Advantages or Disadvantages of Balanced vs Unbalanced Audio Connections

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by theapex, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. theapex macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2008
    I have read up a little on the difference. But I don't really see what the advantages or disadvantages of either choice is. Other than the Balanced helps keep out signal noise. Is that all? or am I missing the point completely.

  2. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    balanced connections require* transformers, which can (or necessarily do, depending on who you ask) color the sound.

    some crazy people, like me, find that desirable :)

    the benefit of a transformerless, unbalanced connection is a cleaner signal path, but it's more prone to interference. with short, careful runs it shouldn't be an issue (e.g. don't run an unbalanced line parallel to a power cord).

    * i'm _pretty_ sure they're required, someone please correct me if i'm wrong
  3. WinterMute Moderator emeritus


    Jan 19, 2003
    London, England
    The main reason to balance a signal path is to avoid RF interference (mains hum etc) and to allow unadulterated audio to be passed over long distances. A balanced systems do not suffer signal:noise ratio penalties over distance as unbalanced systems do, so are more useful on long runs.

    If you don;t need to run your signals over distance, and you can control the RF problems, balanced systems aren't really useful. However, any kind of patchbaying needs to be balanced, as this becomes RF problematic and can cause earthing problems.

    Not all balancing transformers actually use transformers, you need them if you are running very long cables in the form of line-drivers, but most studios don't use them.

    It's just about noise and signal strength.

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