Now that we have learned what are audio cables and their uses, we shall next turn to connectors.
Connectors are an electro-mechanical device that connects the audio cable with the output device. There are a variety of connectors available in the market and each serves a unique purpose. One can buy connectors available for different professional and consumer audio devices at different prices for different quality levels. Usually, connectors are identified with the kind of signal they are used to transmit.
For a sound professional, it is important that one must have basic knowledge about connectors to ensure their efficient use. Two major types of connectors are balanced and unbalanced connectors. It is important that you know the right connector and what type of input jack does it go before you connect microphones and musical instruments to a mixer or an audio interface. Let’s discuss some main audio connectors in detail:
Analog Audio Connectors:
These are a type of unbalanced connectors used majorly by many professionals. They are responsible to carry –10 dbV (consumer) line levels. They are used in connecting home stereo systems, videocassette recorders, etc.
XLR Connectors are the most commonly used professionally used connectors. They are primarily of three types; XLR Male, XLR Female & TRS. Each connector has three contact points that carry signals from the ground, positive and negative wires.
XLR Male: This is used to connect a variety of hardware inputs.
XLR Female: It is used to connect a microphone and a variety of hardware inputs.
TRS: It is used to connect both input and output devices.
¼” Audio Connectors:
They are also known as phone plugs and are used to connect cables with different types of professional and consumer musical equipment like speakers, musical instruments, amplifiers and more.
Digital Audio Connectors:
Digital audio connectors are a way ahead of analog audio connectors. However, analog connectors can be used for carrying digital signals as well. Here are some commonly used digital audio connectors:
S/PDIF is an abbreviation used for Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format and is used at the consumer level AES/EBU digital audio protocol. They are used in DAT recorders, CD players, DVD players, MiniDisc equipment, and some audio interfaces.
The full form of AES/EBU is Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcasting Union and as per these standards, XLR connectors are the best to use in a professional setup.
TOSLINK Optical and Adat Lightpipe:
It is commonly used digital; a signal connector that can carry a variety of digital signal formats. These formats include:
- AC-3 and DTS
- ADAT Lightpipe
These are the variety of audio connectors available in the market and where they are used. One must pick the best and apt type of connectors for their audio setup. Now that we have learned about audio cables and audio connectors, we can proceed to our next chapter i.e. understanding the way to organize cables. This will take you a step ahead in your audio journey and make you a pro.