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noob question here: do single ended vs balanced even matter when used for IEM/CIEMs?
I have no personal experience with balanced vs single-ended, but the debate is huge among audiophiles.
I tend to trust Zeos on this, which is that balanced SOMETIMES makes an observable difference, and sometimes doesn't. Think of it more as an insurance policy, if you're worried about having the absolute best.
The largest quality differences will be 1) quality headphones, 2) quality source material, 3) a DAC that can actually PLAY your source material if its digital, 4) CLEAN power (class A)
Now, it's not necessarily in that order, but it doesn't make sense to worry about balanced power if there's poor signal, or if your headphones are physically incapable of producing a better signal, or if your DAC is downgrading all your flac to garbage.
I think of it as an ROI thing. I might go balanced later, when I'm running Ether Cs etc.
Hope that helps!
It's really a power difference. The extra ground may help done with distortion, but in my experience, it really comes down to power requirements for your needs. With that said, I run balanced when I can on my Schiit Joutenheim and Topping DX7.