Microphone cables are an often overlooked but essential piece of a microphone's performance. A low-quality or broken microphone cable will make even the greatest microphones sound terrible or even permanently damage them.
A great microphone cable carries the balanced audio from a microphone's output to a mic preamp without affecting the signal at all. Of course, this is an ideal and is never truly the case. Any time an electrical signal (mic signal) passes through any conductor it's affected somewhat. The best mic cables just minimize the changes to the signal.
So what are the best microphone cables on the market? Here are my top 2 recommendations:
- Mogami Gold Studio XLR: The Mogami Gold Studio XLRs (link to check prices on Amazon) get my top recommendation for the best microphone cables in studio environments. These XLRs feature the balanced Neglex studio quad, a 4-conductor cable that provides some of the highest cancellation of noise and RF interference in any mic cable. As with all Mogami cables, the gold series XLRs come with the Mogami Lifetime “No Excuses” Warranty.
- Mogami Gold Stage XLR: The Mogami Gold Stage XLRs (link to check the price on Amazon) get my top recommendation for the best microphone cables for stage applications. These XLRs are ultra-rugged, designed with unique cable cores with 3x the number of copper strands of a typical high-quality mic cable. These extra strands make the cable more durable and less likely to break when subjected to abuse. The Gold Stage mic cables remain flexible and transparent with this added durability.
I may have a user-bias toward Mogami, but these cables are hands down the best I've used. Before getting into each of these cables, let's discuss what the criteria are for a great microphone cable.
• Why Do Microphones Use XLR Cables?
• What Is The Difference Between A Microphone Plug And Jack?
• Do Microphones Output Balanced Or Unbalanced Audio?
• Do Microphones Output Mono Or Stereo Signals?
What Makes A Great Microphone Cable?
Practically all microphone cables are balanced XLR cables with a ground and shield. This is the practical base line for a usable mic cable. Beyond this, there are three main factors that allow a mic cable to stand out among its competition:
- EMI rejection: Choose a microphone cable that protects the mic signal from electromagnetic interference (and radio interference). There are many parts of mic cable design that help with EMI rejection, including grounding/shielding; twisted conductive wire pairs (pins 2 and 3); smaller wire diameters; and doubling of the conductive pair.
- Flexibility: Select a microphone cable that is built to be flexible. Flexible cables can be used in more situations. Stiff cables are a pain to use and are likely not built as durable as their flexible counterparts. Ensure the cable has high-quality filler.
- Durability: Picking a quality mic cable means picking one that works and will continue working for a long time. From the connectors to the outer coating and internal wires, choose a mic cable built to last. Again, ensure the cable has high-quality filler.
So with these factors in mind, let's discuss each of the recommended cables in more detail.
Mogami Gold Studio XLR
The Mogami Gold Studio XLR series is one of, if not the best microphone cables on the market today. These mic cables come in the following lengths:
2′ . 3′ . 6′ . 10′ . 15′ . 25′ . 50′ . 75′ . 100′
That's a lot of variety, and because these cables are of such high-quality, the difference between these cables is really only in their lengths. All Mogami Gold Studio XLRs have negligible effects on the quality of a mic signal regardless of length.
Therefore, I'll refer to all lengths of these cables as the Mogami Gold Studio XLR.
The Gold Studio XLR is wired with Neglex Studio Quad, a 4-conductor inner wiring scheme. It offers excellent rejection of electromagnetic interference, including both power mains hum and radio frequency noise. The XLR connectors are made with gold contacts and the cables come with Mogami's lifetime warranty.
Here are some specs of the Mogami Gold Studio XLR:
- Shield: Served. Approx. 64/0.18A
- Twisted pair: Yes
- Diameter or conductive wires: 0.226mm² (#24 AWG)
- Number of conductive wires: 4 (Quad)
Lets get into the specifics of why the Mogami Gold Studio XLR is one of my top recommendations as a microphone cable.
EMI Rejection Of The Mogami Gold Studio XLR
Studio environments are very prone to electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) issues. These noisy interferences are emitted by computers, power mains, and audio equipment, making them virtually impossible to rid of.
EMI and RFI are picked up in any kind of conductor, including mic cables. So we cannot rid of the interference or rid of the conductors that carry our mic signals. This is where EMI and RFI rejection comes into play.
The Mogami Gold Studio XLR utilize Neglex quad cables. These are balanced cables that have 4 conductors (2 conductors carrying the mic signal in positive polarity and the other 2 conductors carrying the mic signal in negative polarity). The smaller diameters and doubling of the wires in the Neglex quad cable cause excellent EMI and RFI rejection.
The Gold Studio XLR excels in studios suffering from wiring and grounding issues and where RFI is a big problem. These mic cables provide a 10-20 dB improvement in signal-to-noise ratio over high-quality 2-conductor twisted pair mic cables (the industry standards).
