Balance/XLR cables and Radio Shack....

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Aaron E. Smith, Nov 18, 2001.

  1. Aaron E. Smith

    Aaron E. Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    I was wandering around my local Radio Shack yesterday and, out of curiosity, asked if they stocked balanced/XLR cables. What they showed me were microphone cords! All outward appearances were that these were the same as a balanced cable, but I'd like to know more. Anyone have any more info?
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  2. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Aaron,
    All microphone cables with XLR connections on both ends are balanced. Not sure I understand the confusion...?
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  3. Aaron E. Smith

    Aaron E. Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Just because it has the same terminal ending doesn't necessarily mean that the internals are the same, that is why I asked. The box stated that they were "Microphone Extension Cords" or something to that effect. That got me wondering if they were actually the same type of balanced cable that one would use between a preamp and an amp or if they were somehow different.....
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  4. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    quote: Just because it has the same terminal ending doesn't necessarily mean that the internals are the same, that is why I asked. [/quote]
    Still not getting it, Aaron. All XLR/mic cables have two center conductors [signal (+), signal (-)] and a shield. The cable terminates to the XLR pin 1 (shield), pin two (+) and pin 3 (-).
    Are you talking about the build quality of the cable and connector? If so, yes, you can get better quality cables and connectors than the ones that RS sells.quote: That got me wondering if they were actually the same type of balanced cable that one would use between a preamp and an amp or if they were somehow different.[/quote]
    Same stuff, quality issues aside. Plug it in, and you will get sound. Some balanced equipment uses TRS connectors (stereo ¼ phone plugs), but this is more common with pro-audio gear. Home audio equipment with balanced signal paths use XLR connectors.
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    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
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  5. Dan Hine

    Dan Hine Screenwriter

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    Not to add confusion, but XLR can be unbalanced. I took Aaron's statement:
     
  6. Aaron E. Smith

    Aaron E. Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Dan, thanks for the reply--you hit the nail on the head. I wasn't sure if the internals were the same (wiring, cable quality, etc.) and if these were suitable for use with an A/V preamp. I'm not really sure what the confusion what as to my question....

    And yes, the picture on the box showed both ends terminated in a manner that seemed to indicate they were balanced connections--I've just never heard of anyone actually using these in their HT before. It seems to me that types of balanced cables could use different types of wire or be wired differently, providing different results (for example, there are minor differences between cables typically used for audio and video).

    Anyway, has anyone used the Rat Shack XLRs with their system? Any comparisons?

    I'm curious as to the benefits of using balanced connects. I've read that they can actually be inferior connections or that they are better for longer cable runs, but I'd like to get more info. since I'm not terribly familiar with using balanced connections.

    Thanks in advance for any replies!
     
  7. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    For future reference, Aaron, any so-labeled “mic cable” that has XLR connectors on both ends supports balanced audio signals, no matter who sells them. The same is true with cables with an XLR connector on one end and a ¼” TRS plug on the other. (The XLR to mono ¼” cable Dan mentioned would not [and could not] be balanced.) The same type of cables are used for balanced connections between various pieces of equipment; however, those are generally short lengths. “Mic cable” designates a long balanced cable, typically 15-30 ft.

    As I mentioned, the build quality of the RS mic cables is probably not a good as those sold at a pro audio outlet (judging by how cheesy the loose XLR connectors they sell are). However, this has more to do with pro audio’s demand for durability and ruggedness. While the RS cables would be considered low-end for professional applications, they should work fine in a home audio system, where cables to not have to withstand the rigors of on-stage use and abuse. If you need a cable 15 ft. or longer, that is.

    Of course, as you noted, the quality of the cable might be an issue, depending on your stance as the benefits of high-priced “boutique” cables. I would expect the RS mic cables wouldn’t pass muster if you’re into high-quality cables.

    In theory, balanced connections should not offer any benefits in residential systems. The protocol was designed to minimize and/or eliminate the noise problems inherent with the long signal runs typically required in pro audio applications. This is not a problem in residential audio systems.

    However, from a practical and structural standpoint, even cheap XLR connectors are better than RCA connectors, which are near the top of the “worst connectors ever designed” list.

    Hope this helps,

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  8. Dan Hine

    Dan Hine Screenwriter

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    Aaron,
    I have used RS xlr cables before when I was in a pinch. They worked fine for the application (connecting wireless mics to a mixer). I believe you can get better cables but whether or not it would be worth it is all subject to the user and their tastes (or lack there of [​IMG]) Do you currently own gear that can take advantage of a balanced connection? If you do (or for that matter anyone who does) I would not think that some quality xlr cables would be too expensive [​IMG]
    Dan Hine
     

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