Two of the various audio connectors available nowadays are XLR and 3.5mm. And they unquestionably rank among the most popular solutions available. But how much do you actually know about them? What distinguishes 3.5mm connections from XLR connectors? Which choice is preferable? And is it possible to switch between a 3.5mm port and an XLR jack? In this essay, we’ll discuss all of this and more. So let’s get started right away if this is something you’re interested in.
What Is an XLR?
One of the widely used audio connectors in the audio industry is the XLR. The acronym XLR stands for “External Line Return.” There could be three or more pins on an XLR connector. However, the 3-pin XLR connector is the one that is most frequently used. As a result, the 3-pin XLR connector is always referenced whenever an XLR connector is addressed. In the audio and video industries, an XLR connector is typically a 3-pin connector. Usually used to connect microphones and other musical instruments, this 3-pin connector. Additionally, several stage lighting apparatuses make use of it. Here is a quick explanation of what an XLR is. Read this post named “XLR vs 14 Inch” if you want to understand more about XLR.
What is A 3.5mm Connector?
An electrical connector used to send audio signals is the 3.5mm connector. It is also known as the phone connector or the headphone jack. Invention of the 3.5mm audio connector dates back to the 19th century. It was intentionally used on phone switchboards back then. Nowadays, consumer electronics devices including headphones, smartphones, portable audio players, laptops, and more are frequently utilized alongside them.
Other audio equipment with 3.5mm ports includes mixing boards, DACs, audio interfaces, integrated amplifiers, and receivers. As a result, you can also connect headphones with 3.5mm connectors to this audio equipment. If you don’t know what to look out for, it can be difficult to discern between the various 3.5mm connector kinds. Let’s look at them now.
Differences Between XLR and 3.5mm
It is well knowledge that all cables with an XLR connection are balanced cables. They primarily transport balanced audio signals, which explains why. Any audio cable that is made to be balanced can get rid of outside noise and interferences that can try to tamper with the signal’s integrity.
This means that XLR cables can maintain the purity of audio signal output. They eliminate any noise that might enter an audio transmission. An XLR cable’s output signal is therefore identical to what it was while it was being transferred from its source.
The same cannot be said, regrettably, of 3.5mm connectors and the cables that go with them. This is due to the unbalanced nature of 3.5mm connection cords. The stereo signals that the TRS male connector sends are unbalanced even though it is capable of sending balanced mono signals. Long cable runs make unbalanced cables more susceptible to electromagnetic noise and interference.
As a result, the audio output quality may suffer when 3.5mm connections and accompanying cables are utilized for extended cable runs. Because of this, the majority of professional videographers dislike utilizing microphones for their work that use 3.5mm plugs. To prevent picking up interference, those that use such microphones make sure the 3.5mm connection is as short as feasible. Read this page if you want to learn more about balanced audio cables.
A locking mechanism that is built into an XLR connector aids in making sure that connections utilizing XLR are tight and secure. It is uncommon for XLR connections to be mistakenly pulled out because to this locking mechanism. 3.5mm connectors, on the other hand, lack a locking mechanism. In essence, a 3.5mm connector is a pin that is put into a port. There is no locking mechanism to prevent unintentional pulling out. As a result, cables with 3.5mm connectors run the risk of unintentionally being dragged away from the audio equipment they are attached to.
The build quality of XLR and 3.5mm connectors is another distinction. The majority of XLR connections are typically constructed from rather high-quality materials. They are hence resistant to damage. Consequently, XLR connectors have a longer lifespan than 3.5mm connectors.
3.5mm connections have developed a negative reputation for being subparly made over time. This is hardly surprising considering the subpar construction of the majority of 3.5mm connectors. As a result, 3.5mm connector pins are prone to breaking.
Which is Better: XLR or 3.5mm
Better connectors than 3.5mm connectors are XLR connectors. The audio quality of cables with XLR connectors is substantially superior than that of cables with 3.5mm connectors.This is so because XLR cables in general deliver balanced audio signals. Balanced connections do not convey audio signals that are susceptible to noise and electromagnetic interference. As a result, XLR cables often carry clear sounds.
