XLR cables are an essential part of any professional recording setup.
They are used to connect microphones to preamplifiers and power amplifiers, speakers, mixing consoles, and more. So, if you work a lot with speakers and microphones, you are probably in the market for a good XLR cable.
But not all XLR cables are made equal.
Some XLR cables are more specialized than others, and some are made to a higher standard. The last thing you need is to waste your hard-earned money on a poor-quality XLR cable.
The main reason why they are so important is that they provide a clean electrical connection between two devices without adding unwanted noise. You don't want to end up with one that picks up a lot of interference and gives out poor sound quality.
But how can you separate the poor XLR cables from the good ones? What features are vital when it comes to a good XLR cable?
That is where we come in.
We have pulled together the best XLR cables out there and reviewed each one.
For each XLR cable, we will talk about what makes it good and what drags it down, as well as including a buyer's guide that will give you solid advice when it comes to browsing the market yourself.
With so many XLR cables out there, it can be easy to feel confused or overwhelmed – so sit back and let us guide you through our choices of the best XLR cables.
Want all the basics covered for a very generous price? Well, the Amazon Basics XLR Microphone Cable does just that.
Want all the basics covered for a very generous price? Well, the Amazon Basics XLR Microphone Cable does just that.
The first thing that jumps out at you is the price – it's very low when compared to other XLR manufacturers.
This makes it a great choice for those in need of a basic yet affordable XLR cable – but when it comes to trying it out, how well does this cable function?
Overall, the Amazon Basics XLR cable is sturdy and durable, making it easy to use for professional audio applications. This is thanks to the cable's all-copper design which minimizes unwanted electromagnetic interference (EMI).
It is a balanced cable, meaning that when using it, you are less likely to experience inference that could result in your audio clipping or distracting white noise that destroys its quality.
Built with a flexible 6.0 mm PVC jacket and durable steel housing, the microphone cable provides reliable performance and is likely to last you a long time – making it very much worth the price!
Our only issue is the connectors. The Amazon Basics XLR microphone cable's connectors use three pins and zinc alloy construction to provide a secure audio feed – but perhaps a little too secure.
Trying to unplug the cable will take a bit of effort, and let's hope the connector does not get stuck in your microphone.
Other than that, this XLR cable works very well for such a low cost, making it an ideal XLR cable for those on a tight budget.
- Very affordable price, making it a great choice for those on a strict budget.
- A balanced design allows for less interference and a better quality of audio.
- Protective jackets and housing make them durable for long periods of use.
- The connections are a very tight fit, making them difficult to unplug and could potentially damage your equipment.
Another affordable XLR cable that is great for those seeking a bargain is the Monoprice XLR Cable!
This cable has become a favorite among many users because of its affordability and reliability, so let's have a look at it.
First off, the Monoprice XL cable comes with a protective outer jacket made from ABS plastic. This gives the cable durability, which means that it won't break easily.
Furthermore, the inner shield protects the core wire against EMI. It also features a high impedance rating which helps to improve the overall sound quality of any recording.
When it comes to the actual connection itself, the Monoprice mic cable features gold plated contacts. These contacts allow greater electrical conductivity, which improves the overall quality of audio.
They also reduce the risk of corrosion over time, making it easier to plug and unplug. Gold is a very valuable metal to use in XLR cables as they tend to be of higher quality, so it is great to see a gold-plated XLR cable for such an affordable price!
The only issue we have with this cable is the limited size. It is only available at a length of 10 feet.
If you require a good quality long XLR cable to reach between microphones of a greater distance than that, then you are out of luck with this one.
Hopefully, Monoprice will expand their range as this cable is very good quality at a very attractive price.
- Gold plated connections are very high quality to allow for a better audio output.
- The Durable design means it is protected against wear and tear plus EMI and interference.
- All of this is available at a very affordable price.
- Limited to only 10 feet (ca. 3 m) in length, which is a dealbreaker for a lot of potential buyers.
Rapco is a trusted brand used by many who require a sturdy and good quality XLR cable, so let's have a look at their Horizon XLR Microphone cable model!
The Rapco XLR cable offers 15 feet (4.57 m) of length so if you need a long XLR cable for your needs then this one may be just what you are looking for. This length also ties into how solid and heavy the cable feels.
It is constructed using premium aluminum alloy which provides strength and extra protection. It also has a rugged rubberized coating to protect it from accidental bumps and scratches.
