July 12, 2024
XLR Cable

When authors record a podcast in the studio or at home, the last thing they want is for the signal to become weak or distorted. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the quality of XLR cables, especially if they’re used for professional purposes.

Let’s discuss the design of XLR cables, what to look for when buying one, and why it’s better to spend money on an expensive cable.

What Is An XLR Cable Used For?

An XLR cable transmits a balanced signal. A standard 1/4″ or 1/8″ cable, such as a headphone jack, transmits an unbalanced signal. Such a signal picks up unwanted background electrical signals that create an audible buzzing noise, and this is not the case with an XLR cable.

The success of eliminating this noise also depends on the quality of the audio equipment and cables used.

There are different brands of XLR cables, from cheap ones made with bare copper wires (which can cause interference) to high-end options that use silver-plated copper wiring. And while these expensive cables sound great, they can also fail if not properly cared for. So, what do you need to know about these types of XLRs?

How Do You Know If An XLR Cable Is Of Good Quality?

  • The first thing to look at is the cable’s shield. On a three-pin XLR connector, pins 1 and 2 will have a braided shield. However, pin one on a four-pin XLR connector will have a braided shield, and pins 2 and 3 will have bare wire.
  • Also note the number of strands in the cable’s conductors. The more strands in each conductor, the better the XLR will be. A good rule of thumb is that two or three conductors are sufficient for many applications, but increasing the number to five or six conductors can give additional protection against interference from other sources, such as power lines or lighting cables. This is important when working with high-power devices.
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Finally, make sure that all connectors are made of silver-plated copper, as it is more durable, especially when running with a lot of current for long periods of time.

The Difference Between Expensive Cables And Cheap Cables

Expensive cables use silver-coated or oxygen-free copper-stranded wires to help reduce interference and improve sound quality.

Each wire is individually shielded from interference, ensuring the signal is always clear. The outer jacket consists of a steel braid that protects the cable from crushing or fraying. That’s not to say that cheap XLRs don’t belong. It’s better to pay attention to the material of your cable before you buy it.

Spend Your Money On High-Quality XLR Cables

XLR cables are the backbone of audio technology, ensuring reliable connectivity and pristine sound transmission in professional setups. Even if the content of the releases is excellent, humming or crackling can put listeners off.

There are two basic types of cables: shielded and unshielded. Shielded cables are wrapped in a metal mesh that prevents interference from electrical signals, while unshielded cables have no such protection and are, therefore, susceptible to noise.

In addition to shielding, both types of XLRs come with different plugs (XLR-3 or BLX) and terminations. The most common connector type is the XLR-3. It has three wires:

  • The shielding wire grounds
  • The center wire carries the signal current
  • The ring terminal serves as a ground reference point between equipment units. The result is a balanced audio connection.


Overall, the difference between expensive and cheap cables is slight, so we recommend spending the extra money and buying an XLR, which will last longer and provide better sound.

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