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word clock cables

Discussion in 'Accessories & Connections' started by sammyg, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. sammyg

    sammyg Active Member

    Dec 12, 2003
    Hi Guys,

    is there any particular type of word clock cable to go for?
    I thought any quality will do the job, I've been told there is a difference between normal and better quality ones, dont know if there's any truth to the rumor.


  2. soundfarm

    soundfarm Guest

    Good question! Quality is an aspect often overlooked on word-clock and other timing signal cables. (it's all about resistance!). If you use cables with poor quality conductors and escpecially BNC connectors can oxidize and increase resistance in the connection (causing jitter, etc. in the signal). So, if you are dealing with something as critical as digital signal timing in a studio, why would you want to risk using low-grade cabling?

    In my experience, I have always used the monster pro-link word clock cables. Yes, the are pricey, but I never had any jitter or latency issues. I know monster cable can be a little "over hyped" and for audio signals, I always use mogami, but I have a mobile rig and these cables have really stood up to some abuse. I am a big cabling quality advocate cause I see too many people invest thousands of dollars in top quality gear and use crap cables to link it all together. But, I digress...... :D
  3. dpd

    dpd Active Member

    Sep 29, 2004
    Check your manual for what impedance, not resistance, the wordclock is designed.

    If it's on a BNC connector, it'll be 75 ohm coaxial. Don't go 50 ohms - you'll get a mismatch on the line that will cause problems. Don't use audio or AES cable, either, for the same reasons. A good quality coax should do the trick.

    If it's something else, the impedance should be stated. But, I'm pretty sure it will be 75 ohm.
  4. ghellquist

    ghellquist Guest

    I´ve said it before, but here it comes again.

    75 Ohm cable is a commodity item. All of them are good enough. (Watch out, because there is also similarily looking 50Ohm and 300 cables).
    BNC contacts are also a commodity item. All of them are good enough.
    The difference is mostly in how the cable will stand repeated bending and handling. If it is rack mounted, you will probably not disconnect it every day, so it does not make any large difference.
    Anyway, stay off the superexpensive stuff, it is mainly hyped marketing as always.

    The one really important thing is to TERMINATE the cable (sorry for shouting). It should be described in the manual how to do it. Basically you need one T connector for each slave and one 75Ohm termination (looks like a small metal thing with a BNC connector at one end). Put the T connectors on the IN of the slaves and use short cables between them. (Some cards have switchable termination in the box, put that one last in that case. Read the manual).

    Best bet if you can find one these days is to track down an radio amateur. This kind of things is the daily bread of those guys.
  5. soundfarm

    soundfarm Guest

    not all cable the same


    Yes, it is somewhat of a commodity, but I don't think it's accurate to say all the cables are the same. I am not talking about the core conductor, but more of the quality of design and construction that goes into the cable. Without going into the technical specifics, I will provide a quick example:

    I had a MOTU 896 HD synced with an Tascam DAT. I was using Hosa cables at the time (very inexpensive) The link was properly terminated and the impedance on all equipment was matched After about 2 weeks, I started noticing jitter and the dreaded pops and clicks. Keep in mind at this pont, this rig was never moved before. Replaced the calbles with another set of Hosa. Problem went away for about a week, then started right back again. This time, spent the money (reluctantly) on a set of monster pro-links. The problem went away and has not occured again. (8 months to date).

    Again, I use these cables in my mobile rig and they have given me 0 trouble (and this rig has seen some abuse!). So, I do agree that most contacts and cables are "good enough" to make a successful link between the gear, however, I believe (based on my experience) that the quality of construction of the cable will play a major part in determining the stability and consistency of the link itself. (along with the quality of the gear itself) One thing I think people should NOT do is pay retail prices for premium pre-made cables. (self-made is more cost effective).

    Again, just my two cents. :D
  6. ghellquist

    ghellquist Guest

    you are the first person I have heard of referring to first person experience in this area. As you have had problems with the Hosa word clock cables, I will from now on referr to your experience and advise them to select another brand.

    Of course, this is very interesting to me. I was under the impression that it simply was impossible to make that really bad cables. Still curious as to what really went wrong with the cable. Could you venture a guess? Was it the connectors or the cable as such? Might be good to know what to look for.

    Gunnar Hellquist
  7. sammyg

    sammyg Active Member

    Dec 12, 2003
    thanks guys,

    im pretty sure that most of the manuals say 75ohm cables, doesnt seem to be much about termination issues though, I'll have to investigate, after spending the bucks I wanna make sure all my gear is clocked together correctly.


  8. The difference in your prices in cables is their windings. Its hard to explain, but how a conductor in a cable is wound makes a difference in how well a signal will be transmitted. For example, Monster's TimeCorrect winding in speaker cables is designed to actually put a delay on certain frequencies so that the other "slow" frequencies can catch up. (By the way, I think Monster is quite a bit overhyped and overpriced. Mogami seems to perform better both in practice and with the multimeter.) Anyway, your higher price cables are USUALLY better quality. Check reviews. Make sure they are at least a paragraph long and in great detail before you consider using them to base your purchases.

    If you need to, buy it, try it, eBay it. That's what I do sometimes when I'm not sure if it's what I want.
  9. ghellquist

    ghellquist Guest

    Sorry Brian,
    you are a bit off here. This is a little different set of parameters. Word clock cables do not transfer "sound" as such. They are there to transfer a digital signal.

    And in my book the TimeCorrect winding is a load of BS. Of course if anyone can prove differently using scientifically provable arguments I am willing to change view at once. They might still sound different or even better, but that is a something else. Show my some oscilloscope traces and I will be happy.

    Word-clock cables are designed a little differently as they are coaxial cables with a set impedance (the 75 Ohm). In order to get that 75 Ohm you have to follow a few rules. Anyway, in general low priced will not make you happy so it is a good idea to go for quality. The overhyped audiophile stuff, well, I am not going to put up my money there.

  10. I was just trying to give some differences in the pricing of cable, not necessarily limited to digital. I understand coax cables and do know that the windings do play a role in how well the signal is transmitted through them. Also, I was using the TimeCorrect windings as an example to illustrate the difference in cables. There is a difference in coax cables in that you want your digital cables to carry a higher bandwidth than the cable coming off of an FM radio antenna. Both are coax, 75 ohm, yet have different capabilities and uses. I prefer Apogee cables for my word clocks.
  11. ghellquist

    ghellquist Guest

    Point taken Brian.

    It is interesting how this kind of discussions often degenerates. It starts out, often, by a newcomer to the field asking if he should buy a 1.000$ thing or a 10$ thing, where both basically does the same thing. And then the discussion rapidly moves to a theoretical discussions of the merits of some very high class stuff. There has to be some kind of "diminishing return" in this area as well. I mean, you might hear a tiny (or for that matter large) difference between a good-sized lamp cord and the monster speaker cables. To me the great difference is if you get sounds from both the woofer and the tweeter by actually connecting them (a speaker made for biwiring connected to a single output amp). And don´t laugh, I´ve seen it happen. I also suggested he should use a lamp cord instead of some telephone wiring.

    Keep on smiling.

  12. I always take discussions as friendly in forums unless someone comes outright being rude. I'll always be smiling when it comes to discussing quality of components. I recently got my student financial aid surplus for summer (school already pays for my tuition and books but I still receive grants and other scholarships) and have already blown it on new speaker cables to use. I fell in love with them and started hearing noises that I never heard before in Monster and ProCo. My wife is going to kill me when she sees the price on the packing slip.

  13. ghellquist

    ghellquist Guest

    glad you like them. There is a special warm feeling in spending a lot of time and money on making something just, exactly, right.

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