What is the difference between XRL main outs and LINE outs on a mixing desk? Don't they both output the same Line level signal? What is the ideal use of one instead of the other? I still get confused about this.

  • 1
    It depends entirely on what the product spec sheet says. Could be -10, could be +4.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 17:50
  • Ok so one option would be for consumer audio and the other one for pro audio? I see.
    – L C
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 17:59
  • 1
    If this is your first time being confronted with such an idea, you would do well to read the user's manual first. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 20:22
  • This is not referred to a product in particular but just to most mixers.
    – L C
    Commented Nov 18, 2022 at 10:14
  • They do not output the same line level signal. XLR can go up to 24V, whereas Line is 2V
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 10:51

1 Answer 1


The biggest and most relevant difference is that one uses an XLR connector and the other uses a 1/4” TRS connector.

This is helpful because you might want to plug the outputs into something that has either 1/4” or XLR inputs, but not both, and you don’t have and can’t easily obtain an adapter.

Another reason to support both standards is for different use cases where again you’d rather not have to need an adapter cable. For example, you might want to connect to a TRS patch bay with normals, which you cannot do with an XLR connector (and an XLR patch bay can’t have normals). Or, you might want to be able to daisy-chain cables to reach an arbitrary or unexpected distance away, which you can easily do with XLR cables but can’t with 1/4" cables without several F-F gender changers.

I can speak from experience that having to have XLR-1/4" adapter cables in addition to your stock of XLR and 1/4" cables is quite inconvenient.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot for the exhaustive and clarifying explanation.
    – L C
    Commented Nov 21, 2022 at 14:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.