Since James H. Cannon invented the XLR Cable or Connector in 1950, it has evolved and improved its usage within the last century. Without a good cable, effective maneuvering of professional audio, video and stage lighting equipment would be impossible.
An XLR Cable can usually be just as important as the equipment it’s plugged into. Quality and performance are ignominious with great results. So when you’re looking for the best XLR cable, some investigation of the top makes is required.
The quality of your XLR Cable can either make or break your technical game. When purchasing a good XLR cable, considering important factors are crucial to the success of optimizing its use.
In this article, I’ll look at a variety of XLR cables, explore how they work well and offer a range of cables and recommendations. I’ll also dispel the falsity that “all XLR cables are created equal.”
They’re not – it’s not simply just ‘a cable.’ As we’ll discover, there are differences and pros/cons between the different makes.
Let us take a look and understand first how XLR Cables work, examine the different variations of XLR Cables and correctly spot a good quality XLR cable.
An XLR Cable is not just an ordinary cable that you can easily disregard. Picking a good one will make a difference in the quality of your output.
An Introduction to XLR Cables
So what does XLR stand for and what are they used for?
An XLR cable is a balanced audio cable which is grounded and generally used for high-quality audio, like at the cinema or in high-end entertainment (DJ booths and bands) and top home stereos.
Because the cable is both grounded and balanced, it rejects interference more efficiently and produces a more reliable, better quality sound.
This sound can then be amplified further without distortion and the risk of feedback. Quality is of prime consideration here and the top brands produce their offerings in accordance with this.
XLR cables have a variety of uses:
- active speakers,
- mixers and
- other types of control circuits.
They are usually professional-grade and are sometimes called ‘Cannon cables,’ after the original company who invented them (not to be confused with the Canon camera company).
XLR Cables improve the noise of the sound produced by the equipment. It helps regulate a more balanced and well-defined sound resolution.
Say for example when you watch a movie in theaters or party at a bar with a live DJ, the cable helps the equipment produce a high-quality sound.
- Microphone cable for studio recording and live sound
- High-quality XLR male and female connectors; 3-pin XLR male to XLR female
- Protective metal housing; flexible PVC jacket with 6.0mm outer diameter
- All copper conductors and inner copper spiral shielding; shielded cable reduces interference and...
- Measures 25-feet long;
What Are The Specific Uses of XLR Cables?
In a home setting, if you love karaoke, you can use it with your microphones, amplifiers, speakers, or even with other types of control circuits.
Professionally, you can use it during stage shows like concerts, events and big programs. You can, of course, also use them for filmmaking and video production.
Best XLR Cable Brands
In my experience (and a lot of research and conversations with people), Rapco, Mogami and GLS Audio make the best XLR cable offerings. Rapco and GLS Audio are more affordable. Mogami is top-end pro-grade, where the price point is a tier higher.
It’s also worth considering the Neewer brand XLR cables, that are well rated and very cheap. The 6-meter length version is very price friendly for an XLR 3 pin cable and connector.
These are a good range of cables which will cover all levels and requirements. So long as you stay within your budget and keep the end listener of your work in mind, even if that is just yourself, you shouldn’t go wrong.
Neewer is an XLR branded cable. For a reasonable price, you get x2 6 meters universal Male / Female XLR cables.
Compared to other brands, the Neewer is priced really reasonably! But is this a quality piece of equipment?
If you’re starting out in video production or making a short film where budget is a primary consideration, the simple answer is: go for it and save!
The savings you make here can be put towards other expenses and needs that keep your projects alive and well. What a bargain!
These professional grade XLR cables have a Polyethylene insulation, 3 pin Male/ Female connectors for easy hookup and are available in two sizes: 6 meters or 21 meters.
The longer version is obviously better for audio situations where you’ll be required to be far from your devices.
The 21 meter version is still excellent value and gives you more room to cater to, meaning more flexibility with what you can do. Which, at the end of the day, is what it’s all about.
Neewer cables are copper braided for additional shielding and maximum noise reduction.
They are great for electronic instruments and DJ rigs, too, and the sound quality results are great.
The connectors look high quality and are easy press and connect adaptors. So layout, plug and play – literally, what more could you ask for starting out.
Depending on your preference, you can always opt to go for the longer cable where you can use it in a bigger set-up. Longer cables can access equipment that is farther than the usual. Flexible enough to cater to the needs on set without hampering your audio quality.
You can guess I’m seriously impressed by these if you need some budget, high-quality XLR cables. Considering the budget price point, this offering ranks highly in the best XLR cable listings.
- 2-Pack 20ft/6M well-built standard 3-pin XLR male to XLR female microphone cables.
- Professional quality and construction, delivers clear and crisp vocal performance.
- Polyethylene insulation improves high frequency response.
- Heavy duty metal connectors with molded strain relief and grip treads increase durability and help...
- Compatible with equipments with 3-pin XLR connectors such as shotgun microphones, studio...
GLS Audio MC25 balanced XLR cable is advertised as a mic cable, but you can use it for all kinds of needs and situations.
At 15 meters, these cables are long enough for most recording situations and are high-quality cable insulated and multi-core grounded 21 gauge cables.
These have been manufactured for the entertainment industry, so are professional grade, with very high-quality insulations and connectors.
In fact, this cable is the premier choice for a lot of music venues, due to high quality, low feedback and well-insulated dual copper conductors. This is noticeable in high-end sound quality.
These are ideal for venues and amateur to professional videographers/filmmakers, people who prepared to pay that bit extra for cables that last a little longer. These cables are also notable for their long-term, hassle-free use, as well.
