What Is Your Preferred Cable End?

It has always been a curiosity of mine.

  • 4-pin XLR
  • 4.4 Pentaconn
  • 3.5mm/ Quarter Inch Combo
  • Quarter Inch
  • 2.5 mm
  • Etc. ( What is it?)

0 voters

You can do internal polls within the forum w/o having to link a 3rd party.

Whoops that’s my fault. Fixed it!

I voted for 1/4", but it feels weird having 1/4" and 3.5mm as the same option. Does Discourse only allow 5 options per poll?

Dual 3Pin XLR.
But it’s not really a preference, I use what makes sense, 1/4 inch, 4 pin XLR, Dual 3pin XLR, currently if I buy a cable, I spec it Dual 3pin XLR, adapters are a pain though.

Just for fun, I took a screenshot of the dropdown for custom cables on ZMF’s website just to see an example of what kind of connector-types are out there:


I edited it. Aaand now the results are gone LOL!

You live and you learn I suppose.

I actually thought it went hand it hand. So many adapters to convert from 3.5mm to 1/4 inch so I didn’t think anything of it

What? 3.5mm balanced? That’s a thing?
That just screwed my mind. It can’t be common, right?

Do you use it because of the amp you use? This is the first time in hearing of such

All three of the amps I regularly use have the option, it’s not common on lower priced amps, I’d imagine the real estate it uses is an issue for many smaller amps.
I use it because I made up a cable to see if I could hear a difference, and my general impression was it sounded marginally better, though I couldn’t justify why that’s the case.

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4pin xlr, then if I need to I can adapt to any other termination no problem


I’m going to start ordering all my cables with a Pono connector. Cause I’m perpetually 14 years old.

I’m not going to lie. I expected 4.4 Pentaconn to be higher!

The real answer for me is “the one I need”. I don’t have strong feelings on connector type. I wish that all headphone cables came balanced, though, and could be adapted to single-ended for low cost. You can go balanced cable → adapter → SE output. You CANNOT go the other way!


By coincidence, all the desktop amps I own are 1/4", so for me, it’s a pretty easy answer, lol.

I currently have an RNHP and a Quicksilver at my desk, there’s an Emotiva A-100 in the dining room, a spare setup upstairs with a Schiit Hel 2… and just in general, I feel like a lot of sub-$2k desktop amps I’ve been interested in only have 1/4" outputs (V280, Little Labs Monotor, BHC+SB, LTA MZ2, etc.) so I dunno, I felt pretty okay buying some decent quality 1/4" cables and worrying about balanced later down the road if I end up needing it.

The Quicksilver tube amp? PEAK JEALOUSY REACHED
I heard the sound stage on that thing is expansive. Final boss levels of tube.

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To be fair, I haven’t gotten to hear more expensive amps, but yeah, I /really/ like the Quicksilver.

Anyway, if you have a setup that you already like, I’d say just buy the cable termination you need for your setup rather than dealing with adapters and stuff and stressing out about what you might buy later someday. (I’m also not spending a ton of money on cables, relatively speaking, so there is that. I’m plugging a $100 cable into a $1000 amp, so the ratio feels vaguely reasonable.)

3-pin XLR (the best XLR) is the clear winner.
Speakon and 6.3mm (= 1/4") are up there sharing 2nd place.

I like the XLR connectors. That said, @WaveTheory is really correct, it’s the one I need. I just try to make it so the one I need is always XLR! :stuck_out_tongue:

question for all you XLR lovers. standard size or mini and why?