Budget Microphone Cable Comparison

When putting together a very basic portable live sound reinforcement system, I was surprised by how much money I spent on cables. My goal was to buy the best “value” mic cables I could find.

Some manufactures are quite clear about what you are buying, and even include deconstructed pictures of their cables to look at before buying. (see audiopile.net or speakerrepair.com) Others include negligible information about the cable aside from the length.

Here are the 5 cables I bought to compare:

GLS audio (from speakerrepair.com)

EWI starline (from audiopile.net)

Monoprice (from monoprice.com)

Monster (borrowed from a friend)

Hosa. (from local music shop)

1. Cable

GLS: These cables are new, and still unwilling to coil. After a week of laying them flat out, they still have some kinks in them. The outer jacket feels ok, slightly gummy, not smooth in the hand. 21 gauge. 3/5 stars

EWI: Easy to coil, feels sturdy. Smooth outer jacket, makes for quick coiling. 22 gauge. 5/5 stars

Monoprice: A very hefty cable at 16 gauge! Yet I was surprised by how flexible it is and how nicely the cable coiled. The outer jacket had a luxurious soft smooth rubber that made for very nice handling. For a mic cable, the heft is an overkill and probably wouldn't work in some situations. 4/5 stars

Monster: The thinnest cable of the bunch. Very easy to coil and lays flat without effort. No markings or info on gauge of the wire. 5/5 stars

Hosa: Thin cable. Unruly to coil. 2/5 stars

From top to bottom in the picture: GLS, EWI, Monoprice, Monster, and Hosa

2. Connector

from left to right GLS, EWI, Monoprice, Monster, and Hosa

GLS: This, the best engineered connector of the bunch, is my favorite. They are a knock off of the old style NEUTRIK xlr connectors. The compression-sleeve strain relief is the most effective of the bunch. With this connecter style, you can quickly disassemble the ends without any tools and see the solider points. Lastly, the boot on this connecter is thin, and soft and flexible. Not gold plated. 4/5 stars

EWI: Similar to the GLS connector, with the addition of gold plating and a little more refined design. This connector has a stronger, more rigid, boot. 5/5 stars

Monoprice: This is a strange connector. It feels over-engineered, with 3 screws to open it up, and way too much metal composing the outer shell. The strain relief is an odd design, with small ribs on the connector (see image to the right). It probably works, but did not appear to have as firm of grip on the cable as the other connectors. 2/5 stars

Monster: Moulded connections… with no way of seeing the inside. I dislike this type of connector, because you can’t take it apart or repair it. Also, without destroying the cable, I have no real way to evaluate the strain relief, etc. ?/5

Hosa. Most people will agree that this style of connector is not made for road abuse. Only one small screw holding it all together (which will fall out over time). The crimp strain relief also sucks. 1/5 stars

exploded view of the male connectors. From top to bottom Monoprice, GLS, EWI, and Hosa.

3. Workmanship

GLS: Clean soldering work. Well put togther. The leeds are slightly longer than necessary, but the tubing on the shield is a nice touch. 4/5 stars

EWI: The best workmanship of the bunch. I really like the heat shrink tubing, which covers the leads most of the way to the solder joints. 5/5 stars

Monoprice. This thing is messy. 16 gauge cable is hard to work with on xlr connectors, and you can see that reflected in the unfortunate workmanship. 3/5 stars

Monster: NA … since I can't take the connector apart ?/5

Hosa. Mostly clean soldering work. As you can see in the picture the lengths are inconsistent and cause for some kinking, adding stress to the solder points. 3/5 stars

from left to right Hosa, Monoprice, EWI, GLS

4. Price

Price for a 20 or 25 foot cable:

GLS: $10, discounts in quantities ($7 each in quantities of 10)

EWI: $12

Monoprice: $15.10 (13.76 each in quantities of 10)

Monster: $25

Hosa: Locally they cost more, but can be found for as low as $5 on ebay.

5. Conclusion

GLS: A great value when buying in quantities, I will be curious to see how they hold up over time.

EWI: The best build quality of the bunch. Worth the step up in cost. My number one choice.

Monoprice: You are paying for the hefty cable. Not a great value at the price.

Monster: Overpriced, but nice cable. Would be a great deal in the $12 range.

Hosa: Avoid.