Hi (and noob questions)


New member
Aug 10, 2019
Hello, Ive just joined the forum after reading for the last few weeks. This seems to be the most active, practical and friendly hifi forum on tinternet.

Noob question first, can some one please explain the differerence between balanced and non balanced inputs/outputs and why I cant seem to find balanced cables on web site/magizines amongst the hundreds of other cables?

I just bought the azur range 340 amp and CD along with pro-ject genie turntable and CA 640 phono stage, the speakers are F1 customs with all the cables and stands it was quite an outlay but when you consider I had my last hifi for 15 years, a kenwood (do they still make hifi?) midi system with home cinema built in it's also quite a leap in qualitity.

In responce to the thread regarding the genie turntable I have to say no problems with the arm on mine at all . It appears to be very firmly fixed but I did have a problem with the small screw next to the phono outputs for the earth. It was very lose and I coulnd't get a good enough grip on it to tighten it. In the end I had to remove the complete 'black box' from underneath the arm and grip the screw from the inside. Through all the man handling of the turntable the arm has stayed fixed in place too!

the other threads that I have read with intrest are the unbalance of the CA equipment. Having noticed this myslef when I first set my system up (this is what made me look on the net in the first place!) and playing at 9 o'clock or below I was shocked to see I wasnt alone. You would think spending this type of money (I know its very little compared to what you could spend) on dedicated equipment (compared to the standard kit sold though most high street outlets)that you wouldnt have problems like this. My solution was to first move the speakers, the 'quiet' one was sort off stuffed in a corner so a weekend rearranging furniture has resulted in a much better placement of speakers. I also uprated the speaker cable from richersounds £2.50 silver to QED silver anniversary XT and what a difference to the sound the balance proplem 95% gone. After reading a thread I also bought some attunators from e-bay. These are great I almost didnt want to fit them thinking I was adding something that I moght not need but WOW glad I did. I now listern at the volume between 11 and 1 (2 when I wanna rock) and its really impressive. I find my slef digging out CD's and LP's I maybe havnt heard in 20 years and hearing them for the first time.

I found the thread on CD qualitity intresting and have noticed it vary's too. but when I find a high qualitity Cd and get into it, it makes the hairs on your neck stand up.

I also picked up on the thread on isolation of kit so of the the local Tesco for the granite slabs and a handful of squash balls (got funny looks asking for 8 balls at the local gym!) after spending 20mins cutting my balls in half!! and 20 mins placing it all under kit another wow - another improvement in sound. I was sceptical about this 'upgrade' but it was well worth it.

I know Im at the bottom end of kit and many people have strong opinions on CA equipment but I have to say Im really impressed and happy with it.

I have a subjective question and I certainly dont want to stir up a wasps net but I am intrested in peoples veiws on higher qualitity gear. As most things in life I like to improve as time goes by. the computer is as I want as is the home cinema system (it was a expensive years last year!) hifi came last Im afraid to say here but its a start. what I would like to know is, if I uupgraded to say around £800 per amp/Cd and £500 - £800 for turntable what sort of improvements would I hear also is there a rule of thumb for speakers i.e. £800 for equipment piece the same for speakers?

Thanks for Reading (sorry its so long) and for any help/advice



Glad to hear you're enjoying the world of hifi, including the endless hours you can spend re-configing!

If you spent about 800 on each component there are a number of different improvements you can make. Some kit works as a good all rounder, some excel in one particular area, e.g. speakers that can provide breathtaking midrange but not so great bass. Generally, all things being equal, the focus, size and depth of the soundstage should improve, the timbre of the sound should improve so that it sounds more credible and realistic (unless you choose something that colourises the sound deliberately), the detail should increase and it should be more musical. Caveat - it rarely works like that and there's always compromises and trade offs.


[quote user="GWindy"] Hello, Ive just joined the forum after reading for the last few weeks. This seems to be the most active, practical and friendly hifi forum on tinternet.[/quote]
That's pretty good to know. Welcome to the forum :)


New member
Jan 2, 2008
Hi Gwindy, welcome to the forum. I've not been here that long myself.

To answer your first question, in a nutshell: phono plug = unbalanced, XLR plug = balanced. In more detail, an unbalanced connection sends a single-ended signal - usually via a phono-to-phono interconnect (unless you're a Naim owner) - while a balanced connection sends two equal-but-opposite signals, which helps to cancel-out interference, and typically use the aforementioned three-pin XLR connector. You will only find balanced connections on expensive hi-fi, or on professional recording and stage equipment. A lot of current phono interconnects claim to be 'pseudo-balanced', that is to say they are still unbalanced, strictly speaking, but use the balanced design principle to reject interference.

If you're looking for interconnects for your Cambridge Audio system then any phono-to-phono cable will work. If you really are after a set of (true) balanced interconnects for another purpose then try looking for 'XLR', however I'm quite certain that the CA system you mention is not compatible.


Thanks for the welcome guys'

iggelbert thanks for the explanation, I didnt want to get into a 'which is best' question as I know it's subjective but you've made it clear what I can expect from upgrading to higher end equipment - cheers

peanutfrenzy - again thanks for clearing it up for me. When I was buying my kit a chap came into the shop with the CA840 CD (I think) and I noticed the outputs on the back. (if anyone intrested he was returning it as the drawer wouldnt open - the shop fixed it there and then and didnt charge him). You are correct my kit isnt compliant with XLR I was just wanting to understand it. I thought it might be for high end kit as I recognise the cable from the music studio. What I can't figure is I can look though 5 or 6 hifi mag's and surf the web till my fingers are sore but I cant find much reference to these cables from the main cable suppliers?

Again thanks for reading and thanks for the help guys,

I've just ordered two (one for hifi one for cinema) mains filter from amazon, not the most expensive compared to some web sites/manufactures but again its something Im slightly secptical about - hope Im surprised again!!

John Duncan

Well-known member
Jan 8, 2008
[quote user="GWindy"]What I can't figure is I can look though 5 or 6 hifi mag's and surf the web till my fingers are sore but I cant find much reference to these cables from the main cable suppliers?

primarily for the reason you mention - it's mostly high end gear (though the Cambridge standalone DAC had them!), and therefore less common. A look at the Chord website shows you can get all their main cables in blanced XLR config, for example, but you won't find them in most shops (unless they're selling Naim, Primare and others)


Anyone selling a Primare, Classe kinda product would definitely have them. I saw one here: http://www.brilliancehifi.co.uk/audio-interconnects.htm


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