Unbalanced

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Overview

The term "Unbalanced" is used to describe connections that are not "balanced" and employ a conductor held at "signal ground" potential to act as a signal return.

Basics

Any circuit must have a "path" for the current flowing in it to both "go to" the receiving device (or "load") and "return from" it. In the case of an unbalanced connection; even though the return conductor may be held at ground potential by being connected to the signal ground; it still can act as a return path for the signal current.

By definition; this means that the signal ground of both the sending and receiving device must be connected together via the unbalanced connection; and this can lead to issues caused by other "interference" currents also flowing on this path. This is why balanced connections are used in audio as a means of eliminating these sources of interference.

Two sources of interference are:

  1. Induced noise
  2. Ground loops"
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