Are balanced XLR cables better, and if so is it worth spending a fortune on them?
I posted recently on the topic of speakers. Now it's on XLR cables. I've looked at a number of forum conversations, and I'm confused.
I have a Leema Antila IIs (which has balanced outputs) and a Chord 2650 amp (which has balanced inputs). A lot of what I've read on the Net suggests that balanced is better than RCA phono, so I started looking at cables.
XLR cables can cost hundreds. However, a number of people on various fora suggest that (unlike RCA phono) spending more money on XLR cables isn't worth it. This appears to be down to the basic design of an XLR cable relative to an RCA phono. I don't understand the ins and outs of why this should be the case.
There also appears to be some debate as to whether hi fi components which say they are balanced actually are so. Something to do with it being very expensive to create a fully balanced hi fi component. Again, I don't understand the ins and outs of this.
So in the end I shelled out on some Van Damme XLR cables, on the basis that VD are used in recording studios, by the BBC, etc.. On which note, I've also read that while XLR is good for the long cable runs as used in the music / recording industry, for the short runs used in hi fi (say up to 1 metre) it has no advantage.
Anyway, the proof is in what it sounds like. And the Van Damme cables to my ears don't sound a whole lot different to the Van den Hul phonos I previously had. But they certainly don't sound worse, and only cost around £35.
The question, then, is whether to spend much more money on a Chord or an Atlas XLR (for example), and see if that's better. Or find a hi fi shop which does sale or return. Either way, I could end up spending a lot of money on something which is essentially a cable, i.e. a length of 99.999999% oxygen-free copper (perhaps silver plated), or pure silver (so fair enough, I'd expect to pay more).
Can anyone shed any light on this? I notice that WHF don't seem to review any XLRs (or have them in their Awards), and I'm not sure why that is. Presumably a Chord Crimson Plus with XLR connectors does just as well as the phono equivalent?
Thanks in advance for any help.