Is the new (mystery) preamp truly balanced. IC "quality" is probably a bigger factor.
PS Audio specifies the voltage gain for the moving-magnet input as Low (44dB), Medium (50dB), or High (56dB), depending on the setting selected with the remote control. Looking at the Stellar's balanced output, I measured gains of 43.9dB, 49.35dB, and 54.8dB, very close to those specified. The gain at the unbalanced output was exactly 6dB lower at each setting. The nominal MC input gain is 60dB, 66dB, or 72dB. With the MC input's input impedance set to 47k ohms, I measured gains of 59.9dB, 65.4dB, and 70.8dB. The gains at the unbalanced output were again 6dB lower. Both the moving-magnet and moving-coil inputs preserved absolute polarity.
My estimates of the PS Audio preamp's output impedance were lower than the specified values, at 100 ohms vs <200 ohms unbalanced, and 300 ohms vs 400 ohms balanced. """
Please read again the @fuzztone post.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Use your ears. I have the Stellar going into the BHK Preamp and I have tried RCA and XLR and prefer XLR for short runs with 1 meter Harmonic Technology cables. Oddly, I preferred a cheapish RCA cable over a cheapish XLR cable for 12' runs which is the opposite of what I would have thought. Since you can use both XLR and RCA outputs simultaneously it should be easy for you to figure out which you prefer with your cables.
pinwa, Can you describe what it is that you hear that makes you prefer SE to balanced, when you use 12 feet of cable? Because that is surprising, to say the least. Also, is the BHK a balanced device? (I think it is, but I am grasping at straws to understand your finding..) And finally, what amplifier are you using? Thx.
@lewm I don't believe I have ever read anything that suggests XLR cables intrinsically sound better than RCA cables. They offer better noise rejection but that doesn't really have anything to do with how the cable sounds. I found in that specific comparison the 12 Foot RCA Cable Pair - Gotham GAC-4/1 (Black) Star-Quad Audio Interconnect Cable with Amphenol ACPR Die-Cast, Gold Plated RCA Connectors had a harmonically richer tonality with better bass than the Mogami 2549 (Black) Wire and Neutrik NC3MXX & NC3FXX Silver XLR Plugs I compared them to and I preferred the way they sounded. Both cables were bought on Amazon from Worlds Best Cables. It is entirely possible you would have a different preference listening to exactly the same thing. The BHK preamp is a balanced device and I am using PS Audio BHK 300 monoblocks to drive Magnepan 20.7 speakers. Turntable was a Rega P6 with an Audiomods Series 6 tonearm and the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge. All in all it is a great sounding system.
One consideration of using a balanced cable is that it is a locking connector, maintaining good connections even when other cables are messed with.
RCA cables can be inadvertently moved and the connection can be altered (i.e. left signal stronger that right) (or a ground can be dislodged).
I use XLR when they exist, and all my individual device's RCA cables have 'locking' type connectors.
Pinwa, I never meant to imply that balanced is intrinsically better than an SE connection. I only wondered about your finding that a short length of balanced IC gave a result that was at least equal to SE, where a long length of balanced fell down. But now I also note that you compared two ICs that are not only different in mode but also different in brand and construction. So your observation is relevant only to those two particular ICs. Which is fine.