Unleash Your Audio Potential: A Guide to the Best XLR Cables for Microphones

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Last updatedLast updated: December 23, 2023
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Discovering the best XLR cables for microphones is essential for anyone looking to optimize their audio recording or live performance setup.

High-quality XLR cables can significantly enhance the sound quality, durability, and overall experience of using professional-grade microphones, ensuring you capture every nuance of your audio precisely and clearly. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the world of XLR cables, exploring the top options available and providing valuable insights to help you make an informed decision that perfectly aligns with your needs.

1.

Mogami Gold Studio Microphone CableEditor's Choice

Features

Features:

  • Balanced: Yes
  • Wire Gauge: 24 AWG
  • Features: Quad 4-conductor (dual pair)

Other Features: Quad Mic Cable, XLRM-XLRF, with Gold Contacts

The Mogami Gold Studio Microphone Cable is a high-quality cable designed for professional studio applications. It is built using Mogami’s renowned Neglex OFC (oxygen-free copper) conductors, ensuring top-notch audio signal transmission.

This cable’s performance is exceptional, providing low capacitance and superior shielding against electromagnetic interference. The result is crystal-clear audio with minimal noise, making it ideal for recording vocals and instruments.

The Mogami Gold Studio Microphone Cable is perfect for studio professionals seeking the highest quality audio possible. Its durable construction and reliable performance make it a top choice for serious audio enthusiasts.

The premium materials used and the meticulous manufacturing process set this cable apart from its competitors. It is considered the industry standard for studio recording.

However, the Mogami Gold Studio Microphone Cable comes at a higher price point, which may not be suitable for all budgets. Nevertheless, its performance and durability make it a worthwhile investment.

What stands out?

  • Exceptional sound quality, durable construction, reliable performance

What cons did we manage to find?

  • Higher price point
2.

Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Microphone CableBest for Streaming and Studio Applications

Features

Features:

  • Balanced: Yes
  • Wire Gauge: 21 AWG

Other Features: Silver-plated Machined contacts, Satin Nickel finished Zinc diecast Shell

 

The Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Balanced Microphone Cable is a versatile choice suitable for both streaming and studio applications. It features a unique star quad design, which reduces susceptibility to electromagnetic and radio frequency interference.

In terms of performance, the Canare L-4E6S delivers excellent sound quality with minimal noise. It is reliable for various audio applications, from podcasting to professional studio recordings.

This cable is a great choice for those who need a high-quality, versatile microphone cable that can handle various situations. Its durable construction ensures it will last for years.

The Canare L-4E6S stands out from the competition due to its unique star quad design, which significantly reduces interference and noise. It offers a perfect balance of performance and affordability.

Some users may find the cable slightly stiff, but its durability and sound quality more than makes up for this minor drawback.

What are its best features?

  • Excellent sound quality, versatile use, durable construction

What could be improved?

  • Slightly stiff

Features

Features:

  • Balanced: Yes
  • Wire Gauge: 24 AWG

Other Features: Microphone Cable, XLR Male-XLR Female, Oxygen-free wire

The Pro Co EXM-20 Excellines Microphone Cable is a lightweight and flexible option, perfect for on-the-go recording and live performances. It is designed with a durable outer jacket and high-quality conductors, ensuring a clean audio signal.

Performance-wise, the Pro Co EXM-20 offers excellent sound quality and low noise, making it suitable for various audio applications. It is ideal for musicians and sound engineers who require mobility without sacrificing performance.

The Pro Co EXM-20 Excellines Microphone Cable stands out for its flexibility and lightweight design. It is perfect for those who need a reliable cable for live performances and on-the-go recording sessions.

One potential drawback is that it may not be as durable as some of the heavier-duty options on the market. However, its performance and mobility make it a popular choice for many users.

What do we love it for?

  • Lightweight, flexible, excellent sound quality

What were we disappointed with?

  • May not be as durable as some competitors

4.

Hosa HMIC-010 Pro Microphone CableBest Budget Option

Features

Features:

  • Balanced: Yes
  • Wire Gauge: 20 AWG

Other Features: XLRF-XLRM Microphone Cable with REAN Connectors

The Hosa HMIC-010 Pro Microphone Cable is an affordable option that doesn’t skimp on quality. It features a durable outer jacket and oxygen-free copper conductors for reliable performance.

Despite its budget-friendly price, the Hosa HMIC-010 delivers solid sound quality with minimal interference. It is suitable for various audio applications, from home recording to live performances.

The Hosa HMIC-010 Pro Microphone Cable is an excellent choice for those on a tight budget who still want reliable performance. Its durability and sound quality make it a great value.

What sets this cable apart from its competitors is its affordability without compromising performance. It is a solid option for those looking for a reliable, budget-friendly microphone cable.

One potential downside is that the cable may not be as flexible as some higher-priced options. However, its overall performance and value make it a popular choice.

What makes it stand out?

