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Unbalanced to balanced/ audio interface

I seem to be ending up with a mix of amps with balanced inputs only (primarily the hypex ucd). Most of my sources are unbalanced - face or minidsp 2x4 or laptop/phone.

Looking for a simple solution for going unbalanced to balanced.

Would a audio interface like uphoria 404hd or umc1820 help? Can they work without the laptop in converting balanced to unbalanced? The USB is helpful for active xo from the laptop, but not required.

One of these UMC would be good then I can do computer based XO, minidsp based XO, play from phone, and measure speakers using Limp/Arta.

Primary need is multi ch unbalanced to balanced, secondary jack of all army knives.


  • Skip the 404 - I tried it for awhile, too noisy.

    I just went to the Hypex website - it offers an astounding lack of information about their products. Sometimes, to save space, manufacturers will offer combination inputs - they can take the XLR and 1/4".

    Converters are cheap and commonly available, but the input gain may cause you some grief going from unbalanced to balanced.

    Best bet is to interface with a device that will properly output the gain. You can find kits and preassembled boards on Ebay etc for less than $10. Install it in the chassis along with the amp module and the power supply.

    I have a signature.
  • I have been used a hypex Amp and jbl active speakers directly from unbalanced DACs with no problem for my setup. They go loud enough.
    If you do not need all the other capabilities, something like the topping e50 should be good price for a balanced DAC.
    Or the EX5 if you need/want BT.
    Now, the xo and multichannel make it more difficult. But a minidsp shd would be nice.

  • Any unbalanced source can be plugged into a balanced input, it does not require a signal conversion and there certainly isn’t much advantage to do so other than to include some gain in the conversion process.

    Noise performance of UMC line looks ok to me:

    I'm not deaf, I'm just not listening.
  • If you don't have to worry about gain a simple adapter may be all you need.


  • Yeah, balanced is great for a studio or stage with a 50' snake. Pretty useless at home for such short runs.

  • You can find nice home theater preamps that are balanced out for pennies on the dollar used.

  • I wouldn’t say useless at home, rather useful in fact if you like hifi, but best used balanced from the source without conversion in the middle.

    You generally get better SNR from the higher signal level, less noise picked up from adjacent sources like 120VAC and data cables, and with XLR apart from that satisfying click when you plug them in, the ground is physically connected first, so you don't get startled with that annoying BZZZ when you plug or unplug with the equipment turned on. Of course, that is a solvable problem with unbalanced signals as well, but we have standardized on horrible RCA connectors. It's also easy to find a good XLR cable cheaply by simply buying a well known pro audio product, where there's plenty of marketing fluff around RCA cables, and the quality varies quite wildly in my opinion.

    On the UMC product, I should have linked to the more recent review with more detail:

    Noise level still isn't what I would be concerned about with it, but the low signal level capability is as it's not capable of 2V so shouldn't really be in a "pro" category in my opinion. It is the cheapest USB audio interface out there from what I can tell, so you get what you pay for. I'd recommend spending a little more on Steinberg UR22 if you wanted something like this, or if you really want some HiFi performance go for Motu M2.

    I'm not deaf, I'm just not listening.
  • The topping A10 balanced would be cheap:

    Limited to a single USB input, but quite capable.

  • edited September 2021

    Tom Christiansen at Neurochrome has some boards that go either direction.
    His stuff is as good as it gets.

  • edited September 2021

    Hey Ani - I know I still have some 10k/10k Edcor line matching transformers on the shelf that I never used. I'll look for them this weekend - they are yours if I can find that box buried somewhere on the selves.

  • edited September 2021

    Found them! Right where I left them. Yours for the cost of shipping or I can bring them to Ankeny.

  • Thanks Tom. I will be in Ankeny, will be good to see you if you are coming down.

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