snakes and other cable routing methods

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by Clowd, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. Clowd

    Clowd Guest

    Hey guys, I'm trying to figure out what the best way to route a bunch of cables from the control room in our studio (under construction) to the tracking room -

    We need twelve channels of xlr-xlr, for the microphones into the mixer, and we have five pairs of headphones that need to connect to our MOTU 192HD.

    I was thinking of just using a regular 12 channel stage snake for the mics. Is there anything wrong with that? I'm not sure what to do about the headphones - I have read about some sort of headphone hub that uses ethernet cables? Haven't been able to find anything about it on the internet though.

    edit- how about this... 12 channel/4 return stage snake for the mics, using the returns for plugging heads into cabs that are in the tracking room, and 5 XLR cables that will go into a custom built "stage box" that has 5 1/4" plugs?
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    NOT A GOOD IDEA. Why is it not a good idea? Most snakes are from 50 to 100 feet on average. You would NOT want to plug a high impedance guitar into anything more than a 10 to 15 foot cable length. That just won't work well. A corrupted frequency response and lots of hum and buzz is what you will get.

    Those 1/4" connectors were designed for line level monitor and/or headphone feeds. And sure, you could use commercially available snakes to wire from your studio to your control room. Nothing really wrong with that.

    For your headphones system in your tracking room, you may want to investigate a master headphone amplifier sent to a breakout box to passively combined headphone boxes? As opposed to those ridiculous quad headphone amplifiers, designed for the control room of a project studio. There really is no convenient way to utilize something like that in the studio unless you put the headphone amplifier in the studio which still makes it difficult to deal with since you have a single box with 4 headphone outputs as opposed to 4 separate boxes that feed the headphones, etc.. And for the central amplifier passively combined system, you won't want to take the amplifier output and feed that up the microphone snake. If you do that you are asking for lots of trouble from inductive coupling and grounding problems. In that respect, you should use a separate piece of unshielded 3 conductor electrical "zip" cord from the amplifier in the control room rack to the headphone breakout box in the tracking room. The ground from the output of the amplifier should not be combined with the ground for the microphones. When you believe you heard somebody say something about using ethernet cables, they were probably trying to tell you that the output from power amplifiers should NEVER USE shielded cables. The output from power amplifiers should always use unshielded cable. That's it. End of comment.

    Search for the other threads regarding my recommended construction for a central amplifier, passively distributed headphone system.

    Head phony
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. twon

    twon Guest look at the pro16 series, more than the 5 channels you mentioned but useful if you ever need that many.. your problem would be that they output at mic or line level so you would need to have your headphone amp at the other end.

  4. Clowd

    Clowd Guest

    Thanks for your advice, very helpful. But what about this - the MOTU has 12 outputs (XLR) and we want to use 5 of them for the headphones, because each of them can have their own monitor mix (this studio is going to be used for practices too) so, what about just running 5 cables from the MOTU into the room, and building a little box for each with a 1/4" input on them? We are using these headphones -

    edit- oh, wow, I'm half retarded, I somehow let it slip my mind that the MOTU outputs at line level... wow. So, I have to come up with a solution that is a mix of mine and yours, unless there are headphone amps that have 5 inputs and 5 outputs? I've never really looked into headphone amps before.

    As for the head in control room to the cab in tracking room, what is the solution for that? Just run a 12' cable?
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Excuse me, I'm sorry, misinterpretation on my side here.

    You will be perfectly fine with your guitar and guitar amp head in the control room, running the output of the guitar head to the cabinet in the studio. Just make sure you use at least 16 gauge stranded, unshielded cable to the cabinets. Those broken orange colored electrical extension cords work great as speaker cable. Depending on who's commercially available microphone snake you are using, the 1/4" connectors on each end, aren't really designed to send a full-blown amplifier signal through. They utilize the same microphone cable, which is shielded and balanced, only 24 gauge and more designed for auxiliary, monitor and effects sends/returns at line level voltages not speaker voltages, albeit the more technically challenged folks have/do send amplified signals through those pathways and wonder why they get peculiar inductive feedback they can't
    and speakers that sound less than spectacular?

    If you're going to take the last 5 XLR outputs from the back of your MOTU as your headphone mix feed, that should be totally adequate as well since you'll be able to create 5 separate cue mixes in the computer, for each individual but you will need to add some specific headphone amplification. You will not want to use the outputs directly to headphones, regardless of adapters available, as they are not designed to load into low impedance loads such as 8 ohm headphone speakers. They have to be loaded into 600 ohms or higher, preferably around 10,000 to 50,000 ohms. Since most commercially available amplifiers and specific headphone amplifiers all have medium input impedances between 10,000 and 50,000 ohms, the output of your MOTU can be split, passively, with patch cords, to your other rooms, provided they are all equipped with individual headphone amplification systems. You may however run into ground loop problems since you will want/have an amplifier plugged in at each location which could cause a ground loop and therefore lots of HUM rendering the system useless. You would only need to lift the ground on the headphone amplifiers AC connector but make absolutely sure you have no shock hazard. To do this, you should take a volt meter set to AC. Attach one lead to the chassis of the now ungrounded headphone amplifier and attach the other lead to pin 1, the Shield/ground in/on the XLR connector, without plugging it into the headphone amplifier i.e. no electrical connection between the two to the best of your knowledge. Do this with gloves on and jewelry off, since you could possibly create a circuit through your body, (which you might get a charge out of). Now observe the volt meter and see how much AC voltage you observe? You'll most likely see at least a couple of volts but if there is any miss wired electrical wiring, you could see 117 volts! That could be huge cause for concern as you have a hot chassis which could cause electrocution and death. I don't care how much Metal you want to record, you just don't want to be that realistic!

