• 1 Sex
  • 2 XLR
    • 2.1 3 pin
    • 2.2 4 pin
    • 2.3 5 pin
    • 2.4 6 pin
    • 2.5 7 pin
  • 3 Jack
    • 3.1 ‘A’ gauge
    • 3.2 ‘B’ gauge
    • 3.3 MIL-plug
    • 3.4 Bantam
    • 3.5 3.5mm
    • 3.6 2.5mm
  • 4 Hirose
    • 4.1 4 pin
    • 4.2 10 pin
  • 5 Tajimi
    • 5.1 12 pin
  • 6 DIN
    • 6.1 2 pin
    • 6.2 3 pin
    • 6.3 5 pin 180 °
      • 6.3.1 Stereo audio
      • 6.3.2 MIDI
  • 8 Tuchel
  • 9 Phono
  • 10 Multiway
  • 11 Speakon®
  • 12 Mains
    • 12.1 PowerCon®


It is common to refer to connectors as having a gender or, correctly, a sex. Occasionally the construction of a connector means that confusion can arise. The convention is that connectors are sexed by their electrical connections alone – so a male connector has pins and a female one has sockets. The fact that the outer shell protrudes or doesn’t is disregarded.

On some unusual connectors, such as ELCO Varicons, where the electrical connections are hermaphrodite the manufacturers do refer specifically to male and female shells.


The name XLR derives from the Cannon company’s naming convention; X series, L ocking, R ubber insert.

3 pin

The 3 pin XLR is ubiquitous in connecting balanced audio signals.

1. Screen

2. Hi

3. Lo

The name XLR can be used as a mnemonic by substituting X for pin 1 Screen. (X screen 1, Live 2, Return 3). Note that “live” and “return” are not particulary good terms to use for the balanced signal wires, there are overtones of only the live wire carrying the signal and the return one being a ground or earth.

4 pin

Commonly used for DC power connections. Be aware that there is no firm standard for the wiring.

Much electronic camera gear uses:

1. 0 V

2. No Connection

3. No Connection

4. +12 v

Sachtler lighting:

1. 0 V


3. +30 V

4. +12 V

The +12 V and +30 V are switched in the power supply, either the +30 V is present or the +12 V not both.

Another convention is:

1. 0 V (Sometimes floating, not ground)

2. +12 V

3. +24 V

4. +48 V

5 pin

Stereo microphone connections, also used as a stereo output on Sony camcorders:

1. Screen

2. Ch1 (or M) Hi

3. Ch1 (or M) Lo

4. Ch2 (or S) Hi

5. Ch2 (or S) Lo

When connecting the output of a Sony camera to an unbalanced monitor circuit the Lo leg should be left unconnected. Grounding the Lo leg may well cause distortion to be heard on the monitor circuit. With electronically balanced outputs feeding unbalanced circuits it is frequently better to leave the Lo leg unconnected (floating).

Camera intercom headsets, Beyerdynamic DT109 or DT108:

1. Mic Screen

2. Mic + (Green/Yellow)

3. Headphone Common (Blue and Brown)

4. Left + (Orange)

5. Right + (Red)

(Colours are Beyerdynamic standard)

6 pin







7 pin

Often used for DMS (MSM) microphone connections:

1. Screen

2. Forward M Hi

3. Forward M Lo

4. Fig-8 (S) Hi

5. Fig-8 (S) Lo

6. Rearward M Hi

7. Rearward M Lo


The jack is probably the most commonly-used device for inter-connecting audio circuits. There are five sizes available, the largest and most frequently encountered being the ¼” (6.35mm) jack, of which there are two types in use – ‘A’ gauge and ‘B’ gauge. The other sizes are 0.206″ (5.23mm), 0.173″ (4.4mm, Bantam), 3.5mm (Miniature) and 2.5mm (Sub-miniature). The jack is the female socket which accepts the male jack plug. See also Jackfield.

