How long do your XLR connectors last?

frank kayser

Junior
Jan 11, 2011
290
1
18
Maryland suburbs of DC
Hi folks,

Well, my pile of XLR cables that need connector replacement is starting to need attention.

The venue I take care of has just about anyone and everyone handling the cables - the ones I've taught handle them "properly" but there are others I do not know of. Some more careful than others... The venue operates six days a week, and cables are always put away - not left on stage under foot.

I have a mish-mash of cable ends, a combination of what I found when I got there, and repairs I've made over time.

I think it may be time to just do a group replacement - the nickle and dime repairs is becoming bothersome - it's less than 20 cables altogether.

How long do your connectors last? I know a laargr collection of cables get rotated more often than the small collention this venue has...

My problem with Neutrik X type connectors (and clones) is the out-of-round male ends - the locking tab being one culprit, but the entire connector also seems out of round.
My other problem are the female Switchcraft female ends - the internal plastic strain relief fails and the entire connector slides within the shell.

I had a bunch of Audiopile Neutrik style connectors, and the female ends have held up very well. The male ends, not so great.

Of course Neutrik are the industry standard - and the new XX series of connectors seem more robust (at least the male end) - at nearly double the cost of X series, and more with the Audiopile connectors. The female ends seem similar enough and I have not had problems of yet.

The other option is just to replace the male Neutrik shells and not bother with replacing the entire connector. Is that a reasonable solution? Are they available separately? (I'd think not...)

Any comments would be appreciated.

frank
 

Tim McCulloch

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
2,966
35
48
Wichita KS USA
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Clair uses Switchcraft male ends and Cannon female ends.

Your issue with Neutrik male XLR shells is that they are being stepped on. Your issue with the Switchcraft males is that the strain relief set screws have not been tightened OR that the cable jacket was stripped too far back and the strain relief has nothing to clamp to.
 

frank kayser

Junior
Jan 11, 2011
290
1
18
Maryland suburbs of DC
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Thanks, Tim. That combination of connectors would have been just about the last choice I would have expected. (made)
The Switchcraft male is one I've had very good luck with, even being my second least favorite XLR connector to work with. Once properly in place, they are very rugged.
The Canon, however, if it is the one I believe it is, is my least favorite, because of the sheer number of parts, and what I think is a substandard strain relief. (IMNTBHO)

I can't argue with success, though; Clair OBVIOUSLY know what they're doing, and have no doubt tried everything before settling on this combination.
 
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

I have an old brown rubber type Beldin cable with standard Switchcraft ends on it that has been in use for 30 years. Any end will bend when people roll trunks over them or stomp them with boots. Most of mine are Canare/Nutrik some with the newer Nutrik ends that have the hard plasticky boot - not sure how long they will last. Just got a handful of the new Switchcraft to try and so far I like them. Check back in 30 years. Switchcraft : AAA Series

http://www.switchcraft.com/Product_Thumbnails/AAA3FZ.jpg
 

Philip Roberts

Sophomore
Jan 12, 2011
135
0
16
Southwest Michigan
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Of course Neutrik are the industry standard - and the new XX series of connectors seem more robust (at least the male end) - at nearly double the cost of X series, and more with the Audiopile connectors. The female ends seem similar enough and I have not had problems of yet.
We use Neutrik at my church, mostly X series but we have some XX's and have been happy with both.

Double check your prices on the X vs XX series connectors. Last I checked they were very similar and I even think the XX's were slightly (pennies) cheaper as raw connectors.

Philip
 

frank kayser

Junior
Jan 11, 2011
290
1
18
Maryland suburbs of DC
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

We use Neutrik at my church, mostly X series but we have some XX's and have been happy with both.

Double check your prices on the X vs XX series connectors. Last I checked they were very similar and I even think the XX's were slightly (pennies) cheaper as raw connectors.

Philip
You're right Phillip. I wasn't comparing apples to apples. negligible difference.
 

