We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is an XLR Connector?

By Mal Baxter
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At EasyTechJunkie, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The XLR connector is a three-pronged plug and socket cable end used to network professional audio equipment. It performs duty as an industry standard for analog and digital sound elements such as cables and DMX512 components. First design by Canon, it takes its name from the original X connector, which was later modified with a release latch (L) and rubber seal (R). Most commonly used for analog audio, this connector locks into its port with a balanced connection. A ground pin adds safety and reduces unwanted interference when plugged in during a live performance.

Designed for male and female type connectors, the XLR connector represents an international standard for this type of audio component. While it may possess up to seven pins, three pins are most common. It may be mounted to a cable or chassis, as for a rack-mounted audio component. The finger-width, cylindrical XLR connector attaches to a cable and may feature male pins or female sockets, as with the panel connectors. A typical three-pin XLR connector employs a balanced connection to minimize undesirable electrical contact with high-voltage equipment.

Typically, the first pin represents the chassis ground and usually makes contact before the other pins. The second pin represents the positive polarity terminal; this is the hot pin. The third, or cold, pin is called the return terminal. Together, these two pins are the source of the audio signal. Before this innovation, two-pin, hot connectors were common.

One of the most frequent applications of the XLR connector is to connect microphones to public address systems. Technologies like condenser microphones may require the use of an onboard battery to supply power. The XLR connector can supply this voltage, referred to as phantom power. Usually, this power supply is fed through the first, or ground pin. Such versatility permits the widespread use of this connector while minimizing potential damage to sensitive microphone equipment.

Other products designed for the XLR connector standard may feature rectangular chassis and right angle style plugs. Like the straight connector, these may feature male or female attachments. They may also vary in pin number.

Four-pin connectors are often used for intercom headsets, and five-pin types are employed in dual-element or stereo microphones and headsets. Six-pin types fit dual-channel intercom systems. Seven-pin connectors serve remote controls for fog machines and other analog components. Employing XLR connector components can help ensure trouble-free audio setups and safer, noiseless component switching.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By NathanG — On Sep 05, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - I would double check your specifications.

If you have batteries installed in your microphone you may not need phantom power, and could just use the XLR plug in your microphone for optimal results.

If you can use your microphone as is (with your mini jack) I don’t see why you couldn’t just use the XLR plug instead.

By SkyWhisperer — On Sep 05, 2011

I have an XLR connector on my digital camcorder but I’ve never used it; I’ve never needed to.

I bought a shotgun microphone that had an XLR connector plug. However, this microphone also had an adapter to convert its XLR plug to a mini jack plug, which I also have on the camcorder.

So I just used the mini jack plug instead and it works great. The only thing is that I am told the XLR connection would provide better quality sound.

Be that as it may, I understand that I would need an additional amplification unit of some kind in order to use the XLR connection, so I don’t mess with it, not now anyway.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

EasyTechJunkie, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.