The Best XLR Cables
With its 98% braided shield, twin PVC inner shields and cotton yarn wrap, this reasonably priced cable has everything going for it in terms of specs, and its popularity in the market reflects it nicely.
Even without the big name branding that other cables enjoy, the LyxPro LCS Premium cables continue to accumulate high ratings and positive reviews, a testament to their quality and value for money.
- Length: 15'
- Available Lengths: 1.5' to 100'
- 98% braided shield
- Dual PVC Inner Shields
- Cotton Yarn wrap for Noise Reduction
- Black metal housing connectors
- Cable strain relief
- Gold plated contact points
From small bars, to churches and big auditoriums, the LyxPro LCS Premium has been proven to be stage-worthy by many users. They are particularly happy with its reliability, as attested to by many long-time users who are still happy with the cable's performance. Many also swear by this cable's audio clarity and transparency, so much so that they use the cable in studio recordings with good results. Some have even used it for recording video and other modern applications like Podcasting. Wrapping up its positive traits is its good pricing, and you get a clear picture of why this XLR cable continues to rate high in the market.
There aren't that many complaints about the quality and reliability. There are some who gave the cable a slightly lower score because they want to use the cable longer first before updating their reviews - and unfortunately, many of them either forget or neglect to actually follow up. There was one reviewer who complained about some noise in a studio setting when bending the cable at a sharper 90 degree angle, but this can be avoided by proper cable layout.
For the price and the specs, this XLR cable is simply a steal, don't let its lesser known brand name stop you from getting this affordable yet good quality cable.
GLS Audio MC25 Balanced XLR Cable
The GLS Audio MC25 provides reliable mic cabling at a very affordable price point.
At 25' length, it has enough wire for use on most stages, while having minimal effect on the sound.
It features 21 Gauge dual copper conductors that transmit the sound well enough for it to receive consistently good reviews.
The conductor core is protected by thick and flexible exterior rubber jacket and shield, while strain relief is provided by its flexible rubber ends.
All these features combine to make the MC25 a very practical choice for live venues.
- Length: 25'
- Available Lengths: 25' to 30'
- 21 Gauge Dual Copper Conductors
- Flexible Rubber Jacket with Strain Relief
When it comes to value for money, the GLS Audio MC25 is hard to beat, but it's not all about savings, because there are many who appreciate its quiet operation and audio signal quality. Musicians, event organizers, speakers and even video producers continue to write good reviews for the GLS Audio MC25.
There are a few who reported minor build quality inconsistencies, but it is an issue that can be relatively easy to correct by going back to the shop you bought it from.
If you're on a tight budget and you're looking for a reliable stage microphone cable, then check out the GL Audio MC25.
Cable Matters 2-Pack Premium
The name of the company itself teaches an important lesson, that the cables we use actually matter. And they continue to get rave reviews in the market with this 2-pack Premium XLR to XLR microphone cable.
This cable features oxygen-free copper (OFC), with copper braided shielding. The soft PVC jacket makes the cable flexible, while the molded strain relief and grip treads help secure the cable connection at the plug.
- Length: 25’
- Available Lengths: 3' to 50'
- Metal Connectors with Gold Plated XLR pins
- Oxygen-Free Copper (OFC) conductor
- Braided shield
Most owners of this cable feel that they got more than what they paid for. They report that the cable feels solid and have good thickness when held. There are many who state that it holds up well even after many gigs.
There are a few who are complain about the soldering, and recommend that for better long-term use, it's best to re-solder the plug to the cable. There are also some who report that the cable is too thick.
If budget is limited and you're looking for multiple XLR cables, then check out this one out.
RoadHog Mic HOGM-30.K
At publication time this was the Highest Rated XLR Cable.
RoadHog describes these cables as a tough and road worthy XLR cables, and it doesn't look like they are bluffing because there are many reports from users who are impressed with its reliability.
It features a pure copper conductor that is wrapped in copper serve shield that covers around 95% of the wire, and protected by a matte finish PVC material that's durable and flexible.
At 30', this cable is quite long for small stages, but since it does come in a variety of size configurations, you can just get one that fits your requirements.
Finally it utilizes Neutrik plugs to ensure longevity and consistency.
- Length: 30’
- Available Lengths: 2' to 100'
- Pure Copper 24 Gauge Conductor
- Bare Annealed Copper Serve Shield (95% Coverage)
- Matt PVC jacket
For the money, the RoadHog XLR cable gets the job done remarkably well, and more importantly, it does so consistently. It continues to receive high ratings from musicians and audio engineers who love its balance of sound, durability and practicality. It is also worth noting that many are impressed with how easy it is to roll up, even with its tough exterior.
While many users are happy with the cable's thicker profile, there are a few who were not too thrilled with its bulk and weight.
If you're looking for a durable cable that can handle the rigors of constant setup and breakdowns, then the Rapco RoadHog XLR is for you.
Mogami Gold Studio Balanced XLR Cable
Mogami started out in a small workshop in Tokyo, Japan. They made a name for themselves back in 1977, thanks to audiophiles who were impressed with the quality of their cables, and helped spread the word.
These days, Mogami have grown to be a worldwide provider of premium "Hi-Fi" cables (with the help of Marshall Electronics), and the Gold Studio XLR is one of their top products.
As the name suggests, this is designed to be as transparent as possible for studio recording purposes.
- Length: 15'
- Available Lengths: 2' to 50'
- 100% coverage spiral copper shield
- Neglex oxygen free copper cable.