Connections are pretty universal across the sizes as follows:

Tip Ring Sleeve
Mono Hi n/a Screen
Stereo Left Right Screen
Balanced Hi Lo Screen

‘A’ gauge

Commonly known as the “domestic” or Standard ¼” jack to EIA RS-453 (IEC 60603-11). Typically used for headphones, guitars and other musical equipment, and most non-broadcast applications. Can be 2-pole (mono) or 3-pole (stereo or balanced). The tip, ring and sleeve connections all have the same diameter, making this type incompatible with ‘B’ gauge jacks, although the lengths of the contact sections are similar. It is possible to force an ‘A’ gauge plug into a ‘B’ gauge socket but doing so is likely to bend the socket contacts which will subsequently make an unreliable connection with the correct plugs. A ‘B’ gauge plug will not make contact with an ‘A’ gauge socket.

Occasionally found on headsets where the pinout is tip microphone, ring headphone and sleeve mic screen and headphone return.

‘B’ gauge

Longframe ¼” (BPO 316, US MIL-P-642/13). UK broadcasters use the ‘B’ gauge BPO 316 (which derives from a British Post Office standard). This type is always used in 3-pole configuration, with the three sections being known as tip, ring and sleeve. When used with Patch Cords the sleeve may not be connected.

The design is such that the three sections are of different diameter. The sleeve measures the standard ¼” with the ring and tip progressively smaller. The sleeve is longer than the tip and ring combined. This arrangement ensures that when the plug is inserted into the jack the signal cannot be grounded by the tip touching the socket sleeve and the ground connection is made first.


MIL-P-642/5A (0.206″). This is a thinner version of the ’B’ gauge, and not compatible. Sometimes used in comms and talkback applications.


TT – Tiny Telephone – MIL-P-642/13 – 4.4mm (0.173″). A smaller version of the ‘B’ gauge jack, see above.


Miniature (0.138″). May be mono (2-pole) or stereo (3-pole). Occasionally also used for balanced connections on portable semi-professional equipment. 4-pole and 5-pole versions are also available for special uses.


Sub-Miniature (0.098″). May be mono (2-pole) or stereo (3-pole).


4 pin

Commonly used for DC power.

SQN DC Power input

1. Negative

2. Negative

3. Positive battery

4. Positive external power in

SQN DC Power Through

1. Negative external power out

2. Negative external power out

3. NC

4. Positive external power out switched

10 pin

Used for portable mixer to camera umbilical cables. SQN and Sound Devices are very similar. Almost a de facto standard.

1. Left Out Hi

2. Left Out Lo

3. Right Out Hi

4. Right Out Lo

5. Right Ret Hi

6. Right Ret Lo

7. Left Ret Hi

8. Left Ret lo

9. Screen

10. Screen

Note: The slightly odd L-out R-out R-ret L-ret pair designation order.


12 pin

A replacement for the 10 pin Hirose used for portable mixer to camera umbilicals. The Hirose has a screw locking mechanisium, the Tajimi a pull collar to release system which is much quicker and easier to release with one hand.

A. Left Out Hi

B. Left Out Lo

C. Right Out Hi

D. Right Out Lo

E. Left Ret Hi

F. Left Ret lo

G. Right Ret Hi

H. Right Ret Lo

J. Screen

K. Screen

L. Not used

M. Not used

Note: No pin I (eye).


DIN or Deutsches Institut für Normung is the German standards organisation and is also that country’s ISO member.

Audio related DIN connecters are generally found on domestic equipment and carry unbalanced signals.

2 pin

Used for loudspeaker connections. One round and one flat pin.

3 pin

Mono audio in and out.

1. Out

2. Screen

3. In

5 pin 180 °

Stereo audio

Combined input and output unbalanced.

Wiring for a socket found on an amplifier:

1. Left Out

2. Screen

3. Left In

4. Right Out

5. Right In

A recorder’s 5 pin 180 ° socket is wired the same as the above but the in/out functions swapped. This enables a cable wired pin 1 to pin 1, 2 to 2 etc to correctly connect an amplifier and recorder.

The apparently strange pin designation is due to compatibilty with the 3 pin 180 ° DIN plug. The 3 pin version is numbered 1, 2, 3 as one would expect, the five pin places pin 4 between 1 & 2 and pin 5 between 2 & 3.


Musical Instrument Digital Interface. A serial data connection. Wired pin to pin with male connectors at both ends.

