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Howdy,
The only thing that makes a balanced line balanced is that the impedance of both signals is equal. It matters not if the Minus conductor has an inverted signal on it, it can be a ground. The balanced driving circuit has equal output impedance to ground on both the + and - signals. And in theory the balanced receiving circuit has equal input impedance to ground on both the + and - signals. This allows the input to reject common mode(noise) signals that are present on both wires because of any interference picked up on the cable run. This also allows the chassis of balanced equipment to be at earth ground potential, not signal ground ( although the two are tied together a one point in the equipment usually at the power supply).
In unbalanced equipment signal and chassis ground are the same point. So the low side of the signal carrying conductor, the shield for instance in an RCA patch cable, has zero impedance to ground and the high side, the center conductor, does not. It is unbalanced. Since the shield is carrying the signal return current and current between the chassis it is absolutely imperative that the shield be of the lowest resistance possible
Much more info can be found at the Jensen Transformer website.(NO affiliation) Especially see their app notes.

babadono
 

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Ain't that the truth :bigsmile:
What was said is the wisdom... I have literally been in more bad situations of my own making, just because it seemed like a good idea and money was burning a proverbial hole in my pocket. Ahh, that 20/20 hindsight. It seems fairly true that good equipment set up correctly, will whip a good amount of poorly setup exceptional quality equipment as well. And, as most have hopefully learned, expensive does not always equate to good or exceptional.
 

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Hello, new member here!

This is an excellent and very informative post. I was searching the web on this topic. I read a few other pages before this and stopped here becasue this explains everything I need to know without the technical confusion.

In addition to Tony, thanks also to other contributors for additional clarifications.

The AVR that I am looking at only has unbalanced RCA connections for pre-outs and I plan to add an amp in due course. Based on what I understand from this post, it would work pefectly well if I pick an amp that takes unbalanced input and I connect them with good RCA cables (they will be in the same shelf less than 2 ft from each other). Correct?

I also have a question about the cables. I read on many web-based buyer guides and online forums that expensive cables are a rip-off. The general recommendation is to go with any decent competetively priced online sellers of cables. Do 'good RCA cables' in this case also fall into the same category or are they an exception?

Thanks again.
Satyaa
 

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Reply:

................The AVR that I am looking at only has unbalanced RCA connections for pre-outs and I plan to add an amp in due course. Based on what I understand from this post, it would work pefectly well if I pick an amp that takes unbalanced input and I connect them with good RCA cables (they will be in the same shelf less than 2 ft from each other). Correct?

Absolutely. The only way you might run into problems is if the AVR and the external amp were plugged into different 110VAC circuits and that is unlikely.

I also have a question about the cables. I read on many web-based buyer guides and online forums that expensive cables are a rip-off. The general recommendation is to go with any decent competetively priced online sellers of cables. Do 'good RCA cables' in this case also fall into the same category or are they an exception?

Again you're on the right track. Many expensive cables don't offer any improvements in sound quality and that applies to "RCA cables" as well. Just be sure to buy cables that have decent connectors and durable construction. Monoprice has a great offering of audio cables that would meet your needs.
 

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Very informative, Tony! Thanks for taking the time to write this.

I have a quick question. I'm looking at this HDR HDMI switch for a future setup, https://bzbexpress.com/AT-HDR-H2H-88MA-4K-HDR-HDMI-Matrix-Switcher-by-Atlona.html and it says that I can extract the audio from HDMI and i'll get an unbalanced audio out. Does this mean I need to purchase an amp that can convert the unbalanced audio to a balanced audio if I plan to setup a 5.1 surround sound system?
 

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This is excellent information on the audio signal. This article provides in-depth and valuable information about the audio's technical aspects. Thanks!
 

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This is an excellent information to understand the Unbalanced vs Balanced audio signals, and the difference. Thanks Tony for taking such efforts.
 
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