Complete Guide to the Best XLR Cable

Editor’s Choice

  • Neutrik XLR connectors with 24K gold-plated contacts
  • High-density spiral copper shielding
  • Low-capacitance design ensures full frequency reproduction and maximum dynamic response

Best Overall

  • Extremely wide frequency response
  • Very low capacitance
  • Fiber fillers for crush resistance

Budget-Friendly

XLR cable

  • Pro-grade microphone cord
  • Convenient and cost-effective
  • It is constructed with oxygen-free copper (OFC) conductors for delivering pristine sound

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best XLR Cable is, then I’d recommend the Mogami Gold Stage Heavy-Duty Mic Cable as the best one.

When planning out the sound equipment you’ll need for your studio, we can attest the XLR cables are not at the top of that list. But don’t be fooled; XLR cables impact the sound quality as much as any equipment you have in your studio. The best XLR cable will give you a crisp and clean sound with little to no interference. Even before you get to tweak your music, the original audio already sounds so good because of an XLR cable.

With the market for XLR cables continually growing, it’s getting harder and harder to choose the best one. Don’t worry; we’ve got you! We’ve gathered all the info you need to know in choosing the best XLR cable so you won’t have to.

Here are the Best XLR Cables we will be reviewing:

What is the Best XLR Cable?

What is an XLR Cable?

XLR or Extended Line Return cable delivers balanced microphone and line-level signals from long distances. A balanced signal results in less unnecessary background noise and electrical interference in the final signal output. Live shows and professional recording sessions can also use XLR cables.

XLR Cables vs Unbalanced Cables

XLR cables are a type of balanced cable. They have three pins – positive, negative, and ground. The positive and negative pins play a part in canceling outside interferences, while the ground pin serves as a reference point. This trait sets an XLR cable apart from others, such as unbalanced cables like a ¼ inch cable. 

Unbalanced cables have two wires – one signal and one ground. Although they are cheaper than XLR cables, they are more susceptible to outside interferences. Because of this, the audio quality is drastically reduced. Unlike XLR cables, it is not advised that unbalanced cables be used for audio applications that require long lines. 

Who uses XLR Cables?

Professional or heavily invested in the music business use XLR cables. XLR cables are used as connectors for most sound equipment in a studio or on stage. Overall, XLR cables are heavier and bulkier because they must withstand frequent wear and tear. 

What Makes the Best XLR Cable?

Conductors

Conductors are the copper wires that make up the main bulk of the XLR cable. If you open up an XLR cable, conductors are the twisted copper wires inside. XLR cables usually have two copper wire conductors wrapped in their insulation. 

Fillers

Fillers maintain the cable’s roundness and prevent the line from warping. Filler materials vary from specific ingredients such as polyethylene, cotton, and steel to a mixture such as foam fillers. 

Shielding

The best XLR cable has good shielding. The XLR cable’s shielding protects and prevents outside interference from mixing with the audio signal. Since XLR cables are used in environments that have high amounts of interferences, good shielding will help you immensely. 

An XLR cable’s shielding comes in three types – (1)Braided Shielding, (2)Serve Shielding, and (3)Foil Shielding. Out of the three, the best is the braided shielding.

Outer Jacket

Although they do not affect the audio quality, an XLR cable’s outer jacket is just as important. The outer coat is rubber and protects the cable against the surrounding environment. Although XLR cables usually appear black, some XLR cables have blue or red outer jackets. 

How Do XLR Cables Work?

An XLR cable is a type of balanced cable; this means that outer interferences are filtered out. The XLR cable is connected to two devices; the audio signal is carried out through the positive and negative wires. The signals’ polarities are flipped as the sound wave is carried from one device to another. Flipped signal polarities result in canceling out the outer interferences. Additionally, the audio is also strengthened to compensate for any loss of signal strength.

Benefits of Using the Best XLR Cable

Balanced audio

The best XLR cable provides you with balanced audio because they cancel unnecessary interferences in the original audio signal. The mechanism of an XLR cable preserves the signal resulting in clearer audio with little interference. It is also why XLR cables can be used for long distances compared to unbalanced cables. 

Transports phantom audio to your microphone

Through phantom power, XLR cables can power some microphones. With XLR cables, you can connect your mixer that has phantom power and power your microphone with them. XLR cables that have a connector at both ends will support phantom power. 

The external locking mechanism of XLR connectors

The external locking mechanism found on the female connector of an XLR cable provides an additional level of security. Besides that, the ground pin on the female connector makes it easier to plug it fully without mixing up the polarity. This feature will lessen short bursts of hum and pops.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Best XLR Cable

Usage

XLR cables are mainly used with microphones. Although not all mics have an XLR connector, many professional microphones use an XLR cable. They are favored for their clean sound and very durable build. So if you want the best audio results, whether inside a studio or at a live event, XLR cables are the way to go.

