Nov 8, 201857 views

Balanced vs single ended headphone.

What are the other difference than power between balanced and single ended. Does one give out a better "sound" quality over the other. This is because I am thinking about getting the jotunheim with multibit dac as an upgrade from the shiit fulla 2 to pair with an audeze lcd2. I chose the jotunheim because I notice it offered more power for balanced and has low output impedance with hi,low gain and is versatile so I can pair it with any future headphones I plan for buy
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gotmoosefur and Taquito96
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As the first reply stated, the main difference is the shielding effect. In practice however, I find this really depends on the design of the DAC and amp in question. Generally speaking (obviously does NOT apply in every case and I highly recommend auditioning gear at a store), gear that is designed to be single-ended don't seem to benefit from having a balanced output, and vice versa. In the case of the Jot, it's a balanced DAC/amp combo that seems to lose some of its sound when used with the single-end, thus I'd highly recommend using the balanced output. I think the only time it's worth somewhat worrying about is when you're trying to make your audio chain all balanced or all single-ended. It's also worth noting that most headphones come without balanced cables, but if you're committed to the balanced route and have the budget for LCD-2s then it's probably not a financial stretch to go buy some (admittedly, this is a big reason why I stuck with single-ended).
The only other difference is better resistance to RF interference, as noted in the first reply. Balanced, or differential, cables are inherently shielded from common mode RF coupling to the cable. Basically, noise (at least common mode RF) is additive, so if we encode the signal itself in a subtraction, the noise will inherently cancel out: We can model the noise as an addition to the signal, N. We have 2 conductors A and B that we want to send a signal, x, over. For Single Ended, A=x, B=0 For balanced, A=-B=x/2 If we apply uniform noise to both channels: Single Ended: Input A=x, B=0 -> Add noise A=x+N, B=N -> Result, when we read A, we see (x+N) , rather than x as the signal (an error is now added to the signal) Balanced: Input A=x/2, B=-x/2 -> Add noise A=x/2 + N, B = -x/2 + N -> Result, when we read A-B for x, we get (x/2+N)-(-x/2+N) = x (the signal is intact)
Balanced = better noise rejection and power, anything else is totally dependent on design/implementation and other variables.