Best XLR connectors money can buy?

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
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Honestly, I'm surprised this thread is even active. Arguing which connector and cable is best is just pointless as Francisco suggests. If someone likes copper, great. Same for rhodium although I do not consider rhodium plating on interconnects great, good or bad but rather unlistenable. And yet, I'm still surprised by uses of some materials in specific applications. For example, I have a complete loom of Masterbuilt Ultras and that are terminated in gold plated copper for source components, but with Bocchino Sliver XLRs from preamp to amp. I thought, hey, if I liked the silver Bocchino's so well in that run, perhaps I'll try a pair from source to preamp. So even though it took 6 months to get a pair, thy finally arrived and when I hooked them up, I was stunned by how bad it was! I thought, Oh, this must be break-in. So I waited, and waited, and waited some more, like I was Waiting for Godot. I finally came to grips that they sucked. Brittle, unmusical, and harsh. I have no earthly idea why. Therefore I then had them reterminated with Nex Gen WBTs (gold/copper) and voila, the magic is back and then some. After many years, it just keeps coming back to me in spades that there are no reliable rules for so much of what we do. Preference is all we have. That's really all there is.

Kind of reminds me of a story....
Many years ago in college, I was listening to a radio show where they were suggesting what you could take that was a legal high. Some guy called in and said that smoking Crayola crayons worked great. About an hour later, another caller dial-in gagging and coughing as he waited for an ambulance to arrive to take him to the hospital. Told the listeners they didn't work!! Duh. Like that poor bastard, audiophiles just have to find out for themselves what works and what makes you gag. (And no, that guy wasn't me!)
 
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ayreman

Well-Known Member
Jan 2, 2017
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Even considering there is no best in this hobby, it would be great to know why you prefer these materials - experience, technical reasons, etc .?
Only personal experience and careful testing in my system.
 

johndoe21ro

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Oct 3, 2012
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Xhadow are probably the best XLR connectors on the market... ETI come close!
 

ingemar

Well-Known Member
May 21, 2013
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Gothenburg(Sweden)
Hi Gents.
I hope you all are safe and sound!!A quick question for you,do anyone recognize the brand of this xlr connectors?
Kindly/Ingemar
 

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cosie

New Member
Apr 1, 2020
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Hi Gents.
I hope you all are safe and sound!!A quick question for you,do anyone recognize the brand of this xlr connectors?
Kindly/Ingemar
looks like they made by TTAF.

Has anyone tried Neotech NEX-OCC connectors? Seems they use the best cooper currently available.
 
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Atmasphere

[Industry Expert]
May 4, 2010
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St. Paul, MN
www.atma-sphere.com
The telephone system is why there are balanced lines. The system was rapidly adopted by the recording industry after WW2. Rather than an exotic cable system, instead it was a set of parameters, which if met, meant that the system had a great deal of immunity to the cables themselves, allowing for long distances to be used but the system has a benefit even if the cable is only 6" long.

In high end audio there is a lack of adherence to the principles of balanced line operation. There's actually a standard for how the cables are set up and the equipment grounded, called AES48. In addition the system is meant to be low impedance.

When you ignore all the engineering that went into the system, one problem you get is you can hear issues (audiphiles call them 'differences' and grade the cables as if one is better than the other...) in the cables. So you get a lot of argument in high end forums about which is better, single-ended or balanced, and which cable is the 'best'.

The simple fact is though that if your equipment were supporting the standard, there would be no argument.

Put another way, if you want the 'best' in cables, the first thing to do is seek equipment that supports the standard. Although rare, some high end audio equipment does do that. Tubes or transistors has nothing to do with it. Whether the equipment is single-ended internally or balanced internally also has nothing to do with it (but if its internally single-ended, its likely that there will be line transformers involved to do the conversion from balanced to single-ended and back).

Back in 1988 I started designing a tube preamp to go along with our amps. There were a lot of single-ended tube preamps around at the time (still are) and wanting to stand out (and also knowing the advantages of balanced operation, having a fair amount of exposure to it in recordings on both sides of the glass), I designed what turned out to be the world's first balanced line preamp meant for home audio. It didn't occur to me at the time to not support the standard so I was a bit shocked when other products followed suit with the balanced thing but in no way supported the standard. Shortly thereafter the weirdest, but also predictable thing happened- 'high end ' balanced line cables appeared.

The thing is, the idea behind the balanced line system is that you don't have to use exotic cables! We all know this is perfectly true as well, since any classical recording going back to the 1950s employed balanced lines for the microphones, sometimes running the cables over 200 feet. But throw out those standards and now you need exotic cables. Sheesh! Its such a misapplication; what I've not figured out is whether so many different companies chose to ignore the standards or are simply ignorant.

One example of this is balanced line interconnects for tonearms. You know that weird ground wire that turntables always have? That's there because in a balanced line system, the ground is never used as the ground for the signal. Its independent, and the signal isn't grounded at all. Phono cartridges in a tonearm are thus a balanced source. To run it single ended, you have to ground the grounding system else it will buzz (hence that weird wire that no other single-ended source seems to need). But in a balanced connection the ground is pin 1 of the XLR. So why do we see balanced tonearm cables with a separate ground wire?? The correct answer is the person who made the cable didn't know what they were doing. Why is there a 'ground box' on some exotic balanced cables cables? Same answer.

Sorry for the rant. The short answer to this whole thing is if you want the best out of balanced lines and don't mind getting off of the white elephant merry go round of the latest cable, get yourself equipment that supports the standard. What's nice about this is you literally don't have to worry about cables again- you can run Mogami Neglex or the like and it will sound as good as cable that cost $1000/foot.

BTW if you want the best connectors, Neutrik has had that sewn up for a while. It embarassing to see really expensive copies of ancient Switchcraft designs being hawked as high end. Its no wonder that engineers from the recording world think cable differences are nonsense because quite literally they are.
 

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