"Neutrik is often asked whether the shiny silver tab on typical XLR cable connectors should be connected to anything."
"In the course of the evolution of the AV industry, it has come to be that this tab is practically never terminated. This means, in turn, that the shell is not grounded. When in doubt, simply leave this tab unterminated."
"Whether or not they are internally wired to the shield signal, XLR cable connector shells always make an electrical connection to chassis connector shells once the two are mated."
"Typically, chassis connectors need to be grounded. The industry best practice is generally to tie all of the chassis connector shells, pin 1 (cable shields), and the enclosure shield to a common ground."
Neutrik USA Today - Grounding XLR connectors - Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2016
Additional Reading: AES48 - "AES standard on interconnections - Grounding and EMC practices - Shields of connectors in audio equipment containing active circuitry."
Note: Benchmark uses Neutrik cable and chassis connectors because of their superior performance and durability.
In accordance with these best practices outlined above, Benchmark bonds pin 1 of XLR chassis connectors directly to chassis ground. Benchmark leaves the cable tab unterminated on all analog XLR cables, but terminates this tab on AES digital XLR cables.
Benchmark recommends leaving the cable tab unconnected on all analog XLR cables.
Benchmark terminates the cable tab on AES digital XLR cables to minimize radio-frequency emissions when two or more digital XLR cables are connected end-to-end. Digital cables that do not have the tab terminated should not be daisy chained.
Benchmark recommends tying the cable tab to the shield on all AES digital XLR cables.
The Benchmark AHB2 power amplifier and HPA4 headphone amplifier both feature feed-forward error correction. This correction system is an important subset of the patented THX-AAA™ (Achromatic Audio Amplifier) technology. It is one of the systems that keeps these Benchmark amplifiers virtually distortion free when driving heavy loads. It is also the reason that these amplifiers can support 500 kHz bandwidths without risk of instability when driving reactive loads.
This paper explains the differences between feedback and feed-forward systems. As you read this paper, you will discover that you already understand the benefits of feed-forward correction because you use it instinctively to improve a feedback system commonly found in your automobile. If feed-forward correction can improve your driving experience, it may also improve your listening experience!
If you look at the back of any Benchmark product, you will find balanced XLR analog-audio connectors. As a convenience, we also provide unbalanced RCA connectors on many of our products. In all cases, the balanced interfaces will provide better performance.
We build our unbalanced interfaces to the same high standards as our balanced interfaces, but the laws of physics dictate that the balanced interfaces will provide better noise performance.
This application note explains the advantages of balanced interfaces.
Benchmark has introduced a new analog-to-analog volume control circuit that features a 256-step relay-controlled attenuator and a 16-step relay-controlled boost amplifier. The volume control has a +15 dB to -122 dB range in 0.5 dB steps and is a key component in the HPA4 Headphone / Line Amplifier.
Our goal was to produce an analog-to-analog volume control with the highest achievable transparency. We wanted to be able to place this volume control in front of our AHB2 power amplifier or in front of our THX-888 headphone amplifier board without diminishing the performance of either device. Our volume control would need to have lower distortion and lower noise than either of these amplifiers. Given the extraordinary performance of these THX-AAA amplifiers, this would not be an easy task!
This application note discusses the engineering decisions that went into the development of this new analog volume control circuit. The end result is a fully buffered volume control with a signal-to-noise ratio that exceeds 135 dB. THD measures better than the -125 dB (0.00006%) limits of our test equipment.