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Best xlr cables 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated May 1, 2018
Best xlr cables of 2018
I want to find something that’s designed well (both for aesthetic purposes and efficiency). I have a variety of material used in the construction of xlr cables including metal, plastic, and glass. You can make a choice based on the my list as you shop. Here are my top picks with detailed reviews, comparison charts and buying guides to help you purchase the perfect item for your needs.
Test Results and Ratings
Why did this xlr cables win the first place?
The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing!
Why did this xlr cables come in second place?
The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery.
Why did this xlr cables take third place?
It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. We are very pleased with the purchase — the product is great!
xlr cables Buyer’s Guide
Audio-Technica AT831Microphone Cable
Basically, a microphone cable is a cable that features an XLR connection. The one that has either the three pins (male end) or the three holes. The design is really simple, so there’s not much more to it than that. – flexibility – shielding – balanced output/input – well-soldered connections.
Shielded cables are generally worth the extra cost. Shielding blocks signal interference and helps to make the wire in the cable more durable than it would be otherwise. If you plan on regularly performing you should definitely get a shielded cable.
Lastly, balanced cables transmit two signals which are out of phase with each other. This helps to eliminate noise because the circuit cancels electronic interference. This is a must-have feature if you’re going to be running a lot of cable, though you likely aren’t going to need it if you’re just looking for a cheap microphone cable to throw in a practice space.
Imagine you’re marketing a line of microphone cables for your company. Are you just going to say “Hey guys, look! We’ve got a microphone cable too!.” Obviously not. If you think that sounds like a good slogan, you probably aren’t ever going to have much of a career in marketing.
With that in mind, a lot of the buzzwords (gold plating, oxygen free wire) used by companies who produce microphone cables are basically just snake oil. Or at the very least, the features listed aren’t going to be of great importance to performing musicians. Now if you’re trying to set up your own recording studio that’s a different story, but in the majority of cases you’re not going to stand to gain a lot from high-end cables.
Mogami Silver Series XLR Microphone Cable
Founded by Tetsu Sato in a small workshop located out of his personal residence, Mogami has been a mainstay in the audio industry for decades. The company has gained a reputation of consistently providing a quality product at a price that’s incredibly reasonable for the features included, resulting in accolades from professionals and hobbyists alike.
Mogami has also always been a brand that stays on the cutting edge of innovation in its industry, a trend which stretches all the way back to the company’s very roots. Something that many musicians don’t know about the company is that they were actually among the first to research just what causes signal loss and coloration in cables. The results of their research flew in the face of all commonly held conventions of the time, resulting in the industry transforming Mogani Neglex series of cables.
The most inspiring thing about Mogami is that they’ve never compromised on their commitment to manufacturing high-quality goods. Everything produced in the company’s factory is done so under the direct supervision of the company’s founder. With all of these factors in mind, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Mogami Silver Series XLR Microphone Cable is a worthy addition to any musician’s arsenal.
The first thing to know about the Mogami Silver series is that it’s intended to be a more affordable option, aimed at musicians who can’t justify paying an incredibly high sum for their cables. With that in mind, the Mogami Silver series offers value as a mid-range cable. So even though it may be intended to act as a more affordable option, don’t discount it just because it’s cheaper than other cables produced by the company.
Another important thing to keep in mind when looking at Mogami cables is that every component of the cable is produced inside the Mogami factory, which is relatively unique in this industry. This means that the components themselves are made to the level of quality Mogami has become associated with.
As a general rule any cable made to at least a baseline level of quality is going to work just fine for live performance applications. If you gig a lot you’re going to want to focus more on getting a cable that’s incredibly durable. Given the background noise and acoustic limitations of whatever venue you’re playing in odds are you’re not going to stand to benefit all that much from a really expensive cable.
With that being said, the Mogami Silver series is unique in that in addition to being a cable that is durable enough for live performances it’s also capable of performing reasonably well in amateur studio. We wouldn’t go as far to say that it’ll be up to the level of cables that are intended for use in commercial applications, but at the same time we’re not going to say that serious audiophiles should dismiss it.
However, we wouldn’t say that the lack of reviews should scare anyone away from buying this cable. Every Mogami cable comes with a lifetime warranty, so should you happen to experience any problems in your cable you can send it back and get a replacement. Mogami also uses a “No Excuses Warranty”, so unless you take a pair of hedge trimmers to the cable you’re going to be able to get a new one should anything unfortunate occur.
The Mogami Silver Series XLR Microphone cable offers a great value to any musician looking for a reasonably priced microphone cable. Even better, every Mogami cable comes with a lifetime “No Excuses” warranty.