Geoff Doane

Sophomore
Nov 19, 2011
116
0
16
Halifax, NS
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Hi folks,


The other option is just to replace the male Neutrik shells and not bother with replacing the entire connector. Is that a reasonable solution? Are they available separately? (I'd think not...)

Any comments would be appreciated.

frank
That's not a bad idea, if you're otherwise satisfied with the Neutrik X-series males. The XX seem to have corrected the only complaints I had about the X: the catch receptacle can't be dented in, and the boot fits inside rather than outside the shell, which should make it more resistant to failure by crushing. Very old X-series had boots made of brittle plastic, but I think those would be at least 15 years old now. Even if you can't get only the shells for a reasonable price, it's still less time to replace only the shells, and no soldering is required. I had a bent one get stuck in a PSM-600 transmitter and had to almost destroy the combo jack to get it out. I scored a bucket of male X-series from an installed console that I've been using as spares.

This seems like an appropriate time for my Switchcraft rant. About a week before Christmas we did a day's worth of live radio broadcasts (6 am to 6 pm), with live entertainment and our usual talk/current affairs format. The venue was in the same building as the studios, but in a more publicly accessible location, so the technical facilities had to be set up from scratch, with a basic FOH and monitor setup in the room, and the actual broadcast audio being mixed in a remote truck. This isn't that big a deal, although sometimes we wind up scraping the bottom of the barrel for mic cables. One of the "last choice" cables had Switchcraft connectors (which we don't use) and a sticker from the local, big-guy PA company on it, but the cable seemed to be decent.

I thought it had worked during soundcheck, but later on, the guy in the truck replaced it with another, and gave it to me. I put a "Suspect Device" tag on it, tied a couple knots in it, and later took it to the shop. On the cable testing jig, I thought at first that it worked, but then I noticed that it was intermittently shorting between pins 2 and 3, and the case wasn't isolated from pin 1. At that point I cut off the Switchcraft AA-series connectors, and opened them up to see what was going on. As you can see from the pictures, it's doubtful this thing ever worked. The quad cable was connected properly at one end, but then the two blue wires (and the whites) were split up at the other. The jacket had been stripped back too far, and the cheesy strain relief was shorting to the shield. This might be acceptable for a 280 plug, but not for a so-called "professional" audio connector. To add insult to injury, the solder was not hot enough to flow properly at one end, although the other end looked OK.

GTD

AA-1.jpgAA-2.jpgAA-3.jpgAA-4.jpg
 

frank kayser

Junior
Jan 11, 2011
290
1
18
Maryland suburbs of DC
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Other than happening to be Switchcraft and wired by who knows who, that isn't a bad example of "Switchcraft". Pitiful.
I'm not a big fan of that "strain relief" (actually I think the relief is a separate part) even when cable is properly installed.
 

Geoff Doane

Sophomore
Nov 19, 2011
116
0
16
Halifax, NS
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Other than happening to be Switchcraft and wired by who knows who, that isn't a bad example of "Switchcraft". Pitiful.
I'm not a big fan of that "strain relief" (actually I think the relief is a separate part) even when cable is properly installed.
Yes, I'm probably being a little too hard on Switchcraft. Unlike the A-series, that clamp is the only strain relief on the AA-series, and just doesn't cut it. I haven't used the newer AAA-series yet. It sounds like they use a chuck/collet type of clamp like Neutrik has had for 30 years. I hope it's an improvement over these things.

GTD
 

Ivan Beaver

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
2,300
10
0
Atlanta GA area
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

I have an old brown rubber type Beldin cable with standard Switchcraft ends on it that has been in use for 30 years.
I have a brown Belden 8412 with Cannon ends on it. I assume original connections. The insulation is all cracked, but the cable still works-is super flexible and just keeps on hangign in there. It just lives in my toolbox-but I would have no problem using it on a gig.


