XLR: American vs European pinouts?

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Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:52 pm

  • Greetings,

    I have been shopping around for a new home theater processor, and was taking a look at the Marantz AV7005. I currently am using a B&K Reference 70 with its XLR outputs connected to my bank of QSC PLX3042s. The B&K manual doesn't say anything about the pinouts of its XLR connectors, but Marantz specifies that it is using the 'European' method...

    From the Marantz manual:

      AV7005 XLR connector PIN arrangement
      1 GND (Ground)
      2 HOT (Hot)
      3 COLD (Cold)
      The PIN arrangement in this device uses the European method.
      In the USA method, 2 is COLD, and 3 is HOT.

    When I look at the PLX user manual (page 15), it shows pin 2 as '+' (HOT?). I am running a pair of Crown D75s for my surrounds and back surrounds, and while there is no mention of the pinouts for the D75s in its manual, when I look at Crown's XLS series manual, it shows pin 2 is '+' (HOT?)...

    Can someone clarify all this for me. Specifically, the Marantz manual says that the USA method for XLR pinouts has 2 = 'COLD' and 3 = 'HOT', but my PLX user manual says it uses 2 = '+' and 3 = '-'.


    - s.west
    Posts: 15
    Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 2:01 am
    Location: Goodyear, AZ

  • There is no "American" or "European" XLR pinout. The AES adopted a standard of pin 2 = + (or "hot") and pin 3 = - (or "cold") back in 1992 (http://www.aes.org/publications/standar ... m?docID=19). Before that, it was haphazard, with some manufacturers using pin 2 + polarity and others using pin 3 +. It's possible that more European manufacturers used one than the other and more American manufacturers used the opposite (perhaps a point of confusion for Marantz); I only know that there was quite a mix (QSC has always used pin 2 +, but in the early 90s I worked for another US power amp manufacturer that used pin 3 +), and probably the overall number tilted a bit in favor of pin 2. At the September 1990 AES Convention in Los Angeles, the LA section spoofed that lack of decisive coordination by handing out "XLR Polarity Indicator" spinner cards; the possible results were "Pin 2 +," "Pin 3 +," and "Spin again." :lol:

    Fortunately, for any processor, cable, or other device with balanced XLR input and XLR output, there is no polarity issue as long as it is the same from in to out. For other audio devices that convert between balanced and unbalanced, such as microphones, power amps, DI boxes, etc., polarity doesn't matter much as long unless you're using multiple ones (i.e., more than one amp) with different polarities.
    Bob Lee
    Technical Communications Developer
    QSC Audio Products, LLC
    Fellow, Audio Engineering Society
    "If it sounds good, it is good." —Duke Ellington
    User avatar
    Bob Lee
    QSC Audio Products
    Posts: 2383
    Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2003 2:01 am
    Location: Costa Mesa, California

  • Bob,

    Thanks, very much, for the definitive answer.

    I have inferred from my research, that the Marantz documentation leaves something to be desired...

    - s.west
    Posts: 15
    Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 2:01 am
    Location: Goodyear, AZ

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