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Balanced vs. Unbalanced - What's the Deal?

Balanced vs. Unbalanced Lines

Balanced vs. Unbalanced

We sometimes receive questions from authorized Anchor Audio dealers and Anchor Audio customers about the difference between balanced and unbalanced line inputs and outputs. They are great questions because this topic can be confusing at times. We have taken many of your questions and posted them below. In order to answer your questions, we asked our knowledgeable Director of Production and Engineer, Cy Bates. 


1. What does balancing do?

           Having a balanced setup eliminates noise that could affect the cable.  Having a balanced system is important if you are running long cables (25ft+) or are in an area with lots of interference.


2. How does one achieve a balanced system?

           Having a balanced line out, a balanced cable, and a balanced line in.


3. What is a balanced cable?

           A balanced cable is one with 3 conductors.  A ¼” TRS (with 2 black lines) and XLR are examples of balanced cables. Anchor Audio offers the EX-50PPS and the EX-100PPS.


4. Do Anchor Audio units have balanced outputs?

           Some do.  The ¼” Line Out on the BigfootBeaconLibertyGo Getter, and Explorer are balanced.  The Line Out on the other units are not. Also, all Dual Jack connectors (1/4” and XLR) will be balanced.


5. Do Anchor Audio units have balanced inputs?

           The Bigfoot, Beacon, Liberty, Go Getter, and Explorer have balanced inputs.  The rest do not. 


6. What happens if you put different kinds of signals into different kinds of inputs?

           Below are some different scenarios:

                    A. Balanced signal into a sterio input (i.e. our 3.5 mm)  RESULT: Signal cancels itself out and there is no audio.
                    B. Stereo signal into a balanced input  RESULT: Part of the audio gets cancelled out
                    C. Mono signal into either stereo or balanced input  RESULT: Nothing bad happens. Everything is normal.
                    D. Unbalanced cable into stereo/balanced input  RESULT: Nothing bad happens. Everything is normal.