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.
Long ago, in the prehistoric days of HiFi, there was the first HiFi mail order catalog I knew of called Warehouse Sounds. They sold all kinds of stereo gear across the nation and even had “head cleaning kits” which consisted of a roach clip and pack of rolling papers. (Hey, it was the 70s).
But that fond memory isn’t why I titled today’s post. No, I have something very different in mind. Our warehouse, and it’s 30-foot tall ceilings, have proven a Godsend for measuring polar responses of the new AN3 loudspeaker.
When designing loudspeakers it’s important to have a clear picture of how the drivers perform both on-axis and off-axis (we sit off-axis to each speaker). To measure those responses down to 200Hz, we need either a full anechoic chamber or no boundary walls within a prescribed area. That’s where our warehouse comes into play.
Take a look at the enclosed two photos. Our mechanical engineer, Chet, along with our loudspeaker engineer, Chris, have taken over the warehouse to measure a mockup of the new driver in AN3.
Also, look closely at the second photo. Note the center driver. Yes! You see the new AN3 coaxial ribbon midrange and tweeter, designed by Chris Brunhaver.
Remember in my earlier post where I talked of starting from scratch? Not only did we design all-new woofers, but the center star of the AN3 will be its coaxial ribbon midrange and tweeter.
I’ll write more of these amazing new technologically wonderful drivers but just wanted to keep you in the loop.