Do Microphone Cables Make A Difference

It’s an age old common question among musicians and recording artists is this: “Does XLR microphone cable quality matter?”

It makes sense that people should ask. After all, you can spend anything from a few bucks to a few hundred on a microphone XLR cable. But in reality, can you actually hear a difference?

The answer is no. If you are buying cables for your home recording studio or if you are going to use them in a clean environment without any interference, the quality and price of a mic cable does not make any difference in the quality of your recording.

As long as the cable is properly made and shielded, the actual cable shouldn’t affect sound quality. However, build quality can affect durability & protection against interference.

What’s inside a microphone cable?

are expensive mic cables worth it

A microphone cable consists of five main components:

  1. Two copper conductor
  2. Insulation
  3. Filler (Cotton)
  4. Copper shielding
  5. Outer jacket

Here’s how they work together:

In the middle of the cable are two copper wire conductors (+/-), each one wrapped in its own insulation.

These two copper wires are twisted together, then covered with cotton yarn which acts as filler and serves mostly to smooth-out warping and to preserve the cable’s shape over time.

Next comes the shielding on top of the filler which protects the conductors from various sources of interference.

And finally, the cable is covered with a rubber outer jacket, to protect it from wear & tear.

Are expensive XLR cables worth it?

The key reason to use good quality mic cables is to protect against interference or if you are looking for a higher build quality. Mic-level signals are extremely low voltage — only a fraction of the voltage of line-level signals. This makes mic signals far more susceptible to outside interference, such as radio waves and electromagnetic fields.

Using quality mic cables offers multiple layers of shielding, impurity-free copper, better contacts and quad conductors that help to reject noise and interference. They are also much more rugged and outlast bargain-bin cables.

Can XLR microphone cables go bad?

Yes, XLR microphone cables can and will go bad as you use them over time as the material with which cables are made are degradable, weather with time, and are susceptible to external influences such as heat, cold, moisture, and user neglect.

Do XLR cables carry power? 

Yes, XLR cables can carry phantom power which is used to power condenser microphones and other equipment.

Written by:
Amit Gupta
Amit Gupta

Hi, my name is Amit Gupta, and I am the owner and contributor at Radaudio. My passions include guitar, bass, and piano, as well as a range of classical instruments that I have been playing since school.

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