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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 network switch, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Enleum AMP-23R, Goldmund/Job 225; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox3awf + sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Qualio IQ; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Furutech RTP-6 on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioner; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport, Denafrips Terminator +; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 80Hz active filter; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustics SuperMon Mini, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature;  Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a; Active DSP speakers: Fram Midi 120
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: $465/6m

You might say that it had my name on it. When CenGrand's DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe landed in my upstairs rig, the usual 6m stretches of CAT8a/HDMI for I²S to our Denafrips Terminator Plus didn't translate. CenGrand don't bother with I²S. What I used instead was a Sommer Cable BNC which usually works as one of two clock cables between Terminator and Soundaware D300Pro USB bridge. To insure that this left no crumbs under the table, I wanted the higher signal voltage of AES/EBU. From best to worse, my experience calls out digital socketry as I²S, AES/EBU, BNC, coax, Toslink. Because I use separate USB bridges in all my setups, USB doesn't make the list. The question now was, who to buy a 6m AES/EBU cable from? A reader exchange settled it.

"Mornin' Srajan, I have a question: I am happy with my combination of Kinki EX-M7 amp and Lumin X1 DAC/streamer/preamp. The Leedh Processing of the X1 is terrific and as you know, obviates the need for a très cher preamp. The M7 is not a balanced amp and I am wondering what I might be missing from a truly balanced amp.  The X1 is a balanced design and my brief research indicates that it would benefit from a connection to a balanced amp. As an aside, I had used Grimm XLs through the M7 convenience connections but changed to single-ended because I was getting a slight hum/buzz through the Grimm. No noise whatsoever with Audio Art Cable Statement e-IC Cryo. Any thoughts? I might be missing the last ounce of SQ without a balanced amp but perhaps I am too greedy! All the best, Michael Fanning

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I replied that "greed is good" as Gordon Gekko reminds us. And he was the man as long as he lasted. But I'm far less sold on balanced vs. single-ended superiority. I run my Kinki monos RCA, my Enleum only does RCA as does an upstairs Crayon. Meanwhile my DACs are all true balanced. I'm honestly not worried and it never occurred to me to think I might be missing anything; until now. Thanks a lot, sir. Kidding aside, in my mind we select an amp based on its sound not how it goes about making it. If you go after a fully balanced amp, you may not like it as much as what you've got. Now if you did come across a fully balanced amp whose sound you preferred – then it'd be sensible to compare RCA/XLR and see what sounds best. Shy of that, don't give it a second thought. I certainly would never shop for an amp because it was balanced. In fact many arguments speak against it. You need twice of everything; and to be great, this double trouble must be perfectly mirror-imaged. In my mind that requirement just opens a back door for more potential slop and inaccuracies. I believe that the primary appeal of true balanced is pro audio where cable lengths can exceed 100 meters; and where lots of electronics combine. For home audio, balanced could well be overrated. But again, if I fell in love with an amp's sound then discovered it was balanced, I'd still buy it. It just would never be a primary or even secondary decider, just an 'okay then' feature. Srajan

Srajan, excellent advice, comme d'habitude! I shall—continue to—be happy with my system. By the way, as I survey my bits I have these 6moons-reviewed products: Kinki EX-M7, Lumin X1, ASI LiveLine speaker and power cables, LessLoss Firewall for Speakers and Audio Art Cable e-IC Cryo Statement single-ended cables. Actually, you only reviewed the AAC speaker cables but I suspect the single-ended cables hold the same attributes. Cheers, Michael

I currently have one of AAC's top AES/EBU digital cables on order to cover a 6m stretch. It's excellent stuff for a fair price. Srajan 

Rob Fritz is excellent to work with, too. Michael

Indeed. That's a key ingredient of buying decisions. Srajan

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Rob's best 110Ω balanced digital cable is the D-1SE2 with rhodium-plated Eichmann Brio plugs. SE really did have my name on it. It'd also make the perfect fallback for reviews of active speakers where the master gets a stereo digital input signal then forwards the opposite channel across (or under) the carpet to the slave. And don't underestimate the reader exchange's last two lines. In transactional affairs, who one works with is key. Much product is quite interchangeable. Just where we procure it however can still make a big difference for ongoing support and general jollification. Reviews generally don't get into that aspect. Just so it's important. I won't return to an establishment where I felt treated like a number. I'd rather pay more elsewhere to someone who cares with appreciation. It's a feel-good bonus; and rewards the right business attitude and respect.