When something is made right-it just keeps on working :)
 

Brian jojade

Senior
Jan 15, 2011
718
9
0
Wausau, WI
www.happymacshop.com
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

I use all Switchcraft A3 connectors. They have been rock solid for me, without question. The downside is that you need a mini flat blade screwdriver to open them up, but other than that, they work great and are very simple and solid. They use 2 screws in the shell as a cable clamp.

I have some connectors in my inventory that are older than I am, and still work like new. Actually, I prefer the older stock. The current ones are made out of a softer metal and the screws can strip out if you tighten them too much. Old ones were nearly impossible to strip out.

Everything else I've tried or used has failed on me at some point. I've never had one of these fail.
 
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Never seen a switchcraft female end with that kind of strain relief -are you sure they are not a cheaper clone connector?
(then again, I haven't made a switchcraft cable with new ends in many years -just keep re-using existing stockpiles).
I do have hundreds of ancient Belden 8412 with switchcraft ends and the ends will outlast the cable and generally prefer the precision fit and latching when using the switchcraft type.
 

Ivan Beaver

Graduate Student
Jan 11, 2011
2,300
10
0
Atlanta GA area
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Never seen a switchcraft female end with that kind of strain relief -are you sure they are not a cheaper clone connector?
.
Agreed. That is not like any switchcraft connector I have ever seen. Yes it may look like one from the outside-until you look a little bit closer. I bet there are not 2 screws for the strain relief. But rather a single screw (and probably a phillips-not a slot-as used on the switchcraft) to hold the shell to the connector.

Of course the wiring is wrong on several counts-as stated. The shell should NEVER be hooked to either end of an XLR cable. At least if you want to help avoid ground loops.
 
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

I Have been using Neutrik connectors for the last 12 years and I rarely have a cable go down, i would say that i have in the neighborhood of r 300-400 cables and my bin of to be fixed cables has about 6 cables in it from the last 6 months... 3 of them are left overs that had switchcraft connectors, witch i will replace with neutrik when i get around to fixing them.

and the new xx series is fantastic, and somehow cheaper than the x series, I usually buy mine from Camel Traders | Stage and Concert Equipment Sales, NY | Home unless I am in a pinch then I will get my local sam ash to match their price...
 

Geoff Doane

Sophomore
Nov 19, 2011
116
0
16
Halifax, NS
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Never seen a switchcraft female end with that kind of strain relief -are you sure they are not a cheaper clone connector?
Yes, it is a real Switchcraft, but it's their "cheap" line. The three different models or grades are listed here:

Switchcraft : XLR Connectors

Electro-Voice was using these AA-series plugs on the cables they included with some of their mics, although these days everybody seems to sell mics without a cable.

GTD
 
Re: How long do your XLR connectors last?

Yes, I'm probably being a little too hard on Switchcraft. Unlike the A-series, that clamp is the only strain relief on the AA-series, and just doesn't cut it. I haven't used the newer AAA-series yet. It sounds like they use a chuck/collet type of clamp like Neutrik has had for 30 years. I hope it's an improvement over these things.

GTD
It would seem that some kind of patent has run out and the nifty screw on strain relief ends are being cloned by even Switchcraft with their newest offering. Does anyone know the real story on that?

On the subject of cables - Does anyone know where to get small orders of Wirelux cable in multiple colors?
 
I have an old brown rubber type Beldin cable with standard Switchcraft ends on it that has been in use for 30 years. Any end will bend when people roll trunks over them or stomp them with boots. Most of mine are Canare/Nutrik some with the newer Nutrik ends that have the hard plasticky boot - not sure how long they will last. Just got a handful of the new Switchcraft to try and so far I like them. Check back in 30 years. Switchcraft : AAA Series

http://www.switchcraft.com/Product_Thumbnails/AAA3FZ.jpg
I have some of those brown cables too. I think they came from EV back in the day.
I believe mine came with 635s.

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