DACs and the Differential Dilemma

Most high-performance modern DAC ICs have differential outputs, even those targeting single-ended consumer applications. It’s a great way to reduce even-order nonlinearities in the chip’s conversion and output stages, and it gets you around 3dB better SNR.

But in most systems that support both “balanced” (i.e., differential) and RCA (i.e., single-ended) outputs, there is an existential battle between the two for primacy.

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