XLR Connector — Gadget Reviewed

XLR Connector — Gadget Reviewed

The XLR connector is an electrical cable that you can find on professional video, audio, and stage lighting equipment. These come in circular design and are available between three and seven pins. Besides, these have a significant connection with balanced audio interconnection ( for example- AES3 digital audio).

However, you can use the cables for lighting control, low-voltage power supplies, etc. Besides, you can get them available from several manufacturers. You will know other details regarding the cable in this gadget reviewed post.

History of XLR connector:

James H. Cannon, who established Cannon Electric in Los Angeles, discovered the gadget. It is why we know it as a Cannon plug or Cannon connector.

ITT Cannon produced the cables originally in two places: Kanagawa, Japan, and Melbourne, Australia. Alcatel Components bought the Australian operation in 1992, and Amphenol acquired it in 1998. Besides, ITT Cannon continues producing these cables in Japan.

Design of XLR connector:

You can get these available in male and female versions. The female cables connect earth pin, pin 1, first before contact with other pins. After that, you have to insert a male version of the cable. You can insert the cable into live equipment without external signals when setting up the ground connection before connecting the signal lines.

Before buying the gadget, you should check the pins as they can vary. As of 2016, they are available with up to 10 pins, whereas the mini ones are available with up to eight pins.

Current patterns and applications of XLR connector:

We have given here the gadget versions available with their applications, respectively.


This type of cable used mainly for balanced audio signals is Three-pin in the industry. Previously, people used them for loudspeaker connections.

It allows you to interconnect powered speakers with line-level signals. You can see its usage in PA system applications. Besides, this type used in Rechargeable devices is available on electric-powered mobility wheelchairs and scooters. This cable type can carry from 2 to 10 amps at 24 volts.

Its typical use is in DMX512, on lighting and related control equipment. However, you cannot use three-pin wires for DMX512 according to section 7.1.2 of the DMX512 standard.


You should use this type of wire for intercom headsets, like systems made by ClearCom and Telex. You have to use two pins for the mono headphone signal, whereas the other two for the unbalanced microphone signal.

Besides, you can use it in DC power connections for professional film and video cameras. The fourth pin helps to charge the LED, meaning that the mic is active. It has other uses, including some scrollers, AMX analog lighting control, and pyrotechnic equipment.


It has common use in DMX512 digital lighting control. Besides, you can use it for dual-element or stereo microphones and stereo intercom headsets. In addition, it enables you to use it for DC power in audio equipment.


You should use them for dual-channel intercom systems and stage lighting control works. Besides, a professional stereo headset with a balanced microphone is another example of its use.


These help to attach valve (tube) condenser microphones to power supplies, including carrying signal, heater, and HT. Le Maitre and Ultratec fog machines use this cable type for remote control.


The loudspeaker Cannon, also called a PDN, comes with blue or white insulation, depending on gender. You can use this type, manufactured by Amphenol, mainly for connections between audio power amplifiers and loudspeakers.

Buying Guide for the XLR Connector:

If you are planning to buy an External Line Return cable, a few aspects are there that you have to consider to get the best one for the particular application in mind. Things that you have to consider while buying an effective gadget are as follows:


It is one of the most vital factors that should come to your mind first while buying this cable. If you want to buy the cable for a relatively benign environment, consider the lower-cost items. However, if you use it in an area where high quality is essential, you need to go with higher-cost items.


It is a term difficult to quantify for many components. However, when you choose a famous manufacturer for their quality, you must get a good quality component. Besides, the product will be more robust and enable you to use it professionally. If you use some lower-quality models, the latches are not working correctly, especially with cables from other manufacturers. If you are willing to have a top-quality model, go with the Neutrik manufacturer.

IP ratings:

If you want, you can obtain IP-rated models. IP rating indicates that manufacturers produce these to withstand adverse environmental conditions. Sometimes, mating becomes a little harder because of the environmental protection, and you have to prevent the ingress of moisture and others. Therefore, you can use them where cables remain outside and may have to withstand rain and other climatic conditions.

The bottom line:

An XLR connector is similar to the smaller DIN cable range but does not support it physically. Therefore, people prefer to use smaller versions, the mini XLR connector, on smaller equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What does the XLR connector mean?

The full form of the term is External Line Return. It is an electrical cable found in professional audio, video, and stage lighting equipment.

  • What is it used for?

People use these with professional audio equipment, including microphones, mixers, amplifiers, and soundboards. There are some different varieties available in the market, and people use the 3-pin version mostly among them. Every pin has a positive, negative, and ground port, respectively.

  • Is it better than a USB?

XLR mics can provide more access to higher resolution audio for its higher sampling rates and bit depth. On the flip side, the USB mics can reach above 92KHz sampling rates. In most cases, these can hover between 24KHz to 48KHz. In this case, the sampling rate is essential as it can represent the sound samples number recorded each second.

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