    I think you are well now on your way? But where?
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  6. Clowd

    Clowd Guest

    Thanks for all your help, I really really appreciate it. Not to be a bugger, but I have a few questions about your post.

    1. Are you saying I should cut the ends off an extention cord and wire them up with 1/4" plugs?

    2. The second part has me completely confused. Let me clarify on what I want to do.

    I want to buy the Behringer Powerplay PRO-8 HA-8000, which has eight independent amp sections, and send 5 outputs from the motu into 5 channels of the PRO-8, and from that into the headphones.
  7. Clowd

    Clowd Guest

    The reason we didn't want to go with a wall plate is that the walls are already built and we don't want to puch any holes.

    So, could I do that, but just have a peice of rack gear that is not mounted to the wall?
  8. stickers

    stickers Active Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    Lowell MA
    Home Page:
    Punching a hole in the wall isnt that big a deal. one side just has to be big enough for the wiring to fit through and then cut a hole for the plate to mount it use those screws that come with the plastic steeves for screwing into the dry wall. easy to do. the hard part is wiring the connections at the mic wall plate , not the actual install of the plate. oh and feed the snare wire through the wall and do the sodering for the connections that way the hole on the control room side can be rather small, yup.
  9. DIGIT

    DIGIT Guest

    >>we don't want to puch any holes.<<

    You don't really punch the hole, you cut it with a saw made for that job. Easy and fast to do.

    Also, you can go straight from the CTRL room into the wall that divides the studios and that would be a much shorter cable run. Always find the SHORTER path for cables.
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    No, you shouldn't cut off the Edison connectors off of a perfectly good electrical extension cord. If you have a "trashed" electrical extension cord, don't waste the wire, use that. If you don't have a trashed electrical extension cord, purchase yourself some 3 conductor electrical unshielded "zip cord"of approximately 18 gauge, absolutely perfect for headphone wiring.

    You are absolutely correct in the usage of your Behringer Powerplay PRO-8 HA-8000 as it is essentially just a 8 Channel amplifier, however, you are probably going to want some kind of method for the musicians to adjust the level in their headphones on their side, if this amplifier is in your rack in the control room. If the amplifier is in your studio/tracking room, you can let the lazy musicians jump up and down back and forth across the room to adjust their phone volume levels in their headphones. I'm sure they will be fun to watch but please, stay back and don't feed the musicians. Basically because, when I was younger and went to see monkey Island at the zoo, we would throw peanuts at the monkeys and they would in turn, throw their feces at us. Go figure? Almost like politicians?? Even like us experts here at!

    Regarding your cabling to and from your control room to your tracking them. I'm sorry, what do you understand about getting your studio wiring into your studio without pulling some cables through the walls?? Of course you can have a microphone snake coming out of your bedroom control room wrapped around the door and down the hall and the " studio" basement den. Not very professional looking and it's hard to close the doors over top of a thick audio snake, so you will have plenty of extraneous noise transferring between your 2 rooms. But that's the way, the only way you want/have to do it, have fun. You will still make lovely recordings in spite of the leakage, once you learn how to.

    I think stinker in Massachusetts provided you with some excellent information, links and advice. He is always full of it and is a mighty fine engineer himself.

    May I interest you in some monkey feces??
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  11. Clowd

    Clowd Guest

    Hold on, I thought we were talking about the extension chord for wiring up the heads to cabs? That's why I was so confused. For the headphones, I was just going to buy this - click here to listen and the proper connectors (female XLR to male TRS) and run it into the headphone amp. Anything wrong with that?

    Does it matter if the mic snake and the headphone snake are wired close to each other? Should we run one at the floor and one at the ceiling, or one at each side of the room? The cables aren't going through doors or anything like that, we left a small gap for ourselves at one corner of the room, we are going to run the wires through it, put the drywall up, and caulk whatever hole is left over.
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Well I thought we were trying to cover numerous questions?

    The bit about the trashed electrical extension cords, makes for good amplifier to Speaker cabling. So that would be fine if you used that from your guitar head amplifier output to the speaker cabinet in the tracking room. You should never use shielded cable for power amplifier outputs to Speaker's, such as microphone snake and cable. When connecting amplifiers to Speaker's, always use unshielded cable, like electrical wiring cable.

    For the output from your MOTU to your headphone amplifier input, yes that click here to listen would be just the ticket! As that is all "line level", which is not from a power amplifier.

