is an old mic or guitar cable as good as a new one?

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by Exsultavit, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. Exsultavit

    Exsultavit Active Member

    Jan 5, 2005
    ..I am not speaking of design here, but of wear: is there anything in a cable that 'wears out' or decays? I understand that contacts need to be cleaned, but am wondering if some of my cables (that are as much as 40 years old) are as good as they ever were? I don't hear a problem, but am simply wondering what consensus there might be here at the forum.
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I have plenty of +40-year-old microphone cords. Some of the oldest ones are the ones that are built the best. Strands of string reinforce the wiring. Heavy braided shielding. All rubber insulation on the internal wires within the shield. The jacket during gets a little stiff and I remember it being stiff when it was still virtually new. Not like the more modern extremely supple type of exterior jacking more popularly used today. Though it might be a good thing to remove old, heavily oxidized XLR connectors for newer ones along with their 1/4 inch cousins. Also because older cables with intact connectors frequently begin to suffer from a metallurgy problem when two wires of different metals are combined with solder. While they may have been good originally, they become intermittent cold solder joint connections over a long period of time. Sometimes just a little re-soldering will do the trick without need of replacement. But if the pins look particularly discolored and no cleaning or chemical treatments make them look shiny new again, best to replace them. It's even a better idea to replace them with connectors that have goldplated pins for improved and more reliable connectivity. Shiny chrome & nickel plated connectors might look good but a lot of the imported ones are just plain crap. So when dealing with connectors, go for the good ones. You'll be glad you did.

    There is also the issue regarding microphone cable. Some of the best microphone cable today not only has the shield, it has four internal wires instead of two. These have become known as " Star Quad ". Because the wires are wrapped internally in a helix, these also help to reduce certain cable noise within the cable. I've used microphone cable in the past that if moved or walked upon would induce some kind of electrical or magnetic flux which could be heard. UGH! And that was supposed to be good Microphone cable. It was not Star Quad but it did have a very good all copper wrapped shield that was not braided. I never purchased any more of that cable again. Sheesh... MOGAMI. I actually love their individually jacketed 24 pair snakes. Never had any of those problems with those. Just that 500 foot chunk of that single cable version UGH. Learned my lesson on that one.

    Proper cable rolling is also important to ensure a good long life for your cable. None of that overhand under elbow stuff. That's what we learned in elementary school and we've all grown up since then. So you carefully coil or " over under 8's " or specific cable rollers such as those Orange extension cord rollers you find at the hardware store make life and you're cables sleep better.

    I'm not snoring!
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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