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What cable are we using on location?

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by leonardkravitz, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. Just wondering because I'm planning on putting some things together. So many varieties I am tying my head in knots. I'm thinking since it's in the field I need something rugged, reliable, and interference rejecting... star quad, overkill don't bother? I can get Belden 1812 and 1813 locally but a friend suggested that a braided shield is of better quality. Looking to do things right once but the sky's not the limit... so what are you guys having success with?

    :? Andrew
  2. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I use Canare Star Quad cables (4E6S). Most of my cables have Switchcraft connectors - although Neutrik connectors have far better strain relief design. I bought Switchcraft because they were a lot less expensive that the Neutrik connectors I saw - but I was looking at the wrong ones.

    Full Compass (http://www.fullcompass.com) is where I buy my cables and connectors. Keep any eye on their clearance page - you can get some good deals there.
  3. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    You can make some serious improvement in sound with low capacitance cable, such as AES that is typically 15pF/ft. Any of the big three (Canare, Belden, Mogami) are fine. I went with Mogami and am very satisfied.

    I have 2 8-ch snakes, and bought them at a good price from http://www.amercanrecorder.com

    I have a bit of Canare Starquad but only use it at line level and when maximum interference rejection is needed, such as around SCR dimmers, etc.

    As for connectors, the Neutriks can be had for about $2 each: Link removed

    The ease of installation is worth at least $.50 IMO.

  4. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I use a combination of star quad and regular mogami. I find that unless you have the money and storage space to have a lot of redundant gear, I go with the star-quad. Yes, the capacitance is higher, but the RF rejection more than makes up for it. There are so many crappy places to work (ie older halls, etc... where power isn't always shielded) that any time I can make up for it, I do... Sound from digital cable won't ruin a concert recording, but a hum or buzz from a lighting cable will.

  5. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    I have slowly been converting our critical analog mic cables over to AES/EBU for the low capacitance. I am going to get a stereo pair made up to hang the SF24, but AES dual pair snakes are a bit hard to find in this country without buying a whole bloody 100m roll of the damn stuff.
  6. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    It was late when I wrote my post - pretty poorly written remark about the connectors :?

    My first order for connectors I compared the Switchcraft prices (less than $2 each) to Neutrik - I saw Neutrik prices close to $5 each. I don't know what Neutrik connectors I was looking at :-?

    my last order I bought Neutrik MC3MX & MC3FX - for about $2 each - and yes, I will buy them again.
  7. recordista

    recordista Active Member

    Gepco X-Band is a highly flexible very low capacitance multipair. Belden Brilliance (e.g. 1904A) is another option. Both are somewhat more durable than Mogami multipair.
  8. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    All this talk about low capacitance got me wondering. I know the Canare L4E6S is fairly high (46 pf/ft), but what does that really mean to me?

    I put one of my trusty Oktava MK012s face to face with the tweeter on one of my monitors. Ran a 15' Canare cable to the Mackie 1402 mixer I user for routing in my studio.

    In Audition I created a 1-second white-noise sample. I also added 3 single-sample ticks.
    I recorded that sample through the 15' Canare cable.
    I then chained a bunch of Canare cables together totalling 260' and recorded the exact same sample under the exact same conditions (except the lenth of wire).

    Here are the resulting recordings.
    The files are 24-bit packed - I can upload a different format if this gives folks trouble.

    I used Adobe Audition to analyse the files. Frequency plots are almost identical They begin to deviate a fair amount when things get below 25 Hz (not much material down there as I was recording the tweeter). Also, there is a small deviation between the two recordings a few hundred hertz either side of 1800. Other than that they are line-on-line.

    The recordings do not null when one is inverted on another, but the resulting file seems to be uniform in frequency distribution. If I zoom in on the timeline to where there are only a few samples on the screen, I can see a definite delay - apparently due to the length of the cable - on the 260 ft sample. The delay is too small for me to measure - nor do I think I can compensate for it in the software. This delay, however, would expain why the files do not null.

    Anyway - do your own comparison. - analyze, A/B test, etc.
    Share your thoughts.
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Way to go Karl! Nice tests!

    I tend to agree for the most part with your assertions. Capacitance is not a bad thing - given, too much is, but the amount in most pro mic cables is definitely not bad.

    I ran similar comparisons to test various mic cables in general, not specifically their lengths. The unfortunate part is, it, along with several projects I was working on, are on a hard drive sitting on my desk that I'm trying to get working again.

    The results, as I recall them, were that the majority of the cables ranging from Hosa up to Mogami and Monster, output the same signal (though I used pink noise and a distance of one meter from the speaker). Also, I used a matched pair of Schoeps omnis for the measurement and since I made them as coincident as possible, I was able to create a null summing and reversing phase.

    Two cables seemed to have dramatically different results from the rest of them - 'Cable Up' brand and 'Live Wire.' I don't recall which did what, but one of them had a significant rise in the HF range and the other a significant dip in the HF range and almost non-existent bass (below 40hz).

