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RCA vs. XLR

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January 19, 2005 3:53:32 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost so much
more than RCA terminated ones. Is there a difference in terms of connection
or sound quality?

Thanks

Jade (Newbie)

More about : rca xlr

Anonymous
January 19, 2005 3:53:33 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

In <gLsHd.123468$Xk.67375@pd7tw3no>, on 01/19/05
at 12:53 PM, "Jade" <jadefro@shaw.ca> said:

>Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost so
>much more than RCA terminated ones. Is there a difference in terms of
>connection or sound quality?

Mechanically, the XLR connectors are much more complicated. There are
more wires inside the XLR's than the RCA's. The original intent of the
RCA's was to be inexpensive. The XLR's are designed along industrial
lines. Typically, RCA's are used at home where cost is an issue. XLR's
are used in industrial and professional applications where reliability
and performance are more important than the lowest possible cost.

In addition to the obvious mechanical differences, the equipment behind
the connectors is different and more expensive. For a typical home
system, RCA's are not a bad choice. They are inexpensive and generally
work well enough. In large systems such as studios, radio & TV
stations, concerts, etc. RCA's work poorly and XLR's shine.

The RCA's are also much smaller. Imagine how much larger your home
theater receiver would need to grow if each of those RCX's was replaced
with an XLR. Also, the cost would rise because each of those XLR's
would add at least a few dollars to the cost of the unit. (A stellar
XLR solution would add 10's of dollars at each end of the connection.)

-----------------------------------------------------------
spam: uce@ftc.gov
wordgame:123(abc):<14 9 20 5 2 9 18 4 at 22 15 9 3 5 14 5 20 dot 3 15
13> (Barry Mann)
[sorry about the puzzle, spammers are ruining my mailbox]
-----------------------------------------------------------
Anonymous
January 19, 2005 3:53:33 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Bruce Chang wrote:
> The next couple things I could think of were that XLR is able to
support
> phantom power and that XLR's are twisted pair with shield (balanced)

No, XLR's are NOT "twisted pair with shield." XLR's are connectors.
Now, in many applications, XLR's terminate twisted pair, shielded
cables, but that's the cable, not the connector.

Further, there are a number of applications where XLR's are used
with single coaxial, non-twisted pair cables. For example, the
Mic inputs on GR sound level meters were all single-ended inputs,
and the recommended extension cables were all single-conductor
with shield, which worked quite effectively for precision sound
lebel measurement and analysis.

> RCA is just a coaxial cable (unbalanced)
Again, an "RCA" is in this context is a CONNECTOR.
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Anonymous
January 19, 2005 3:53:33 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Bruce Chang wrote:
> "Barry Mann" <zzzz@zzzz.zzz> wrote in message
> news:41ee6f88$2$avgroveq$mr2ice@wcnews.cyberonic.com...
> > In <gLsHd.123468$Xk.67375@pd7tw3no>, on 01/19/05
> > at 12:53 PM, "Jade" <jadefro@shaw.ca> said:
> >
> >>Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost
so
> >>much more than RCA terminated ones. Is there a difference in terms
of
> >>connection or sound quality?
> >
> > Mechanically, the XLR connectors are much more complicated. There
are
> > more wires inside the XLR's than the RCA's. The original intent of
the
> > RCA's was to be inexpensive. The XLR's are designed along
industrial
> > lines. Typically, RCA's are used at home where cost is an issue.
XLR's
> > are used in industrial and professional applications where
reliability
> > and performance are more important than the lowest possible cost.
> >
> > In addition to the obvious mechanical differences, the equipment
behind
> > the connectors is different and more expensive. For a typical home
> > system, RCA's are not a bad choice. They are inexpensive and
generally
> > work well enough. In large systems such as studios, radio & TV
> > stations, concerts, etc. RCA's work poorly and XLR's shine.
> >
> > The RCA's are also much smaller. Imagine how much larger your home
> > theater receiver would need to grow if each of those RCX's was
replaced
> > with an XLR. Also, the cost would rise because each of those XLR's
> > would add at least a few dollars to the cost of the unit. (A
stellar
> > XLR solution would add 10's of dollars at each end of the
connection.)
> >
>
> The next couple things I could think of were that XLR is able to
support
> phantom power and that XLR's are twisted pair with shield (balanced)
while
> RCA is just a coaxial cable (unbalanced)
Anonymous
January 19, 2005 6:29:43 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

"Jade" <jadefro@shaw.ca> wrote in message
news:gLsHd.123468$Xk.67375@pd7tw3no

> Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost
> so much more than RCA terminated ones.

Not an absolute rule. If you scratch around you can find XLR cables for the
same or less money than RCA cables with pretentions to quality.

>Is there a difference in terms of connection or sound quality?

I agree with everybody else who says that its an apples versus oranges
comparison. However, if the core technology of each kind of cable is
exploited, the XLRs are likely to be more noise-resistant and reliable.

