Best XLR Cable – Buyer’s Guide (February 2022)
Finding the best XLR cable is no small matter: high quality microphone cables ensure pristine audio reproduction so your voice sounds just as clear from the speakers as from your mouth.
However, it’s difficult to navigate all the cables available to you, so it’s important to know that among the different types of audio cables, XLR cables are considered the best microphone cables. XLR cables use balanced audio to cancel noise that develops as an audio signal travels through a wire. To narrow down your options, we’ve selected the best cables from top brands like Mogami and LyxPro so you know you’re buying the best XLR cable for DJ setups and events.
You can trust these top 10 microphone cables to deliver high quality, low noise audio signals in any venue. They’re great for small coffee shops and recording studios, as well as wild clubs and large concerts. Whatever your needs, XLR cables will undoubtedly deliver professional results.
Check out our list of the best XLR cables below!
1. Mogami Gold Series XLR cable
A typical balanced cable has 2 conductors that work as a team to eliminate noise interference, so the Mogami Gold Series XLR cable is one of the best options because it contains 4 conductors. With a 4-conductor design, this Mogami XLR cable can deliver a 95% quieter background for stunning sound quality. This cable will bring professional sound wherever you go.
In addition, this XLR cable can function with any industry standard equipment with a 3-pin XLR input or output, so it’s versatile and hassle-free. It’s 10 feet long, but the Mogami Gold Series offers longer and shorter lengths to suit your particular needs. Best of all, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Professional sound
- Extremely low noise
- Lifetime warranty
2. Mogami Silver Series XLR Cable
The problem every manufacturer considers when making a good microphone cable is how to produce high quality sound at any length. Typically, the farther an audio signal travels, the more noise it picks up along the way. However, this Mogami Silver Series XLR cable is 25 feet long and won’t compromise quality, making it great for larger performances. This cable is another high quality, dependable option from Mogami, but at a more affordable price.
- High quality audio
- Lifetime warranty
- More affordable than Gold series
- Not 4-conductor cable like Gold series
Another high quality XLR cable option is the Pro Co AQN-25 Ameriquad microphone cable. This 25 foot long, 4-conductor cable guarantees pristine sound thanks to its low-noise design. Further, this cable is particularly great for live events, large crowds, and rough travel because of its tough outer jacket and dependable connectors.
- Lifetime warranty
- Ideal for large events
This Audio-Technica XLR cable can produce high quality sound with astonishing ease. For a 50 foot cable, it’s super affordable and surprisingly lightweight, making for easy travel. Also, just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean it’s not dependable: the Audio-Technica XLR cable promises high conductivity, and it’s extremely flexible so you know it won’t wear down over time.
When it comes to balanced XLR cables, this one can provide all your basic needs. At 50 feet long, there’s a wide range of possibilities for setup and movement at any size event. Further, because it’s a balanced cable, you can trust that the length won’t hinder its performance, so you’ll always have professional sound.
- Super lightweight
- No lifetime warranty like other options
If you need a great LyxPro balanced XLR cable, we highly recommend the LyxPro LCS Premium. This cable produces flawless sound in any given environment. With a combination of 98% braided shielding and cotton yarn wrap inside each cable, the LyxPro LCS Premium goes to all lengths to eliminate sound. It resists external noise interference while guarding from internal noise as well.
- 5-year warranty
- Cotton yarn wrap
- Less flexible
- No lifetime warranty
The GLS Audio XLR cable is a strong and reliable option for such an affordable price. Inside this XLR cable, the conductors are dual insulated for ultimate noise reduction, all contained within a thick and flexible rubber jacket. This cable goes the extra mile when it comes to noise reduction without compromising flexibility, which prevents it from wearing down and breaking over time.
- Double insulation
- Low noise
- No lifetime warranty
- Only available in shorter lengths (comparably)
You don’t always need long, expensive XLR cables to get the job done. The Cable Matters Premium XLR cable comes in a 2-pack of 3 foot long cables, which is an easy and affordable solution for setting up microphones, speakers, or lighting in a studio or small venue. Cable Matters offers 2-packs of varying lengths, all at low prices.
- Both small and high quality
- Great for studio recording
- Not ideal for large events
- No lifetime warranty
8. Planet Waves American Stage Series
Another great option for the studio is the Planet Waves American Stage Series XLR cable. This 10 foot cable is perfect for short-run situations. Inside, it combines twisted conductors with durable braided shielding for optimal flexibility and performance. It’s strong shield also ensures high quality noise reduction, creating zero background noise for the most realistic sound.
- High quality manufacturing
- Low noise
- More expensive
- No warranty
9. MCSproaudio XLR Microphone Cable
This high quality, low cost, extremely flexible MCSproaudio XLR microphone cable will pull your whole PA system together. Because this 25 foot cable is so flexible, no setup or travel can make it crack or break; it’s ready to produce clear vocals in any venue.
- Various color options
- Unnecessary for small venues
- No warranty
The Amazon Basics XLR cable can adapt to any of your needs. This particular option is 25 feet long, but Amazon Basics XLR cables range from 6- to 50-feet long, all at very affordable prices. This cable makes it easy to find a cheap and versatile XLR cable suitable to your needs.
- Clean sound
- Durable PVC jacket
- Amazon 1-year warranty
- Spiral shielding susceptible to over-flexing
What’s an XLR and what’s it used for?
In short, an XLR cable is a microphone cable. They range in length and they have a circular, 3-pinned connector: the positive, negative, and ground.
XLR cables became an industry standard cable because they transport balanced electrical signals over long distances with little noise interference.
