I just purchased a new DAC (Topping DS90SE), but have never used balanced XLR cables before. I want to try to use the XLR out. I have a HIFIMAN HE5XX) that just has a regular cable. I tried to find a balanced cable for the HE5XX, but don’t know exactly what to get. The first vendor I checked with asked me if I wanted a 4 pin XLR or a 4.4 mm connection. Can I get some advice on what to get? Thanks!
John the 4.4mm balanced is the pentacon cable and often found on headphone amplifiers. It’s between the 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone output but looks more the size of an older 3.5mm headphone output.
The 4 pin XLR are the latest connectors.
Have a look at this site, I have bought several custom cable’s from there for my hifiman headphones, and have been very happy with them. There are plenty of other places to buy from, but these guys give good advice and have even got back in touch recommending changes after I have placed my order
The terminology is a bit of a learning curve but not too bad.
XLR is a larger plug it has 3 male or female posts/receptacles. a left right and ground.
a 4.4mm connection is a simple straight plug, you are familiar with the 1/8(3.5mm) or 1/4 (6.35mm).
The balanced straight plugs will have 3 black stripes vs 2 for stereo and 1 for mono.
You are looking for xlr-> hifi man compatible cabling I believe,
Michael gave you a link, here is one to HifiMan directly as well.
Crystalline Copper-Silver XLR 4 Pin Balanced Cable for HE1000 (hifiman.com)
do I understand correctly, that you plan on using the DAC’s balanced output to drive the HIFIMAN?
As the DAC output is not designed to drive headphones directly, I’d advise you to get a suitable headphone amp with balanced inputs first, and then get the fitting balanced headphone cable to go with that combination.
In case I misinterpreted your question, just ignore my babbling…
I think re reading that you might be right.
My mind went to the A90 which has XLR headphones out on it and never considered he would try to drive those headphones without amplification.
Very unlikely to work very well
The DS90SE is a DAC, and not a headphone amplifier.
You will need to select/buy a suitable headphone amplifier to connect to the DS90SE, either by RCA or XLR connections before you can use your headphones with it.
Hi John. As others have said, I suspect that you may be confusing 2 different types of balanced output.
Balanced output (via XLR) that goes from the rear panel of the DAC to a suitable amp e.g. The Topping A90.
Balanced headphone connection (via 4.4 mm pentacon cable or XLR). This is connected to the front panel of the headphone amp. The Topping A90 allows for both types of balanced headphone connection.
Just out of interest, what is your current set up?
Doh! Forgot to mention I have the Topping A90 Headphone Amp.
You had us all worried John
You can get either the XLR or a 4.4mm connector as the A90 has outputs for both.
The advantage of the 4.4mm would be compatibility with a wide variety of portable devices (DAPs and certain dongles)
For XLR, it’s a more traditional and sturdier connector which is less likely to break, and most balanced desktop headphone amps are likely to have this as a standard, so if you upgrade in future, it’s much more likely that any purchase then would have the XLR output.
You can, of course, get adapters that would allow you to use either/or should you have any changes to your gear in future, but that’s another conversation