    Personally, for my 'pre-packaged' cables, I use Monster or Mogami. I do have some home-rolled Canare though. My biggest cable acquisition of late was a custom made 8 channel XLR-M to XLR-F 100 foot mic cable snake from Monster Cable (using their 500 series cable.) I found it interesting that this was far more affordable than some of the other brands such as Canare or Belden.

    I know some people on this forum have no positive things to say about MC, and I can't comment on their business practices, but I do like their cables.

  10. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    HF roll-off as a fundtion of capacitance is a fact of electrical life-- I think it was on the Belden site.

    The formula for calculating the -3dB point for capacitance/freq can be found here:


    Certain mics are more prone to exhibit these effects than others thanks to the "tunable resistance" nature of it-- ribbon and hi-voltage B&Ks come to mind.

  11. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    HF roll-off as a fundtion of capacitance is a fact of electrical life-- I think it was on the Belden site.

    The formula for calculating the -3dB point for capacitance/freq can be found here:


    Certain mics are more prone to exhibit these effects than others thanks to the "tunable resistance" nature of it-- ribbon and hi-voltage B&Ks come to mind.

  12. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Karl, why did you use a speaker and mic when you could have just run the signal through the cable and picked it back up again in your recorder? This would make for a more repeatable test. Of course the two signals didn't null; speakers and mic diaphragms will never react the exact same way twice. I'd like to see you do this test again using the method that I have outlined.
  13. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Actually, laying two different test tracks (with the same cable) on top of each other canceled by better than 45 dB on the white noise, and the ticks are barely perceptible over the background noise (two computers running in the room).

    I just wanted to take into account the low level of a mic signal, plus any effect the additional impedance might have on the mic response.
  14. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    So will you do it? I think if you do it will give us a better chance to hear the difference.
  15. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    The response of analog systems is not random. Hit a system with a repeatable input and you'll get a repeatable output. The question I wanted to answer was:
    Is the capacitance (or any other property) of my cables connecting my mics to my preamps going to have a noticeable impact on the signal?

    I was not trying to design a test to highlight the differences in cable responses.

    In Audition I can put one test on track one, the other test on track 2. If mute one track and highlight a section of the white noise, I loop that selection and solo the muted track to switch between the 250 and 15 foot samples. They sound exactly the same to my ears. Doing the same thing with the ticks I can hear a slight difference, but it is very slight - and if anything the long cable sounds "tickier" than the short.

    The two recordings compare quite well sample-to-sample, save for the delay on the long cable. I don't believe I compromised the test by putting a little bit of air in the circuit - if anything that makes it more real-world for my purposes.

    I'm satisfied with the test, and satisfied with knowing that my mic cables are not degrading the signal - at least not enough that I can hear it. That's all I wanted to know.
  16. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I don't doubt that for a second - my question was can I hear it? Does it matter to me under real-world conditions?
  17. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Does it matter to me under real-world conditions?

    Great thread, Karl! I've stayed out of this thread for lack of any additional useful input on my part. (I like all the major players, with no serious problems to report.) I'm glad to see such a sane approach for cables here. :cool:

    In general, I think all the basic rules apply: Use good connectors and soldering techniques if you're going to roll your own, and buy from any of the big three (or four) when getting off-the-shelf stuff.

    The talent in FRONT of the mics (and the space they're in) will determine the sound moreso than anything else in the chain, the rest is just details. (Oversimplifying, of course!)

    I'm old fashioned: I take care of my stuff, but I STILL don't gaff-tape down any wires until we've powered up the mics and know they work. Sooner or later, no matter what the brand, something's gonna break, somewhere. Not just the "Sound" of the cable (as such) I'm just as impressed with the reliability of it.
  18. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Got it Karl.
  19. Sanity Inn

    Sanity Inn Guest

    Hey Zemlin,,

    i was doing a s earch on cables etc and saw your test,,,

    anyway of doing a test comparing cable brands as apposed to lenths?

    say the same 50' Conaire, against whatever brands that you have in your studio that we may know? Nogami, Belden etc,,

    just curious,,

    thanks for the info

  20. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I suppose it would be possible, but I don't have a lot to choose from. I have a couple of PRO-CO 50' cables - the only identifier on the cable says "Professional Low-Noise" and I have some Connectronics Musiflex cables I picked up from a guy who used to do SR work. The most noteable feature of this stuff is the shield which is conductive plastic.

    Last I have my ho-made snake - 100' of General Cable 19-pair cable. The cable is fairly old but it might still be a current product for them. I think the specs are still available.

    The work is stacked up pretty high right now, so I don't know when I'll get around to doing this again. Tests like this are best performed when my wife isn't around wondering why I'm comparing cables rather than installing baseboard and trim in the Kitchen. :wink:

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