Long cable runs are frequently prone to interference from outside sources, as you may already be aware. Fortunately, XLR is resistant to these outside disturbances and electromagnetic interference because it is designed to deliver balanced audio signals. So there are no issues using an XLR for applications requiring extensive cable runs.
Many people prefer XLR cables over 3.5mm cables because they are essentially noise-canceling. Because of this, professional audio and video locations and settings are where XLR cables are most frequently found. XLR cables can be extended for more than 25 feet without being vulnerable to outside noise or electromagnetic interference because they are balanced.
The majority of cables that come with 3.5mm connections are unbalanced cables, as I have already indicated in this article. Therefore, when utilized for lengthy cable runs, they have a tendency to take up noise and interference.
As a result, the audio stream they broadcast in these circumstances is frequently of low quality. This is the key justification for why XLR is preferred over 3.5mm. Additionally, XLR connectors’ three pins offer a significantly stronger and more dependable connection than the 3.5mm connector. As a result, XLR connector connections are frequently stronger than 3.5mm connector connections.
Can You Connect XLR to 3.5mm?
Yes, an XLR can be connected to a 3.5mm. A device with an XLR port can be connected to another device with a 3.5mm connector. A 3.5mm to XLR adaptor can be used for this. A cable with a 3.5mm TRS plug on one end and two male XLR connectors on the other is called a 3.5mm to XLR adaptor. 3.5mm to XLR adapters come in a variety of styles.
To connect 3.5mm TRS microphones to professional recording equipment with female XLR connections, this adapter is typically utilized. Mixers, recorders, and camcorders are a few of this professional recording gear’s components. You may easily connect your smartphone or other smart device to a powered speaker or mixing console using this XLR to 3.5mm adaptor connection.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of using an XLR connector?
XLR connectors provide a clean and balanced audio signal, which can result in better sound quality.
XLR connectors are capable of transmitting audio signals over longer distances without interference.
XLR connectors are typically more durable and reliable than 3.5mm connectors.
What are the benefits of using a 3.5mm connector?
3.5mm connectors are small and lightweight, making them easy to use in portable devices.
3.5mm connectors are widely available and can be found in many consumer audio devices.
3.5mm connectors are often more affordable than XLR connectors.
Which one is better for audio recording?
For professional audio recording, XLR connectors are generally preferred due to their balanced audio signal and longer cable length capabilities. However, 3.5mm connectors may still be used in some applications, such as mobile recording or consumer-level audio recording. The choice between the two will ultimately depend on the specific requirements of the recording setup.
Can XLR connectors be used with consumer audio devices?
Yes, XLR connectors can be used with consumer audio devices, but an adapter may be needed to convert the XLR signal to a 3.5mm or other type of connector that is compatible with the device.
Can 3.5mm connectors be used with professional audio equipment?
Yes, 3.5mm connectors can be used with professional audio equipment, but it is important to consider the limitations of unbalanced audio signals when using this type of connector in professional applications. An adapter may also be needed to convert the 3.5mm signal to an XLR connector that is compatible with the professional audio equipment.
How do I choose between XLR and 3.5mm connectors?
The choice between XLR and 3.5mm connectors will depend on the specific requirements of your audio setup, including the type of equipment you are using, the length of the cable needed, and the desired sound quality. If you need to transmit audio signals over longer distances, or if you require high-quality sound for professional applications, an XLR connector may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you are looking for a simple and affordable audio solution for portable devices, a 3.5mm connector may be the way to go.
Are there other types of audio connectors besides XLR and 3.5mm?
Yes, there are many other types of audio connectors, including RCA, DIN, and BNC connectors, to name a few. Each type of connector has its own unique features and benefits, and the best choice will depend on the specific requirements of your audio setup.
Can XLR and 3.5mm connectors be used interchangeably?
In most cases, XLR and 3.5mm connectors cannot be used interchangeably without an adapter. An adapter is needed to convert the signal from one type of connector to another, as XLR and 3.5mm connectors have different pin configurations and are designed to transmit different types of audio signals.