When recording audio, you often hear people say they prefer XLR over 1/4 inch connectors. What exactly is the difference between these two types of connections?
1/4 inch (Toslink) is a type of connector commonly found on microphones, headphones, and other devices. It has four contacts and is usually used for connecting cables.
XLR connectors are also known as balanced or phantom power connectors. They are typically used for professional equipment such as microphones and mixers.
XLR connectors are designed to handle high levels of current and provide a stable signal. They are generally preferred for professional applications because they offer higher quality sound and greater durability.
The main advantage of using an XLR microphone cable is that it allows you to use your mixer’s pre-amp with no problems. You can connect your mic directly into the input of your mixing board without having to worry about whether there is enough gain in your mixer to drive the mic.
Another benefit of using XLRs is that you can plug them into any device that uses standard ¼” jacks. This includes most smartphones, tablets, computers, and many portable music players.
The downside to XLR connectors is their cost. They are much more expensive than 1/4 inch connectors and require special tools to install. If you’re looking for something inexpensive, then you may want to consider buying a set of 1/4 inch connectors instead.
However, if you plan on doing a lot of work with your microphone, then you should invest in some XLR connectors.
If you need help choosing which one is right for you, check out our guide below!
Which Is A Better Choice?
Both XLR and 1/4 inch connectors are used in professional audio applications, and there are many types of audio equipment that make use of both of them. Many professionals actually prefer using XLRs over 1/4 inch because they are more durable than 1/4 inch.
However, some people prefer 1/4 inch connectors because they are smaller and easier to carry around.
There are no obvious differences in quality between the connectors and cables, but XLRs are better than TRS. Let’s first examine the differences between XLRs and TRS jacks in detail. Then we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each type of jack. We’ll also cover when to use one over the other.
XLR connectors are commonly used to connect audio equipment such as mixing consoles, amplifiers, etc. An XLR cable consists of 3 wires, ground (X), left / hot (L), and right/cold (R). Both the left and right wires carry the actual electrical currents, while the ground wire is used as a reference point.
A male XLR connector has three pins inside the connector, while a female XLR has three holes. A quarter-inch connector is a type of electrical connector commonly used to connect electronic devices together or to other circuit boards.
Quarter-inch connectors are also known as 1/4-inch connectors, mini-plugs, miniature jacks, and micro jacks.1/4″ connectors are used in both pro and consumer audio equipment.
It’s also one of the most common audio connectors out there. You’ll see them on mixing consoles, preamps, power amps, receivers, DACs, etc. But many people know the 1⁄4″ connector as a headphone jack, since it’s the standard connector used by many headphone manufacturers.
There are 2 types of 1/4″ connectors: TS and TRS. The TS is also called Tip-Sleeve. The TS connector is used when connecting a device to another device or cable. On the other hand, the TRS is called Tip-Ring-Sleeve.
This type of connector is used when connecting devices to each other. Cables are unbalanced because they carry both positive and negative signals. There are three sections to a cable.
The tip connects to your device, the ring connects to the speaker or headphones you’re using, and the sleeve connects to the other end of the speaker or headphone cord. There are three wires in T-cable cables: ground, left or right, and tip or ring.
XLR vs 1/4 Inch Connectors
There are two types of 1/4 inch connections; XLR and TS. Both are balanced and stereo.
They don’t particularly have many differences or drastic changes, so both connectors are good to use when it comes to the overall balance and stereo output.
XLR vs 1/4 Inch TS Connectors
The XLR cables are balanced well, while the 1/4-inch cables are rather unbalanced in comparison. This is the main difference we’ve been encountering between them. Cable length determines how much noise it picks up. A longer cable means more noise.
Short cables can be used when there’s a lot of interference or if you’re using an antenna.
Cables are used to carry sound from one place to another. A single wire carries one signal, and the other wire is just ground (noise). Mono cables can only carry one signal. XLR cables are balanced, meaning that they can carry two different signals without interference.
XLR cables can deliver stereo signals, but they aren’t used often because they’re expensive. Stereo signals use two wires to send sound information. Also, the XLR can deliver great signals because it has two wires, the left, and the right ones, that carry the signal for the stereo.
XLR vs 1/4 Inch TRS Connector
There is no significant difference between XLR and TRS connectors. Both types of connectors can provide high-quality noise-less signals. As we discussed before, they have few differences, so it’s all about preference of sound when it comes down to making that dreaded final decision.
They both have these wires that carry the channels of the signal, so the differences come from the connectors themselves, not the balance. Therefore, they both produce high-quality stereo signals that are noise-free!
What Are XLR Cables Used For?
Microphones are usually connected to an amplifier or mixer console. These devices are used to amplify sound. Amplifiers are also used to mix sounds together. Speakers are another device that uses amplification.
