Today, we’ll be taking a look at XLR cables and which ones are the best. This is often a top question amongst novice engineers and producers who have little experience with gear and running cables.
There’s not so much information to parse through on this subject matter, but we’re here to talk about it anyway. Let’s get started.
Does the quality of a cable really matter?
While XLR cables may seem like a low man on the totem pole when it comes to audio equipment, having quality cables matters.
A signal chain is only as good as its weakest part, so if you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on gear, you might as well have some respect and invest into quality cables.
When it comes to choosing the best, durability is the most significant thing to look out for.
Shotty microphone cables are subject to the wires coming loose from their pins. While you can theoretically fix this yourself, why waste time on repairing poor-quality cables when you can simply invest in better ones?
What makes a good cable?
The main thing to look for in quality cables is shielding. Shielding protects your cables from radio interference, and there are three types of materials used regularly for this purpose: copper, tin plated copper, and aluminum laminate.
Aluminum laminate is most often used on cheaper cables, as it does an adequate job at rejecting interference without tacking on too much cost.
Obviously, durability is also a thing to look out for, but more often than not this can be spotted by the cost of the cables. You get what you pay for, so don’t skimp and buy cheap cables because you’ll probably end up replacing them after a few months.
These are the best XLR cables you can buy:
1. Mogami Gold Studio XLR Cable
Mogami is one of the most trusted names out there when it comes to good cables. Every part of their cables are manufactured and assembled by hand in Japan. They are rugged, flexible, and superbly durable.
While you might find them at most professional studios, they’re just as useful for live performances, as they can take a lot of abuse.Available at: SweetwaterAmazon
2. Pig Hog 8 mm Mic Cable
Robust and rugged
Pig Hog makes extremely rugged cables, and these are no exception. The thick rubber coating is incredibly resistant to kinks and tangles.
They might not be able to wrap them up as tightly as other cables due to this, but it’s a fair trade-off for how much abuse they can withstand.Available at: Amazon
3. RoadHog Mic Cable
Tough and reliable
These cables are amazingly tough, reliable, and insanely roadworthy. These cables come in lengths from two to one hundred feet.Available at: Amazon
4. Mogami Silver XLR Cable
Mogami Silver are just as good as Mogami Gold cables, although Gold uses quad cables which are better at rejecting radio frequency interference.
Neither necessarily ‘sounds’ better than the other, although if you live in a city, rejecting radio frequency interferences may be more important to you.
However, if you live further out in the suburbs or rural areas, Silvers will suit you just as well.Available at: Amazon
5. LyxPro Balanced XLR Cable
The best mid-range cable
These cables might help to add a bit of color to your studio with their bright (blue/yellow/red – you can choose) exterior, and they run from 1.5 to 300 feet. These are one of the most affordable options here despite still upholding superb quality.Available at: Amazon
6. Hosa Pro Microphone Cable
Hosa is a very reliable company when it comes to finding budget-friendly cables. These cables come in sizes ranging from three to one hundred feet in length.
The copper conductors employed in the HOSA HMIC also boast a fairly admirable signal-to-noise ratio for noiseless engineering.Available at: SweetwaterAmazon
7. Monoprice Premier XLR Cable
Best on a budget
Monoprice is one of the most trusted names when it comes to XLR cables, right alongside Shure and Mogami.
The Premier Series runs in lengths from 1.5 ft to a whopping 150 ft, the latter of which remains oddly affordable for the quality of performance. In any case, these are some of the best cables you can find on a budget.Available at: Amazon
In conclusion, cables are a fairly straightforward subject matter when it comes to audio. Either you can buy the cheapest cables off the rack, or you can put a little bit more money forward and buy cables that will last you for years.
If there’s anything to learn from all of this, the best we can say is to buy the best your budget allows for even if you don’t think it’s important. Doing otherwise may cost you more in the end.