Why do SE-to-balanced adapters exist..? [SOLVED]

I thought it was BAD to convert in this direction, and yet here I’ve found adapters for doing it(which I ordered, thinking they were the other way around)!

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Single ended to balanced is fine. Levels will be lower with some (studio) devices having settings to compensate.

Balanced to single ended is a problem though.
Since two of the “phases” for lack of a better term end up shorted together, you could end up with a dead line-driver or in case of a headphone amp, dead output stage.

Think of it like the outputs in the rear of a speaker amp.
You would not just screw the two blacks or two reds together without getting the explicit okay from the manufacturer, would you?


some people don’t know or don’t care so they make the adapters and make money

I’m just confused by the cost, based on how limited the materials are compared to a full cable. I could use a 4.4 male to 2.5 female, but for $20 I’d just get a different cable.

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What’s wrong with a 2.5 female to 4.4 male adapter lol…? That’s actually the ONE proper(or so I thought?) connector I got from that store! I try to stick with 2.5 cables, and convert/adapt from there. Otherwise 4.4.

Really… So I’ve been doing it all wrong this whole time, with my bal cables + SE adapters? :\ I’ve always read it was bad to do it the other direction, IIRC. I can’t say I’ve noticed any issues, weirdness, or sound differences yet, using 2 smartphones, ATOM, Jot, G111, A30P, and 3XP so far. Is it rare in general for bal->SE to cause a problem? Or always, on certain amps? How can I tell if there is, or will be, a problem…? Perhaps it doesn’t really matter with IEMs…?

Damnit, google >_<

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I also haven’t experienced issues with any but some are worse than others (was looking at a greekia adapter (one of the 2.5mm) and people in reviews were saying it would short either the amp or headphones because they messed up)

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I think you’re swapping the order in your head.
The Atom, most (all?) smortphones, G111,… are all single-ended. So no. There’s nor problem running balanced cables with SE adapters in them.

The problem would be doing the opposite. A balanced amp into SE adapter.


Are you also mainly using IEMs? I believe my Vokyl Erupt has a bal cable, with bal or SE terminations(modular mini-XLR), and also haven’t noticed problems there, but I use IEMs far more than it.

Ok, so when you start using the amp’s bal output things can go wrong. I see…

So this:
Bal amp(4.4 port) + (4.4M-to-3.5F adapter) + 3.5 cable’d SR-X9000 v2 LTD

And this:
SE amp + anything + anything
= OK

lately I’ve been using the swappable connector cables with everything but used to adapt 4.4 to whatever I needed

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When the “target” device is balanced, you can feed it single ended with only rare problems.

The moment you go balanced, you need a level-converter or transformer to go back to single ended.

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Thanks, guys! <3 you all. (almost as much as @DuerumBen )

You mean like every piece of single ended gear on the planet? Balanced to SE adapters exist, and I use this one occasionally. It works fine.

If I have portable gear set for 2.5mm, but want to use it for a couple hours on a tube amp that only has 3.5mm, I might not want to put wear and tear on the 2-pin connectors on both the cable or the IEM to change it out.

At that point the $10 adapter makes a ton more sense, and preserves my gear better.

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You have that backwards. That’s unbalanced to balanced. Only one I know of that actually works right is the ifi one.


testet only with iFi amps or other amps too?

I am aware they exist. I have This one floating about as a universal problem solver.


I don’t want to confuse anyone heavily, but there is technical possibility of having safe balanced (source) to unbalanced (termination device) adapter as long as we are talking about TRRRS 4.4 mm output from with ground line used in the adapter and not shorting L- and R- together. Those are the ones IFI sells dedicated for their devices and also DDHifi that works with some devices. It may alternate the sound though slightly and induce some imbalance potentialy depending on the output stage of the balanced amplifier design.


It does not matter whether the adapter shorts + or - together, because a short is a short.
The way to do it “passively” is by using a transformer:

TRRRS is basically like two XLRs in one, with Sleeve being the shield (= not carrying any signal).
The iFi adapters are curious to me, because shorting Left and Right anything together would be bad for the amplifier. And since “ground” in balanced signals is not carrying any signal, connecting + or - through a headphone to it would not result in a complete circuit and therefor not in sound.

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