP that makes sense too. Otherwise you’re just not going to get to see what the WM1A or ZX300 or, honestly, even the FiiO X5iii is capable of.

Yes you’ll get an improvement, but it’ll be the headphones holding things back not the DAP or how you connect to it.

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Good to know that the SONY DAPs offer an upgrade to the DFR even with the SE outs.

Can you give me some recommendations on what closed phones might let me realize it?

AKG K550?
99 Classic?

My experience with closed-back phones is pretty limited, I’m afraid - particularly on that end of the spectrum.

I had the Momentum 2.0 Wireless Over-Ear ANC for a while, which I wound up selling and replaced with the Sony MDR-1000X … principally to get LDAC support with the WM1Z (I never used either of those headphones wired, unless the batteries had died). Sound quality wise, excepting when you have LDAC available, they’re pretty much a wash … with the Sennheisers definitely being better built.

I did enjoy the Massdrop TH-X00 Purple Heart (very fun signature) and the Ebony (more neutral). Both of those pair very well with the Sony DAPs. That they’re easy to drive and have good sensitivity makes that an even better match, as while they certainly can take advantage of the balanced output on the Sony, you have to modify the cable to do so (it’s not detachable).

Beyond that, and a pair of ATH-M50x I have hanging around for mixing, it’s really just the Audeze LCD-XC, Fostex TH900 Mk2 and the Sony MDR-Z1R that I’ve spent enough time with to form an opinion. And to be honest, while the TH900 Mk2 do some things very well, they’re not even vaguely neutral and the TH-X00 (Ebony) are a much-closer-to-ideal signature even if they’re not quite on the same level to their bigger brother in raw technicalities.


That’s ok Torq. I have no experience with closed phones. The HD1 was the first one I bought since the Koss Pro AAA back in 1968. All my other phones are open.