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"Helping You Sound Your Best"

A HOW TO GUIDE FOR SOLDERING XLR AUDIO CONNECTIONS IN AN INSTALLATION APPLICATION 

 

 

The first part of any soldering job is to get all the appropriate tools assembled in a good working space. My choices include a pair of diagonal cutters, a wire stripper,  helping hands connector holder,  soldering iron, 60/40 rosin core solder (no acid core), and panel mount XLR jacks to hold the connectors still.

 

PREP: If you are working on wall plates or floor pockets around carpet or nice wood or tile floors always put down protection (cardboard works great, never use a hymnal.) Hot solder can cause burn marks very quickly. If you are working on furniture, protection is important too.

STEP ONE:  First we strip off the insulation.  For XLR jacks remove about 5/8" of the outer jacket and foil shield. The stranded un-insulated wires will need to be twisted tightly together.  The positive and negative conductors will need 1/8" of insulation stripped.

 

 

 

STEP TWO: All three conductors (positive, negative and the drain wire for shielding) will need to be tinned.  This is done with a hot soldering iron and solder.  Quickly heat up the wire touch it with the solder and let a little tin the leads.  It is not necessary to use a lot of solder, a little is just right.

I like to let the iron rest and hold the solder and wire.  This is much easier than clamping the wire and moving the iron.

 

 

 

STEP THREE: Next we tin the terminals on the connector.  This requires more solder than tinning wires.  All three terminals need to be prepped.  First heat up the little cup.  Next melt solder into the cup. Then move on to the next cup.  Once all three cups are tinned then the fun really begins.

The picture is of some older style Neutrik female XLR jacks.  The procedure is the same for all the brands: Switchcraft, Cannon, Amphenal, generic, and Neutrik.

 

 

 

STEP FOUR: Confirm which conductor is pin 1 and which is pin 2.  (Pin 3 is always in the center.)  The important order to remember is:

PIN ONE  --  Ground, shield

PIN TWO --  Hot, positive

PIN THREE -- Cold, negative

 

STEP FIVE:  Now we heat up on of the cups (I usually start with pin 2.)  When the solder reaches the melting point place the tinned positive lead into the solder and remove the hot iron.   Next proceed to pin 3.  Then finish with pin 1.  (The order isn't all that important,  but clean joints are.)

The wires shown are from a 4 pair snake.  Each cable is insultated and numbered.

Remember that some plates will be backwards and upside down so be careful about getting the correct number to the right jack.

 

STEP SIX:  Let it cool.

Here you can see a four input wall plate.  In an arrangement like this connect the bottom two jacks first and the top jacks last. Hopefully you can see why.

 

 

 

The same procedure works for cable mount connectors.  The pictures show a male plug, but it applies to female plugs too.

One additional step required with cable mount XLR plugs -- put the foot of the jack on the cable FIRST!!!!     If you fail to add this piece to the cable first, it will solder together quick and beautiful.  Of course, you will have to unsolder the jack to add the foot to the cable.

The same pin out applies:

1-ground, 2-hot,3-cold.

When the solder cools, assemble all the pieces.  The pictures show a Neutrik MC3MX jack.  The Switchcraft A3M only has three parts.  Each company is a wee bit different.