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How to Choose the Best XLR Cable?

13th January 2020

You are probably wondering what this is. It’s actually quite simple. You have surely come across it without knowing how it’s called. You can see these cables in every studios and stages. They are used for many purposes. When you compare them to TRS, they are a lot better. Still, at the end of the day you are faced with a tough decision. You will have to make a decision which type of microphone to buy. If you get a bad one, everything will feel off. 

How to make a good choice? 

Before you go to the store, you would have to learn so much. You will have to decide their purpose. Why do you need to buy a XLR? There can be so many answers to this question. So, it’s best if you decide this before buying. There are many other factors that you will have to consider before you reach a decision. You can choose between live or studio. There are also different lengths. So, it’s not so easy as it sounds. You can learn so much on this link https://www.techwalla.com/articles/what-is-an-xlr-cable.

Live or studio? 

This is the first thing that will help you decide. Will you use them for live radio shows? A lot of people buy cables for their studios. So, there’s a big difference. Are you going to use it as microphone or instrument applications? If you are planning to use it for live shows, you need something with durable shield. Many people need flexible cords. That way they can adjust them. You can move them anywhere you like. 

It would be perfect if you get a PVC jacket, too. This would improve the whole thing. You have to know that you can’t always go for the cheapest product. It won’t last. It will probably break down when you need it the most. So, you have to invest in a pricier product. Get something that has higher quality. This way, you won’t have to buy new cables every month or so. 

What about length? 

When you go to the store to buy a XLR, they will ask you what length you need. You will have to tell them. If you don’t know this, you can’t buy the cord. This depends on whether you need the microphone for studio or live uses. You have to buy a longer one, just in case. When recording live, you have to be prepared for a lot of action. However, if you get a much longer cord than you need, you are going to trip. You can’t have that in a small studio with many instruments around.

What is cable core?

When choosing the right XLR, you have to think about core and thickness. This is crucial for your signal. When talking about thickness, you have to tell the seller the size of the diameter. That’s the way to do it. The numbers go from 20 to 26. Many musicians and producers choose a thicker cord. They use it for studio recording. However for a live show, you should get a thinner one. So, there are a lot of things to consider. If you want to learn more, click here.

You have to learn what shielding means

This feature actually protects your cable and signal. You won’t have to deal with any unwanted interference. The XLR has three pins. The third pin is for shielding. If there’s any interference, it will direct it through. It won’t let it in the main signal. Many people use different types of materials for this purpose. You will have to see which one suit you best. You can choose copper, tin platted copper or aluminum laminate.

What type of shielding to choose?

Aluminum laminate seems to be the cheapest one. Also, it’s very fragile. You won’t get that much flexibility here. So, that is why it isn’t recommended for live transmissions. If you want to get high quality get the copper. You can see it in many studios. What’s best about this is that it’s protected from oxidation. This is a good thing when it comes do cable. 

You can use this for mid – low frequencies because it has good conductivity. However, if you choose spiral copper, you have to be prepared for many damages. You would have to buy a new cord every now and then. You have to be careful. Its price is somewhere between the previous two. Apart from all these features, you must think about cost, too.

What’s the difference between balanced and unbalanced cables? 

The unbalanced cords have 2 wires. They serve as conductors. If you want to buy a cheaper product, you can get this. But you should be prepared for interference, especially from some nearby electronic devices. This is why they aren’t recommended for studios. Their length should be around 25 to 30 feet. On the other hand, there are balanced cords. They have three wires instead of two. You have positive, negative and ground. They’re great for audio with longer cords.

Which connector type to get?

When buying a connector, you have to think about durability and life span. You will have to choose a brand. You can’t just go and buy just any. There’s a lot of thinking to do. However, it will all come down to silver or gold connectors. You shouldn’t trust sellers when they tell you that gold is better. This is a marketing trick for you to spend unnecessary money on something that’s not that good.

This is why you should do some solid reading. Don’t let them manipulate you like that. You have to be smart about this. It’s your money after all. When reading online, you will see that gold connectors have better resistance to corrosion. This may not be that important for most people. In the end, a lot of people choose the silver – plated connectors. They buy these cables mostly because of their low price compared to the gold ones.

Corey is an all round tech guru who has worked at some major blue chip companies. He started Poweronemedia to share his views and knowledge with the rest of the blogging world.