Although it does make this cable very durable, it is also a bit heavy and clumsy to roll up and carry around.
Another feature that stands out about this particular XLR cable is the fact that it uses a nickel silver contact instead of the cheaper copper ones. Nickel silver allows for greater electrical conductivity thus improving the audio quality.
However, there is a downside to this – it is slightly harder to work as the tight fit of the connectors makes it an issue to plug and unplug from your devices.
All of these things combine to make the Rapco XLR Mic cable a very strong and durable option for those wanting a reliable cable.
If you are looking for a longer XLR cable that is both long and robust, then this could be the one for you.
- Sturdy construction with a rubberized coating for added protection against damage.
- Nickel silver contacts provide excellent audio quality.
- It is 15 feet (4.57 m) in length which is more than enough for most users.
- It is very heavy and difficult to carry out, so not the most mobile of XLR cables.
Made for those who travel and go on tour, Pig Hog's XLR Microphone cable is built with sturdy and ease of use in mind.
This XLR cable is made from a blend of stainless steel and aluminum, giving it durability and resistance to corrosion. The inside of the cable is coated with a soft PVC outer layer to keep it clean and prevent any unwanted debris from getting stuck within the connector.
We just wished that Pig Hog paid enough attention to the connectors' quality as they often get stuck inside microphones.
However, the exterior of this cable will protect it against the elements and ensure that it lasts for years to come.
Pig Hog also offers a very generous range in length, with the shortest cable measuring at 3 feet (0.91 m) and the longest at 50 feet (ca. 15 m), meaning that you can get a very precise length of cable to suit your needs.
Those on tour can also buy cables of multiple lengths, so you will have a good audio output no matter the length.
This XLR cable also features a heat shrink resistance to minimize damage after long periods of use and working up to a high temperature.
This feature is extremely useful for bands and performers, so you can use this XLR cable in hot environments without having to worry about your cable suffering from heat-related damage.
If you are looking for a flexible and easy-to-use XLR cable, then this could be just the one for you.
- Very protected against damage, making this a very durable XLR cable.
- The heat shrink resistance in the connectors makes it ideal for those who often find their XLR cables are damaged due to heat after long periods of use.
- Comes in lengths of 3 feet (0.91 m) to 50 feet with a variety of prices depending on the length.
- The connectors, despite being heat shrink resistant, are very tight and often get stuck in microphones and other equipment.
If you are looking for a customizable XLR cable, then try out this cable from Stagg.
Their XLR cables are available to buy in a range of colors including red, black, and blue. Not only can you identify your XLR cable in a crowded set-up, but you can also use the colors to match your aesthetic and style!
Plus, they are available in a range of lengths from 1 meter to 10 meters, allowing you to have more control and choice when it comes to picking the right XLR cable for you.
However, if you need an extremely long XLR cable, then you are a bit limited with 10 meters being the maximum available length.
These XLR cables are constructed using top-grade components, ensuring that there isn't much risk of failure or problems arising while using them.
They are also designed to withstand harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures, humidity, and dust.
The inner core of these cables consists of braided copper wires which provide excellent shielding properties and improve the overall performance of the cable.
The connectors used in these cables are gold plated and ensure that there won't be any issues with sound leakage between the two connectors.
So, the Stagg SMC3 XLR cable is not only customizable and color, but also uses high-quality materials like braided copper and gold plated connectors to ensure they are also very high in audio quality too!
All this is available for a very generous price – so this will probably be the dream XLR cable for a lot of potential buyers!
- Available in many colors, you can easily identify your XLR cable even in a crowded setup.
- Uses high-quality materials like gold to improve the sound quality from this cable.
- Lots of great features are available for a very affordable price, meaning that this high-quality XLR cable is a great choice for a lot of people.
- Only comes with a maximum length of 10 meters, so those who need an extremely long XLR cable are out of luck here.
Here we'll go over some general things to keep in mind when choosing which XLR cable would work best for your needs.
There are many types of XLR cables available on the market today. The majority of them have similar parameters (like impedance, materials, etc.).
But some differences make one type superior to another, so here's what you need to know before buying:
Most XLR cables have a nominal resistance of 100 Ohms, but some are also available with both 75 Ohms and 250 Ohms versions. These numbers refer to the overall impedance of the cable itself – and it is something you need to be aware of when buying your XLR cable.
