I understand why a 3 pin XLR would be used for a balanced single, so what are the additional pins for.

I have read someone that is has to do with capacitance on long cables.

(These days a digital link would normally be used, but is used to be common to send high quality audio over many miles without converting it to digital.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Where is this used? (Country/industry) I worked with a broadcaster for several years and never saw it. Even star-quad was strictly 3-pin. \$\endgroup\$ – user_1818839 Aug 28 '15 at 13:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Where have you seen 5-pin connectors used in this way? Sometimes 4-conductor + shield cable is used for single balanced connections (e.g., Canare Star Quad cable), but you still use 3-pin connectors at the ends. The only place I have seen 5-pin connectors is in two-channel applications, such as stereo micorphones like coincident crossed ribbons. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Aug 28 '15 at 13:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've seen 5-pin XLR used for paired stereo microphones (as David mentioned), intercom headsets, and DMX512 data applications. But I've never seen it used for mono audio connections. Is it possible that this is a custom rig that someone has put together? \$\endgroup\$ – youtooth Aug 28 '15 at 14:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just for reference: XLR is an acronym for Screen (X), Left, Right for stereo signals. It was now most commonly used for balanced low impedance microphone signals due to their rugged construction and build-in latch. \$\endgroup\$ – Transistor Oct 3 '15 at 22:36

There would be no significat reason to use more than three pins (as all mono XLR have). One for minus, one for ground, and one for sound (+).

I believe that it was used just the same way as (for example) some guitarists would use stereo 6.3mm (1/4inch) cable for their signal. In principle yes, they are getting "better" signal because the resistance of one pin of the cable is somewhat lower.. But then again - a good cable will have a really low resistance (impedance) to begin with.

To sum up, there is no advantage except for one thing - in theory it is possible that such a cable could be used for longer distances. (Perhaps that's why they are sometimes being used?) But anyone would be better off to use the appropriate tools for longer distances.


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