Whilst many of the materials, technology, and design concepts that go into Pro-Ject turntables are indeed very modern, turntables as a technology have been around for a relatively long time. Since their emergence in the mid-20th century as the leading means of at-home music listening, the devices that exist around them in the home has changed significantly. These days, modems, wifi routers, Bluetooth devices and myriad other household appliances that transmit wirelessly create noise. Turntable cartridges are a delicate vehicle for the musical information on a vinyl LP’s surface, and the electrical current they produce needs to be amplified enormously in order for it to be audible. That also means that any inferences given off by appliances around the home are also amplified, creating background noise and diminishing the purity and cleanliness of that delicate signal.
Balanced audio connections are standard in the music industry, whether in recording studios or live performances. In a professional setting, having a signal that’s free of noise and interference is essential, especially when recording or amplifying vocals. The same applies to a turntable’s analogue signal; the more noise and interference that can be removed from the signal, the better. And so we introduce our ‘True Balanced’ connections and cables.
So How Does This Work?
A typical RCA connection carries audible information along a single signal path, whereas a balanced connection uses two; one with the signal and the other with what is effectively a mirror image of that signal. A balanced connection picks up the same interferences as any other cable, but once the signal reaches the phono preamplifier, one of the signals is inverted so both are identical, and all of the noise picked up along the way is effectively cancelled out via this inversion. If that sounds a bit hocus-pocus, check out the diagram above for an illustrated representation. When the two sound waves are united further along the chain, the resulting signal has effectively doubled in volume and the unwanted interferences have been cancelled out. So we’re left with a stronger signal, and one that’s free of noise.
Moving Coil - The Key to Unlocking True Balanced
There are effectively two key types of phono cartridges - moving magnet (Ortofon 2M Red for example), and moving coil (the Ortofon Quintet series, among others). Moving Coil cartridges are, by nature, balanced signal transducers. This means that as a result of their internal wiring, they’re able to output a fully balanced signal, making them a perfect candidate for our True Balanced connection. And the good news is that any Pro-Ject turntable fitted with a moving coil cartridge and detachable RCA cables, regardless of whether it’s brand new or decades old, can utilise this connection, thanks to a host of different True Balanced cables.
So What Do I Need to Get Started?
The simplest path to getting up and running, assuming you’re already using a Pro-Ject turntable fitted with an MC cartridge, is with a Pro-Ject True Balanced phono preamplifier and a cable that’s suitable for your turntable and chosen phono preamp. If you were using an X2 and a Phono Box S3 B for example, that’d be an RCA to mini-XLR. We’ve got a handy table of examples to give you a bit more insight.
What Can True Balanced Do For My Sound?
That depends. If you’re someone who takes good care of their records, spends a lot of time listening to vinyl, and truly loves music, then we can unequivocally say that True Balanced is an outstanding investment in the betterment of your collection. If you’ve already got a moving coil cartridge in your setup it’s a no-brainer. The improvements in detail, the jump in the resolution of musical information is truly mesmerising. Remember the first time you heard your favourite album on a great hi-fi system? The way the sound immersed and enveloped you - this is an opportunity to experience it all over again. Greater dynamic range, inky black silences; an analogue signal free from unwanted noise.