Musical instruments are often amplified by using an amplifier. XLR cables should not ever be used as lighting cables. They are very expensive, and you shouldn’t use them if you’re going to light up your house. Instead, use DMX cables.
XLR cables are balanced audio cables. They carry balanced audio signals. You can see three wires: X, L, R. These wires represent the left and right channels of audio. The ground represents the common ground on the device. They do exactly what their naming has suggested for you.
Male connectors have exactly 3 overall pins inside the connector, while the female connectors have 3 pinholes overall. Male XLRs are used to transmit audio signals.
Mixing consoles use XLR male connectors to send audio signals out of the mixer, while microphones use XLR male connectors that send audio signals to other devices like mixers or speakers.
Female XLR connectors connect two pieces of equipment together. For example, mixing consoles have female XLR connectors that connect to microphones or speakers.
What Is A 1/4 Inch Connector And Cable?
1/4″ connectors are commonly used in audio equipment, in the audio industry. One of the most popular audio connectors is used in both consumer and professional equipment for devices.
A 1/4 inch audio connector is super familiar in the audio industry. Professionally and personally. If you ever heard someone saying “quarter-inch,” or “six-point five millimeters”, they are referring to the same thing. When you go shopping, you won’t be confounded anymore if they’re selling it in millimeters.
There are two kinds of 1/4 connectors: tip-sleeve and tip-ring-sleeve. We tend to make use out of 1/4 inch connectors in most audio equipment, like preamps, consoles, audio interfaces, amplifiers, and even instruments! Some of these instruments include guitars, keyboards, and sometimes most synthesizers.
Reasons To Choose XLR Over 1/4 Inch
There are situations where you should consider using XLRs instead of 1/4 inch connectors. So, let’s get into why you should!
Their Ability To Send Phantom Power
Condenser mics need phantom power to operate. An XLR cable delivers this power. That’s the basics of it. The most effective audio cable can deliver power to a microphone well, so if you’ve been searching for a cable for your condenser, this should be a simple decision.
Best Cable For Microphones
XLR cables have been used for many years as professional microphones. They are much more reliable than RCA cables. You won’t get any noise problems using them. Microphones themselves actually deliver a much quieter signal, which is usually referred to as mic-level types of signals.
Because of this, the signals have to be boosted through the microphone by the preamp just before it will be loud enough, so it can go through more processing.
Most audio manufacturers know this, so the audio equipment has a preamp built-in specifically to their connectors. Typically, this equipment is for interfaces and mixing consoles. You will only have to access the preamps for the microphone, which can boost the signal if you decide to use an XLR for your microphone.
Locking Mechanism On The XLR Cables
XLR connectors are very reliable because of their locking mechanisms. They prevent accidental cable pulls out, which often happens with female 1/4 inch connectors.
These accidents may happen when a person trips or falls over the cable, this is typically an issue with live productions which can easily be solved and put to sleep with the locking mechanisms on the cables.
Therefore, if you’re wanting to prevent these accidents with cables, you should go for the XLR connectors.
It’s really up to you whether you want to choose between the XLR and 1/4 inch connectors, but there are some pros and cons that we mentioned above. It all depends on what kind of application you’re looking at.
For example, if you’re looking at a guitar interface, then you might not need to worry about the difference between XLR and 1/2 inch connectors.
But if you’re looking at something more professional, such as a console or mixer, then you’ll definitely want to pay attention to the differences between the connectors.
The main difference between the two connector types is that XLR has a locking mechanism, whereas 1/4″ does not. This means that you cannot accidentally pull the plug out of the jack (if you do, the sound will cut off). Also, XLR plugs are designed to handle higher voltages than 1/4″.
You could also use a balanced line connection to connect your instrument to your recording device. However, this would require a different type of cable.
We’d say both are good choices. We’ve never heard anything bad said about either one. If you’re going to buy one, we’d suggest getting both.
So, you know that one of these connectors is going to work for you, regardless of which you choose to go for in the end!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Exactly Is A 1/4 Inch Connector?
Quarter inches are used in professional and consumer audio equipment, but they’re also known as 6.35 mm. They are used on mixing consoles and power amplifiers, receivers and DACs, audio interfaces, and instruments, such as guitars, keyboards, and synthesizers.
But many people know them as headphone jacks because it’s the standard connector for many headphones.
There are two types of 1⁄4″ connectors. The TS type connects the left channel (L) and right channel (R), while the TRS type connects the left channel and ground (GND). Both connectors have a 3.5 mm plug on one end and a 1/4″ jack on the other.
What Makes A Good Quality Cable?
Cable quality can be determined by how well-made it is. You want to avoid cheap cables because they are usually made of inferior materials. However, there are other factors that should also be considered.
For example, if your cable is too long or short, it won’t work properly. Also, the number of connectors per meter can affect the quality of the connection. Finally, make sure the cable is flexible enough to handle the amount of strain placed upon it.