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.
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.

-- Al

What Al said.One other example of this was the now vintage Sony flagship CD player, the model name of which escapes me (SCD1?).  It too used an op amp (or possibly discrete devices) to create a balanced output.  The scuttlebutt was that the standard SE output sounded better than the balanced output via XLR, probably for the reason Al cites.  (I used to own its slightly less expensive brother, the SCD777ES, which differed from the SCD1 mainly in not providing balanced outputs.)
Thanks for the explanations guys.

Not that it matters in my case, but it seems a shame that Denon, or anyone else, would market a component aimed, presumably, at higher end buyers and include connecters and the description ’balanced’ when 1) they may be abusing the term for marketing purposes and 2) might sound worse or at least no better than the standard SE connector.

In fact, it seems down right deceitful to go to the trouble and expense of adding XLR connectors when the only real benefit is marketing. Not that I’m surprised, this goes on in the photography world (which I’m well versed in) but to a lesser extent with "pro" level gear. Which makes me wonder if Denon’s "pro" level stuff is really just average midfi stuff actually aimed at midfi buyers who won’t know the difference between truly balanced and some version of ’balanced’ which conveys no benefit.

Having learned all this I’d say I’m unlikely to spend another $30 on XLR cables to find out if there is a difference. I already have good if not very good RCA cables in hand and at this point in my audiophile ’career’ I have no confidence that I’d hear a minor difference anyway.

All very interesting stuff and thanks again.

And for the record, I don’t regret the purchase (yet, it hasn’t arrived) since the balanced XLR output didn’t impact my decision to buy it.
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Based on the Denon specs sheet, output voltage is the same regardless of the output selected. That’s not usually the case if the XLR outputs derive from a balanced circuit. Compare with the MD tuners having balanced XLR outs vs their RCA outs. The balanced outs are always 2x the voltage.