5 Audio Cables Every Singer Should Know

Xlr

Don’t ever get tripped up on cable types again!  -says Chris Kennedy

  • 1. XLR

    These are commonly used for connecting microphones as well as balanced outputs from mixing desks or DI boxes. They have three pins which allows them to have a separate ground wire to minimise interference or to send phantom power when using a condenser microphone.

  • 2. Speakon

    You will generally find these on PA speakers and power amplifiers. They can come in both 2 and 4 pole configurations and are usually found on cables designed to take the high output from a power amplifier. They also lock into place so they can’t be accidentally pulled out during use and are shielded from human touch.

  • 3. Mono Jack (TS)

    These are commonly used to connect a guitar or keyboard to an amp or mixing desk – however they are sometimes used as speaker cables on some systems (with a cable designed for higher currents). They are unbalanced cables, which means when connecting instruments with them you may need to use a DI box to stop problems with interference or ground loop noise.

  • 4. Stereo Jack (TRS)

    These are commonly used to send stereo signal down a single cable – such as the output on an MP3 player or the input on headphones. As they have three internal wires they can also be used in other ways such as to send a balanced mono signal in the same way you would an XLR cable. One final use for these is with mixing desks insert channel to allow a device such as a compressor to be connected before the fader (see your mixing desks manual for more details).

  • 5. RCA

    These are usually used in pairs and used to connect external devices such as DVD player to a mixing desk. They are generally more used in home hifi equipment than PA systems, however they are sometimes used in combination with a 3.5mm stereo jack lead to connect MP3 players and phones to a PA system.