Balanced XLR vs Balanced TRS

Bit of a geek question here, but I’m trying to work out if there is any difference between a balanced XLR output and a balanced TRS (1/4") output. From the research I’ve done, there doesn’t seem to be, but I wanted to make sure. Some people say there is. Some talk about impedence differences. Some say that isn’t true and that’s a balanced/unbalanced thing. Just checking before I buy something that has a balanced TRS that I want to use as my main output to both amps and mixing boards that there is no issue in doing that.


Admitted guess here, but I don’t see why it would be different. Is just the connectors that changes, but the construction of the cable remains the same.

Now since the topic was brought up, what exactly makes them Balanced cables, and how do that affect the signal?


‘I think one difference is that if the XLR can provide phantom power backwards into the input device if it requires it. Ie: the audio interface hardware is capable of providing operational power backwards (up signal) to a microphone that needs it to operate correctly… that’s my understanding anyway…

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Yes, you are right. In this instance though, I’m only using it for bass. Good point though.

There’s no difference other than the connector. If the impedance varies some from device to device, it’s because of the design of the output stage, not what connector it uses. Almost all balanced outputs will have a low relative impedance compared to the input impedance of what they are driving next.


Balanced connections have 3 conductors:

Pin 1 - Sleeve - Shield / Ground
Pin 2 - Tip - Positive Signal
Pin 3 - Ring - Negative Signal

This type of connection is more resistant to picking up noise.

At the input of the next device, it flips the negative signal upside down and adds it to the positive signal. For the signal being sent, this results in a final signal that’s twice as big as what’s on each of pin 2 and pin 3.

If the cable picks up noise it’s the same signal on pin 2 and pin 3. When the negative leg is flipped upside down and added to the positive leg, that results in noise plus negative noise and cancels to 0.