Make your own XLRs

So with uni out at the moment I've at a bunch of time to work on little projects. Plus, lately its felt like money is more precious than time and so making - rather than buying - gear seemed like a logical choice. 

This is a relatively simple project that really only takes an afternoon and will save you big bucks in the long run without compromising on quality (both in audio and aesthetics). Its also a great way to get your head around soldering, something that is always handy to know when dealing with any electronics. 

What you will need:

  1. A soldering iron
  2. Solder
  3. A pair of wire cutters
  4. XLR cable
  5. XLR male and female ends
  6. An ohmmeter (optional)

First thing is to slip the threaded ends on to the wire. Let me repeat this. SLIP ON THE ENDS FIRST. This is not a step to be forgotten. If you do you're going to end up having to de-solder all of your beautiful connections, slip on the ends and start again.

Now you can strip all of your wires. Be careful not to cut too much of the wire while pulling off the plastic. If you get a braided wire like I have then you have to unbraid it first. This can be a little finicky at first but your best bet is to grab a pair of wire cutters and slowly pick away at the braid until you have exposed the wires underneath.

Next cut away all of the cotton strands and twirl the wires together. At this point you're probably going to want measure out the wires so that you get shield right up to the end of the cradles. This will ensure that you don't get any shorts in the wire down the track. 

After cutting to length you can tin the wire and the cradles. The best way to do this is to sit the hot soldering iron on the object to be tinned and then slowly drop the solder into place. You don't want heaps here, just enough to give it a small coating.

The diagram below gives you a good representation of what goes where. Ground will always be connector 1. The hot and cold wire you can interchange so long as you ensure that 2 goes to 2 and 3 goes to 3. When you get everything lined up and looking good you want to get into your soldering, there are a myriad of videos about this on youtube so I wont get into it here. Just ensure that your iron is very hot and very clean. Also it helps to have some sort of clamp to hold what your soldering. Otherwise you can be chasing it all around the table, not an ideal scenario. 

Finally, when everything is screwed away looking all professional then pull out the ohmmeter and check each pin. Alternatively plug it straight into your favourite mic and record some sweet sweet sounds with your shiny new XLR cable. 

I hope you found this of some use. I've got a couple more DIY projects in the pipeline so check back soon.