Tag Archives: audio cable

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

The balancing act

There’s been an ongoing debate between balanced and unbalanced cables in HiFi as long as I have been involved. And, that’s a long time.

I remember spirited debates with Audio Research founder Bill Johnson about it. AR equipment was a long hold out in adding balanced to their products but over time they gave in, and I believe it to be a good thing.

Balanced interconnects sound better than single-ended do. I know, that’s perhaps too strong of an opinion, but I have yet to have any prove me wrong.

There’s little dispute of the technical advantages when balanced is done right: noise and distortion rejection, 6dB more signal, separation of signal conductors from shield duties.

What many folks perhaps don’t think about when mentally dissecting a single-ended cable is that there are only two conductors inside, and one of them is the outer shield. This asymmetry of design, where the hot lead is a solid core, stranded, or other construction, and the return lead is made of aluminum foil or braided/tinned copper, is not ideal. Rather, you’d want both conductors in a properly designed audio cable to be identical while the outer shield is separate and distinct from the conductors. That construction is only available in a balanced cable.

My question is a simple one. Why do we manufacturers bother keeping the single-ended RCA connectors on our equipment at all?

The answer in PS Audio’s case is likely the same as others. Compatability.

But it’s a shame.

 

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Wildcards and curveballs

Sometimes everything goes according to Hoyle. But, more often than not, a wildcard gets slipped in—a fact not listed in Hoyle’s Games—but true none the less. Most people around the country can put their trash in the outdoor receptacle without a second thought but not residents of our neighborhood. Hungry bears.

When we get a new piece of stereo equipment our expectations are high for drop-in-and-work and often that’s exactly the case. But then, there’s that curveball: the need for a better audio cable, different position, realignment, or tube swap.

I used to get frustrated with wildcards and curveballs but over the years I have begun to understand their value. By introducing unexpected variables I am required to step outside my comfort zone and learn something new or look at a situation from another angle.

Learning expands horizons. The farther I can see the greater my wealth of possibilities.

I don’t go looking for unexpected circumstances but wildcards and curveballs are some of the best uninvited teachers I know of.