XLR versus DMX

One of the most enduring mysteries among working musicians is the difference between Mic Cables and DMX cables.  They look exactly the same.  They both use three pin XLR connectors, mostly.  A mic cable will send DMX signals and a DMX cable will send audio signals.  But, are they truly interchangeable?


They are not interchangeable.  While both will work at each other’s jobs, they don’t do them very well.  The difference is that a DMX cable is a data cable and a mic cable is an audio cable.  The connectors are the same but the insides are very different.


When using a DMX cable in an audio setting, it is easy to tell the difference from an actual microphone cable.  The sound quality is seriously degraded from passing through the much higher resistance DMX cable.  It also becomes more susceptible to RF and EM noise because it has shielding intended for a data signal not an audio signal.


On the other side, using a mic cable with your lighting seems to work better on the surface.  However, the lower resistance of the audio cable interferes with the way DMX sends information.  Your lighting will be more glitchy and less responsive because of it.  The longer the cable run, the worse the bugginess becomes.


We’ve talked about the benefits of using colored cables before.  This is another situation where they will be very helpful.  Choose one color for your mic cables and another color for your DMX cables.

Using the right cable for the job guarantees you the best results.  Need more info?  Call one of our experts at 877-347-6423 or chat directly through our website.  We’re here to help.

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