First, thanks for helping me out. I am new to “high end” audio. High end for me at least. I know close to nothing about audio, I just know what sounds good to me. I can already hear my wife saying, “get to the point!”
I have the new ifi audio hipDAC and some Campfire Audio Polaris IEM. I am currently using the 3.5mm cable that came with the CAs. My question is do you think it is worth spending money to buy a 4.4mm balanced cable to connect to the hipDAC? Will or should I notice a difference in the sound quality?
The benefits of balanced cables are often tied to power delivery. Simply put, a balanced cable will provide roughly twice as much wattage to your IEMs or headphones. There may be a small amount of additional benefits, but that is the big one. Your IEMs probably don’t take much power to drive. Conversely, my HiFiMan HE6se headphones are a sensitivity 83db headphone and are hard to drive, needing 2 full watts. The balanced cable gets me there far easier. IMO, for IEMs you probably don’t NEED to use a balanced cable. You certainly can, but probably don’t need to.
In agreement and expansion on @rrwwss52’s comments, balanced helps with power delivery and also controlling the artifacts (noise) of dynamic driver headphones. I bought a bunch of balanced cables a couple years ago – I could hear large differences with some headphones and nothing with others. I heard only minimal changes with IEMs (or nothing really). Sennheiser HD-600 / 6XX / 650 really do benefit from a balanced cable.
I echo @generic and @rrwwss52 on this. Given how you’ve described yourself, probably the best (or worst) thing you can do is to train your ears. Best because you will notice differences, and worst for the same reason.
When the world changes back to something near normal, and you can listen to more live music of different types, that will help you define what you consider good sound. Since your profile calls you a music lover (we all are here), maybe you have already been to some good concerts.
Why not post here:
and describe what you heard and what you liked? Changing where you sit in the room has a much more profound effect than any change of working cables. Likewise, so does how you fit the IEM and what kind of tip you use. Also, never listen to me about IEMs - I’ve still not found any that I like, usually because of fit and comfort, so I’ve never heard any that cost over a couple hundred bucks.
Oh man I will post to these threads. I have been to a lot of concerts over the years. The first concert I went to was approximately 36 years ago and the most recent was a year ago. Thanks for the recommendation.