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TOPIC: Is SHD balanced internally?

Is SHD balanced internally? 1 month 1 week ago #50326

  • eisenb11
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Thinking about getting a SHD, I was wondering if it is an internally balanced device?

Specs seem to imply 1 DAC (4490EQ) per output pair, so I’m wondering if the signal is going through a phase splitter into the DAC then being balanced afterwards for output from the XLR connectors?

Or can it be confirmed that the whole internal signal chain is balanced?

My intended use-case is to use it as a Roon streamer ->DIRAC -> balanced into my amp.

Thanks
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Is SHD balanced internally? 1 month 1 week ago #50329

  • mvs0
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As far as I know it converts balanced to single ended before A/D and the opposit at the D/A.
So short answer: no
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Is SHD balanced internally? 1 month 1 week ago #50338

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In the case of the using the streamer, I believe the digital would go straight into the D/A, but since it's just a single D/A, I'm not sure if the 4490 allows balanced input or if you need to split the signal into single ended. Then if using balanced, it would have to be converted again.

Can MiniDSP confirm that the digital signal chain isn't balanced from input to output?

If that's the case, you'd think that unless you're doing a very long run or a run through a noisy environment, that the single ended performance would be superior on the SHD?

Shame because I have a balanced amp and would have liked to have an end-to-end balanced signal.

If this device isn't fully balanced, my wishlist for the successor product would be to have dual DACs for a fully balanced path and to add a 12V trigger - so close to the perfect product otherwise.

I believe that the device measures well as-is, but this should lead to some improvement. May also explain the lower SNR for XLR on ASR.
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Is SHD balanced internally? 1 month 1 week ago #50340

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Uh... the DAC chip has balanced outputs.
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Is SHD balanced internally? 1 month 1 week ago #50341

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speakee wrote:
Uh... the DAC chip has balanced outputs.

Are you sure? The SHD having balanced outputs doesn't mean that the signal is balanced from input to output within in the device.

It could be taking a split output from the DAC and converting to a balanced output, which isn't the same - but also what I'm trying to confirm / figure out.
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Is SHD balanced internally? 1 month 1 week ago #50349

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eisenb11 wrote:
speakee wrote:
Uh... the DAC chip has balanced outputs.

Are you sure?

The datasheet is there -> www.akm.com/content/dam/documents/produc...0eq-en-datasheet.pdf
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Is SHD balanced internally? 1 month 1 week ago #50350

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eisenb11 wrote:

Can MiniDSP confirm that the digital signal chain isn't balanced from input to output?

If that's the case, you'd think that unless you're doing a very long run or a run through a noisy environment, that the single ended performance would be superior on the SHD?

Shame because I have a balanced amp and would have liked to have an end-to-end balanced signal.

If this device isn't fully balanced, my wishlist for the successor product would be to have dual DACs for a fully balanced path and to add a 12V trigger - so close to the perfect product otherwise.

I believe that the device measures well as-is, but this should lead to some improvement. May also explain the lower SNR for XLR on ASR.

I can imagine some performance gain from having a pair of A/D and D/A connented to the XLR connectors, it could be a 3dB better SINAD.
But having the digital (floating point) path also balanced would make less sense. The digital noise floor would be <140dB, so no need to improve on that...
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Is SHD balanced internally? 1 month 1 week ago #50351

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speakee wrote:
eisenb11 wrote:
speakee wrote:
Uh... the DAC chip has balanced outputs.

Are you sure?

The datasheet is there -> www.akm.com/content/dam/documents/produc...0eq-en-datasheet.pdf

Thanks, data sheet confirms that the chip has a differential output.
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Is SHD balanced internally? 1 month 1 week ago #50352

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mvs0 wrote:
eisenb11 wrote:

Can MiniDSP confirm that the digital signal chain isn't balanced from input to output?

If that's the case, you'd think that unless you're doing a very long run or a run through a noisy environment, that the single ended performance would be superior on the SHD?

Shame because I have a balanced amp and would have liked to have an end-to-end balanced signal.

If this device isn't fully balanced, my wishlist for the successor product would be to have dual DACs for a fully balanced path and to add a 12V trigger - so close to the perfect product otherwise.

I believe that the device measures well as-is, but this should lead to some improvement. May also explain the lower SNR for XLR on ASR.

I can imagine some performance gain from having a pair of A/D and D/A connented to the XLR connectors, it could be a 3dB better SINAD.
But having the digital (floating point) path also balanced would make less sense. The digital noise floor would be <140dB, so no need to improve on that...

It seemed like that when researching products, many of the high end components used dual DAC chips.

One curios thing is that on ASR, the single ended test had a better sinad by about 3 dB over the balanced output?
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Is SHD balanced internally? 23 hours 40 minutes ago #50925

  • mebentz2
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To be honest, single-ended outputs are better in every way for audiophile usage. If you want balanced, just put a matched source impedance on the extra pin, but only actively drive one pin of the XLR. It will always be lower distortion. Also, noise pickup on the cable shouldn't be an issue for such short runs so the matched source impedance isn't even necessary.

If you insist on double-driven balanced outputs, you want the differential DAC output converted to single-ended before leaving the box - this way you don't send all that common-mode noise down the cable and into your next device. Also, it's nearly impossible to filter out that common-mode noise because it's nearly impossible to maintain the common-mode rejection (due to component tolerances), and then the front-end of your downstream device will be susceptible to extra distortion from the high frequency modulation. Btw, every DAC has common-mode noise on its output - it's the same kind of noise as a class D amp for those not familiar with the nuances. The class D noise isn't audible at a speaker because the motor is linear at those frequencies, but it's pretty hard for a nice pre-amplifier to deal with. Plus it's gonna radiate on the cables which you don't want either.

However, don't short an actively driven pin on an XLR because the large power supply currents will affect the driven channels (unless it's a transformer coupled output).


It turns out these are rather deep engineering topics, but the point is that we don't want balanced all the way thru the box. It's really important to have a single-ended stage after the DAC at some point in the signal chain.
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Is SHD balanced internally? 10 hours 12 minutes ago #50932

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mebentz2: Thanks for the taking the time to write that - that was super educational and informative!
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