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What audio cables do you use?

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by ibanez4life, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. ibanez4life

    ibanez4life Active Member

    This is a pretty broad question. For 1/4" cables, have you noticed a difference in nickel plated and gold plated plugs? Do you use gold plated in certain situations such as for instruments? Is it necessary to use gold plated plugs for pedal, patch cables?
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    no, not audibly. The strain relief,and soldering quality is what i notice, live and in the studio. there's a great discussion on RO that talks about the fact fact that there's no agreed upon method of testing/determining a cables sonic quality. I shy away from 'molded' type strain releif, because they are generally less reliable, and harder to fix in the field. IMHO the sheilding is very important compared to the diff between gold/nickle connectors. i can't hear the diff between the two, and if i do, it's usually becuase of an overall better cable, not the connections alone.
  3. ibanez4life

    ibanez4life Active Member

    Thank you kmetal for the feedback. it was helpful. and now a further question... I'm putting together a home studio with a tight budget. i got a Simmons 8:2 programmable mixer and am currently waiting on a Tascam 16-channel mixer. I need patch cables to connect my pedals, mic, organ piano, and other instruments. It would be sweet if you could fill me in on balanced and unbalanced cables whether it be mono or stereo. For the mixing, I'm thinking mono cables. also, what are some quality cables I could purchase that are not too costly?
  4. aaronwaudio

    aaronwaudio Active Member

    The cheapest way to get good cables is to buy the cable and ends separately and solder them yourself. It's not too difficult, and you will save about 50% compared to buying pre built cables. You can get some awesome Mogami quad cable for about a dollar a foot, and ends between 3 and 7 dollars each. So a 25 foot Mogami quad cable would cost you roughly 32 dollars instead of 70 dollars. Mogami has the best shielding in the business, and quad cables will allow you to run them as long as you want. When it comes to balanced or unbalanced, I would use balanced as often as possible. Use unbalanced with your guitar signal chain, but balanced pretty much everywhere else.
  5. ibanez4life

    ibanez4life Active Member

    I was thinking about making my own cables. Thank you for the helpful input. I'll check up on some youtube videos for reference on soldering. I've never soldered before but it doesn't look too hard. I've heard good thinks about Mogami cables and their durability. If I could save 1/2 the cost making my own Mogami cable, then it's surely worth a shot at.

    About the balanced and unbalanced cable. Do most cable testers determine if a cord happens to be balanced or not? I currently don't have one but figured it would be a good investment looking into.
  6. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    What do you guys think of the Pro Co cables? I ordered some TRS to XLR ones on sweetwater today for the monitors I just bought... I figured since they will be sitting in my room and will be very unlikely to get damaged, that hopefully I made the right decision. They were about $16 per cable compared to 30 for monster, and 40 for mogami...
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I've used the ProCo from Sweetwater in several places in the studio, and our church uses them for live performance. Pro Co makes several grades and the ones that Sweetwater sells are one of the middle grades. They are certainly durable enough for hooking up speakers. The only question is shielding. (They are going to be around the computer.) But that's easy to test. Crank your monitors with the computer on but nothing playing. What's the noise floor like? Try the same thing with the more expensive cables. Is there a big difference? Another thing to consider here is that the monitor cables are not in your signal chain. Sure you want as little noise as possible when you mix, but nothing from those cables is being recorded.
    I use George L's for 1/4 inch unbalanced guitar cables and like them very much. They get very good reviews on "sound," but I've never been able to hear the difference in the short 10'-15' cables I use. (I can almost convince myself I can hear a difference in 25' cables.) The big selling point is that it is VERY easy to make your own cables with the solderless ends. You can custom wire a pedalboard in minutes. I could argue that they are easy to repair, but I've had half a dozen for 7-8 years and never had to repair one. (But if I ever needed to do it, it would be easy.) They have a slightly stiffer feel than other cables. I like it, but you had better try it out before buying a hundred feet of cable and a couple dozen connectors.
  8. aaronwaudio

    aaronwaudio Active Member

    A cable tester is good to have if you are going to start building your own cables to be sure that you connected all the wires correctly. It gets confusing for XLR cables since you are looking at the back of the connector so you have to double check the numbered pins. I can't tell you how many I wired incorrectly when I first started and had to start over. As far as balanced vs. unbalanced, think of it in terms of stereo vs. mono. XLR and TRS cables are balanced. Mono 1/4" (TS) cables are unbalanced.
  9. ibanez4life

    ibanez4life Active Member

    So I think I got this right... Mono = unbalanced, stereo = balanced. I'm going to find some info on cables and look further into it. What kind of cabling, chain methods do you guys use for your instrumental recordings? What about patching your mixers/eq to your audio interface? Do you used balanced, stereo cables?
  10. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    It's so simple, that it's obscure, actually...

    It really is just a matter of what kind of connector is the gozouta and what kind of connector is the gozinta? Match em' up and you're done.