  • Affordable, durable, solid performance

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • May not be as flexible as some competitors

Features

Features:

  • Balanced: Yes
  • Wire Gauge: 24

Other Features: XLRF to XLRM balanced, Ultra-flexible cable, High conductivity

The Audio-Technica AT8314 Premium Microphone Cable is specifically designed for vocal clarity and minimal signal loss. It features high-quality conductors and a dual copper shield to reduce interference.

In terms of performance, the AT8314 delivers clear audio with minimal noise, making it perfect for recording vocals. It is a reliable choice for various audio applications, from studio recording to live performances.

The Audio-Technica AT8314 Premium Microphone Cable is an excellent choice for those seeking a cable designed specifically for vocal clarity. Its performance and build quality make it a top choice for vocalists and audio professionals.

What sets this cable apart from its competitors is its focus on vocal performance, offering exceptional clarity and minimal signal loss. It is an ideal option for those who prioritize vocal recording quality.

One potential drawback is that it may not be as versatile as some other options on the market. However, its performance and focus on vocal clarity make it a popular choice for many users.

Why is it special?

  • Designed for vocal clarity, minimal signal loss, reliable performance

What are the flaws?

  • May not be as versatile as some competitors

Things to Consider

Choosing the best XLR cables for microphones can greatly impact the quality of your audio recordings and performances. This buying guide will help you navigate the various factors to consider when selecting the right cable for your needs. We’ll cover everything from cable construction and materials to noise reduction, flexibility, price, and specific use cases. With this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision when purchasing the perfect XLR cable for your needs.

Cable Construction and Materials

The quality of materials used in an XLR cable can greatly impact its performance. High-quality conductors, such as oxygen-free copper (OFC), ensure optimal signal transmission and minimal signal loss. A durable outer jacket and shielding materials will also protect the cable from physical damage and interference. The Mogami Gold Studio Microphone Cable and Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Balanced Microphone Cable are excellent examples of cables with high-quality construction.

Conductors

The conductors in an XLR cable play a crucial role in transmitting the audio signal. They should be made of high-quality materials that ensure optimal signal transmission and minimal signal loss. Oxygen-free copper (OFC) is the most common material used for conductors in high-quality XLR cables due to its excellent conductivity and resistance to corrosion.

Insulation

Insulation is essential for protecting the conductors and minimizing signal interference. High-quality XLR cables should have insulation made from materials like polyethylene or PVC, which provide a good balance of flexibility and durability.

Shielding

Effective shielding is necessary to minimize electromagnetic and radio frequency interference that can degrade audio quality. Common shielding materials include braided copper, foil, or a combination of both. A well-shielded cable, like the Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Balanced Microphone Cable, will ensure a clean audio signal with minimal interference.

Outer Jacket

The outer jacket of an XLR cable provides physical protection and durability. It should be made from rugged material, such as PVC or rubber, that can withstand regular use and resist abrasion, cuts, and other potential damage.

Noise Reduction and Interference Protection

One of the most important factors when choosing an XLR cable is its ability to reduce noise and protect against interference. A well-shielded cable will minimize electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, ensuring a clean audio signal. With its unique star quad design, the Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Balanced Microphone Cable is a great example of a cable that offers excellent interference protection.

Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) can cause unwanted noise in your audio signal. High-quality XLR cables should be designed to minimize the effects of EMI, often through the use of effective shielding materials and construction techniques. Braided or spiral shielding is commonly used to protect against EMI.

Radio Frequency Interference (RFI)

Radiofrequency interference (RFI) can also degrade audio quality. To protect against RFI, some XLR cables incorporate additional shielding, such as foil shielding, or utilize specialized construction techniques like the star quad design found in the Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Balanced Microphone Cable.

Flexibility and Mobility

You may require a more flexible mobile cable depending on your specific needs. For instance, musicians and sound engineers who frequently travel or perform live may benefit from a lightweight, flexible cable like the Pro Co EXM-20 Excellines Microphone Cable. Keep in mind that some cables may sacrifice durability for flexibility, so it’s essential to find a balance that suits your requirements.

Cable Thickness

Cable thickness can impact a cable’s flexibility and weight. Thinner cables tend to be more flexible and lightweight, making them easier to transport and maneuver during performances. However, they may be less durable and more susceptible to damage. It’s important to find a cable with a thickness that balances flexibility, weight, and durability for your specific needs.

Cable Length

The length of your XLR cable is another factor to consider when evaluating flexibility and mobility. Longer cables can provide more freedom of movement but may also introduce signal loss and be more challenging to manage. Choose a cable length that suits your setup and allows for comfortable use without sacrificing audio quality.

Coilability

Coilability refers to how easily an XLR cable can be wound up for storage and transport. Some cables, like the Pro Co EXM-20 Excellines Microphone Cable, feature a more flexible design that allows for easy coiling and uncoiling, making them ideal for mobile performers or those with limited storage space.

