Cables and Connectors

In a PA system there are six common cable connectors:

Balanced : TRS and XRL
Unbalanced : TS, RCA, Speakon, and banana plugs

TRS is the abbreviation for “Tip, Ring, Sleeve.” It looks like a standard 1/4" or 1/8" plug, but with an extra “ring” on its shaft. TRS cables have two conductors plus a ground (shield). They are commonly used to connect balanced equipment, or for running both "left" and "right" mono signals to stereo headphones.


It has positive, negative, and ground connectors. XLR connectors are usually used for in microphone cable or balanced line-level signals. XLR cables are seen connecting microphones to mixers, and connecting various outputs to powered speakers etc.


TS is the abbreviation for "Tip, Sleeve" and refers to a type of 1/4"or 1/8" connector that has two conductors for unbalanced operation. The tip is "hot," or the carrier of the signal, while the sleeve is the ground or shield. We should avoid using these cables in a masjid setup.


These are phono connectors used to connect most consumer stereo equipment. CD inputs and outputs use RCA connectors. RCA connectors are also used for S/PDIF connections. The typical record outs are also RCA connections.

Speakon connectors are used to connect amplifiers to PA speakers. These are often preferred over 1/4" TS connections because of their ability to lock into place.


Banana Plug
A banana plug is an electrical connector designed to join audio wires such as speaker wires to the binding posts on the back of many power amplifiers. These jacks are commonly found at the back of amplifiers and speakers.