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XLR Cables: What does it stand for?

Perhaps you’ve seen the letters XLR printed on audio cables before and wondered what they meant. Or maybe you’re in the market for some new audio gear and you’re trying to figure out what type of cables you need. In either case, this blog post is for you. We’ll take a look at what XLR cables are and why they’re so popular in the world of music production.

XLR cables are a type of balanced interconnect cable used in professional audio applications. XLR stands for “external line return” or “x-link return,” depending on who you ask. These cables are commonly used to connect microphones to mixers, hardware devices to computers, and PA systems to amplifiers.

XLR cables have three conductors: a positive (hot), a negative (cold), and a ground. The positive and negative conductors are twisted around each other to cancel out any electromagnetic interference (EMI) that might be picked up by the cable. The ground conductor helps protect against electrical shocks.

XLR cables are also shielded, which means they have an extra layer of protection against EMI. The shielding helps reduce noise and ensures that the signal remains clear.

 

XLR Connectors

XLR cables have three-pin connectors on each end. The three pins are designated as follows:

  • Pin 1: Ground/shield
  • Pin 2: Hot/positive
  • Pin 3: Cold/negative

The ground/shield pin is used to help reduce interference. The hot/positive and cold/negative pins carry the audio signal.

 

Types of XLR Cables

There are two main types of XLR cables: shielded and unshielded. Shielded cables have an extra layer of shielding around the inner conducting wires. This shielding helps to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI). Unshielded cables do not have this extra layer of shielding.

You absolutely NEVER need to buy $100 “golden tip” XLR Cables. This is what we call “snake oil,” and there is a lot of it preying on newbies in this industry! A standard pair from your local guitar center will do just fine. 

 

Choosing the Right XLR Cable for Your Needs

When choosing an XLR cable for your needs, you’ll want to consider a few factors, including length, type (shielded or unshielded), and gauge (thickness).

Length: The length of the cable you need will depend on the distance between the devices you’re connecting. For example, if you’re connecting a microphone to a mixer that’s several feet away, you’ll need a longer cable than if you’re connecting two devices that are only a few inches apart.

Type: As we mentioned above, there are two main types of XLR cables: shielded and unshielded. In general, shielded cables are better at reducing interference than unshielded cables. However, they tend to be more expensive. If you’re on a budget, an unshielded cable may be sufficient for your needs.

Gauge: The gauge of an XLR cable refers to its thickness. In general, thicker cables are better at reducing interference than thinner ones. However, they can also be more difficult to work with and more expensive. If you’re on a budget or working in a tight space, a thinner cable may be sufficient for your needs.

 

Go Forth, Rebel Artist.

XLR cables are an important part of any electronic music producer’s toolkit. They are used to connect microphones to mixers or other devices in order to send audio signals between them. When choosing an XLR cable, length, type (shielded or unshielded), and gauge (thickness) are all important factors to consider in order to choose the right one for your needs. By understanding what XLR stands for and how it works, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about which types of cables will work best for your needs.