Hardware Used

Speakers

XLR speaker cables carry high power voltage and have low impedance. They are also thick, between 12 to 14 gauges. Its connectors allow you to hook up the amp to your speaker’s input jacks. You should not interchange speaker and microphone cables because they carry different impedance levels and damage your equipment.

Microphones

XLR microphone cables are different from those used on a speaker. They have low impedance, carry lower voltage, are thinner, and are made of two-conductor wires – positive and negative. It is then fitted with three-pin connectors. You mustn’t interchange this cable with that of a speaker. You could potentially damage your equipment if you use the wrong cable type.

Nature of the Event

Studio Recording or Home Audio

If you plan on using XLR cables at home or in your studio, flexibility and durability may not be as important. More often than not, XLR cables inside the studio would not require you to move and rearrange them as frequently.

Live Performances on Stage

On the other hand, if you use the XLR cables during live performances, you’d want them to be flexible and durable. Since you’ll be moving about on stage, you’d wish to use lines that will last longer and be able to withstand constant movement and pressure from people stepping on the cables. 

Features of the XLR Cables

Quality of the cable

Sound quality shouldn’t be the only thing you look for in an XLR cable. Durability and flexibility should also be a top priority. The best XLR cable should withstand any type of impact. Look for XLR cables with impact absorption and additional insulation that helps protect your cable, thus prolonging its use. 

Material of the Connector

The best material used for connectors is gold. Many professionals choose gold for its conductivity and resistance to tarnish and wear. But of course, a gold connector costs more than other materials. The next best thing would be silver connectors. Although they stain and wear away, they still have excellent conductivity. 

Cable Lengths

It is always better to have a longer cable than a shorter one. But it is also not ideal to have such a long line that it turns into a tripping hazard. Cable lengths ranging from fifteen to thirty feet are good to start.

Strand Design

Although strand design might not readily come to mind, it is still a vital pointer when choosing XLR cables. The lay or the number of twists in the conductors affect noise cancellation and cable flexibility. More twists will give you better noise cancellation than those with fewer twists. 

The strand count of an XLR cable is also considered a strand design. Lines that have a higher strand count give you better sound quality. More strands will make physically stronger conductors. In addition to that, they are also more flexible and durable cables. Remember that the higher the strand count, the more expensive the line is.

Cable core

The thickness of the cable’s core depends on the planned usage. A thicker cable core is preferred for at-home and studio recordings because it allows a better signal transfer. As for living performances, a thinner cable core is best because they are more flexible. 

Cable Shielding

Just like choosing your cable core, the type of shielding best for you depends on how you plan on using the XLR cable. Spiral copper shielding is best for live stage performances because they have 97% coverage and flexibility. In contrast, braided tin copper shielding improves conductivity and oxidation protection in studio setups. 

Connector type

The most widely used connector variants are the XLR 3, 4, and 5 pins. The XLR 3-pin is the most popular type seen on microphones and other audio devices. While the XLR 4-pin is less popular than the previous type, some microphones and intercom headsets use this type. Lastly, the XLR 5-pin is the standard connector for digital lighting control systems. 

Budget

The materials used to make the conductor may reflect in the XLR cable’s price tag. We’d suggest investing in XLR cables made from premium materials if the budget permits it. In this situation, taking a gamble and going for the cheaper option may cost you both your money and time. 

Mogami Gold Stage Heavy-Duty Mic Cable

What sets the Mogami Gold Stage Heavy-Duty Mic Cable is the unique cable cores. Mogami Gold Stage Heavy-Duty Mic Cable has three times more copper strands than other high-quality cables for its conductors. However, its purpose is for sound quality and contributes to its durability. The Mogami Gold Stage guarantees a crush-resistant XLR cable with fiber fillers.

The Mogami Gold Stage won’t disappoint you in terms of sound quality. Expect transparent and accurate sound from the Mogami Gold Stage’s durable and reliable XLR cable. Overall, the crisp sound is credited to the extensive frequency response of the XLR cables. It also features a very low capacitance, which reduces unwanted noise. All in all, you’ll get your money’s worth with the Mogami Gold Stage Heavy-Duty Mic Cable.

Pros:

  • Extremely wide frequency response
  • Very low capacitance
  • Fiber fillers for crush resistance
  • Unmatched flex life
  • Highly rugged

Cons:

  • It is expensive

Roland Gold Series 50 ft. XLR Microphone Cable

The Roland Gold Series ensures the cleanest, most precise audio reproduction. The Gold Series accurately transmit audio signals without noise interference. These XLR cables also have gold-plated Neutrik connectors, so you know they’re not messing with the quality. If that doesn’t convince you to try the Gold Series out, they have more to offer!

