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RE: Crazy technical question

In SE mode, one side of the cartridge is connected to a ground reference and the whole wave form is taken from the other side. You're not missing anything, but you lose the noise-cancelling property of a balanced connection. In SE mode, think of "ground" as a tether which prevents voltage changes (AC or signal) on the side of the circuit connected to ground, so all the voltage that constitutes the signal appears on the hot side. The shield of the cable and the collar of the RCA plug are connected together so that RF on the shield and audio circuit ground see ground (on at least one end of the cable), which is essential to complete the circuit.

In balanced mode, there is no need for a ground connection in the signal carrying cable. By the way, as a reference standard, pin2 of the XLR is connected to the (+) signal and pin3 to the (-) signal. Pin1 is for system ground.

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