Like the rca, it will work, but chances are you won't get the best sound, given its a different application. Also, not all xlr terminated cables are balanced. I'm not sure about this, but if you use unbalanced cables, it may do damage.
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Is that using an XLR as SPDIF or AES/EBU. SPDIF is a superior format to AES/EBU, imo...
If you want to improve your Coax SPDIF digital then simply use the KLEI Copper Harmony RCA plugs (Silver Harmony is even better). They are an excellent RCA plug for digital. Much better than Canare plugs, dramatically so, imo...
Unless it is explicitly indicated that the particular cable is designed to provide the nominally 110 ohm characteristic impedance that is necessary for compliance with AES/EBU standards, or it is at least indicated that the cable is suitable for digital as well as analog applications, I would not count on it being anywhere close to 110 ohms, and I would avoid it.
For example, Blue Jeans Cable offers balanced cables utilizing "Belden 1800F, a highly flexible, low-capacitance AES/EBU cable suitable both for digital and analog use, and Canare L-4E6S, a 'star quad' cable suitable for analog usage only, with higher capacitance but also higher common-mode noise rejection." The 1800F cable is 110 ohms, but the Canare is only 44 ohms, which would result in a severe impedance mismatch in an AES/EBU application, which at the very least would stand a good chance of adversely affecting jitter.
03-12-15: YpingA cable having XLR connectors would not be used for S/PDIF, which would be either RCA, BNC, or optical. And I very much doubt that a statement that S/PDIF is superior to AES/EBU is true in general, although it is certainly conceivable that there may be SOME cases where a S/PDIF connection between two specific pieces of equipment may provide results that are subjectively preferable to an AES/EBU connection between those same two pieces of equipment.
Hello actually i have very good result with a pair of Purist Audio Design Praesto Revision Proteus Provectus in a 1.5 M. length (XLR,AES/EBU) that i use as a single wire between my ZANDEN DRIVE and my lovely JADIS JS1 dac. I use this cable on a temporaly basis waiting for my other DIGITAL PAD single wire (25 th aniversary) to be redone in BNC at the Zanden end. I discover that the Zanden accept only BNC mode and XLR mode. My actual digital is RCA to RCA. I was amaze how good this split pair sound so good.
Not too much technical explanation i can provide on this experience but it do really work well................
I'd be very surprised if any damage were to result. The only way I can envision damage occurring would be if the cable connected one of the two signals in the balanced signal pair (which would be on XLR pins 2 and 3) to ground (XLR pin 1), which would be highly unusual and probably indicative of a defect, AND if the output circuit of the component driving the cable could not tolerate a short to ground (despite the current limiting effect of its 110 ohm output impedance).
If you have a multimeter, or convenient access to one, you could easily check the cable for shorts (and open connections as well).