1. No Connection

2. Screen

3. No Connection

4. +ve

5. -ve


TOSLINK is the registered trademark of a connector developed by Toshiba and used for fibre optic cables, mostly for domestic applications to carry SPDIF digital audio signals between e.g. CD players and amplifiers. It is similar to the ADAT conector but the data streams are incompatible. The official generic name is EIAJ (Electronic Industries Association of Japan) optical.


Tuchel is part of the Amphenol Corporation. Historically two types of Tuchel connectors have been used by the professional sound industry but these have generally been superseded nowadays.

A screw locking circular multipole connector. Most commonly found on older microphones and Nagra tape recorders. These are very similar to the DIN standard connectors.

A six bladed connector used in intercom or OB camera talkback systems. The connection standard for DT109 or DT108 headsets is:

1. Left + (Orange)

2. No connection

3. Mic + (Green/Yellow)

4. Mic Screen

5. Right + (Red)

6. Headphone Common (Blue and Brown)

(Colours are Beyerdynamic standard)


Also known as RCA or CINCH/AV. A single circuit unbalanced connector. Used to carry both audio and video signals on domestic equipment. There is a standard colour code (CEA-863-A)) that defines connector colour and use

Diag. Phono colour codes

Diag. Phono colour codes


For audio circuits the Edac/Varelco/Varicon type, which is available in 20, 38, 56, 90 and 120-way versions, is often used. The contacts are identical in both male and female versions, comprising slotted blades which mate with a sliding action at right angles, and which can be fitted to the shell after soldering or crimping. Only the required number of contacts need be fitted, and the mating shells are secured together by an actuating screw which may be fitted in either the male or the female half, either of which may be cable or chassis mounted.

For logic circuits (remote controls, indicators etc.) and many digital audio and computer connections the D-type connector is used. This is named for the profile of the shell viewed head-on, and is available in 9, 15, 25, 37 and 50-way versions.

AES59-2012 lays down a standard for the use of 25 way D-type connectors to carry eight balanced analog or digital circuits.


Connectors on equipment are female.
Connectors on cables are male.

Cables are wired pin for pin.(*)

Analog and digital should not be mixed on the same connector.

Inputs and outputs should not be mixed on the same connector.(*)

(*) The exception is a combined, 4 in 4 out, digital only configuration. Shown as Rx and Tx in the pinout diagram. Trying to get clarification on the wiring of cables for use with this combined configuration.

The sharp eyed will notice that pin 13 is not used and should be left unconnected.

This eight way pin out is the same as used on Tascam and Mackie equipment.


A range of multipole locking connectors designed for connecting loudspeakers, manufactured by Neutrik.

The convention with Speakon wiring is that the lower frequencies are carried on the lower numbered pins. Thus in a bi-amped enclosure, the LF is on 1+/1- and the HF on 2+/2- This convention continues right up to the 4-way systems using 8-pin Speakons with sub, lower-mid, upper-mid and HF.

In passive mode, the full-band signal enters the sub on pins 1+/1- post-internal crossover the “HF” signal exits on pins 2+/2- from the sub’s parallel socket entering the satellite top on 1+/1-. This obeys the convention.

In active crossover mode, the sub gets its signal, again on 1+/1-. The top again gets its signal on 1+/1- (remember that it’s a separate unit not an integral enclosure) BUT if the top is bi-amped into mid and hi, then the mid remains on 1+/1- and the actively split HF goes in on 2+/2-.

When (not if) you need to make that swap from pins 1 to pins 2, it is invariably on some dimly-lit stage, so it is best to learn which pins are orientated where, so you when you are half-way through the job you don’t get confused. Before removing the the connector from the plastic housing, orientate it so that the silver release catch is facing to the ceiling. Now, moving clockwise you have: Pin 1+ (at around 1:30 on the clockface), 2- (4:30), 2+ (7:30) and 1- (10:30). Now, when you slide the connector block out of its housing, there are two different-sized locating keys moulded into the front face of the connector: When looking at the back of the connector (i.e. at the screw connections), the fatter of the two locating keys should be at around 2 o’clock to give you the pin orientation mentioned above.


A useful web site which lists the various types of connectors used for domestic mains supplies throughout the world may be found in the World Electric Guide or the Interpower Guide.


A range of multipole locking connectors designed for power connections, manufactured by Neutrik.

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