- 4-conductor cable design
- Black metal jacks
- Gold-pin Neutrik XLR connectors
The majority of reviewers are impressed with this cable's consistent and quiet operation, some of them go so far as to claim that it actually "improved" their sound. Other positive comments on this cable pertain to its durability and heavy insulation. Many consider it as the gold standard for microphone cables, with its zero noise operation and high signal transfer fidelity.
Speaking of insulation, some users nit-picked on the cable being a bit on the heavy side, and that because of its bulky jacket and shielding design. Some complained that it takes more effort to get the cable rolled up. However, being an XLR cable designed specifically for studio use, flexibility is expected to be limited since the cable has to be heavily shielded. It would also be nice if the cable were a-bit more affordable, but I guess the higher price point is expected from this particular brand.
If you have the budget and you're looking to wire up your home studio with a branded cable of reliable quality, then this will be a worthy investment.
For those working with tight budget here is a cheap yet highly rated option.
AmazonBasics XLR Cable
Cheap XLR cables are not well known for their quality, but there are some hidden gems like the AmazonBasics XLR which is getting high ratings.
This is a store brand of Amazon, but as the label implies, this is a basic XLR cable, with an all-copper conductor and inner copper spiral shielding, but it does stand out from the rest with its good build quality, as the many positive reviews attest to.
- Length: 25'
- Available Lengths: 6' to 50'
- Flexible PVC Jacket
- All Copper Conductors
- Inner Copper Shielding
Value for money is obviously the strong point of this cable, and it continues to satisfy, if not exceed, the expectations of users. The overall sentiment is that it gets the job done properly, without needing to spend too much money, especially when used in fixed PA system setups. The flexibility of the cable also gets a lot of appreciation from sound technicians.
There are a few who report build quality inconsistencies, specifically of the plugs. Some caution against using this cable in mobile setups, they feel that it can't handle regular plugging and unplugging.
Still, this is a great cable to have for those with limited budgets in fixed setups, it can also be a decent and affordable back up in case something goes wrong with your main cables.
Things to Consider when Buying XLR Cables
Some audiophiles will tell you that they can hear the difference between different leads and this is often used by some companies to sell extremely expensive leads. When it comes to Balanced XLR cables the consensus of audio engineering professionals and actual measurement is clear - there isn't any audible difference between properly functioning balanced XLR cables in normal conditions. Still, in situations where there is significant radio frequency interference, cables with less effective shielding will be more susceptible to picking up those signals. Of course a cable that's damaged can experience glitches, noise or not work at all. So the main issue to avoid problems with sound quality is to buy balanced cables that are durable, reliable and ideally have good shielding.
Usage: Recording versus Stage
XLR cables that will be used on stage have to be durable enough to handle movement and being stepped on. On the flip side, since you're not moving around as much in the studio, flexibility and durability may not be as important.
Getting a cable with the right length is important, obviously you don't want anything shorter than what you actually need and remember this can include running the cables around various obstacles . But there can be some reasons for not getting a cable too much longer than you'll use. Properly operating balanced cables can operate without any audible signal loss over 100 feet and more so that isn't much of a factor. However, having surplus cable lying around in the wrong places can be messy and increase the chances that it will be damaged or get tangled up with other cables. Recording, rehearsal or performance setups can quickly become disorganized so consider what you'll do with that extra cable length. Note that we went with the cable lengths that are more popular with users, which incidentally ranges from 15 to 30 feet.
Core thicknesses range from 20 to 26 AWG (American Wire Gauge), with 20 being the thickest. Thicker cables allow for better signal transfer and are preferred for studio applications, while thinner ones are preferred for stage use because of their flexibility. While some audiophiles will insist Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) provides the best signal transfer, the consensus from pro audio techs is that it doesn't make any difference.
Shielding protects your audio signal from interference, and there are currently three types of materials used: Aluminum laminate (foil), Tin Plated Copper and Copper. The shielding itself is connected to the third pin of the XLR, which directs the intercepted interference to ground. Spiral copper shielding is preferred for stage use because of its 97% coverage and flexibility. Just note that gaps can open up when the cable is flexed too much. For this reason, some cables come with multi-spiral shielding that protects each cable core. Braided Tin Copper shielding is preferred in studio settings because of its higher 98% coverage, oxidation protection, and improved conductivity. Foil shield is commonly used on generic, cheap cables, because it provides effective interference protection without jacking up the price tag. Just note that it can be damaged when the cable is bent. For best results, some manufacturers combine different types of shielding.
Connector Type and Strain Relief
In this particular aspect, the saying you get what you pay for holds true. It may seem like you're saving a few bucks by going for a cheap generic XLR cable, but in the long run, you may end up spending more - and not to mention have problems at the worst possible times - like during a live performance! Having played a vital role in improving the XLR connector design, Neutrik continues to be one of the most trusted brands when it comes to connectors, but they do come with a more premium price tag. Having a Gold connector has a nice ring to it, but it's not really a better conductor, rather the gold plating just makes the pins last longer being less susceptible to oxidization (rust).
Best XLR Cable Selection Methodology
The first edition was published in June 2016 written by Alexander Briones who also wrote the latest edition which was published on November 11, 2020.
We looked at the most popular balanced XLR cables being sold at American online retailers, and picked the ones that stood out in terms of ratings, popularity and recommendations. For this update, we ended up with a short list of 30 XLR cables, along with over 18,000 relevant reviews and ratings, including the most recent ones up to November of 2020. This information was then processed via the Gearank Algorithm and this gave us the ratings out of 100 that we used to select only the most deserving.
Incidentally, we ended up with cables that are between 15' to 30' long, but all of the cables in this list are available in different lengths, and that the scores reflect the combined ratings for all their length variations. For more information about our methods, see How Gearank Works.