Do expensive XLR cables make a difference? The truth about mic cables

Do expensive XLR cables make a difference? The truth about mic cablesA common question among musicians and producers is this: ‘do expensive XLR cables make a difference?’

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

In my experience, the answer is no. If you’re buying cables for a normal home studio setup, even if some of your gear is really high-end, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to be able to hear any difference at all.

This is something that you can hear for yourself. Take the XLR cables that you already own, I’m assuming that they probably didn’t cost you a ton of money. Do they sound bad? Do they give you a poor quality audio signal? If the answer is no, then you don’t need to buy a more expensive one.

Do expensive XLR cables make a difference?

Now, if you happen to be working with monitors, mics, preamps and convertors which each cost several thousand pounds, then you might be at a point where you can hear a subtle difference with a higher-end cable. But until that point, it just isn’t worth worrying about.

Do expensive XLR cables make a difference? A consideration for build quality:

Personally, the only reason that I would look at upgrading a cable to a more expensive one is if I was looking for something which was more reliable or had a higher build quality. It stands to reason that cheaper cables might have a poorer build quality and this would likely result in a cable which doesn’t last as long as a pricier one. But if you look after your equipment and treat it with care, then you shouldn’t really run into any problems even with inexpensive cables.

What XLR cables do you use? Would you recommend them? Leave your recommendations in the comments section below.


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4 thoughts on “Do expensive XLR cables make a difference? The truth about mic cables

  1. Hi quality XLR cables – and their connectors – make a TREMENDOUS difference on a live stage, FYI. When you have to ship phantom power to a condenser mic, the shield better be contiguous. I bought some that were not.

    The connector bodies better NOT be connected to Pin1. They will get up against something grounded to a different point, and give you a hum that will be verrry difficult to find.

    The wire will be run-over by case wheels. Good if it can take some abuse.

    I realize this is a more ‘sound quality’ question as asked here, but outside the studio, pay for what you get.

  2. Have just playing between some microphone xlr cables and some branded ones. There is a noticeable difference in bass extension, detail and dynamics. Which of the two is preferred or ‘correct’ is another question. Is the gain worth spending hundreds to thousands more.

  3. I’ve been in the recording studio business for 30 years, also an avid audiophile. My speakers are atc 45a pro, dynaudio special 25, magnepan lrs, Bowers & Wilkins 802. Kef reference. Power by Nelson pass. Anyway long story short I used everything from mogami to Super high-end audioquest could not hear a difference with XLR cables. Single ended cables yes, power cords yes, speaker wires yes. I wouldn’t go cheaper than mogami.
    Have a nice day!

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