At first, an XLR cable would appear to be just a fancy variation of a regular cable. I’m pleased to announce to you that an XLR cable is much more than a “fancy variation,” it is the gold standard.
That’s why professionals use it for varying purposes, including lighting, video, and audio equipment setups. Its primary draw is that it cuts out interferences and maintains the fidelity of the signal passing through it. This is why an average cable doesn’t cut it because it can quickly degrade the signals as it would be a magnet for interferences and unwanted noise.
In a Hurry? Choose From Our Top Picks
|LyxPro XLR Cable||Gearlux XLR Microphone Cable|
|Lowest Price||$17.99Amazon See it||$9.99Amazon See it|
|Types||XLR cables||XLR cables|
|Weight||1 Pounds||1 pounds|
|Product Dimensions||9.6 x 6.7 x 1.5 inches||9 x 2 x 8 inches|
|Read Full Review||Read Full Review|
Table of Contents
- Overview of an XLR Cable
- 4 of The Best XLR Cables
- LyxPro Balanced XLR Cable Professional Microphone Cable
- Gearlux 10-foot Balanced XLR Microphone Cable with Oxygen-Free Copper Conductor
- FT 50-foot 3-Pin XLR Microphone Cable
- Cable Matters 2-Pack, Gold Plated XLR Male to Female Microphone Cable
- My Recommendation
Overview of an XLR Cable
Basic Understanding of an XLR Cable
Two basic things to know about the XLR cable are:
- It is a BALANCED cable
- It can carry LINE LEVEL SIGNALS over long distances
Why the term ‘Balanced’?
One fact many fail to note about audio connections is that there are many sources of interference. It could be radio frequencies, electronic equipment, even Wi-Fi. Whatever form the source takes, the interference it causes degrades the quality of the audio signal by constituting unwanted noise.
To eliminate noise, a balanced cable like the XLR cable makes use of 3 wires (Signal (+), Signal (-), and Ground), as against two wires (Signal and Ground) used by unbalanced average cables.
Line Level Signals
Line level signal is to audio equipment what binary code is to computers. Line level signal is the standard signal strength. Therefore, before entering the signal chain, signals from instruments (like guitars) and microphones undergo a boost by a direct box and a mic preamp respectively.
Being balanced cables, XLR cables may serve as microphone cables as well as cables that transmit line level signals. More importantly, XLR cables can deliver these signals over long distances while eliminating the usual concerns of accumulated noise that plague lengthy unbalanced cables.
As a result, XLR cable is perfect for use in recording studios and live shows.
XLR Cable Connectors
A typical XLR cable has two circular connectors on each end. One is a male connector, while the other is a female connector.
The difference is:
- Male connectors have pins
- Female connectors have holes
Consequently, the male connector serves as the output, while the female connector acts as the input.
With that said, XLR cable connectors have a diverse range of a number of pins/holes. The number could be as low as 3 or as high as 10. However, manufacturers adopt a sort of standard, across-the-board XLR cable with a specific number of pins for some applications.
- 3-pin XLR cables (XLR3) are standard for XLR mic cables and most connections between equipment
- 4-pin XLR cables are standard for intercom headsets
- 5-pin XLR cables are standard for DMX512 lighting control
In addition to the very useful ability of XLR cables to eliminate noise thanks to its wiring, the female connector also provides security against interference of external signals. This is due to the built-in external locking system.
How this works is that in a typical XLR3 cable, the pin 1 of a male connector connects to the hole 1 of the female connector (the pin/hole 1 are the ground terminals), before the other pins connect with their respective holes for a balanced configuration.
As a result, it is possible to insert and remove XLR connectors in live equipment without picking up external signals. RCA connectors lack this feature and so receive an influx of external signals when adding and removing connectors in live equipment.
XLR Cable Parts
I implore you to pay close attention to this sub-section. It is vital to understand the parts of an XLR cable when purchasing the best XLR cable for your home recording studio.
A standard XLR cable has 5 main parts, from inside to outside:
- TWO (2) Conductors
- Outer Jacket
Of these five parts, the two most important parts to pay mind to are the conductors and shielding.
The conductors should be oxygen free. This is to prevent corrosion and consequently increase durability.
The shield should be made of a requisite material that would adequately protect the pristine signals passing through the cable from sources of interference that would otherwise introduce noise. This material is usually metal-based. A typical useful shield material is tin-plated copper.
4 of The Best XLR Cables
LyxPro Balanced XLR Cable Professional Microphone Cable
The LyxPro Balanced XLR Cable is a multi-purpose premium cable with an outstanding build that makes it ideal for a broad range of standard applications that use XLR cables in every pro audio setup from home recording studios to live concerts.
The LyxPro Balanced XLR Cable Premium Series Professional Microphone Cable features 24-gauge Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) conductors that prevent corrosion and thus sustains pristine signal transmission over an extended period.
The cable consists of twin conductive PVC inner shields. Furthermore, it features 98% braided shield found only in premium XLR cables. Braided shields boast of superior strength, durability, and high conductivity to other types of shields (serve shield and foil shield). Thus, it has excellent hi-frequency and RFI shielding.
The LyxPro Balanced XLR Cable features high-end gold contact points. Gold is the preferred material for contact points for most pros as it is highly resistant to oxidation and corrosion.
Consequently, it prevents poor connections that would otherwise have occurred if the connector had contact points plated with materials, like silver, that are less resistant to oxidation and corrosion.
Besides, gold requires less maintenance than materials like silver for the same reasons mentioned above.
Other Noteworthy Information
- Features cotton yarn wrap to reduce noise considerably
- The cable is available in varying lengths—from 1.5 feet to 100 feet
- LyxPro offers more versatility with its wide array of 10 colors choices to pick from. The availability of multiple color options is for easy identification and convenience.
Gearlux 10-foot Balanced XLR Microphone Cable with Oxygen-Free Copper Conductor
The Gearlux XLR cable is a durable with robust metal connectors, a feature shared by every other cable on this list except the LyxPro. Building on this valuable feature is it being sturded with Oxygen Free Copper conductors that ensure high-quality signal transmission and voice clarity. The cable also sport noise-elimination tech advancements to secure an endearing “noiseless” cable tag
FT 50-foot 3-Pin XLR Microphone Cable
Unlike the LyxPro and Gearlux, the FT Cable comes in a 2-in-1 package. Therefore, you get two 50-foot cables with your purchase. More interestingly, you get the two FT cables at the price of one 50-foot LyxPro cable, and three 10-foot Gearlux cables/two 25-foot Gearlux cables, which represent the height of affordability in the premium XLR cables line. It is durable, flexible, and more importantly performs its task efficiently.
Cable Matters 2-Pack, Gold Plated XLR Male to Female Microphone Cable
The elite Cable Matters offers everything that you need in a top-end XLR Balanced mic cable. In addition to featuring Oxygen Free Copper conductors for pristine sound, it boasts of exquisite copper braiding shielding for effective noise cancellation.
Furthermore, it features top-quality metal connectors, and its pins/holes (contact points) are gold-plated for long-lasting, stable connections and prevention of corrosion.
Cable Matters offer different lengths of its high-quality XLR cables, from as low as 3 feet to as high as 50 feet. Cable Matters and LyxPro XLR cables occupy similar price points.
If you want to have more options rather than the default black wire + glossy black/metal connectors, without sacrificing on quality and effectiveness, then you should get LyxPro Balanced XLR Cable Professional Microphone Cable.