    Sound System Interconnection
  11. ibanez4life

    ibanez4life Active Member

    I probably am thinking too hard about this basic element. But I was wondering if you can hear a difference between mono and stereo when you're recording an instrument? I know I must try it for myself. I've ordered numerous cables and haven't gotten them in the mail yet....
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Hey man congrats for thinking, and educating yourself. It'll save you money and time at some point. First thing i want to stress is that you will only see big savings if you buy bulk connections/cable, otherwise your looking at more like 10-15% savings, and risking reliability/wasted parts while your learning to solder. I learned to solder in case something broke down at a gig, but i've had to probs with solderless connections, one is as good as the other to me. (until we're talking very high end signal paths, in high end rooms).
    Max said it right, just match 'em up.
    You will hear no difference in sound when using (TRS or 'stereo') cables w/ a 'TS or mono' jack. This can be pretty common in a studio w/ a trs patchbay/cables connecting to outboard gear like a compressor, or eq. The same applies to say a guitar to a guitar amp, there won't be an audible difference.
    The reverse of this scenario is NOT true. If you connected say a pair of heaphones, to TS (mono) extension, then into the TRS (stereo) output of the amp, you will hear a big difference. You will get whatever is supposed to come out of one ear, out of both. So for instance if you hard panned your guitar recording 100% left/right, you'll only hear the left guitar out of both ears (provided they weren't tracked live/have no leakage). Since alot of P.A's and radio reception when it becomes weak, is in mono it's important to check your mixes for mono compatibility. I'm sure someone else can give a more detailed explanation of 'mono summing' but i really need to look it up myself, before i can say anymore.
    Common connections for TRS my usual workings, are effects inserts on a mixer, and headphones. Most keyboards i work w/ have seperate (TS) left/right outputs.
    I've never had problems w/ pro co stuff, or anything built to that type of quality, or better. The things that broke enough for me to stop buying them are the types w/ molded connections, like radio shack headphone extensions/patch cables. hosas molded stuff seems slightly more reliable, but they've broken on me a few times and been thrown out. I've literally taken these things out of the package, broken. More than once they barely lasted a week.
    I'm a big fan of the 'nothing you don't need' in the signal path mentality, so whenever possible/practical, i keep the shortest cable runs, of highest quality achievable, w/ matching connections.
  13. ibanez4life

    ibanez4life Active Member

    This is all great feedback. Thank you kmetal. I just received 2, short patch cables in the mail. Doesn't say which name brand they are, however, you can tell the difference between the two. There is a noticeable difference in the physical thickness of the cable, and the gold, plated tip in the thicker cable {rofl}. My ultimate guess, considering feedback from peers and experience with cables, would be that it's Mogami. I only think this because I can audibly hear the cut in feedback in the thicker, gold plated cable. Now the only question that remains in my head about these characteristics is... does the feedback reduction all come down to how the cable wires are wrapped, or rather, connected to the actual plugs? Because so far all I get out of this is that, thicker, gold plated plugs give more feedback reduction resulting in a clearer sound...If someone could further elaborate this concept, that would be great. And in thicker cables I mean the shielding. I see that Mogami cables are shielded in wound copper to help eliminate frequencies that may be absorbed from outside interference.

    I'm sure my peers who have responded have already explained this, but my understanding of sound production is at its most basic level. I'm a newbie. So any comments to this question will expand my knowledge and surely any other newbies knowledge of audio recording. Thanks...
  14. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I get this a lot. People always bite their tongue when I show them on their own instrument, what the effect of one cable can have over the other. They are always so skeptical and yet so sure of themselves. A cable is a cable dude, it's not going to make a difference. Either it works or it doesn't. Then I show them. Whether it is quality of connectors, quality of shielding, or the sacrificial goats blood coating the conductors, I really don't care. Only thing I know is that for instrument level, (guitar and bass) the Canare GS-6 with braided shield and Neutrik gold tipped connectors sound the best. For speaker level (between amp and cabinet) Pro Co cables with Neutrik gold tipped connectors sound best. For Pro Audio (Mic/Line) applications, Mogami 2549 cable with Neutrik gold tipped connectors sound the best. I build them all myself too. Probably saved at least $300 outfitting my studio with the best sounding cables my friends and I have ever heard.
  15. ibanez4life

    ibanez4life Active Member

    Swesome. Thanks for the advice. I myself have recently tested a Monster instrument cable w/ gold connectors and great shielding. I couldn't be happier with the results I got. Of course I'm gunna have to pay a lot more for the superior quality but, Monster cables also come with a lifetime warranty if I take proper care of my equipment. So that last post was the truth! Soon here I'm going to making my own cables with Mogami cord.
  16. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    I have been making my own cables for nearly forty years. I use Belden cable and Switchcraft or Neutrik ends and I have cables that I made in the 70's that still work as new.

    I avoid the big name marketing hype cable like Mogami and Monster and just stick with quality professional cable that has worked and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

    Learn to solder, learn about what each connector does. It isn't all that hard, the most you have to deal with is three wires and a connector.

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