As far as the quality of the connection goes, there are few comparisons that
don't favor the XLR. XLRs latch, so they don't come apart if you pull on
them unless you unlatch them. The connector itself is mechanically
self-protecting. You can literally back a truck over them with good
probablity of contiued reliable operation.

XLRs lack flakey contacts like the ground connection of an RCA, which is
highly exposed to dirt and tends to get loose and needs to get squished
every once in a while.

XLRs can also be very cost-effective as compared to better RCAs. You can
find some of the top quality XLRs (Neutrik) for a couple-three bucks, which
is cheap by the standard set by perfectionist RCAs.
Anonymous
January 19, 2005 6:48:16 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

"Barry Mann" <zzzz@zzzz.zzz> wrote in message
news:41ee6f88$2$avgroveq$mr2ice@wcnews.cyberonic.com...
> In <gLsHd.123468$Xk.67375@pd7tw3no>, on 01/19/05
> at 12:53 PM, "Jade" <jadefro@shaw.ca> said:
>
>>Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost so
>>much more than RCA terminated ones. Is there a difference in terms of
>>connection or sound quality?
>
> Mechanically, the XLR connectors are much more complicated. There are
> more wires inside the XLR's than the RCA's. The original intent of the
> RCA's was to be inexpensive. The XLR's are designed along industrial
> lines. Typically, RCA's are used at home where cost is an issue. XLR's
> are used in industrial and professional applications where reliability
> and performance are more important than the lowest possible cost.
>
> In addition to the obvious mechanical differences, the equipment behind
> the connectors is different and more expensive. For a typical home
> system, RCA's are not a bad choice. They are inexpensive and generally
> work well enough. In large systems such as studios, radio & TV
> stations, concerts, etc. RCA's work poorly and XLR's shine.
>
> The RCA's are also much smaller. Imagine how much larger your home
> theater receiver would need to grow if each of those RCX's was replaced
> with an XLR. Also, the cost would rise because each of those XLR's
> would add at least a few dollars to the cost of the unit. (A stellar
> XLR solution would add 10's of dollars at each end of the connection.)
>

The next couple things I could think of were that XLR is able to support
phantom power and that XLR's are twisted pair with shield (balanced) while
RCA is just a coaxial cable (unbalanced)
Anonymous
January 19, 2005 6:48:17 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

"Bruce Chang" wrote ...
> The next couple things I could think of were that XLR is able to
> support phantom power and that XLR's are twisted pair with shield
> (balanced) while RCA is just a coaxial cable (unbalanced)

Apples and oranges. RCA connectors are never used for mic
connectors except in extremely rare, oddball applications.
Anonymous
January 19, 2005 7:39:06 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

"Richard Crowley" <rcrowley7@xprt.net> wrote in message
news:10ut13pnphp0qc9@corp.supernews.com...
> "Bruce Chang" wrote ...
>> The next couple things I could think of were that XLR is able to support
>> phantom power and that XLR's are twisted pair with shield (balanced)
>> while RCA is just a coaxial cable (unbalanced)
>
> Apples and oranges. RCA connectors are never used for mic
> connectors except in extremely rare, oddball applications.

I didn't mention anything about fruit.. =o)
Anonymous
January 19, 2005 8:40:19 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

<dpierce@cartchunk.org> wrote in message
news:1106155297.107804.49740@c13g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...
>
> Bruce Chang wrote:
>> The next couple things I could think of were that XLR is able to
> support
>> phantom power and that XLR's are twisted pair with shield (balanced)
>
> No, XLR's are NOT "twisted pair with shield." XLR's are connectors.
> Now, in many applications, XLR's terminate twisted pair, shielded
> cables, but that's the cable, not the connector.
>
> Further, there are a number of applications where XLR's are used
> with single coaxial, non-twisted pair cables. For example, the
> Mic inputs on GR sound level meters were all single-ended inputs,
> and the recommended extension cables were all single-conductor
> with shield, which worked quite effectively for precision sound
> lebel measurement and analysis.
>
>> RCA is just a coaxial cable (unbalanced)
> Again, an "RCA" is in this context is a CONNECTOR.
>

I should have used "support" where I put "are" and "is". I apologize.
Anonymous
January 20, 2005 4:17:06 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

"Jade" <jadefro@shaw.ca> wrote in message
news:gLsHd.123468$Xk.67375@pd7tw3no...
> Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost so
much
> more than RCA terminated ones. Is there a difference in terms of
connection
> or sound quality?
>
> Thanks
>
> Jade (Newbie)
>
>


Advantage goes to the Cannon XLR connectors because they:

Are mechanically more reliable
Support the wiring of balanced audio circuits.


Balanced audio is possible with XLR's three connection terminations. The
benefits of balanced audio is Common Mode Rejection. This means that a
balanced circuit will reject hum and noise from external sources. It is also
good at reducing hum in ground loop-troubled situations where various
connected equipment is powered by different electrical branch circuits.

RCA connectors have two terminals and can support unbalanced transmission
lines only. Any noise that works its way into the coaxial cable will be
present at the input of the amplifier it is connected to.


