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I am trying to install a Yamaha QL1 digital mixer into a pre-existing recording setup, but to make the process as painless as possible, I am making entirely new XLR cables to interface with the microphones, which are currently plugged in to a different mixer via a female XLR that is hard wired into the mixer.

Upon taking an XLR cable to the work site and plugging it in as an intermediate between the existing female XLR and the microphone, I was not getting any sound. I made a second cable, and was extra careful to be sure my connections were correct (it is very hard to screw up with so few wires), tested and got the same results. I began to be worried that the gauge of my wires was too much (not sure if this is actually possible), so I made another XLR cable with smaller wires and once again, got the same results.

I am working with some Wirepath 16-2 PL Speaker Wire that is not shielded. As I have no shielding to work with, the wires are ungrounded, which while bad practice, from my research, is not a killer... unless it is?

So, my question for all you experts here, is does the grounding actually matter, as in, will the XLR cable just straight up not work without some grounding on that first pin? If not, what else could be causing my XLR cables to not carry sound and power mics?

  • “XLR to not carry sound and power mics” are you saying you are trying to use phantom power through your jury rigged cable? Because that requires a ground/shield wire. – Timinycricket Feb 28 at 20:16
  • @Timinycricket while I wouldn't call my cable "jury rigged", yes, I suppose I am trying to use phantom power through this cable, as the mics are powered through the currently existing cable that, to my knowledge, is shielded. What would be my best option given the fact that the cable I was supplied is not shielded? – RipTheJacker Feb 28 at 20:22
  • I’m sorry it was not meant as an insult. Use a dynamic microphone or use a phantom power supply between the cables because the QL1 can’t supply phantom power over that cable. – Timinycricket Feb 28 at 20:30
  • @Timinycricket Ok - so just to be sure I understand, if my cable was shielded, would the QL1 be able to provide phantom power? Or are you telling me that under no circumstance can the QL1 provide phantom power? – RipTheJacker Feb 28 at 20:48
  • it needs pin 1 to use phantom power – Timinycricket Feb 28 at 20:59
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What kind of research tells you that it is a reasonable idea to use speaker cables for a microphone cable? Others already told you that you'll need the shield for conveying phantom power. But XLR cables are also balanced twisted pair connections with a certain line impedance. The twisting is important so that the cable is impervious against predominantly homogenous low-frequency magnetic and electric fields like those produced by power wiring to the house and partly in it (the omnipresent danger of hum). The impedance is important so that even longer stretches of cable dampen high frequencies minimally (large impedance mismatch cause reflections and at high frequencies and high reflection rates, the back-and-forth travel causes additional losses).

Balanced connections such as microphone cables are made from specific cable material. If you have no clue about the properties of the different cables and just why they are so expensive, stay away. It turns out that raw materials of reasonable quality are often more expensive to acquire than already finished cables of reasonable quality. Making XLR cables yourself may only be worth the trouble if you try competing with really high-quality cables and/or need special lengths and/or process very large amounts.

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  • Hi, thanks for your answer. The materials for this job were prescribed by an A/V professional, but his recommendation was either misunderstood or not conveyed properly, because this wire is what he suggested - and unless you can provide a source for me to get twelve 80 foot XLR cables for less than the total cost of 20 male/female XLR ends and the cable, I believe you may be mistaken about the expense. I am going to mark this as the solution because I cannot mark Timiniycricket's comments as a solution, but the question has been solved regardless. – RipTheJacker Mar 2 at 14:49

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