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I would not recommend using RCA-to-XLR adapters unless you absolutely had to.
The idea of using the switch on the back of the A51 to switch between RCA and XLR inputs is likely your best result. It's really not a bad idea and you can keep all cables connected at the same time (both RCA and XLR). Unfortunately, the switch on back of A51 is global and you cannot configure each input separately. Otherwise, just use only the RCA outputs on the Oppo and live with that.
Another idea is to sell your A51 and then look at buying A31 and a A21 amps. The A21 can be setup to use XLR inputs for your left/right. The A31 would use RCA for all remaining channels.
Or just buy an A21 right now for left/right.
" You need an end-to-end, full XLR setup in order to realize the improvement. Adapters are for use as a necessity to match a component with only RCA's."
The A51 balanced inputs are not differential, but the Oppo's balanced outputs are. So what are the improvements going to be considering the signal will be processed as single ended by the A51 anyway?
Same thing I mentioned to fiesta about the A51 balanced input.
In this case using a XLR to RCA adapter probably isn’t going to make any difference.
I like your idea about using 2 amps, but I think there’s still an issue there.
How is the processing done in the Oppo? Is the XLR Stereo Out (left and right only ) somehow recognized and processed the same as part of the 5.1CH OUT for the other 3 channels? Or is it assumed all 5 channels + bass are coming from the 5.1CH connections. If that’s the case, wouldn’t he need another set of cables to plug/unplug (FL/FR to A21 instead of Stereo Out L+R)?
His question seems simple enough, but I think it’s more complicated.
Knowing why he wants adapters might make it easier to help answer his questions. I think his initial thought of using 7 cables, and the switch is probably the best (2 XLR, 5 RCA). However, I would confirm with Parasound first. Will the Oppo send all 7 channels to the A51 with this setup. If it does, how will that affect the A51 receiving 2 live signals for both left and right channels (hopefully, the switch takes care of that).
My understanding is that the Oppo uses both the 5.1 left/right outputs as well as the XLR left/right outputs for generating sound from both multi-channel movie source and stereo music sources, so he should be just fine.
The Oppo XLR outputs use a single 8-channel ESS DAC chip that stacks the internal DACs in parallel for output and also uses a much better analog output stage than the 5.1 RCA board, so audio should be better on the XLR/RCA output section anyways.
Interesting, I'm almost tempted to try combining the 2 types of outputs on my BDP95 to see what happens (it would really be a pain to set it all up just for the sake of testing something). I've only ever used the BDP95 S/PDIF to HT processor, never for audio as that's all done on different hardware. The plastic caps on the 7.1CH connections have never been removed.
Not entirely sure what the following really means.
From the BDP95 manual:
" NOTE The STEREO AUDIO OUT terminals automatically down-mix the multi-channel audio source into the stereo signals. However, STEREO AUDIO OUT will NOT be affected by the “Down mix” modes and other speaker settings in the Audio Processing of Setup Menu (described in the page 70)."
Thank you all for your input. It looks like I’ll be doing some testing when the new amp arrives. I did buy the Cardas XLR/RCA adapters and my hopes are when playing 5.1, that they’ll at least sound as good as if I was using straight RCA’s from source to amp and they won’t have any negative effect when playing stereo. I really don’t want to have to get off my ass and awkwardly reach behind the amp, groping for this balanced/unbalanced switch, every-time I change from 2.0 to 5.1 ugh!
So I’ll be doing the following tests:
@GOLFNUTZ,Thanks, Your post got me digging...
My 205's manual also say's the same, " NOTE The STEREO AUDIO OUT terminals automatically down-mix the multi-channel audio source into the stereo signals. However, STEREO AUDIO OUT will NOT be affected by the “Down mix” modes and other speaker settings in the Audio Processing of Setup Menu (described in the page 70)."
But thank god I dug in this further and has the above clarified:
"Stereo Signal: To select the audio source that will be processed and sent out through the STEREO and the XLR BALANCED STEREO audio terminals. The available options are:
Perfect, seems exactly what you want (with 2 less cables no less).
I assume you'll still test the balance or unbalanced switch in this setup.
I would also make sure volume levels are matched with all 5 speakers when using 5.1CH. The XLR output is rated at 4.2 Vrms and RCA output rating is 2.1 Vrms. I doubt it will matter with A51.