A Musician’s Guide to Audio Cables – XLR, Quarter-Inch, and More

You walk into a music store and buy your first digital audio interface. You’re ready to create a masterpiece except for one thing.

You can’t do it until you have the right cables. Maybe you already bought audio cables and come to find out, they’re unusable. To save yourself the frustration, here’s a quick audio cable guide for professional musicians. These are the recommended audio cables used in live performing and recording.

1/4-inch Cables

1/4-inch cables are the most common cable for musicians and are used on cables for amps, electric guitars, and more. Some of them come with a Tip, Ring, Sleeve (TRS) design which gives them the ability to carry two channels of audio in a stereo-based design. 1/4-inch cables are popular for keyboards, electric pianos, mixing desks, recording equipment, and other music equipment.

XLR Cables

XLR cables are a balanced audio cable capable of carrying power and audio across long distances. The most common XLR cable use is in microphones. There are female and male XLR cables, each with their own appropriate purpose. A general rule of thumb in engineering and recording is a female XLR plug receives output signals from a device while a male XLR plug is meant to plug into inputs.

RCA Cables

RCA cables are used in home audio equipment, home theater sound, and hi-fi equipment. Musicians will most commonly find RCA cables used on DJ mixers, audio interfaces, and tape-in/tape-out connections on mixing desks. They capture unbalanced, mono signals. The term ‘AUX cable’ means RCA cable. They are interchangeable terminology.

3.5mm Minijack Cables

3.5mm cables are used for smartphones, MP3 players, and more. They are capable of carrying stereo sound and are the most popular consumer audio cable of all-time. In professional recording, they do not necessarily serve much purpose other than in headphones.

Is That It?

For musicians, these are the 4 types of cable you need to know. The only other thing to mention is that sometimes you only have access to certain cables, inputs, or outputs. Audio adapters and cable adapters can be used to essentially convert a cable’s end to something functional. You have to be careful with adapters, however, as they can degrade the audio transference. Be sure to buy a high-quality audio adapter if you intend it for use while sound recording.

For 1/4-inch cables, XLR cables, and more, visit PrimeCables.ca. As Canada’s #1 cable marketplace, give your music cable collection a boost. Receive high-quality cables for live performances, recording, and more. Reliable cables are an absolute necessity in capturing, transferring, and communicating sound. Buy today.

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