Connecting DAP to amp

Loverobot

Well-known member
Jan 2, 2022
56
43
70
I am a bit confused by the cable needed to attach the Astell Kern SE200 to my CXA81
The amp has balanced xlr inputs which I assume would be best to use, but the DAP manual shows a second cable to the unbalanced output?
Not sure what cable(s) I need?
2022-03-27.png
 

Gray

Well-known member
Based on that diagram, you're right to be a bit confused.
The spec says balanced out uses 2x 4-pole 2.5mm sockets.
Does the manual mention specific leads that they sell, or more usefully, give any details of the plug wiring (allowing you to buy or make your own cables)?
 

Loverobot

Well-known member
Jan 2, 2022
56
43
70
Its got two separate DAC outputs and each has a separate 2.5mm balanced and a 3.5mm unbalanced just to confuse matters further!
I think its saying to connect a 2.5mm 4 pole and a 3.5mm but I am wondering what I end up with at the Amp end - and I cant find any cables that fit the bill
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Its got two separate DAC outputs and each has a separate 2.5mm balanced and a 3.5mm unbalanced just to confuse matters further!
I think its saying to connect a 2.5mm 4 pole and a 3.5mm but I am wondering what I end up with at the Amp end - and I cant find any cables that fit the bill
It’s usually a single 3.5mm stereo plug at the player end, and two RCA phonos for left and right into your amplifier. It’s just like connecting headphones, except the signal goes to your Hi-Fi. Like this…

 
  • Like
Reactions: Loverobot

Gray

Well-known member
There's no doubt that, as has been pointed out, it will be much easier for you to use unbalanced, chances are you wouldn't hear a difference (though people readily hear differences between all types of cable 😉).
And it will necessarily require a bit more hassle and expense - though that player costs a fortune, so I doubt you're a skinflint penny pincher like me.

The fact is, some of the budget on the player and amp went toward providing a balanced option. If I owned them, for the sake of a cable, I would certainly be using the option.
I'd find out how it wants the 4-pole plugs wired (balanced XLR plugs are always wired to the same standard) and I would be making my own leads.
But that's just me.....you'll probably want to save yourself the hassle and use unbalanced.

One thing I will say though.
I would challenge anyone, to look solely at the diagram you've posted and be able to confidently buy what's necessary for correct L/R balanced connection.....so don't blame yourself for any confusion 👍
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Loverobot

Loverobot

Well-known member
Jan 2, 2022
56
43
70
Thanks all I will try the unbalanced easy option first! Glad not just me looking at that diagram I thought it was nigh on useless
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gray

Vincent Kars

Well-known member
Mar 6, 2021
205
183
970
The problem is that balanced in the headphone world and balanced in the gear world has completely different meaning.

Normally balanced is a 3 wire connection, the hot, the cold (the inverse of the hot) and a ground.
It is used for line signals like connecting a DAC to a amp, etc.
At the receiver their is a differential amp comparing the hot and the cold and remove any difference (common noise rejection)

Balanced in the headphone world means 2 amps per channel, one pushing, one pulling.
You can't do that using a common ground so you need a 4 wire connection as you have L+/L- and R+/R-
Basically 2x single ended.
Obvious not compatible with the balanced input of an amp or DAC

So my guesswork is, the 2.5 balanced out provides the hot and the cold.
What is missing is the ground so you need the 3.5 to provide this.
Wonder if such a cable exist.
Personally I wouldn't risk it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Al ears

Loverobot

Well-known member
Jan 2, 2022
56
43
70
Ordered a straight 3.5mm unbalanced to RCA as per the above - thanks for all the advice and agree not worth the risk messing about due to the ground issues

I did find that Astell and Kern made a cable -
detail_02.png

It wont fit my unit as it was designed for a previous model and no longer available but when it was it was a snip at $1200 !
 

Loverobot

Well-known member
Jan 2, 2022
56
43
70
Unbelievable
TBH my foray into hifi has been punctuated by being aghast at some of the cost of seemingly basic stuff! eg isolation feet!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gray

Gray

Well-known member
Ordered a straight 3.5mm unbalanced to RCA as per the above - thanks for all the advice and agree not worth the risk messing about due to the ground issues

I did find that Astell and Kern made a cable -
View attachment 3410

It wont fit my unit as it was designed for a previous model and no longer available but when it was it was a snip at $1200 !
I'll happily make you one of those for your model for just £450 🤑
(The parts would cost less than £20).
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts