Of course, you can go to Amazon and buy a new XLR cable if your current one isn’t working or you can get your hands dirty and try to fix it yourself. You can extend the life of all your cables if you know how to solder.
You will need the following materials:
- XLR cable
- Clamp (to hold the XLR cable)
- Soldering iron
- Wire cutters.
- Knife (no teeth).
- (Optional) Cable tester.
In the picture above, the XLR cable plug is on the left and the socket is on the right. It is important to know the location of the individual wires within the XLR cable. The image below gives us this information.
Typically, the shield / ground wire (copper) will always be connected to 1, a positively charged (red or blue) wire connected to 2, and a negatively charged (white, blue, green, or black) wire connected to 3.
NOTE. If there is a white wire inside the cable, the positive end will be red or blue, if there is a blue wire without a white wire, the positive end will be red.
The first thing we’re going to do with our XLR cable is to cut both ends of the cable right under the black fuse, removing the male and female ends completely. Unscrew the black protective cover and remove the metal shield until it looks something like this:
From here, you are going to securely secure the end you are working on in the first place so that you can start soldering. This is how it should look:
From now on, you will take your soldering iron and gently touch the bottom of each solder cup until the solder inside the cup heats up enough for you to remove the wires.
Clean the remaining solder inside each cup with the tip of a soldering iron. NOTE: The soldering cup number will be shown directly above the cup. After completing this step, it should look something like this:
From now on, you will need to put on the black protection on the wire that we cut earlier. NOTE: This should be the first thing you do before you begin stripping the wire and soldering the ends to the male and female ports, otherwise the fuse will not be able to screw into the metal shield.
After the protective cover is attached to the XLR cable, use a knife and gently press and roll the knife with the wire to expose the fabric, copper strands and two wires. From here, you will need to completely remove all of the tissue, as we won’t need it.
Copper strands that are woven into the fabric are essential, so DO NOT trim them. After all the fabric is gone, twist and twist the copper strands together until you form a large single strand of copper.
Strip the ends of the two smaller wires within the cable no more than 1 cm in the same way as you did for the cable itself. Your cable will look something like this:
Before soldering the wire ends to their respective cups, we’re going to tin the wire ends and cup reservoirs. The tinning process is very simple; it’s basically just applying fresh solder to the ends of each wire, so when you’re going to solder them together, they are much easier to fuse.
After tinning, the wire ends will look exactly like the picture above, only with shiny metal solder on the wire ends. From here you can start soldering.
See the map above to match the wire ends with the matching cups. When you’re ready to start soldering, gently place the end of the wire over the solder already in the cup.
From there, gently heat the bottom of the cup with the tip of a soldering iron until the solder inside is liquid, gently press the end of the wire into the cup and remove the soldering iron. The tip of the wire should now be welded to the cup.
The order in which the side is selected does not matter. If you solder the socket head first, the ground wire must be mapped to 1, the positive wire must be mapped to 2, and the negative wire must be mapped to 3.
If you solder the pin head, the ground, positive and negative wires are mapped to the same numbers, HOWEVER 1 and 2 will be on opposite sides (Figure 1).
When you finish soldering, you are ready to assemble the male and female ends by doing the same as in fig. 2, but in reverse order.
While we’re done, if you’re using a cable for professional audio work, or just want to make sure you’ve done everything right, I would recommend buying a cable tester to make sure each soldered end has a perfect connection. Here’s the one I’m using:
This cable tester has saved me time and money in the long run and is very easy to use. To test if your cable is working properly, simply plug both ends of the cable into the corresponding jacks on the tester, turn it on, switch to the cable tester, and analyze the red lights on the bottom of the device.
The light associated with pin 1 on the right side should match the corresponding pin 1 at the top. Pin 2 (right) should match pin 2 (top) and the same pin 3. If the cable is working properly, you should see three red LEDs illuminated diagonally from top right to bottom left.
Done! If everything was done correctly, your XLR cable is now as good as new. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask, I will explain everything that could confuse you.