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Consumer amplifier with "balanced circuitry"

I lurked on this forum for years (decades?) before I decided to join up, so hello everyone. I wanted to get advice, on behalf of a friend of mine, about balanced audio.

This friend sent a link to me about upcoming consumer-grade amps from a well-known Japanese manufacturer. These amps boast balanced circuitry and the article touted the benefits, real or imaginary. Ok, ok they are Yamaha products. I guess I can't get into trouble for saying the name, can I?

Now, years ago I saw amps from the same manufacturer in a hi-fi shop. They actually had XLR speaker connectors in the back, which puzzled me. How does that work? I remember that professional-grade (rack-mounted) amps sometimes used that feature for quick-connect and robustness, but a simple shielded cable should solve any RF interference problems on long speaker cable runs.

I should say that I am a (retired) audio operator, and we used balanced circuits in my line of work to reduce or eliminate noise, RF, hum, etc, and of course to provide phantom power to microphones where needed. Its just what you do in broadcasting or OB work; everything is wired to be balanced. But what bearing does this have on domestic gear like these Yamaha amps?

I told my friend that it was a waste of money. Was I right to say so?

Note: Hey, 6,666 posts. Do I win anything??


Re: Consumer amplifier with "balanced circuitry"

Reply #1
You're right.  Balanced connections are more immune to noise pickup.   It's especially helpful with microphone signals because they are low level.    And, I'm sure it helps in professional situations with line-level signals with long cables running all-over a studio, or maybe across a stadium.

But, both ends have to be balanced.   So if you want to take advantage of an amp with balanced inputs you'd need a CD player, or DAC, or whatever with a balanced outputs.  

It would be expensive to build an all-balanced home system ad your choice of equipment would be limited.   And, with short-shielded connections you rarely get (audible) noise pick-up through the cables.   Any noise usually comes from the active electronics so there would usually be no benefit.

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They actually had XLR speaker connectors in the back, which puzzled me. How does that work?
It's just a connector so it really doesn't matter.   But you'd need a custom speaker cable because your speakers won't have XLR connectors.

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These amps boast balanced circuitry and the article touted the benefits, real or imaginary.
Every manufacture touts their design decisions as an advantage/benefit.    BTW - To me, "balanced circuitry" seems to imply the internal active circuitry is balanced.     Most pro equipment just has balanced inputs & outputs and if the whole thing is balanced internally, that's mostly a marketing gimmick.   

Re: Consumer amplifier with "balanced circuitry"

Reply #2
I've seen consumer amps which have preamp outs made with XLR, probably to connect active speakers, or auxiliary amplifier units.
And the audiophile idea about all-balanced devices is - balanced makes/transfers less noise, so let's make amps internally also balanced - separate amps for signal and reversed polarity signal, I hope that null doesn't get its amplifier :) and that is two amplifiers just for left channel. Make room for two more.
I've spoken to few audiophools about how this doesn't make sense except if you want to make customers pay for much more - and that's exactly what audiophiles will get. Overdone and overpriced equipment so they can hear a difference between 110 and 112 dB S/N.
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Re: Consumer amplifier with "balanced circuitry"

Reply #3
Thanx for the replies!

 
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