Another interconnect question - RCA vs Balanced?

After my recent post about dual AES/EBU cables between Purcell and Delius, I also recently swapped from RCA out on my Delius into my Croft Mega vintage (& restored :)) to using the Delius XLR balanced outs into same RCA on the Croft. I was expecting it to be an improvement, but it wasn’t - lost imaging as a result. I left it in for a few days, it was OK, got used to it. But swapping back I just laughed at the difference - so much more air and texture, front to back, going RCA-RCA. Is this normal?

Both interconnects are around 3.2m - both studio microphone cable; one Cordial CMK 222 (RCA-RCA) & other Neutrik NK2 Swissflex (XLR-RCA) - could it be a cable difference? Or the RCA connectors themselves? RCA-RCA is using a decent Quad (I think) connector, XLR-RCA some el-cheapos I picked up.

I wasn’t expecting this difference - before I start messing about with further comparisons, I wondered what others experience was?

Many thanks, Richard

If I remember correctly the Croft is a tube design and does not have balanced inputs. So I am assuming that in order to do what you say you needed to make a custom connecting interconnect. This may provide a signal but it can no longer be a balanced signal and is a a bit of a fudge.

The potential advantage from doing this is that the balanced output circuitry of the Delius is superior to the single ended. However any potential advantage can be trumped by either the execution of the interconnect and/or the choice of cable chosen. Further, if the XLR output has not been used before then , arguably like the cable itself, it may require a period of burning in and an immediate opinion may mislead though I see that you have given it some time.

Finally aside from the aspect of superior noise rejection that a balanced connection can bring (not available in your circumstances) there is no guarantee that balanced will always be superior to a given listener’s ears. You may just simply not like it :wink:.

My current system uses balanced connections end to end . However I have other equipment whereby RCA is preferable to m even though XLR connection is offered. So it may be a question of successful implmementaion including that of the component design.

Thanks - correct, it’s XLR balanced out on the Delius to single-ended RCA in on the Croft. It’s wired with XLR plus to RCA plus, and both negative and screen from XLR joined at negative of RCA. Is it worth snipping screen off from RCA end I wonder? But have run this config before with single-ended out from same pre, into balanced in on a Mark Levinson No.29 balanced in with no problems.

My issue is the difference is quite large, more than I expected from just cable (and while checking wiring, the XLR-RCA is using Neutrik RCA connectors, so should not be that).

Thanks, Richard