Why 3 pin XLR plugs for headphones & amps?
Oct 16, 2008 at 11:59 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

Gladstone

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It is my understanding that many companies offering to recable your headphones do this with a 3 pin XLR plug (to make them 'balanced'). I was told that this doesn't infact make much of difference (and not 'balanced' at all) and that it would be smarter to use a 5 pin XLR plug. To give the driver its own plus & minus and its own common contact for the shielding of the headphone for a much cleaner connection. This is what I was told atleast (I'm not a very technical guy sadly). However, if this would be true, then why do so many companies that recable headphones do this with 3 pin XLR plugs and why do most headphone amplifiers use 3 pin XLR connections aswell?

Thanks in advance!
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Oct 17, 2008 at 11:01 AM Post #2 of 11

EnOYiN

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Gladstone /img/forum/go_quote.gif
It is my understanding that many companies offering to recable your headphones do this with a 3 pin XLR plug (to make them 'balanced'). I was told that this doesn't infact make much of difference (and not 'balanced' at all) and that it would be smarter to use a 5 pin XLR plug. To give the driver its own plus & minus and its own common contact for the shielding of the headphone for a much cleaner connection. This is what I was told atleast (I'm not a very technical guy sadly). However, if this would be true, then why do so many companies that recable headphones do this with 3 pin XLR plugs and why do most headphone amplifiers use 3 pin XLR connections aswell?

Thanks in advance!
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One 3 pin XLR plug won't make a much of a difference indeed. (nor will it be balanced) However, two 3 pin XLR plugs will. This is what most companies do.
 
Oct 17, 2008 at 12:43 PM Post #3 of 11
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As EnOYiN said, you might have missed that it's actually TWO 3-pin XLR plugs being used to create balanced headphones, one for left and one for right. There is also a one-plug solution, using a 4-pin XLR, but not many amps use them.
 
Oct 17, 2008 at 1:14 PM Post #4 of 11

grawk

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To go further, back with the original headroom balanced amp, they were using 2 separate amps, and put a combo jack for simplicity. This allowed the amps to be used as 2 single ended amp (with a single ended source), or as a balanced amp, with a balanced source.

That choice basically defined what connections headphone amps have used ever since.

Several of us have switched to 4pin xlr for balanced headphones, and just use adapters to connect to amps that don't have 4 pin connections. We used the standard created by AKG for the K1000 way back when.

There are even starting to be commercial amps with the 4pin connection.
 
Oct 17, 2008 at 2:12 PM Post #5 of 11
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Ahh, so that's where it all started. Thanks for the info grawk. I had thought of mentioning the Little Dot MKVI as an example of one that uses a 4-pin XLR, since you mention commercial amps.
 
Oct 17, 2008 at 3:38 PM Post #6 of 11

flecom

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4 pin is definately the way to go.... you have 2 pins for each driver (+/-) and the connector itself can be used as a 5th contact for shield (this is how i wire all of my headphones personally)
 
Oct 17, 2008 at 4:02 PM Post #7 of 11

Gladstone

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Ah, I have this creeping suspicion the good man that told me didn't exactly understood the usual concept (or he does, and many of us are wrong). The man was talking about and trying to explain to me how a (single) 5 pin XLR connection was superior compared to a (two) 3 pin XLR connection (I did not overlook the fact most -commercial- companies use two 3 pin XLR plugs btw). What I understood from it is that a two 3 pin XLR connection doesn't infact make balanced (or he didn't understand that the concept was two instead of a single 3 pin plug). Hence the confusion.

Thanks for the replies btw!
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Oct 17, 2008 at 4:17 PM Post #9 of 11

krmathis

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I am quite sure you have missed out on one crucial part. The fact that they usually use two 3-pin XLR plugs.

...a 5-pin XLR plug makes even less sense, since you will have big trouble finding an amplifier to plug it into. Since most balanced amplifiers have two 3-pin XLR jacks, or one 4-pin XLR jack.
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Oct 17, 2008 at 4:35 PM Post #10 of 11

grawk

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using 1 xlr per channel is definitely balanced, and a 5pin is in no way superior to 2 3pins, except that it's a single connection instead of 2. If you wanted to use a 5 pin connection for a custom amp, there's no problem with that, just be prepared to use an adapter with anything else.
 

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