I want to prepare the wiring in our church to use a digital snake system. We haven't decided which brand we're going for yet, but both M-2001 - S-1608 (REAC) and X32 - S16 (AES50) combinations have these Ethernet connectors with XLR-like shield around them. Both systems claim that they work over normal CAT5 (for short distances) or CAT6 cables. The connectors as seen in the photo's however do not look like the RJ45 connectors I'm used to on my router, computer, NAS, etc. The center does look so, but it has a XLR-like shield around it.

Can I use normal RJ45 cables and is the XLR stuff just eye-candy? I guess I could use more expensive f/utp cable and connect the shilding foil to an old dismantled XLR connector, but would it help anything? Wouldn't I be creating a ground-loop that can cause interference on the digital signal? (I know there is CRC correction, meaning it would be difficult to tell while the interference stays under the correction threshold).

So the question boils down to:

  • How are these connectors called? (I've searched on RJ45 and XLR without success).
  • Can I use standard networking cable after all?
  • Could someone specify "short distance" a little more definite (I guess that 20 meters is "short"?)
  • Thanks for that link @ObscureRobot. So it's called an "EtherCon RJ45" connector, and Neutrik seem to be the only manufacturer as far as I can see. Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 9:02

2 Answers 2


The point of the connector is to make it more secure. The plastic clip isn't very strong on a standard network jack and that isn't good for live production environments that aren't permanent installs. You can use a normal cable just fine as long as the plastic clip can actually latch in place. If it doesn't actually latch in place, you can just put an end on a normal cat6 cable that you splice together yourself without issue.

  • Good, I'll be using normal ones in that case. Thanks. Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 9:04

Yes, those connectors are normal Ethernet RJ45 with an XLR shell. This is not eye candy: As AJ Henderson said, the XLR shell makes the connection more secure (through better locking than the plastic tab in an RJ45, and through better strain relief). They also offer better waterproofing than a bare RJ45, which is handy for outdoors applications.

Evidence: Neutrik sells Ethercon shells that you can slide onto an existing Ethernet cable.

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