It may not seem like it at first, but having quality cables is very important. You can spend thousands on a signal chain, but it’s often said that it’s only as good as the weakest component. Even though cheap cables can get the job done, you may find yourself replacing them much more frequently than high-quality ones. The best XLR cables are durable, with quality components that withstand a fair amount of wear and tear.
Why Does Quality of XLR Cable Matter?
XLRs are balanced cables designed to carry a strong audio signal without interference over long runs. Inside, there are three relatively small wires which solder to pins inside the connectors at either end of the cable. These include a ground, positive wire, and negative wire.
Quality cables matter because of the inherent delicacy of the internal wires and solder points. Poorly made cables are more prone to having wires disconnect from their pins. You can open up the connector and fix it yourself, but who wants to spend a significant amount of time repairing cheap cables?
It’s much easier to invest in decent cables, made from quality components, that can hold up to the standard rigors of live or studio use.
What Makes a Good XLR Cable?
A good XLR cable is sturdy above anything else. The wires should be carefully soldered to their pins, and the connectors at both ends of the cable should feel durable. If the connector feels like it’s coming loose from the rest of the cable, you likely have a soldering problem. So again, a cheap cable can carry a decent, interference-free signal, but also carries a greater risk of failure.
The 10 Best XLR Cables for Microphones in 2023
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Microphone cables vary in price based on the overall quality of the components and their construction, as well as the length. Naturally, longer cables are more expensive than shorter ones. Do your best to estimate how much length you’ll need so you don’t go over budget — still, if you end up with more cable than you need, that’s better than not having enough!
We’ve put together this list of some of the best microphone cables at various prices to suit a range of budgets.
Pig Hog makes really rugged cables at a great quality-to-cost ratio. This two-pack includes a pair of 10-foot XLRs, which feature a thick and durable 8mm rubber outing. Pig Hog cables also come with a lifetime guarantee .
Mogami is known as one of the industry’s best cable manufacturers. The Gold Stage is a 20-foot cable, virtually indestructible, with name-brand Neutrik gold-plated connectors. Mogami stands behind their work with a lifetime warranty, though it certainly comes at a cost.
Hosa has a reputation of providing excellent quality at a value the average engineer can afford. The copper conductors inside this 10-footer boast an impressive signal-to-noise ratio for quiet, interference-free cabling.
If length is what you need, Planet Waves cables offer a great value. For under $30 you can get 50′ of quality cable that should last a good while. The diameter runs a little on the smaller side compared to something like the Pig Hog, but it’s still a great cable at an unbeatable price for the length.
Mogami Silver mic cables are built to the same exacting standards as the pricier Gold and Platinum lines at a more accessible price. This is the perfect way to buy into the famed Mogami quality without having to sell off half your mic locker in the process!
Canare Star Quad cables by Markertek have been the go-to for live sound, broadcast, and on-location audio for some time. Their four-conductor design helps them withstand interference in the harshest environments and keeps noise low for quiet sound sources.
While not a household name for most audio engineers, Cable Matters come highly reviewed and extremely cost effective. They come in packs of two at lengths ranging from just three feet all the way to 50. On a budget, these are great cables.
Similar to the Canare, LyxPro XLR cables use the four-conductor design to mitigate the worst kinds of interference. They’re quite durable for busy stages or studios where there’s risk of them being stepped on, tugged, and pulled. Lengths range from three to 100 feet.
Perhaps not what you’d outfit a high-end recording studio with, the AmazonBasics XLR has thousands of 5-star reviews. Clearly they’re very cost effective, with a length of 25′ going for less than $20. The general consensus is that these are premium cables.
Last but not least is the Rapco Horizon N1M1. These feature premium components (Neutrik connectors) at good prices and carry a lifetime warranty like many of the other high-end cable producers.