--
Best Regards,

Mark A. Weiss, P.E.
www.mwcomms.com
-
Anonymous
January 20, 2005 6:47:18 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

"Jade" <jadefro@shaw.ca> writes:

> Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost so much
> more than RCA terminated ones. Is there a difference in terms of connection
> or sound quality?


Mechanically, the XLR connectors are much more complicated.
XLR connectors are designed to be mechanically reliable
and last for long time.

The RCA connector was originally designed to be a very
inexpensive connector, consisting just one center pin,
one small piece of sheet metal and a piece of plastic.
This is a very simple and inexpensive to manufacturer connector.
The good features of it end there...

Genenrally the XLR connector is very much more expensive
than RCA connectors. XLR costs 2-3 euros/dollars
in electronics shop while you can get several
cheapest RCA connectors for one dollar/europ in
local electronics shop (prices ar chaper when
manufacturers buy thousands of connectors).

The material and construction of XLR cable are more
expensive. Usually the XLR cables are made for professional
market, where reliabity and other fetures count more
than the cheapest possible price (if the cable gets
broken or is otherwise bad, the cost caused by this are
easily huge). The XLR cables are made in smaller
production volumes than cheapr consumer RCA cables,
which also brings up the price..

RCA cables are mostly sold for consumer markets, which
are constantly looking for cheaper and cheaper products.
Typical basic RCA cables are made of cheapest possible
parts that just do the job in place where the cables
are cheapest to make...and those are made in huge volumes..
thus the low price.

And then wome words about the sound quality. As such using
RCA cable or XLR cable for audio transmission should not
have any difference in sound quality, at least when
transmission distances are small and there are too much
noise around. The XLR cables combined with equipment
with XLR connectors (balanced audio interfaces)
together make an audio transmission system that is
very considerable more resistant to outside interference
(huming noise, RFI etc..) and is capable to transporting
audio signals without considerable degration for long
distances (tens of meters to hundreds of meters no
problems, thing that does not work well with normal
consumer equipment with RCA interfaces well).

--
Tomi Engdahl (http://www.iki.fi/then/)
Take a look at my electronics web links and documents at
http://www.epanorama.net/
Anonymous
January 21, 2005 2:51:20 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

> "Jade" <jadefro@shaw.ca> wrote in message
> news:gLsHd.123468$Xk.67375@pd7tw3no
>
>> Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost
>> so much more than RCA terminated ones.

XLR connectors cost so much more than RCA ones, and the cable is generally
tw-core plus screen rather than single ccore plus screen.


>>Is there a difference in terms of connection or sound quality?

They are different cabes and connector for different purposes, and with
different criteria.


geoff
January 21, 2005 3:05:07 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Thank you to everyone for the help. Thanks for helping me understand that it
really is comparing apples and oranges. I was just asking because my fiancé
just got a McIntosh integrated amp that has xlr connectors. He has been
bringing home a lot of different RCA and XLR cables for auditioning purposes
and I thought I would just buy him some for his birthday. I just wasn't sure
which ones to get since he never really told me which ones he wanted.

Thanks again

Jade

"Jade" <jadefro@shaw.ca> wrote in message
news:gLsHd.123468$Xk.67375@pd7tw3no...
> Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost so
> much
> more than RCA terminated ones. Is there a difference in terms of
> connection
> or sound quality?
>
> Thanks
>
> Jade (Newbie)
>
Anonymous
January 21, 2005 3:05:08 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Buy some good quality connectors and a selection of short ends of more
popular brands as used by local pro sound houses, possibly such as
Mogami, Canare, Belden, and others. If you are talking lengths of a few
feet they will just probably give you the more inexpensive ones and
maybe any, because they buy 100 to 500 foot rolls and wind up with odd
chunks.

It is important to learn to terminate these because failures tend to
occur within the first few inches of the connector, and it's
environmentally irresponsible to throw the cable away for a bad foot or
so if it's at either end.
Anonymous
January 21, 2005 11:03:46 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.tech (More info?)

Jade wrote:
> Thank you to everyone for the help. Thanks for helping me understand that it
> really is comparing apples and oranges. I was just asking because my fiancé
> just got a McIntosh integrated amp that has xlr connectors. He has been
> bringing home a lot of different RCA and XLR cables for auditioning purposes
> and I thought I would just buy him some for his birthday. I just wasn't sure
> which ones to get since he never really told me which ones he wanted.
>
> Thanks again
>
> Jade
>
> "Jade" <jadefro@shaw.ca> wrote in message
> news:gLsHd.123468$Xk.67375@pd7tw3no...
>
>>Hi there. I was just wondering what made XLR terminated cables cost so
>>much
>>more than RCA terminated ones. Is there a difference in terms of
>>connection
>>or sound quality?
>>
>>Thanks
>>
>>Jade (Newbie)
>>
>
>
>
Auditioning cables? Oh hell, there's one born every minute...
!