Price and Value

The price of an XLR cable can vary greatly, and it’s essential to find one that offers the best value for your budget. While some cables, like the Mogami Gold Studio Microphone Cable, come at a higher price point, their performance and durability can make them a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, more budget-friendly options like the Hosa HMIC-010 Pro Microphone Cable still provide reliable performance at a more affordable price.

Budget Considerations

When selecting an XLR cable, it’s crucial to set a budget and prioritize the features that are most important to you. Be prepared to spend more for a cable with higher-quality materials and construction, but don’t overlook more affordable options that still offer excellent performance.

Long-Term Investment

High-quality XLR cables can be a long-term investment, as they typically offer better durability and longevity compared to their lower-priced counterparts. If you plan to use your cable frequently or in demanding environments, it may be worth spending more upfront to save on potential replacement costs in the long run.

Price vs. Performance

While it’s essential to consider price when selecting an XLR cable, remember that the cheapest option may not always provide the best performance. Weigh the benefits of each cable against its cost to determine the best value for your needs.

Specific Use Cases

Some XLR cables are designed with specific use cases in mind, such as the Audio-Technica AT8314 Premium Microphone Cable, which focuses on vocal clarity. Consider the primary purpose of your cable when making your selection, and choose one that aligns with your specific needs.

Studio Recording

For studio recording, look for cables that offer excellent sound quality and minimal noise interference. High-quality materials and construction are particularly important in this setting, as they will contribute to your recordings’ overall clarity and fidelity.

Live Performances

Live performance situations may require cables with greater flexibility and mobility, and durability to withstand the rigors of regular use on stage. Look for cables that are easy to coil and uncoil, and prioritize options with robust outer jackets and connectors that can withstand frequent plugging and unplugging.

Broadcasting and Streaming

Consider cables with superior noise reduction and interference protection for broadcasting and streaming applications. These features will help ensure a clean audio signal, which is particularly important when transmitting audio to a live audience or capturing audio for post-production.

Connectors and Compatibility

The connectors on your XLR cable should be compatible with your microphone and audio equipment. Most professional-grade microphones use a three-pin XLR connection, but it’s essential to verify the specific requirements of your gear before making a purchase. Additionally, consider the quality and durability of the connectors, as they play a vital role in maintaining a secure connection and optimal signal transmission.

Connector Type

Most XLR cables designed for microphones feature a male connector on one end and a female connector on the other. However, some specialized applications may require different connector types, such as XLR to TRS or XLR to RCA. Ensure that the connectors on your chosen cable are compatible with your equipment.

Connector Quality

High-quality connectors are essential for maintaining a secure connection and optimal signal transmission. Look for connectors made from materials like gold-plated brass or nickel, which offer excellent conductivity and durability. For example, the Mogami Gold Studio Microphone Cable features gold-plated connectors that ensure reliable performance and a long lifespan.

Connector Durability

In addition to the connector materials’ quality, consider the connectors’ overall durability. Strain relief mechanisms, such as rubber or metal spring guards, can help prevent damage to the cable and connectors when they are subject to stress or tension during use.

FAQ

 
 

Capacitance refers to a cable’s ability to store an electrical charge, which can impact the cable’s signal transmission and overall audio quality. Lower capacitance values are generally preferable, as they can help reduce signal loss and ensure a clearer audio signal. High-quality cables, like the Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Balanced Microphone Cable, typically have lower capacitance values, contributing to their superior performance.

Oxygen-free copper (OFC) conductors are often used in high-quality XLR cables due to their excellent conductivity and resistance to corrosion. While other conductor materials are available, such as silver-plated or tinned copper, OFC is widely regarded as one of the best choices for XLR cables due to its combination of performance and affordability.

The lifespan of an XLR cable will vary depending on its quality, usage, and the care taken to maintain it. High-quality cables with robust construction and materials, like the Mogami Gold Studio Microphone Cable, can last for many years with proper care. To prolong the life of your cable, avoid kinking or sharply bending it, and store it properly by coiling it in a loose loop when not in use.

Final Thoughts

Selecting the right XLR cable for your microphone can greatly enhance your audio recording and performance experiences. Based on our ratings, our top three picks are the Mogami Gold Studio Microphone Cable, the Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Balanced Microphone Cable, and the Pro Co EXM-20 Excellines Microphone Cable. These cables stand out for their exceptional performance, construction, and value, making them excellent choices when searching for the best XLR cables for microphones.

The Mogami Gold Studio Microphone Cable, our Editor’s Choice, offers an unbeatable combination of sound quality, durability, and noise reduction, making it an ideal investment for professional studios and musicians. The Canare L-4E6S Star Quad Balanced Microphone Cable excels in interference protection due to its unique star quad design, while the Pro Co EXM-20 Excellines Microphone Cable offers a more budget-friendly option without sacrificing performance.

By considering factors such as cable construction, materials, noise reduction, flexibility, price, specific use cases, and compatibility, you’ll be well-equipped to find the perfect XLR cable to suit your needs.

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