Monster Performer 600 Mic Cable
A fun fact about the company that many musicians don’t know is that Lee actually hand tested and designed his original cables in his family’s garage. While listening to Tchaikovsky’s 181Overture he experimented with using different alloys, wire constructs, and winding methods in order to find the combination of design factors that would create the highest fidelity of sound. The first cables produced by the company were actually assembled by Lee himself, and he sold the door-to-door.
At the time Lee launched the company, the commonly held belief was that cables didn’t have much of an impact on the quality of sound listeners experienced. Because of this Lee is actually credited with being the father of the modern high-end audio cord, as well as creating the market in the first place. Lee actually held live demonstrations for his cables, proving to both customers and retailers that his cables were capable of producing a fidelity of sound that was previously unattainable.
The most important thing to know about these cables is that they are intended for musicians who want a high-quality of sound that exceeds a standard microphone cable. It’s not aimed at musicians who are looking for looking for the cheapest functional option, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Feature wise, the Monster Performer 600 is on par with any cable in this price range. The series uses a custom XLR connection system, which is intended to reduce strain as well as provide a higher degree of durability and flexibility.
The cable is also shielded with a carbon-fiber polymer which intended to reduce handling noise. The exact fiber use isn’t widely disclosed, so it’s hard to say how the coating compares to similar products. At the very least it’s functional enough where the majority of musicians are going to experience a negligible (if any) difference between the handling noise inherent to this cable compared to its competitors.
Lastly, the Monster Performer 600 Mic Cable comes with a high-density braided shielding. The intention of this is to reduce electrical interference which can either introduce unwanted noise into a signal or create a loss of clarity.
Monster cables are a controversial product due to their price. Many musicians don’t really see the worth in purchasing a cable this expensive, and that’s understandable. It’s like a guitar or amp. You don’t really get the full benefit out of a really expensive piece of gear unless you’re using it in a professional capacity. With that being said, Monster is widely lauded by professionals in the industry. Just as importantly, every monster cable comes with a lifetime warranty provided that it was purchased from an authorized retailer. Unfortunately, there are a handful of retailers who claim to be authorized but are not. To view the full list of authorized retailers, head to the Monster Cables warranty page. They offer the terms of the warranty itself as well as a comprehensive list of authorized Monster Cable retailers.
While Monster Cables are expensive, the lifetime warranty that covers every cable produced by the company helps to justify the cost. The cables are aimed more at musicians who need a really high quality of sound, so those of you who rarely gig may be better off going with a cheaper cable. The Monster Performer 600 Mic Cable is a great value for any musician looking for a microphone cord that is equally suited to both the studio and live applications.
CBL MLC20 Low Z XLR Microphone
While studio and professional musicians the world over all need a cable that is equipped to dish out the high-quality of sound that they need in order to make their livelihood, there are still musicians who simply need a cable that will get the job done. It only makes financial sense to go with a really expensive cable if you’re either really picky or playing/recording music for money. Luckily for hobbyist musicians, or those of you who are just getting your start and don’t have a ton of cash available for gear, CBL cables has a solid option available. CBL cables may not excite professional musicians or have the features that they require, but if you’re strapped for cash and just looking to make sound this cable is a viable addition to your rig.
The CBL MLC20 is a no frills microphone cable. The product doesn’t really boast a lot of exciting features, though they are praised for their overall durability considering the price. They do also come with nickel plated connectors, which while fairly standard is an important inclusion to note.
The main thing to realize about these cables is that they really aren’t a bad option for occasions where a high-quality of sound isn’t really required. The perfect situation to use one of these microphone cables would be a small open mic, because due to the background noise of the venue odds are you’re sound isn’t going to suffer too much. Also, it should be stated that in more controlled settings the difference between this cable and a more expensive one aren’t going to be quite as apparent. If you’re looking to record demos at home or podcast you’re probably going to end up being just fine.
The CBL MLC20 is a great buy for the budget-minded that just require a basic no-frills microphone cable.
Instrument cables connect a guitar, bass, keyboard or other electronic instrument to an amp, preamp or direct box. They carry low-voltage signals and generally have 1/4” connectors. They are considered unbalanced cables, which means they are susceptible to noise and should be kept as short as possible (certainly under 2feet).
An instrument cable should never be used as speaker cable. If used as a speaker cable, the quality of sound will suffer and the cable may get hot enough to melt the jacket.
