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Video: Wiring XLR cables to Phoenix-style connectors in a commercial system

Modify your cables to fit your commercial amplifier

Commercial audio amplifiers are different from those you use in your home, and you'll need to modify your balanced XLR cables in order to make a connection. Our expert shows you how in this video.

Read video transcript

Hello, I'm Rob with Crutchfield's pro and commercial audio team, and today we're going to talk about wiring in a balanced cable into a phoenix connector, in this case found on a commercial amplifier like you might have in your commercial audio system. For this demonstration, we're gonna be using the Atlas A50 amplifier, a tiny flat-head screwdriver, a pair of wire strippers, and we're gonna use our XLR cable as our balanced audio input.

So the first thing we need to do is identify our input. So on the back of our commercial amplifier you'll notice that we've got a Phoenix block here, which is probably a connection you may not have seen before, and those guys can come right off the back of that amplifier. So we're going to use that, sort of trying to actually like screw into the little ports as they sit on the back of the amp. What we need to do is identify the pin-out of the input to make sure that we can align the proper connections into the amplifier.

And if you look back here, we've got ground, minus, and plus. Those are our three connections on our balanced cable, ground, minus, and plus, and what we need to do is identify those same three connections on our cable. Well, you'll notice immediately that this cable does not have a Phoenix connector on it or something that's compatible, so what we're actually going to do is we're gonna clip the end off of this. In this case, we're taking the male end of that cable and we're actually just gonna clip this guy right off just like that, and drop it down. We're going to strip back about an inch or so of this shielding, and we're going to bundle all of our wiring we've got.

You'll notice that there's several elements in here. There's a white cotton drawline, that's to add strength to the cable, and we want to tease that stuff out from the actual copper elements that we're going to be connecting to the back of the amp. We're using for the actual connections the copper connections, so we take all that drawline out, and I would recommend once you get it to that point take all your ground line, which is the free copper there, and just bind that up so it makes it easier to work with.

Take the rest of this cotton stuff here and we can actually clip that right out to make this whole cable a little neater, so we can actually clean all that up there. All right, so now we got three lines. We've got a red, a white, and a copper, and what we need to know is which one of these is positive, negative, and ground. Because there is no standard, what we need to do is double check the actual cable connection that we just clipped off to make sure that we've got the right pin-out.

You can take most of these cable connectors apart, and when you pull this whole thing apart what you'll notice is inside the actual unit we've got the same wires connected in here, white, red, and the bare copper. And on the front of this, and we'll do an insert shot to make sure that you get a real good look at this, you'll see that there's numbers right beside each of the pins on the XLR connection. And that is a universal standard. Pin number one is our ground connection, pin number two in this case is our red cable which is our positive line, and pin number three which in this case is our white cable, is our negative line.

So we know now that we can match this cable pin-out to our pin-out on the actual Phoenix connector, and we know that that's going to be correct when we wire it in. So on each of these, the red, the white, and the copper, we want to strip this here into our bare connections and then do the same for each of our shielded connections here. Perfect. Bind this guy up so we've got that nice and easy to work with, and then just so we don't have a whole lotta extra copper hanging out of our Phoenix connector I'm going to clip these back so they're all basically the same length, and that will make it nice and easy.

We won't have any extra cable hanging out so that there's a chance of shorting out that cable when we plug in into our Phoenix. So review our pin-out here. Remember from our XLR we got positive, negative, and ground in the pin-out. There is one, two, and three, and we double check that on the back of our amp. We got ground, negative, and positive, so what we need to do is make sure that we have that in the correct order. Ground, negative, positive, ground, negative, positive and this Phoenix block. Make sure you got that aligned properly.

And then we're just gonna screw this guy in with our tiny little screwdriver. All right, so now we've got our cable nice and screwed in here, and once again we've got our ground, negative, and positive, and that's going to plug right back into that ground, negative, positive Phoenix connector, and you're all done. Now you've got a microphone or a balanced line coming off of an additional audio source going into our Phoenix connector on the back of your commercial amp.

And of course if you have any questions about any of this you can always give us a call at the commercial audio department here at Crutchfield thanks for watching.

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