When connecting a microphone or other equipment into a mixer, the impedance of the line-level input must match the impedance of the mic/input connector, otherwise, the sound quality suffers.
If the impedance of the line levels doesn't match the impedance of the input jack, the signal will reflect from the end of the cable. This reflection may result in distortion, white noise, and even clipping.
For example, if you plug a 100 Ohms cable into a 250 Ohms output jack, instead of sending a 250 Ohms signal to the speaker, the cable will send a 100 Ohms to signal back, resulting in distortion.
This means that you need to find the impedance of the input jack of the device you intend to connect your XLR cable to. This way, you can find the right impedance that you need for your XLR cable.
Length is also another important factor to consider when looking for the best XLR cable for you.
Some people prefer short cables because they fit better inside their equipment (like mixing consoles), while others prefer long cables because they feel more comfortable when used for recording purposes.
So when it comes to buying your XLR cable, take into consideration your setup and measure exactly how long your XLR cable needs to be at a minimum. The last thing you want is to be caught with an XLR cable that is too short.
However, cable length has a direct impact on the amount of noise picked up. Longer cables can cause signal loss and pick-up interference thanks to radiofrequency and electromagnetic fields.
This can be tackled by buying a long cable that also has good shielding, but it is something to keep in mind.
Construction And Quality
A good XLR cable should have a smooth surface and feel sturdy in the hand. It shouldn't have sharp edges or rough spots where dirt can accumulate.
On top of that, it should have a rugged outer sheath to protect against wear and tear. Some cables feature a built-in strain relief boot to prevent damage caused by mishandling, so this is a feature to look out for when browsing for XLR cables.
Another quality in its construction to look out for is if the XLR cable is balanced or unbalanced.
A balanced cable features better shielding to help reduce interference and create low impedance paths for better sound quality.
Not all XLR cables are made to be balanced, but they are certainly the better choice – especially if you need a long XLR cable. Unbalanced XLR cables are usually more affordable because they use less material, but they produce an inferior sound quality.
There are many materials available for XLR cables, including copper, aluminum, silver, gold, brass, stainless steel, and other metals. Each material has strengths and weaknesses that make them suitable for certain applications.
Gold and brass are excellent choices for professional-grade microphones, while silver and copper tend to work well for consumer-grade microphones.
XLR connectors are designed to be easy to use. They have a quick disconnect feature, allowing you to quickly swap cables without having to untangle the cord.
Many connectors include a locking mechanism to ensure that they stay securely attached to their corresponding port.
If your connector suddenly becoming loose or falling out in the middle of use is a big worry on your mind, then a locking mechanism is something to look for in your ideal XLR cable.
If you're looking to buy an XLR cable online, you'll probably find tons of options.
All of these options do come with various price tags – so some XLR cables are more affordable than others. Consider your budget and set a maximum price for yourself.
There are plenty of good XLR cables that come at a low price, but you mustn’t cut yourself too short.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does XLR Stand For On XLR Cable?
XLR stands for ‘External Line Return' in XLR cable. This refers to how XLR cables allow electrical currents to pass through it, allowing us to connect to devices like microphones and amplifiers.
What Is The Difference Between An XLR Microphone Cable And An XLR Speaker Cable?
They are two different types of cable and connectors.
XLR cables designed for microphones usually use two-conductor wires and a shield wire (sometimes referred to as a balanced cable). They are better for running long lengths and use low voltages.
XLR cables designed for speakers typically only use two wires that are much thicker, and use heavier duty cores.
Trying to use one cable instead of the other can result in interference noise, damaging equipment, and low sound output. Make sure that you have the right type of cable for your intended use and do not try to substitute one with another.
What Is The Difference Between A Balanced And Unbalanced Cable?
We touched on this a little earlier, but let's go into more detail.
A balanced cable features 3 different wires in the line cable with a shield, individual conducts that are twisted together, and a braided shield. These three wires each have their purpose.
The first wire carries the audio, the second helps reduce hum and noise by providing currents with a low impedance path, and the third protects against interference by acting as another low impedance path.
Unbalanced cables only feature 2 different wires with a shield. This makes them more affordable, but less effective and inconsistent in audio quality – especially over long distances when using long XLR cables.
So, we recommend that you get a balanced XLR cable as they are more effective and consistent, giving you a better audio quality.