Gold Studio XLR include an excellent cable shield, and any interference that passes through this shield is highly rejected by the double conductors quad cable. The served (spiral) Bare Copper Shield is superior to foil or braided shields for sound quality and simplifies termination.
The conductor insulation is XLPE (Cross-Linked Polyethylene), which has excellent electrical characteristics and prevents shrink-back during soldering.Conductor insulation is XLPE ( Cross-Linked Polyethylene) which has excellent electrical characteristics and prevents shrink-back during soldering.
Flexibility Of The Mogami Gold Studio XLR
The Mogami Gold Studio XLR is as flexible as the other industry leading studio mic cables. Flexibility greatly increases the longevity of the Gold Studio mic cable in the studio environment.
The Mogami Gold Studio XLR has a flex life of 11,000 cycles.
Durability Of The Mogami Gold Studio XLR
The Mogami Gold Studio XLR is a very durable microphone cable with a tensile strength of 686N. Studio environments are relatively stress-free for microphone cables and the Gold Studio XLR is more than capable of any practical studio use over the long term.
The chances of this mic cable breaking or malfunctioning in a studio is slim, but if it were to do so, the cable comes with a lifetime warranty from Mogami, so there's really nothing to lose.
Mogami Gold Stage XLR
The Mogami Gold Stage XLR series is another incredible microphone cable designed for rugged stage applications. These mic cables come in the following lengths:
20′ . 30′ . 50′
Like the Gold Studio, the only difference between these cables is their lengths. The length of Mogami Gold Stage XLRs has negligible effects on the quality of a mic signal.
Therefore, I'll refer to all lengths of these cables as the Mogami Gold Stage XLR.
The Gold Stage XLR is wired with Neglex w2549, a 2-conductor cable with 105 copper strands in each conductor (3 times that of a typical high-quality mic cable). It offers excellent rejection of electromagnetic interference, including both power mains hum and radio frequency noise. The XLR connectors are made with gold contacts and the cables come with Mogami's lifetime warranty.
Here are some specs of the Mogami Gold Studio XLR:
- Shield: Served. Approx. 64/0.18A
- Twisted pair: Yes
- Diameter or conductive wires: 0.339mm² (#22 AWG)
- Number of conductive wires: 2
Lets get into the specifics of why the Mogami Gold Stage XLR is one of my top recommendations as a microphone cable.
EMI Rejection Of The Mogami Gold Stage XLR
Though perhaps not as intensive as the aforementioned Gold Studio, the Gold Stage XLR mic cable is very effective at rejecting electromagnetic interference. Just because we're out of the studio and onto the stage, doesn't mean that EMI and RFI aren't strong forces.
The Mogami Gold Stage XLR is a twisted pair, which by itself rejects EMI by accepting it more uniformly across both conductors so that it is eliminated via common-mode rejection at the mic preamp's differential amplifier.
On top of that, the heavy duty 100% coverage served shield provides excellent protection, preventing a lot of EMI noise from getting to the twisted pair in the first place.
The served shield and twisted pair combo successfully rejects EMI across long cable runs which are very common on stages.
Flexibility Of The Mogami Gold Stage XLR
The Mogami Gold Stage XLR is very durable but also very flexible. The 105 strand conductors, served shield, and insulation and jacket material make the Gold Stage XLR very flexible.
The Mogami Gold Stage XLR has a flex life of 14,500 cycles.
Durability Of The Mogami Gold Stage XLR
The Mogami Gold Stage XLR is described as an ultra-rugged “roadie proof” microphone cable.
The cable has a high tensile strength of 657N. The two 105-strand conductive wire cores are insulated in 1.9 mm (0.075″) diameter Cross-Linked Polyethylene insulation and covered with a comprehensive full-coverage braided shield. This design is then covered with a flexible PVC jacket, making the entire cable very durable and fully capable of withstanding reasonable abuse on stages and in live broadcasting environments.
The chances of this mic cable breaking or malfunctioning is slim, but if it were to do so, the cable comes with a lifetime warranty from Mogami, so there's really nothing to lose.
So the Mogami Gold Series XLRs get my top mic cable recommendations. These cables are tough, flexible, reliable, and sound absolutely amazing. It's tough to beat such a great product. Once again, these cables are:
- Mogami Gold Studio XLR: Best microphone cable for studio applications.
- Mogami Gold Stage XLR: Best microphone cable for live applications.
Mogami Silver Series XLR: The Mogami Silver Series XLRs (link to check prices on Amazon) is my top recommendation for microphone cables at a more affordable price. I may seem biased toward Mogami in this article, but their cables are simply the best in my opinion. The reason I did not include the Mogami Silver Series XLRs is because Mogami does not have detailed information about their inner workings (though they have plenty of details on their Silver instrument cables).
For all the My New Microphone mic/gear recommendations, please check out my page Recommended Microphones And Accessories.