This is where the extra money goes and as most professionals will tell, a lot of the time it is less of a headache to shell out for the professional brands and avoid potential costly breaks and errors further down the road.
The noise reduction and quiet operation are top-rated with these XLR cables, with professionals and venues alike repeatedly rating GLS Audio MC25s as some of the best around.
Be aware that sometimes companies report inconsistencies with manufacturing, but this is not unusual for XLR cables in high demand. International companies manage to avoid this with extreme Test & Assurance processes, but smaller companies are not always able to manage the staff or overheads, so errors do happen.
- Heavy Duty Flexible Rubber Jacket
- True Balanced Lo-Z Shielded Cable
- High Grade 21g Dual Copper Conductors & Shield
- Tri-Grip & Rubber Booty Strain Relief
- High Quality Noise Free Performance
Road HOGM XLR cables by Rapco aren’t the most expensive XLR cables out there. Still, the 15-meter version of the cable comes in at a medium price point, but they are high grade.
Pure copper and Annealed shielding, these 24 gauge professional cables have a very low distortion factor and Neutrik long-lasting plugs. These are really premium cables.
These cables are known amongst the pros as a no-nonsense XLR cable design to do what is does well and get the job done – end of!
A few people have reported minor issues. However, this might be because of the place Rapco cables hold on the market. These XLR cables attract the high-end market and people in this section of the market will always be more discerning and, dare I say, ‘picky.’
Varying in length from 15 to 50+ meters, these will cover pretty much any venue and the high copper content ensures maximum quality, with excellent robust connectors. It’s what you want, all quality and no fuss, let’s get on and play, high-grade equipment and this is the justification for spending the extra money per meter.
As mid-luxury level cables, they are the quality you would expect and sound great, once you hear the sound quality, like with most equipment, you will not want to downgrade.
Whereas a lot of cables crack and wear out over time, the word is Rapco lasts an age and years later these durable XLR cables are still in operation. A silent but essential piece of your recording setup. In this sense, you get what you pay for!
A chunky, high-grade cable that is built to last, but costs a little more than some of the others featured in this article. If you are in the industry for a long time, though, this investment will cause less headache and pay for itself with its durability.
- Black cable Neutrik nickel -1 Series XLRF-XLRM
- Matte jacket PVC material is very flexible yet durable with very low memory
- Pure copper conductor and shield
- Utilizing a serve shield process for quiet operation yielding maximum flexibility
- Connector brand options available to meet various preferences and price points: RapcoHorizon,...
Mogami Gold Studio Balanced XLR Cables are made in Japan. That says all you need to know if you’re searching for high quality XLR cables. These are the ideal top end cables that are of extreme quality for the high-end videographer, filmmaker, or music industry professional.
Mogami was founded in 1977 and due to its high-end reputation spread across the world to be the premium cable choice for filmmakers and audiophiles looking for the highest quality.
The Gold Studio is one of the top cables Mogami produces and will cost you a pretty penny. However, construction here has a high professional-grade, 4-conductor cable design, 100% spiral copper shielding and gold pin connectors.
These are the McLaren of the cable world and the reliable operation and continuous low feedback distortion and issues testify to this fact. You’re fitting out a trendy Soho bar and club, that you want to sing sweet vibes, you choose Mogami!
My first experience with these was a small club chill-out room, where the DJ (Mondo) was situated under the stairs in a wall to wall sofa of soft funk and groove, surrounded by friends, just taking in the melody and lots of smooth vinyl tunes. Good times!
The only downside is these cables are heavy-duty, difficult to transport and a little awkward to install. But who said perfection was easy!
And the qualities of these cables are almost paradoxical: heavy shielding great sound, big cost and sluggish install. If you want high-end XLR cables, these are what you need to look at!
These are a long term investment and offer supreme quality. They’ll return their cost over multiple times due to their superior design and audio quality, just make sure you know your market.
- From large recording facilities to small project studios, engineers and artists trust Mogami GOLD...
- Mogami GOLD STUDIO XLR Mic Cables are wired with Mogami Neglex Quad High Definition Microphone...
- Use Mogami GOLD STUDIO XLR Cables for pro audio sound with nearly any device equipped with an...
- This Mogami GOLD STUDIO-06 XLR Microphone Cable is a 6 foot length. The Mogami GOLD STUDIO XLR...
- Mogami Lifetime "No Excuses" Warranty: all brand new Mogami cables include Mogami's Limited Lifetime...
Best XLR Cable – Summary
GLS Audio is the sweet spot of quality and cost where you will have cables that will last you for a considerable length of time but not break the bank either!
These cables are great for all levels and after you shell out for these, tick the job off the list and rest assured you can get maximum sound quality for minimum bang for your bucks!
The high-end solution is the Mogami brand of cables. These might be more costly, but if the premium is what you’re looking for, this is the obvious choice where the budget is a little higher.
Mogami promises a reliable offering that helps you become reliable to your partners and audience as well.
If you’re planning on doing this full time or for career purposes, I highly suggest getting a good quality one, no matter how expensive because it will return to you eventually a hundredfold.
If you take a look at artists and music professionals, you will see why they are successful in their own right: it is because they do not compromise quality and reliability.
No one really wants to think cables, but when you have it covered and feel the sound quality shift slightly, you are considering your audience and the overall feel of your work.
Which, at the end of the day, is what your viewers (or clients) will appreciate and come back for time and time again.
Now turn it up!