What’s the Best Way to Store XLR Cables? Try These

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When you invest in quality audio equipment, it is important to take care of it properly. Not only will doing so extend its life, but if it is organized and stored properly, the setup process will be so much easier.

In this article we’re going to look at the humble XLR cable. We’ll cover why it’s important to wrap XLR cables properly and then we’ll offer some different options for how to store cables at different lengths and quantities.

The best way to store an XLR cable is to first wrap it properly using the over-under wrap technique to avoid twist and then secure it with a tie. It can then be hung or put in a storage container and stored in a dry place at room temperature.

The Importance of Wrapping XLR Cables Correctly

An XLR cable is a multistrand cable meaning that inside of that robust looking outer sheath, there are multiple signal cables that are much smaller in diameter relative to the outer sheath.

In a balanced XLR cable there will be a hot and cold signal cable, and there will also be a ground component. The ends of these are what is soldered to the male and female XLR connectors on either end of the cable.

The aim when wrapping the cable is to not introduce any stress on these inner cables. You also want to ensure that the cable is wrapped in a way that makes it easy to uncoil and free of kinks or twist.

How NOT to Wrap Audio Cables

One method that you see people using when wrapping longer lengths of cable is the ‘hand and elbow’ technique. Although this is a quick way of doing it, it should be avoided if you want to extend the life of your XLR cables.

The main problem with this method is that it introduces excessive twist in the cable.

You should also avoid trying to wrap a cable with one end still plugged into something. It may seem convenient at the time by having one end anchored, but you risk either putting excessive strain on the cable and/or connector, or even worse pulling the device towards you potentially damaging the piece of equipment and risking injury.

Another thing that you should not do is wrap the cable with the male connector of the cable connected to the female connector. It may look neat but is likely to end up looking like a bird’s nest when you come to uncoil it.

The Over-Under Wrap Technique

This technique is the one we recommend. It takes a bit of practise to master and new cables can be more difficult to use it on but the more you do it, the more the cable will build ‘muscle memory’ and the easier you’ll find it. Because of the benefits, it’s worth mastering.

The major difference between this and something like the hand and elbow technique is that this doesn’t introduce twist. It also makes it easy when you come to use the cable again as it won’t knot.

Here’s a step by step description of how it’s done.

  1. With your left hand (if you’re right-handed, reverse if left-handed), hold the cable just below either the male or female XLR connector – it doesn’t matter which one
  2. Make a simple loop
  3. Now, instead of continuing to make further over-wrap loops, make the second wrap an under-wrap loop. This involves rolling the cable in your fingers to twist it underneath itself and effectively turn the loop inside out
  4. The third wrap should be an over-wrap again, the fourth an under, fifth an over and just repeat, alternating each wrap until the end

If you’re more of a visual learner, have a look at the YouTube video below which is one of the best we’ve found on this method.

Once this is done, you should tie the cable using one of the methods outlined in the next section then it’s ready for storage.

XLR Cable Ties – The Options

Velcro loops

Velcro loops are good value, neat and effective which is why we recommend using these where you can. They come in bulk packs so you’ll always have plenty to hand. You may want to use more than one per cable depending on the length of it.

Extension cord holder straps

These are a good option if you plan to hang your XLR cables on a wall. They also use velcro to secure the two ends together but feature an eyelet for hanging. They are also heavy duty so built to withstand larger lengths of cable.

These ones are a good option.

Pipe cleaners

Pipe cleaners are probably the best option of the less conventional, non-purpose made items. They’re quick to put on and take off, and they’ll hold your cable wraps securely.


If you don’t have any of the purpose made items or any pipe cleaners, another option is to use shoelaces. They’re not as convenient to use as some of the other options but if you need to get hold of something quickly, you’ll find shoelaces on sale at many more stores than you will velcro loops. Avoid using excessively long laces and tie them the same way as if they were on a pair of shoes, this makes them secure yet easy to untie. Don’t be tempted to use a double overhand knot or the next time you come to set up, you could spend more time trying to untie the knot that anything else!

Solutions we Don’t Recommend

  • Zip ties
    • Although very secure when fastened, easy to get hold of and come in sizes to suit every cable length, taking them back off normally requires the use of a knife, scissors, or a pair of snips. Slip up and not only can you injure yourself, but you could also damage your cable
  • Tape
    • Again, easy to get hold of and neat when applied but it can be hard to take off and can leave sticky residue on your cables. Avoid where possible

XLR Cable Storage Ideas

So, you now know how to correctly wrap and tie your XLR cables but what are the best options when it comes to storing them? There are multiple ways of doing this and the one you choose should be determined by your specific needs. Think about the length of cable you generally use; how many you have and whether they are stored permanently in your gear bag or at home and taken out and packed as and when they’re needed.


When you use the extension cord holder straps mentioned earlier, hanging your cables becomes easy. You just need a hook on the wall and the eyelet of the strap sits on the hook.

If you’re using something like velcro loops to tie your cables, they won’t have an eyelet. The cables can still be hung though just by placing them on larger hooks which are made for garage storage. These hooks from Amazon would be a good bet.

Purpose made storage bag

There are storage bags on the market that are made specifically for storing cables. Here are two different options to have a look at, one is made for a single cable and the other for multiple cables

Use a plastic bin

If you have multiple cables to store, a good option would be to use a plastic bin. The RubberMaid 10 gallon bins are a popular choice for this method of storage because of the size (15.63” diameter). They also feature handles which make them east to carry.

Make a wooden rack

If you’re the type that likes a bit of DIY, a nice weekend project is a wooden cable storage rack. There are many different designs available so have a look online to get some inspiration.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you label audio cables?

If you have multiple cables, you may want to label them to quickly identify them when taking them off the rack so you have the correct cable for the job. You could have different labels for length, balanced/unbalanced, Neutrik connectors etc…

One option would be to buy and use multicoloured velcro loops. For example, you could use red loops for long cables, blue for mid-length cables and yellow for shorter cables.

You could also use different coloured electrical tape, wrapping a short length at each end of the cable just below the connectors.

How do I organize my XLR cables?

Tying, storing and labelling your cables is a great starting point to having a well organized storage system but you may want to take things one step further and have different bags or racks to house cables for different use cases.

For example, if you sometimes produce a video version of your podcast, you might want to keep a separate ‘video audio’ bag which contains your wireless lavaliers, shorter XLR cables to run from your shotgun mic to your camera and any other accessories that are video specific. This could be kept separate from the audio equipment you use to record the audio only version of your podcast. You then just need to pick up the correct bag depending on the format of the episode you’re recording.