I wanted to get the xlr to trs cable but i dont know if there will be a sound quality difference between the xlr to trs and the trs. I assume this is a dumb question but i want to make sure.

  • 1
    Correct assumption. There is unlikely to be any sound quality difference.
    – Mark
    Aug 31 '19 at 23:56
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    Depends if you are talking about TRS balances or TRS stereo and if you mean signal from XLR to TRS or TRS to XLR. Do you know? You said XLR to TRS but is that the signal flow or just arbitrary order? Sep 1 '19 at 1:22
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    This depends entirely on what you are actually trying to do. What is your use case? (What are you trying to accomplish? What are you connecting?)
    – AJ Henderson
    Sep 2 '19 at 1:14

Assuming that the same type of cable is used with either configuration, there will be no sound quality difference. The plug type makes no difference to the fact that there are essentially three electrical connections that need to be made.


XLR and TRS are two different things.

XLR is a "balanced" audio cable, which means that it sends the signal in such a way that the noise picked up while traveling over the cable can be canceled out by comparing two different signals on the cable.

TRS, on the other hand, is used for a slightly wider array of things. It can be used for unbalanced stereo audio (where the induced noise can't be removed). It can be used for unbalanced inserts, where audio is sent out of a board and then returned in on the same connection, or it can be used for balanced audio with a different form factor.

The advantage in XLR is that it is a locking connector which does not require pins touching the wrong contacts as they are being plugged in, which makes it less likely to be pulled out while in use and also is safer, signal wise, in some use cases. The advantage in TRS is that it is a versatile cable that is used commonly for a wider variety of applications and can also act as a TS cable.

The difference in quality between TRS and XLR will depend on application. If you are forcing an unbalanced signal in to a balanced input, there will absolutely be quality loss. If you are forcing an impedance mismatch with a difference in line level then you will also have severe quality implications. If you are moving between different forms of balanced signals, it shouldn't matter significantly. If you are using a board that uses send/return over XLR, then going to a TRS instead won't have a major impact.

The form of the connector only matters when it is important that the tip not be sent to the sleeve or ring connectors or that it matter that the ring not be sent to the sleeve. As long as that doesn't matter, the connector itself has no real impact and would vary based on the quality of the connector more than the form.

What does matter is if you are changing the type of signal in a way that reduces quality or in a way that needs further adjustment that you are not doing (for example using a direct box or a pad).

  • Nice and thorough answer, thanks for that. Just a slight note here (it's more for clarification than anything else). The type of a connector does not matter much on the quality of the signal (there are differences between connectors, such as those that have some RF reduction "facilities"). One could possibly use bare cables with the exact same results (if one could connect bare cables of course). So, the connector won't really make a difference, but the standard ways connectors are used dictate some things to take care of (like those things you mention in you answer). Nice one, thanks again.
    – ZaellixA
    Jul 12 '20 at 19:35

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