XLR out on a tuner?


I'm new to hifi and not an audiophile yet but learning a lot lately.

I'm following a Denon DN-300H tuner on the big auction site. It looks very clean and has a remote. I also noticed on the rear it has XLR cable outputs as well as RCA out. Is this sought after? Worth paying extra for? My pre-amp (Acoustic Research LS16) has two open XLR input ports marked Bal1 and Bal2. The price on the tuner is okay and if using XLR cables through the balanced input on the pre-amp is an advantage I might just buy it.

Any assistance much appreciated.
n80
Again, I’m new to all this so I don’t understand what balanced really means. I’m assuming its a good thing and that might be all I need to know from a technical standpoint.

From a practical standpoint I do have a couple of questions:

First, assuming ’balanced’ is a good thing, how important is it? In other words, what should I expect to hear from unbalanced(?)/ single ended vs. truly balanced?

Second, if the system is not truly balanced, is there any advantage whatsoever to 3 foot long high quality XLR cables over 3 foot long high quality RCA cables?

Third, is my system truly balanced? (I don’t know how to find out.) It is an Acoustic Research LS16 tubed pre-amp feeding a Madrigal Proceed (Mark Levinson) HPA2 amp via Transparent Balanced MusicLink Super XLR cables from the "Main 2" outputs (the Main 1 outputs are RCA).

There are 2 sets of balanced XLR inputs on the back of the LS16. Both are empty for now.
A little research reveals that the Audio Research LS16 is a truly balanced pre-amp and that the Proceed HPA2 is also a truly balanced amp. So if this tuner I've bought is also truly balanced, and it says that it is, then I should be getting whatever benefits are to be had from a fully balanced system from tuner to pre-amp to amp for what that might be worth. I'll probably go ahead and get some good XLR cables. I probably would not be able to tell the difference between that and single-ended but at least I'll know that I have things maximized.

My CDP does not have balanced output.
Given the price point of this tuner, I strongly suspect it is running its XLR outputs in an “unbalanced” configuration (that is, both return and shield are running to ground, like in a RCA interconnect).
celander
Given the price point of this tuner, I strongly suspect it is running its XLR outputs in an “unbalanced” configuration (that is, both return and shield are running to ground, like in a RCA interconnect)
That is extremely unlikely because if such a signal were connected to a true balanced (differential) amplifier using a balanced input, severe damage could result. What is probable is that the tuner uses op-amps at its output to create balanced signals from the tuner’s otherwise unbalanced circuitry.
The tuner in question is made by Denon’s Pro division, and is described as providing balanced outputs. Both of those facts make it likely that its XLR outputs provide a balanced pair of signals. Given its low price, it is also very probable that as Cleeds said it uses an op amp (operational amplifier) integrated circuit at its outputs to create at least one of the two signals in the balanced signal pair, by inverting the other signal.

However, even if the XLR outputs provide just a single unbalanced signal it would not do any harm to connect them to the preamp’s balanced inputs. RCA-to-XLR adapters do essentially the same thing. A risk of damage might arise in some cases when using an XLR-to-RCA adapter on an XLR **output,** because most such adapters short the signal on pin 3 to ground (pin 1). Also, some Audio Research fully balanced power amps, which provide only XLR inputs, will not work properly if they are provided with unbalanced inputs. In those cases, though, the consequence would be a large reduction in power capability, and an increase in distortion. The only means by which damage might occur in that situation is if the amp were overdriven relative to its reduced power capability, the resulting clipped output waveform perhaps causing damage to tweeters.

Whether or not an XLR connection would be preferable to an RCA connection in this particular case depends on the specific design of the tuner, and perhaps also on the design of the preamp and the interconnect cable. Given the likelihood that the tuner uses an inexpensive op amp to generate at least one of the signals that is provided to the XLR connectors, though, I would expect that the odds are against it sounding better, and it very conceivably could sound worse.

Regards,
-- Al