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Bricolo 29th August 2004 10:23 AM

Why are XLR outputs male, and inputs female?
This is something I don't understand.

On a source, a preamp or whatever you want, the XLR outputs are male, and the inputs are female connectors.
Am I the only one thinking it's odd? It's like an AC wall wart made with a male connector :hot:

The opposite would lead to less shortcircuits, no? Is there any reason for this choice?

johnnyx 29th August 2004 10:37 AM

Maybe, if the male pins were inputs, and you touched them, there would be very loud buzzing coming from your PA.
Just a thought:)

trwh 29th August 2004 11:07 AM

Phantom power (48V) could be present on a mic input. Although it is current limited to just a few mA, I would guess it could give you a bit of a shock if you came into contact with it. Maybe that is a reason why sockets are used as inputs.

Also, I like being able to say to green stage hands that the male is an output and the female is an input, just to match nature ;-)


Bricolo 29th August 2004 11:23 AM


1audio 30th August 2004 12:47 AM

The real reason I believe is the sensitive part is the input in this case and touching the pins on an exposed input (on a console for instance) would introduce hum.

The other reason I have heard is that the pins are the part of a connector that breaks, so its prefered to keep them on cables and sockets on chassis. Then a broken pin is fixed with a new cable. More relevant to VGA connectors but a common principle.

But the myths about this are like the stories on the origin of the BNC connector, they never end.

imix500 30th August 2004 01:43 AM

It is also an electrical code in some states here in the US. Chicago, IL for instance specifically states that voltage carrying cable with temporary connectors must be non-contact... Female- Even for audio. They get a little crazy with this though, xlr's were sometimes used on 70.7v distributed speaker systems. Not so much now that we have lovely speakons and such. But have you ever plugged in a mic to a high level output? :bigeyes: I've actually heard an sm58 act like a speaker this way.

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