Audio Connectors: XLR and RCA Analog Plugs

You’ve probably had a chance to see and use a variety of analog connectors. There are XLR and RCA analog plugs as well as the 1/4-inch.

XLR Connector Plugs

The XLR connector is used for microphones and some line connections between professional gear. This cable has a female and a male end. The cord is wired much like a TRS connector and is balanced to minimize noise. The XLR microphone cable is also called a low Z cable because it carries a low-impedance signal.

An XLR connector: One end is male (left) and the other is female (right).
An XLR connector: One end is male (left) and the other is female (right).

RCA Connector Plugs

RCA plugs — named for good old RCA and also called phono plugs — are common on home stereos and on some semipro audio gear. They function much like a TS plug but aren’t very common in professional audio equipment. However, you find them on some mixers so that you can connect a tape deck, iPod, or other media device. They are also used for digital S/PDIF signals.

An RCA plug is used mainly on consumer stereo and some semipro audio equipment.
An RCA plug is used mainly on consumer stereo and some semipro audio equipment.
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