Rca Vs.  Xlr vs. Trs, Which Is the Best Cable? A Quick Comparison

I know you wonder what cable you should choose from a list of XLR, TRS, and RCA. These cables are different, and you will only realize their benefits after using them for various tasks. Different scenarios will call for a specific cable that I am sure you will choose from the three.

Count yourself lucky because you are reading this article because everything shall be provided here. I don’t know what cable you are using, but this combination can give you a clean and audible signal from a guitar, microphone, keyboard, or other audio input. After you are through with reading our article, you will be able to determine which one is the best.

This report will cover various disciplines to help you under Analog connections, Analog Plug Connectors, the best, and some frequently asked questions. So let’s walk together till the end.

Analog connectionsAnalog connections

Best music producers aspire to produce audible and clean sound from any input like a microphone, drum set, synth, or keyboard in their DAW. Therefore, audio cables play a vital role in enhancing recording success. This means that you need to be keen when choosing the best audio cable for your profession.

If you are lucky, you will have to read your user manual or follow your gear’s direction. Therefore, RCA, XLR, and TRS are the most commonly used audio cables. So let’s dig deeper and see how they differ from each other. Besides, you need to know famous home devices that these cables can fit.

Analog Plug Connector (¼ inch/6.35mm)

This jack plug remains the commonly used audio connector. Besides, it’s highly versatile to support various tasks. Its audio lead plus a ¼-inch plug is referred to as the jack lead. However, you need to understand that sometimes these jack leads aren’t the same. Go through the following categories;

1. RCA cablesrca vs xlr vs trs

No one will stone you when you use Phono Plugs as an alternative name for RCA cables; it’s the same thing. You will mainly find these cables on our home stereos or upcoming audio gear. Their functionality resembles that of the TS cords since it has a single ground and a connector.

These cables are not balanced, and mostly you will find them in pairs. So, for example, one cord is red while the other one is white, whereby you will have to attach the red one to the right channel while the white one is to the left channel.

2. XLR cablesXLR cables

This type of audio cable is mainly used in studios. Besides, you can use them to achieve connections between your professional gears. For your information, one of the ends of this cord is a female while the other one is a male.

The wiring of XLR cables resembles that of TRS connectors, which is associated with reduced noise since it is balanced. Occasionally, XLR cables are referred to as low Z cord because it features a low-impedance sign. Don’t hesitate to use long XLR cables in fear of noise; a reminder, they’re balanced.

3. Ting-Ring-Sleeve/ TRS (6.35mm/ ¼-inch)Ting-Ring-Sleeve TRS (6.35mm ¼-inch)

If not carefully, you might not differentiate between TRS and TS cables because they vary slightly. However, the ¼-inch jack features three-connect points, i.e., the Tip, Sleeve, and the Ring. So that’s exactly where it gets its TRS name. a plastic ring distinguishes the points.

Where and how can you use a TRS cable?

There are two different ways that one can utilize TRS cables. They are;

  1. It is useful as a stereo cable. It incredibly divides the signal, directing it to specific channels (right and left). The Tip space mostly carries a signal for the left channel while the ring carries the signal for the right channel.  The sleeve is therefore responsible for shielding.
  2. It balanced the mono cord. This is another usage of TRS cables that you can easily connect to your professional audio input. This implies that you will have to use this cable when connecting a Synth to any audio interface. Balanced cables come with many benefits, including noise elimination, even if the cord is extended.

You don’t have to worry about determining whether your gear outputs are balanced or not. Most of the outputs tend to have balanced/unbalanced labeling.

Sometimes you may come across small-size inputs/output that will have to fit a 3.5mm jack plug. One mini-jacks can fall under this category, i.e., the TRS 1/8-inch (3.5mm). This plug is simply a duplicate of its bigger brother TRS ¼”. Mostly they are found in consumer earphones.

On the other hand, AKG pro-audio headphones have these tips and a 6.35mm adapter on the other end. How about having a look at Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphones?

XLR: TRS: RCA Comparison table

Cable type/feature




Balanced/Unbalanced yes yes no
Construction single single pair
Length long long short
Noise low low high

So, which cable is the best?

From the above discussion, you can realize that these cables can achieve the same purpose, but we have varying preferences.

RCA cables are long and come in pairs, but sometimes using the lengthy one may expose you to electrical hums. Unfortunately, this means that they aren’t balanced and won’t be ideal for hi-fi systems.

On the other hand, TRS and XLR cords are balanced to produce high-quality sound and extended with reduced noise. XLR, on the other hand, works similarly to TRS since they are both associated with reducing noise when using a lengthy cord.

The system you’re using plays a critical role in determining which option is the best. Revise the user manual.

You might be interested to read also our another review of: Does HDMI Carry Audio?


  • Are balanced audio cables advantageous?

Yes, they are associated with minimized noise when used in lengthy.

  • Do systems come with audio cables?

I don’t want to promise anything, but most of them do come equipped with audio cables. So the cables are the ones I should recommend you buy as a substitute.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, you are now in a good position to differentiate RCA, XLR, and TRS cables. We have equipped you with a handy guide that includes a comparison table to make work easier for you. What you need to do is to go through the article to grasp the knowledge carefully. 

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