Music Studio Essentials: Understanding Balanced VS. Unbalanced XLR Cables
Jun 26, · XLR cables commonly are used with microphone technology to communicate the signal to a receiver. Why Do We Use XLR Cables? XLR cables deliver perfectly balanced, line-level audio signals across long distances. More than simply a microphone cable, XLR’s abilities as a cable offer more than a mm cable can or comparable cables. Apr 01, · XLR cables are used in audio applications ranging from live shows to professional recording sessions. XLR cables have three pins and a circular connector. They are used to deliver balanced microphone and line-level signals over long distances, so an XLR cable can be simply thought of as a microphone elvalladolid.com: Stan Mack.
The XLR connector is a three-pronged plug and socket cable end used to network professional audio equipment. It performs duty as an industry standard for analog and digital sound elements such as cables and DMX components. First design by Canon, it takes its name from the original X connector, which was later modified with a release latch L and rubber seal R.
Most commonly used for analog audio, this connector locks into its port with a balanced connection. A ground pin adds safety and reduces unwanted interference when plugged in during a live performance. Designed for male and female type connectors, the XLR connector represents an international standard for this type of audio component. While it may possess up to seven pins, three pins are most common.
It may be mounted to a cable or chassis, as for a rack-mounted audio component. The finger-width, cylindrical XLR connector attaches to a cable and may feature male pins or female sockets, as with the panel connectors.
A typical three-pin XLR connector employs a balanced connection to minimize undesirable electrical contact with high-voltage equipment. Typically, the first pin represents the chassis ground and usually makes contact before the other pins.
The second pin represents the positive polarity terminal; this ipo what does it stand for the hot pin. The third, or cold, pin is called the return terminal. Together, these two pins are the source of the audio signal. Before this innovation, two-pin, hot connectors were common. One of the most frequent applications of the XLR connector is to connect microphones to public address systems.
Technologies like condenser microphones may require the use of an onboard battery to supply power. The XLR connector can supply this voltage, referred to as phantom power. Usually, this power supply is fed through the first, or ground pin. What does the red light on my mitsubishi tv mean versatility permits the widespread use of this connector while minimizing potential damage to sensitive microphone equipment.
Other products designed for the XLR connector standard may feature rectangular chassis and right angle style plugs.
Like the straight connector, these may feature male or female attachments. They may also vary in pin number.
Four-pin connectors are often used for intercom headsets, and five-pin types are employed in dual-element or stereo microphones and headsets. Six-pin types fit dual-channel intercom systems. Seven-pin connectors serve remote controls for fog machines and other analog components. Employing XLR connector components can help ensure trouble-free audio setups and safer, noiseless component switching. Please enter the following code:. Login: Forgot password?
The Balancing Act
XLR is a professional grade connector mostly used in balanced audio cables and microphones. The XLR standard consists of a male and female three-pronged plug shielded in a round metal tube. XLR inputs and outputs are found on a variety of professional quality gear such as pro video cameras, shotgun microphones, and more. Jun 18, · XLR connectors are favored for two reasons. The first is the design of the female XLR connectors, which allows pin 1 (the earth pin) to connect before the other two pins, (which carry the signal) when the male XLR connector is elvalladolid.coms: Feb 01, · The XLR connector is a three-pronged plug and socket cable end used to network professional audio equipment. It performs duty as an industry standard for analog and digital sound elements such as cables and DMX components.
Before we can get into the difference between the two types of cords, we need to understand what is inside them. That is a mesh of copper wires wrapped around a single smaller signal wire. There are a few different forms of braids. There are single, double and French braiding styles.
Each has a different effect of incoming noise. If you are going to make or repair an unbalanced wire, you will need to gently gather those loose wire strains and twist them together. Balanced cables have a bit more inside. After removing the outer plastic layer, you might encounter one of two things.
The cord, depending on quality, might have just a braided shield, like that of the unbalanced cord above, but it also might have another foil shield for double the protection, like the picture below. Here is the same wire with the braided shield gathered and twisted together giving you a better look at the foil. Once you gently pull the foil over to the side, you will notice that a balanced cable has two signal wires. Not to be confused with stereo wires, like RCAs.
Those are two unbalanced cables joined together. Both cables have what is called shields. These are meant to stop outside noise from interfering with the signal wire s inside. There are two types of noise that are likely culprits trying to mess up your otherwise perfect audio signals. For short cable runs, 15—20 ft or less, instrument and line level audio unbalanced cables usually do the job. Those two signals are strong and the short distances reduces the chance of outside interference.
However, not playing near radio towers or placing power cords on top of the cables is good practice too! Long cable runs and mic level audio signals are more susceptible to noise.
Mic levels are very weak and easy to mess with. That is why, in most cases, microphones should be using balanced cables. Obviously, of our two cables above, the balanced one already has the advantage of having two shields. The genius of balanced cables works like this. When the audio source is fed into an XLR, for example, the negative signal wire inverts the phase of the audio signal. So, immediately you have two identical audio signals traveling over the cables out of phase with one another.
Channel one has some audio, which exists in waveform, as all audio does. Then you take that exact waveform and duplicate it onto channel two. The output signal would be doubled. There would be silence. That is because the waveforms are canceling each other out. Now, back to our balanced cable. The two identical out-of-phase signals are traveling over the wire. The cool thing is that the noise will be applied equally and identically to both the positive and negative signals.
Upon passing through the second XLR connector the negative signal is inverted again, but, now it is just adding to the positive signal. The noise in the negative signal wire is also inverted at that time. That noise that is identical to the noise in the positive signal wire. That means the noise that was introduced along the cable run cancels itself out while the audio signal is allowed to pass through. More articles by this author. Joshua Casper is an accomplished live performer, DJ, producer, and music educator.
His specialties are centered in and around Ableton Live and Native Instruments. His educational material has been featured on Ableton. His music has been featured on Dubstep. Read More. Create an account or login to get started! Audio is your ultimate daily resource covering the latest news, reviews, tutorials and interviews for digital music makers, by digital music makers. Log In Create Account. A NonLinear Educating Company. Most likely those cables were XLR cables.
But, do you know what the difference is? The Anatomy of Balanced vs. Unbalanced Cords Before we can get into the difference between the two types of cords, we need to understand what is inside them. Unbalanced braided-copper shielding. Unbalanced positive wire shielding. Balanced cord braid foil. Balanced cord exposed foil.
Balanced positive negative braid foil. Balanced cable explained. Learn important audio concepts for studio musicians and producers in the AskAudio Academy here. Joshua Casper More articles by this author. Related Videos. The Facts. In Lockdown? Discussion Colin. The article refers to "chords" but I doubt the cables are in E Minor or any other key. Hey Colin, good spot!
We've corrected the article. I especially loved the reference to "power chords" lol At the end, when the negative signal is inverted again, I understand the noise will be cancelled, but wouldn't the original signal be now doubled since it is inverted back on the negative signal? Think of it like this. Does that make sense? Hi, kind of : From the original post: "Then you take that exact waveform and duplicate it onto channel two. So, in the end, inverting back one of the channels and adding one to another, by logic, will make the result doubled.
Or am I missing something? Want to join the discussion? Featured Articles. Related Articles. Spotlight Courses. Categories News Reviews Tutorials Interviews.