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
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,
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
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:
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.