Today we will talk about how I made the cable shown above so you can record with 3.5mm microphones into an XLR/ 1/4 inch recorder. I also will be showing how to take an XLR mic and make it go to a 3.5mm cable so it can be recorded with a phone, camera or audio voice recorder.
Step 1: What We Will Need.
1x XLR (Female) to 1/4 Inch Male mono cable. (or vice versa if you wanted to make say a male XLR to 3.5mm)
1x A good quality 3.5mm Male to Male Cable (Or female, again depends on what you want to make)
1x Female To Female 3.5mm Connector (If you want to make a cable go from 3.5mm to XLR or 1/4 Inch)
Soldering Iron, Solder, Scissors, Wire Strippers, Electrical Tape, Heat Shrink Tubing for your cable size and a lighter or heat gun.
Step 2: Strip Them Wires!
First things first, strip the wires and divide them out into their individual cables.
In my case the 3.5mm cable (picture one) had metal coloured wires which were ground. One red and one black sleeves incasing copper wires which are for right and left. Since our cable is mono we will only need to use one. You can do a dry fit and test to see what sounds better, in my case using the red wire gave better results. I then stripped the red wire back to expose all the copper wire inside.
On the cable going to XLR/ 1/4 (picture two and three) Inch Inside I had copper wire being the ground and one section of copper wire (wrapped in a green sleeve) being the cable that carried audio. I separated the two groups of wires by pressing them in my fingers to make two neat compacted bundles of wire.
Step 3: Connecting & Soldering.
NOTE: Make sure to slip heat shrink tubing onto cable first before you start soldering
Your next step is to solder ground to ground, then audio cable to audio cable. If you are working alone without anything to help hold the wires I would recommend putting a bit of solder onto each group of wire you are working on to help hold them together. After that you should have two sets of wire with a bit of solder on each, next just take these hold these together so they are touching using your free hand operate the soldering iron. Since you have enough solder on already just touch the hot iron to them to get them to stick to each other. Once they are stuck together it will be alot easier to add more solder and finish up the job.
Things to keep in mind, the ground and the audio cables can not be in contact or you will get no signal, thats where the tape comes in. After you finish the first set wrap it in electrical tape then move onto the second by repeating the above step. Once you are done you should have two cables wrapped in electrical tape. Go ahead and test it out, you should be able to hear the sound coming through. Although it is mono that is fairly easy to fix (by channel duplication) after you are done recording your audio. You also could build a second cable and have two monos with the exact same sound running through it with a splitter to create a dual mono channel. Currently I am not sure if you could make a stereo connect with a balanced XLR/ 1/4 Inch cable but I think it is possible.
Step 4: Shrink Tubing.
Put the shrink tubing in the right place, use a match or lighter and get it to shrink down around around the cable. Now give it a test and make sure it still works. If it does we are onto the final step about 3.5mm to XLR.
Step 5: Connecting & Audio Test
In my case I used a male 3.5mm cable and soldered it onto a 1/4 inch cable to plug into my Tascam. I did this so I could record audio from my shotgun mic (3.5mm) to the 1/4 inch (or XLR) inputs. If you are using a male to male cable like I did you will need a 3.5mm female coupler plug to be able to plug in your audio device and send it down our new cable.
Here is an example of what this looks like: http://www.amazon.ca/Gold-Plated-Stereo-Coupler-Fe...
If you are using XLR/ 1/4 inch microphones: If you are using these to connect into a 3.5mm recorder or say your phone, you will need to make sure they don't require phantom power and run off batteries.
I hope you found this helpful. For me this cable is what I have been needing for a while, I actually purchased a 3.5mm to 1/4inch adapter that ended up not working so I decided to make this. With just a few spare cables and a few minutes now I can using my smaller non XLR mics with my good quality recorder and XLR mics with my smaller 3.5mm recorder. Finally if anyone knows if you can keep it stereo using a balanced cable let me know in the comments below. Enjoy!