The key word here is “balanced.” Noise and distortion develop naturally as sound travels, so XLR cables are designed to counteract noise and deliver clean sound over long distances. XLR cables use the positive and negative wires to balance the audio signal travelling through the cable, and this balance essentially eliminates noise.
That’s why most DJs and musicians rely on balanced cables–such as XLR cables–for high quality performance. More specifically, XLR cables are great for microphones because they can vary in length, which is perfect for small and large events alike.
Parts of an XLR Cable
Inside an XLR cable are three conductors: the positive, negative, and ground.
All three of these conductors are necessary for a balanced cable. The positive and negative wires are the core of an XLR cable, and surrounding these wires will be various materials (insulation, sometimes cotton yarn) to reduce any noise produced within the cable.
The main noise-reducing component within the cable is called “shielding.”
Sound quality, flexibility, and durability can vary with different shielding variations, so it’s helpful to research the shielding within an XLR cable before buying it.
Lastly, most XLR cables will have an exterior PVC jacket as a final layer of noise prevention. Plus, PVC jackets are very strong, flexible, and flame-resistant.
Reasons to Invest in a Quality XLR Cable
An audio signal can receive internal and external interference: audio signals naturally produce noise while traveling, and external signals from other devices (like speakers and cell phones) can interfere with microphone cables as well.
For this reason, a high quality XLR cable is essential for great sound production.
To produce clean sound, you need an XLR cable that prevents both types of interference. For example, at a live performance, a great XLR cable will endure heavy wear and tear, eliminate potential interference from large pieces of equipment, and deflect signals from any devices in the crowd.
Or in a studio setting, a high quality XLR cable guarantees no background buzzing so you get a clean, realistic recording.
The science of professional sound is complex and delicate, so XLR cables are designed to simplify your sound design for the best possible results.
Types of Audio Cables
XLR cables are one of many microphone cable types. They are used most often for microphones, whereas other cables serve other functions.
TRS cables–or, “tip, ring, sleeve” cables–are balanced cables as well. You most often see them as headphone jacks. It’s the same type of headphone wire that you would plug into your laptop at home, but for DJs they are especially helpful for stereo headphones or mixer insert jacks. Similarly, TS cables–or, “tip, sleeve” cables–are a simpler version of TRS cables. They run unbalanced signals and are best known for their instrument use–particularly guitars.
Other cables like RCA, speakON, and banana plugs connect different types of large stage equipment. RCA connectors are the standard connectors for stereo equipment, speakON connectors run between amplifiers and stage speakers, and banana plugs join audio wires together.
Balanced vs. Unbalanced Cables
As mentioned before, XLR cables are balanced cables. Balanced cables use both a positive and negative wire to carry the audio signal, but one of them is “out of phase.”
This means one signal is an inverted replica of the original audio signal. So, picture a sound wave travelling alongside a wave that mirrors it: that’s what the positive and negative wires do.
As the positive and negative wires carry mirroring signals, they naturally pick up noise along the way. Then, when the audio signals arrive at their destination (like a speaker), they are converted so they no longer mirror each other–they become identical–and assuming they picked up identical noise along the way, the noise from both wires cancels itself when converted. This is how balanced cables eliminate noise.
Unbalanced cables are much simpler, but they struggle to control noise and distortion. They only contain 2 wires: one to carry the audio signal, and the ground. Unbalanced cables are often cheaper because they’re simpler in design, but only unbalanced cables that are shorter in length can produce quality sound.
Cable Shielding 101
The shielding within an XLR cable is typically made of copper and it wraps around the core wires. It’s main job is to reduce noise produced within the cable. There are three main types of cable shielding: braided, spiral, and foil.
Braided shielding is exactly what it sounds like: it’s stands of copper braided around a wire. It’s the most versatile design because it combines flexibility with durability better than spiral and foil shields. Depending on the angle the copper wraps around the core, manufacturers can control shield coverage (anywhere between 50%-98%) to maximize noise-cancellation and durability.
A spiral shield is made of copper strands wrapped around the core in one direction. This is the most flexible option and provides great coverage. However, it’s more susceptible to damage because if the copper coils flex too much and spread apart too wide, the central conductors become exposed and vulnerable.
Lastly, a foil shield is like a single sleeve of copper completely covering the core of the XLR cable. It’s the most inexpensive type of shield, however it’s susceptible to high transfer impedance and, because it’s so stiff, it breaks easily with flexing.
What To Consider When Buying an XLR Cable
Different lengths are better for different environments. For example, if you typically work in a recording studio, you won’t need long cables like you would in a live concert setting.
Further, if you travel often, you may consider cables that are long enough to function in a variety of venues. Or, you may want to consider investing in smaller XLR cables to keep spares on hand in case of unexpected damage or making extra connections.
Your XLR cables will be stepped on and repeatedly flexed. Durable XLR cables are essential for a travelling DJ or any large, crowded venue. Look for a XLR cable with a thick jacket and an appropriate amount of flexibility so it won’t crack over time.
In addition, look for firm connectors that don’t slip or pull apart easily. Investing in these small details can save you from constantly replacing your XLR cables.
A great XLR cable is essential for eliminating any excess buzzing or background noise, giving you pure, realistic sound for many performances to come.
There are so many options that it can be hard to navigate, but researching the details of an XLR cable will help you find what’s best for you.
Look for an appropriate length and, when in doubt, always opt for cables that are flexible and durable. There are XLR cables available for every budget, so consider what investment will serve you best in the long run.
A great XLR cable will boost your professionalism and elevate your sound quality, so you’ll never fail to immerse your audience in the amazing musical experience you want them to hear.