Microphone cables are generally understood correctly, mainly because of their unique XLR connector. They are shielded and balanced which effectively keeps unwanted noise at a minimum (especially for long cable runs). They are used to connect microphones, direct boxes and other low-impedance signals to the mixer.
A speaker cable is an unbalanced cable that has a much heavier gauge (more wire) than most other audio cables. The reason they need heavier wire is because they carry a much higher voltage than microphone or instrument cables.
Those concerned with saving as much money as they can – yet not throwing that money away on some piece of junk but getting a decent quality XLR cable for a budget – should be very happy with the CBI MLC20 XLR cable. With over 2years experience in the field, CBI is a family owned business that has been specializing in budget gear for many years. It is a name you can trust, and indeed if you have any issues with the cable, the 90-day warranty will take care of any problem.
While this cable does not have all the bells and whistles that come with higher end cables, this is something you would expect when looking for the most budget friendly option. The quality of the components are decent enough, and you should have no problem plugging this baby into any of your current equipment.
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This device complies with Part 1of the FCC Rules. Operation is subject to the following two conditions: (1) This device may not cause harmful interference, and (2) This device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.
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Another type of interconnect is called balanced cable and is used with pro and high end gear. Balanced cables have large, three-pin connectors called XLR which lock in to the hardware and have the advantage that you can use long cables with minimal noise.
There are digital and analogue interconnects, often with the same RCA phono connector, but you only need one cable for a digital signal. Digital can be sent electrically via a coaxial cable or optically with a Toslink cable, neither of which are relevant to turntables of course. The other digital option is USB and there are some turntables that have a USB output so that you can record your vinyl with a computer. Many people find it hard to believe that digital cables can sound different, but as inconvenient as it is, they do; just have a listen to see if it’s a big enough difference for you.
The vast majority of cables use copper as a signal conductor because it is the best material for the job. Silver is used in some high end cables because it is a marginally better conductor, however it tarnishes when exposed to oxygen and that affects performance, so it’s debatable whether it warrants the extra cost. A good compromise is silver plated copper which is used in a lot of the better cables, usually insulated in PTFE or Teflon which keeps out the oxygen and ‘sounds’ better than rubber or plastic.
And this is for good reason.
After all, it’s really easy to accidentally plug in the wrong cables together and get some weird results. Audio and DMX are best when they aren’t plugged into each other, so it’s a good idea to keep different plugs on the cables.
Audio cables can seem like a simple thing in concept, until you set out to buy one and realize you didn’t know how much you didn’t know. Although they may be the least exciting components in your stage rig or studio setup, they are some of the most important.
So here is what you need to know, in plain English, to make sure you’re getting the best cable for your gear and your purpose.
The term “patch cable” generically describes any cable that links various components together. They often are quite short in length and may be used in a PA or recording setups to interconnect gear, or to link effects pedals to each other in a signal chain. They may have balanced or unbalanced conductors (discussed above) depending on their purpose, and can have various kinds of connectors including XLR, 1/4″ phone, TRS, or RCA.
The right-angle 1/4″ connectors on these Six-inch Livewire patch cables makes them perfect for connecting effects pedals in a signal chain.
The Livewire Elite Speakon Cable offers a secure connection, twist- and tangle-resistant design, and high-quality conductors that keep your signal noise-free.
XLR connectors have three pins for the positive, negative, and ground. They are most commonly used on microphone cables, but you will also see them used on balanced patch cables and with DMX-enabled lighting equipment.
The Monster Cable Studio Pro 2000 XLR Microphone cable uses Time Correct technology for the ultimate in detail and soundstage imaging.
Digital Audio Connectors
Below are some of the most common digital audio cables and connectors required for linking digital mixers, recorders, preamps, and DAWs (digital audio workstations).
Browse Musician’s Friend’s entire selection of digital cables and connectors.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface cables allow electronic instruments to communicate with peripheral devices. They don’t transmit actual audio, but by signaling every aspect of a musical performance—the note, how long it is held, the velocity of the attack, etc.—MIDI technology defines the sound in the receiving module.
MIDI cables can also communicate control functions to software and synthesizers, so you can control sound and tones with a remote control surface.
The Rocktron RMM900 Cable carries MIDI commands from a footcontroller to any MIDI-compatible gear via a 7-pin MIDI jack.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) cables have become standard for connecting everything from printers to digital audio gear. USB cables have Type A, Type B, Mini-A, Micro-A, Mini-B, Micro-B, or Type C connectors at one end, and a device-specific connector at the other. USB cables can also be used as a power source for some devices. The latest version, USB 3.0, is significantly faster than USB 2.0 and can make a difference in minimizing lag during performances and studio playback of complex material.
For critical audio applications such as recording and DJ work, a premium-quality connector like the Oyaide Neo d+ Series Class B USB Cable ensures stable performance.
There are three types of FireWire connectors: 4-pin, 6-pin and 9-pin. The 4-pin connector, or FW400, transfers data at 400 Mbps (megabytes per second). The slightly larger 6-pin connector has the same transfer rate, but also supplies DC power. The 9-pin connector, or FW800, transfers data twice as fast and also supplies power.
The METRIC HALO Firewire Cable has a standard 6-pin connector on each end, so it can transfer data and also supply power.
Optical Cables and Connectors
Optical cables transmit digital audio as pulses of light, which make them almost completely immune to interference. They are surround-sound capable, but can’t handle higher-resolution formats such as those on Blu-Ray discs.
ADAT (Alesis Digital Audio Tape) Optical Interface, more commonly known as ADAT Lightpipe, is the widely accepted standard for digital audio transfer on optical cables. It transfers eight channels of digital audio on a special cable with an Alesis-specific ADAT connector.
Livewire Elite Optical Data Cable feature premium, heavy-duty fiber-optic cable with Toslink connectors for ADAT “light pipe” optical connections, audio interfaces and recording equipment.
The Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format (S/PDIF) outputs audio over shorter distances. These connectors use either optical or coaxial cables. Coaxial cables are similar in quality to optical cables, but less common. They use RCA connectors, but these cables are not interchangeable with analog RCA cables.
Bayonet Neill-Concelman connectors were originally designed for military use, but are now commonly used on video and audio testing equipment. The bayonet-style connector is used with miniature and subminiature coaxial cables in radio-frequency equipment and video gear.
This Hosa RG 5Cable has a male BNC connector on each end for video or Ethernet connections.
The Tascam Digital Interconnect Format is an unbalanced proprietary format connector that sends and/or receives up to eight channels of digital audio. The bidirectional connection means that only one cable is required to connect the eight ins and outs of one compatible device to another.
All audio cables with the exception of speaker wires and optical cables are shielded to protect the signal from interference that causes noise. The shielding is most often a wire braid that surrounds the insulator for the center conductor(s). The purpose of shielding is to protect the signal from sources of noise, such as radio transmissions, AC power cords, fluorescent lighting, rheostat dimmers, and some appliances. When you hear radio chatter through your amp, it usually means that the shielding around your amp’s gain components is inadequate, but your instrument cable’s shielding can also be the problem. Good shielding blocks interference and also may serve as a ground.
The most common is the braided shield. Small wire strands are braided to form a sheath around the insulation of the signal-conducting wire. This type of shielding is flexible and durable. Onstage mic and instrument cables are constantly being bent, pulled, and stepped on, and braided shielding holds up best under these conditions.
Serve or Spiral-Wrapped Shield
Another type of shielding is the spiral-wrapped or serve shield. This sheath is formed by wrapping a flat strip of wire strands around the center wires in a spiral. The serve shield, while it lacks the tensile strength of a braided shield, is more flexible than a braided shield because it stretches when the cable is bent. It is less resistant to radio frequency (RF) interference, because it is actually a coil and has inductance. It is also easier to manufacture so cables using serve shielding are usually less expensive.
The foil shield is a Mylar-backed aluminum tube that terminates at a copper drain wire. It provides 100% coverage, but since aluminum is a poor conductor of electricity, it also interferes with signal transfer. Foil shielding is inexpensive and easy to make, but it is also fragile and breaks down easily with repeated flexing. It is best used in small patch cables and stereo cables that don’t move much once they are connected.
Even the best cable will eventually fail, and the more you use your sound equipment, the faster you will go through them – especially if you’re taking it on the road. A cable tester is a simple tool that verifies intended signals are working, and no unintended signals are being carried. If you have a problem with your system, a cable tester can quickly help you determine what and where the problem is.
The Galaxy Audio Cable Tester quickly and easily tests XLR, 1/4″, 1/8″, Speakon, stereo RCA, and DIN (MIDI) cables, making it an essential tool for musicians and sound engineers.
Browse the Musician’s Friend selection of cable testers and other audio test equipment.
Snakes are essentially bundled sets of cables. Stage snakes may contain microphone, patch, or speaker cables and are used for two-way connection between the stage and mixers and other PA equipment. They have a fan of connectors on one end, and a box on the stage end that houses a panel of connectors. In shopping for a snake, the length and the type of connections are the main considerations. There are also audio snakes for studios that bundle various cables needed for connecting studio components.
