Mic cables, cheap vs expensive

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by Jonesey, Nov 5, 2003.

  1. Jonesey

    Jonesey Active Member

    Mar 25, 2003
    Western Pennsylvania
    I currently use the cheapest mic cables that I could find. I have a great river pre and a audio technica 4050 mic but am using radio shack mic cables. Would I notice an improvement in sound quality if I were to use better mic cables for instance Mogami gold series. I realize more expensive mic cables would be of better quality but do they provide any additional benefits?

  2. Skeetch

    Skeetch Guest

    My 2 cents -

    Yes, they can make a difference but there's some caveats.

    Much of it depends on what the rest of your signal chain looks like - things like the kind of monitors you listen through, DAW, outboard mixer routing, etc. Also, how your room sounds probably has an impact on whether or not you hear any difference. Best way to find out is to try a more expensive brand and see for yourself if you can hear a difference.

    Price and manufacturer aren't necessarily indications of quality, though. Oddly enough, I've found some of the "upper end" RatShack RCA cables were less noisy than comparable Monster Cables and were more solidly constructed as well. Mogami is generally regarded as good quality cable, as is Canare and some of the Rapco models (Rapco Roadhog series cable is excellent IMO).

    If you're handy with a solder iron, you might consider rolling your own cables. I've been doing this for about a year now (mic, instrument and patch cables) and it's almost always far cheaper than buying them retail. You'd be surprised how much markup retailers slap on cable. Another benefit is the ability to make custom lengths.
  3. Jonesey

    Jonesey Active Member

    Mar 25, 2003
    Western Pennsylvania
    thank's for responing Skeetch.

    I have the room and monitors etc. covered. I spent all summer working on a control room in my basement with the help of Ethan and others at the acoustics forum. I guess what I'm getting at is I'm not taking any short cuts except when it comes to cabling. I was under the impression a wire is a wire and why pay more for something thats going to give you the same results. I guess I'm just going to have to purchase some high quality cables and see for myself any sound improvements.

  4. AudioBond

    AudioBond Guest

    I would second the "do it yourself" approach. Making cable is not difficult, is cheaper, and does allow custom lengths. Plus, if you are not that great with a soldering iron, it is an easy thing to beef up your skills on as being able to solder well can come in VERY handy when things decide to break. If you do go this route, may I reccomend Switchcraft and/or Neutrik connectors. I use these almost exclusively and have had very good experiences with both.

    Anywho... that's my 2 cents.

    -Chris :c:
  5. Marching Ant

    Marching Ant Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Yes, I build my own cables as well. I use Mogami cable and Switchcraft connectors. They end up being about the same price per cable as a peavey or yorkville cable, but I find that they last 2 to 3 times as long, and once they do break, you can fix them, making them last even longer.
  6. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    imho, it is the "weakest link" philosophy. You spend a lot of money on gear, and then short-change the rest of the signal path? Doesn't make much sense to me, and I have *never* understood why people would skimp here!

    Better cable will be more reliable, and has better shielding, and therefore will tend to be quieter.

    Also, when a cable *starts* to go bad, you are still getting signal, but it will distort and give you a weaker signal.

    And then comes the issue of finding out *which* cable is the one that is crapping out!

    Bad cables can cause so many problems, some of which you would never guess would be due to a bad cable! Why take a chance. Give yourself peace of mind, and go for the good stuff!!!

    I always make my own, Mogami cable and Neutrik ends. Worth every single penny!
  7. Jonesey

    Jonesey Active Member

    Mar 25, 2003
    Western Pennsylvania
    I went to a couple of music dealers in the area to buy a couple of good mic cables and all they carry are those hosa cables. I could make my own and, that is probably going to be what I will end up doing. I just can't get in the mood for soldering a bunch of cables. :(
  8. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    I'd recommend that you stay away from the Hosa stuff...

    Soldering is a bit of pain to get started with, bit after a few tries, it gets easier, and as mentioned above, it is good skill to have in the studio.

    I have soldered hundreds of ends...literally. It is nice to have all the cables fit perfectly and not hanging around and coiled all over the floor behind your desk, etc.

    Good luck!
  9. Death addeR

    Death addeR Guest

    actually I've been readying these post the last few days, and I am unclear about *which* Mogami cable to use... 2552 is the cheaper end and many people seem happy with it.. Quad seems to be better about noise elimination, but usually unnecessary and can cause noticeable high end loss? ... 2549 #22 AWG is supposed to be good about high end, but not worth the extra money over 2552? ...

    also, does it really depend on the application? ... would say, some cable be good for mics, while different cable would be good for post-preamp connections?

    Thanks in advance for any replies, and for the patience... Happy Thanksgiving!
  10. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    I've heard that the quad cable can effect the higher end due to the lower capacidence, but I have never heard it personally, especially with relatively short runs.

    The 2552 cable is fine, and works a charm.
  11. diatomano44

    diatomano44 Guest

    where is the best place to purchase this cable and the ends?
    Also, I a have always had a cheap radio shack soldering iron? should i get a better one, and if so, which?
  12. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2001
    Go to Redco to buy the stuff...


    and the Radio Shack soldering iron is probably fine...
  13. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Use quad cable only in high EMI environments. Quad spiral wrapping is all about trying to improve the common mode rejection by wrapping the hot and the cold wires tighter by using more of them (i.e. a pair of hots and a pair of colds). This works fairly well, but the insulation on the hots and colds adds capacitance (remember that a cap is just a pair of conductors separated by an insulator of sorts), which can be the domminant effect in a long cable run (high end loss).

    There's a whole lot of voodoo out there regarding cables. In the end what is really important is to consider the application. Mic cables, headphone cables, and patch cables get repeated use and abuse. For these apps, you want something that's built like a tank. My preference is for braided shields and teflon insulation on the inner conductors. For connectors I like Switchcraft, but Neutric is allright too.

    At the low impedances that microphones operate at, the cable isn't really a huge factor in the sound. Guitar cables are totally different story given the impedance of guitar pickups.

    As far a soldering irons...toss the rat shack one, and spring for a temperature controlled Weller (about $100). It'll pay for itself, and you'll keep it forever. And practice your soldering technique...you don't want the cable to move as the solder cools, forming a cold solder joint.



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