The Roland Gold Series XLR Cable has oxygen-free copper conductors for exceptional audio clarity and transparency. The cable also has low impedance, so vocals and instruments always sound true when using the Gold Series. Lastly, the line itself is thick and well insulated, yet very flexible. Everything about the Roland Gold Series is very well made; it’s impossible not to give this cable a try.

Pros:

  • Neutrik XLR connectors with 24K gold-plated contacts
  • High-density spiral copper shielding
  • Low-capacitance design ensures full frequency reproduction and maximum dynamic response
  • Durable and ultra-flexible outer jacket
  • Lifetime guarantee

Cons:

  • The connectors don’t fit well into some brands of audio equipment

Monster Performer 600 Gold Contact XLRs Microphone Cable

The Monster Performer 600 provides durability and style, a perfect addition to your audio system setup. Its Roadworthy Duraflex outer jacket is responsible for its flexibility and protection for live and studio settings. For minimized noise disruption, the Monster Performer 600 has carbon polymer shielding. At the same time, the increased transient response is due to the microfiber dielectric. 

The Monster Performer 600 offers the best price and excellent quality vocal and instrument reproduction. Designed at-home and live stage use, all the features guarantee to bring out flawless audio copy every time. It doesn’t matter where you plan to use it; the Monster Performer 600 has got your back.

Pros:

  • Custom Monster XLR connectors provide durability and style
  • The roadworthy Duraflex jacket offers maximum flexibility and protection
  • Carbon polymer shielding minimizes handling noise
  • High-density braided shield reduces interference
  • MicroFiber dielectric increases transient response time

Cons:

  • Some find the thickness of the cable hard to coil tightly

Cable Matters 2-Pack Premium XLR to XLR Microphone Cable

XLR Cable

If you’re looking for an XLR cable to interconnect with your studio equipment, the Cable Matters 2-Pack might be right up your alley! This 2-pack package is convenient and cost-effective. It comes with a spare XLR cable you can use on your audio system. Besides convenience, let’s also highlight its quality build. This XLR cable has copper braided shielding for noise cancellation. 

Improved high-frequency response is due to the polyethylene insulation. Lastly, its connectors are heavy-duty metal with molded strain relief for easy plugging and unplugging. 

It has a soft PVC jacket that protects the conductors yet is flexible enough for easy storage. The cable is not the only flexible thing; the mic cord is compatible with any equipment using a three-pin connector. There won’t be a need to carry around an extra cable; the Cable Matters 2-Pack is all you’ll ever need.

Pros:

  • Pro-grade microphone cord
  • Convenient and cost-effective
  • It is constructed with oxygen-free copper (OFC) conductors for delivering pristine sound
  • Copper braided shielding of these Mic cables provides maximum cancellation of hum and noise
  • It is compatible with equipment with 3-pin XLR connectors

Cons:

  • The connector does have a tight fitting with some brands of audio equipment

Rapco RoadHOG 100 ft. XLR Microphone Cable

Although the Rapco RoadHOG is one of the cheapest cables on this list, do not underestimate this XLR cable. Its conductors are pure copper, so smooth and crisp audio is guaranteed. Together with quality shielding and an extra thick rugged PVC jacket, the RoadHOG XLR cable will withstand anything you throw at it. 

Aside from the cable itself, the RoadHOG also has Neutrik XLR connectors. Neutrik connectors are widely popular for their simple yet striking features. If you pair quality connectors with a flexible but very durable cable, you get the Rapco RoadHOG XLR cable. Each line is individually tested to guarantee you the best performance and the highest quality every time.

Pros:

  • Two 24 gauge center conductors
  • Utilizing a serve shield process for quiet operation yielding maximum flexibility
  • Matte PVC jacket material is very flexible, yet durable, with very low memory
  • Pure copper conductor and shield
  • Manufactured with Neutrik brand black XLR connectors
  • Individually tested for performance and quality

Cons:

  • The connectors don’t fit well into some brands of audio equipment

Conclusion

The best XLR cable offers so much more than excellent sound quality. It is durable and flexible. Investing in the best XLR cable will give you your money’s worth and will last you for years to come! It’s why the best XLR cable I’d recommend is the Mogami Gold Stage Heavy-Duty Mic Cable.

The Mogami Gold Stage XLR cable is built like a tank. Its overall build is durable and reliable; it’s perfect for studio and live stage use. Besides durability, the sound quality is also top of the line. The Mogami Gold Stage has three times more strand count that’s sure to give you transparent and accurate sound. Expect highlighted vocals and instruments due to the extended frequency response and low capacitance. All these fantastic features justify the hefty price tag of the Mogami Gold Stage XLR cable.

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Alex Shute
EDITOR
Alex Shute, MBA
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow.