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Opinions Needed, part 2: How good do your cables need to

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by Black Belt Jones, Dec 7, 2001.

  1. I actually have very good 1/4 inch shielded audio cables for my synths. However, some companies manufacture (very expensive) 24K gold tipped 1/4 inch cables, boasting superior audio quality transfer and extra protection from outside distorting elements.

    Does anyone out there use these ultra high end cables? Have you noticed a difference? Or are these cables a case of excess, when a good pair of shielded cables will fit the bill.

    Your experiences are appreciated.

  2. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Near Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    There is a large difference in cables. Your typical local chain electronics store sells cables that are shielded. However, if you look at the shield, you'll find it is braided and not 100% shield. I bought my own 2 conductor wire with 100% foil shield and a drain and made my own custom length cords.

    Gold ends on a piece of crap shielded cable won't help you at all.

    The pro studios use either custom wire or pro cables such as Monster, Belden, etc. I suggest you just start doing some research on capacitance and shield quality. Also use the shortest length you need and route your audio cables away from power cables, wall warts, midi cables etc.
  3. Mark,

    Thank you for your responce and for the advice. I was actually looking at Monster cable for my own setup. Cabling is no small issue, and it can be an easy thing to overlook!


  4. peligrosa

    peligrosa Guest

    About making your own cables out of foil shielded with a drain wire--how does the sodering affect the signal? I am an electrician and have access to tons of 2 pair shielded(used in fire alarm systems) and have thought of just making my own cables. Any speacial soder or 14 inch connector suggestions? Thanx, Eric
  5. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Eric - another (semi-ex) industrial instrumentation/electrician type here - on the connectors, if you're not going to be dragging them around (stage use) the Neutrik NP2C and NP3C (guess which is TRS) are super easy to assemble and support the wire well - just takes a small tipped soldering station to handle the tight center conductors. Beldfoil shielded fire alarm cable is one I've never measured for capacitance, but if all 4 conductors are in the same foil I would only use it as a single pair (two cond. twisted together, twice) because of crosstalk. Also, if you are running true low impedance balanced lines, then the capacitance per foot is not as important as if you were running Hi-Z anything. Reason is: the hi freq loss of a cable is caused by primarily capacitance, coupled with the 10k or 100 k of impedance on semi-pro or consumer gear's inputs. This makes the RC time constant (1/frequency) much worse because of the high R number in the formula, compared to a true 600 ohm balanced line. If you have access to a higher end DMM with capacitance measuring, take a long length of the wire you intend to use, strip the ends on one end, leave the other end open, and check the capacitance on (say) 100 feet - divide the capacitance you read by the length in feet. If the capacitance per foot is less than about 20 pF, the cable should work for either low or high Z (at least from that parameter) if it is under 30-35 pF, it should be OK for Low-Z but not for high.

    I personally would recommend: If you need 3-4 cables and have high-end but sparse equipment, buy a few high-end cables (monster 1000 or similar) If you are planning on wiring an entire studio and don't have an extra $25,000 for cables, contact a supply house and buy either Canare or Mogami wire in a configuration that can be used for all the cabling (except digital) - Clark wire and cable will sell either (last time I checked) in 1000' spools, or less (for more) The Canare and Mogami are both available in types that are specifically intended for high quality audio use. In this case, I would use the few $100 Monster cables to run from Mic to pre, pre to converter (if digital) in order to get absolute best signal recorded.
    Soldering tinned copper like Belden can be done with either tin/lead or silver=based solder. As I understand it so far, the main reason for Oxygen Free Copper in cables is more longevity than anything. Can't remember exactly the way it was worded, something about minimising self-corrosion or something. I've been using SN63 solder for years on cables being jerked around on stage, used in the studio, whatever - never had a solder joint be the problem, have only had a couple of cable problems in 10 years of stage use period.

    BTW, just because a piece of gear has XLR connectors on it does NOT mean it's balanced, OR Lo-Z, or anything. Some manufacturers (a lot, actually) put XLRs on stuff and run pseudo-balanced signal to them - most seem to be capable of driving a 600 ohm line, but few semi-pro units' INPUTS will load a signal line to 600 ohms - guess they're afraid someone will plug in a hi-Z signal and fry the previous output stage. So, a lot of the so-called benefit of running 600-ohm balanced is just wishful thinking. I guess if a person wanted to, they could add (1% metal film)termination resistors to the inputs of all their XLR-based gear so the lines would be real lo-Z, but that could be dangerous to some gear depending on the method of driving the output in a "balanced" configuration.

    AS usual, I think I answered more than was asked (by anybody) - just read the parts you need... Steve
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