New TT : Balanced vs. Unbalanced Connection?

I am in a six-month process of assembling a system will last me for the next 5-10 years. I’m set on the components, so please do not try to talk me out of my selections. My question here is a technical one.

I have purchased a Thorens TD–1601 and a Nagaoka MP–200 cartridge. I am trying to decide on the Integrated amp between Yamaha’s A-S3200 and A-S2200. The key difference for this question being the A-S3200 has two balanced inputs and the A-S2200 has one. I will use the first balanced connection to connect a recently purchased HiFi Rose RS-150b Streamer/DAC.

Now to my real question. The semi-automatic Thorens TD-1601 has both balanced and unbalanced outputs. I am considering buying a Schitt Skoll phono pre which has balanced in-and-out. In that case, I would buy the Yamaha A-S3200, needing two balanced inputs.

So, ASSUMING the phono preamp on the Yamaha A-S2200 is comparable to the Schitt Skoll, will I get markedly better sound by going fully unbalanced, with the Skoll and the much more expensive A-S3200, or unbalanced direct from Thorens TT into the highly regarded phone pre of the A-S2200?

What benefits will I get by going balanced? How much benefit? It is worth the complexity, extra box, cables, $2,000-3,000? I can afford it if much better, but don’t want to spend money unnecessarily. The TT and the integrated will be right next to each other, so distance is not a factor. Or is the A-S3200 that much better? …I like the BIGGER meters.

My current speakers are Paradigm Reference Studio 40 v2, which I love and have two pair, a super sleeper. They are not likely to be changed…one day Fyne Audio.

To reiterate, this is a technical question about the merits of balanced turntable connections. Thanks for the input. I have learned much from this forum over the last few years.



There are two separate sets of inputs, with selectable gain between Low (51dB BAL / 45dB SE) and High (74dB BAL / 68dB SE).

I can confirm that these products meet specification. My best to you.

@cleeds If this is correct then the input isn't differential. It might be balanced, but differential amps don't behave that way.

I can tell you my experience with my Esoteric E-02 phono preamp which has balance and unbalance inputs.  Since my Din cable is RCA, that was what I was using until I decided to see how the balance input of the Esoteric compares.  I use a couple Cardas RCA to XLR adapters and Wow, the sound opened up and was considerably clearer sounding which was a surprise since I added a extra piece and connections in the signal path.  But the design of the phono preamp is fully balanced, so XLR should be used for best performance.

@lewm : “I hope you get the salient point that ICs per se count for nothing if the phono stage (in this instance) is not capable of balanced operation. Therefore you can’t have one without the other.”

That is quite misguided. Single ended is in fact differential, with respect to signal ground. Using the signal ground of the unbalanced differential signal from your typical phono cartridge as a shield is utter madness. To understand why, you must look at the point of origin and understand that while it is not referenced to the phono stage chassis ground, that is the only ground available and appropriate for a shield, and it is well proven to be effective.