Very ruggedly built with Neutrik D connectors and serious strain relief on all cables, the Pro Co StageMASTER 12-Channel Snake has 1sends and returns.
Explore the complete selection of audio cable snakes at Musician’s Friend.
Your Recording Options
There are primary ways you can record. Either straight to your computer or by using external devices like a digital recorder and a mixer. How you record will also determine your pre-production (what you do before recording) and post-production (what you do after the recording) workload. I recommend recording into an external device like a digital recorder and NOT into your computer.
Digital recorders are dependable. They record via a microphone input directly onto an SD card. Computers are much more likely to have corrupt files, errors, or other technical issues. The following suggestions are based on using an external recording device like a digital recorder and are all pieces you’ll want to consider before starting your podcast.
Choosing a Microphone
One aspect you should know is the difference between dynamic and condenser mics. Dynamic mics are more affordable, rugged, and direct. Condenser mics are typically more expensive, fragile and sensitive. Many people suggest condenser mics over dynamic mics, but I disagree with this for a few reasons. The main reason being that condenser mics pick up EVERYTHING. Unless your recording area is a professional sound booth, a condenser mic will pick up all of your room noise- creaky chairs, computer fan hum, cars driving by outside- you name it.
Dynamic mics on the other hand are perfect for recording in a small room or basement setting. They offer quality sound with a higher degree of control over room noise.
Entry-level: Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone. Nice sound for the price point. XLR (for plugging into a mixer) and USB (for plugging into a computer) outputs. Trustworthy company.
Standard: Shure SM58-LC Cardioid Vocal Microphone. This is the industry staple for live performance. Reasonably priced, high quality, and very durable. This would easily fulfill your podcast needs.
High-end: Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone. This is one of the best rated dynamic mics around. Used by successful podcasters like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire, and Cliff Ravenscraft from the Podcast Answer Man. This mic will not disappoint.
Don’t forget to pick up some mic filters or popscreens to help give you a clean sound. The inexpensive Nady pop filters should work just fine.
Choosing a Mixer
Fortunately, many excellent and comparable recorders exist. When purchasing a recorder, you’ll want to consider things like how will you be using it (in the field, in the studio, or both) and what kind of features are “must-haves.” The best thing to do is ask others who have experience with specific models, but the following two devices is a good place to begin.
Roland R-0Studio WAVE/MPRecorder. Roland makes excellent products and the R-0is one of them. My two favorite features of this recorder are its size (slightly larger than a pack of cigarettes) and the record/pause feature (allows you to pause a recording instead of completely stopping and starting a new one). The downside is it doesn’t have an XLR mic input.
TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder.This model is used by Alex Blumberg in recording his podcast ‘StartUp’. The Tascam offers a durable construction, XLR inputs, and two sets of microphones for cardioid or omni-directional pickup.
The following equipment are suggestions based on your setup and needs.
You should always wear headphones when recording and editing your podcast. The kind you typically find at the department store probably aren’t good enough. Try to find a pair of headphones that are used for monitoring like the Sony MDR750Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone.
Other equipment like equalizers and preamps exist but their use in your professional podcast set-up is dependent on many of the factors we’ve already discussed.
Stay tuned for Part of our podcasting series next week.
Check out all the OSTraining podcasts
Refer to the table below for an overview of the standard sound formats and recommended interconnect cables.
Analog audio cables transmit sound as a continually fluctuating electronic signal. Analog cable can’t handle the audio channels in a digital 5.surround sound signal, and are more susceptible to interference, in the form of electromagnetic and radio frequency waves, than digital cables.
Digital audio cables transmit sound signals as a series of 1s and 0s, the language of computers. These cables can carry the six or more audio channels used in surround sound. This binary signal is also much less susceptible to interference and degradation than an analog signal.
It’s best to use digital audio cables if you have digital connections on your equipment, since these cables will deliver the optimal sound experience. However, analog cables will work as well, even with a digital TV or video source, such as a Blu-ray player.
While a range of colors have been used over the years, typically Red is used for the right channel and White for the left audio channel.
The above photo shows both female and male ends of an RCA cable. The top cable shows female ends and the bottom shows male. All combinations are available to match your needs.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your xlr cables wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of xlr cables
- №1 — AmazonBasics XLR Male to Female Microphone Cable – 6 Feet
- №2 — CableCreation XLR Male to 2-XLR Female Y-Splitter Cable
- №3 — 5 pack of 25 FT Low Z Male to Female 3 Pin XLR Mic Microphone Cable