    You don't have to worry about the proximity of your MOTU output cabling and microphone cables. You might have to worry if you have your electrical wiring running parallel with those cables? Electrical wiring is best when crossed over, perpendicular to your audio cabling. When run parallel to each other over distances, there can be an inductive coupling between those wires almost like a transformer direct box. That is one of the reasons why we use balanced audio wiring, even if the electrical interference is picked out, the balanced circuit electrically cancels the hum, which is NOT the case with unbalanced wiring. So if the Beringer headphone amplifier individual inputs are balanced 1/4" inputs, you need only the appropriate connectors at each end which would be XLR to 1/4" TRS (tip ring sleeve), KNOT JUST TS (guitar like, unbalanced tip and sleeve). If the Beringer inputs are unbalanced, you may require 1: 1 Transformers at the Beringer inputs to go balanced to unbalanced?

    Otherwise, it sounds like you're on your way to constructing a nice studio. Let me know if you have any further questions.

    Stupid girl (cool song I think was written for me?)
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  13. Clowd

    Clowd Guest

    Thanks for all your help! I really really appreciate it, our studio would probably turn out like $*^t if it weren't for you and everyone else here on the forums.

    Anyway, while we're on the subject of electrical wiring, let me give you a little background on the location of this studio... we are constructing it underneath an old barn, which is attached to the main house - was built in 1890 or so I believe. So, what I'm getting at here is that we are running all new electrical - nothing exists down there except a temporary line while we finish construction.

    So with that in mind, do you have any advice? pitfalls to avoid, etc?
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I'm not a licensed electrician per se but when you start your electrical wiring, it will be best to pull your Romex (the electrical wire) cable through those round metal pipe conduits. It's mandatory in some jurisdictions and a good practice overall. You should not connect the ground (as is customarily done by most electricians) to the metal conduit or electrical outlet boxes but only individual ground wires, in the ROMEX cable to each outlet.

    Not sure if you are dealing with standard single phase 240 volt House power or 208 volt three-phase industrial, it could be either since it was a farm? Either way, some electricians feel that you should balance the load of the equipment, lighting, audio equipment, etc. between the different phases of power but my general feeling and practice has been to put your lighting and dimmers, along with other industrial appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves, etc. on a separate phase from your control room/tracking room. One of the best things you can do for the power purposes in your control room, goes beyond those simple power surge protectors. There are numerous companies that make different kinds of power conditioners/regulators/balance power transformers and electrical isolation transformers along with ferro resonant power regulated transformers. All of those things do a remarkable job of providing you with clean and/or isolated power for your equipment. I personally just use a Signal Transformer Corp. 75 kW multi-Tapped power isolation transformer. It is basically a large 1: 1, 2: 1, 1: 2 (selectable in adjustable terminals) for 240 volt to 120 volt, 120 volts to 240 volt, 208 volt to 104/110/120 volt, etc., you get the idea. The transformer allows you to step up or, step down the voltage. It's really only a big audio transformer designed for low impedance loads at 60 hertz. One of the great things about this device is that it will isolate your control room electrical power from everything else. I have used mine in a modified way in my remote truck so that when I connect to "shore power" (the power from the breaker box/building I'm receiving it from) , I never connect a ground or a " neutral", but rather connect directly to the incoming power feed. So basically I have created a balanced power feed inside my remote truck and my internal neutral/ground (which are different by the way) I connect to the power like a balanced microphone plugging into a balanced microphone input. My ground/neutral is not connected but derived for my internal power from the center tap off the secondary output windings of the transformer. It really blows everybody's mind as it makes my truck function with no need for an earth ground! Most electricians scratch their heads over that one, since utilizing "balanced power" is something relatively new. Most everybody knows that on your electrical outlets at home/work, of the 3 connections, the bottom round one is most obviously the ground whereas the left larger terminal is the neutral and the right smaller terminal is the 120 volts. With a balanced power system, the larger left-hand terminal now carries 60 volts and the smaller right side terminal also carries 60 volts. That's "balanced" power. Not a balancing of uneven loads but balanced like the wiring for audio equipment. This is contrary to how most House/business power is wired but the benefits seem to be an overall lower noise level for your equipment connections! Is becoming more and more popular because of that. I have heard up to a 10 DB increase in lower noise. And since most of us are using numerous computers these days, a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is an added margin of protection for your computer systems.

    So I know this is a lot of TMI about EMI FYI IMHO
    Ms. OY VAY
  15. separation

    separation Guest

    Unless you aren't worried about isolation, punching a hole in the wall IS a big deal. If you do go with a wall plate make sure to offset the holes on either side of the wall to get as much isolation as you can. Problem with that could be that if you don't have double walls with a space in between (to run the wires at the distance you want) then you would have to find a way to drill holes in your studs to pass the wire. This would be impossible will sheetrock up. I know we used 3-4 feet as a min between wall plates on either side of the wall as described in Acoustics 101 through Auralex and it worked out nicely.

    Again if you don't need isolation then hack away.

  16. smokincan

    smokincan Member

    Jan 13, 2012
    Oceanside, CA
    Most of it has been covered, but I wanted to add: Always buy a snake with more channels (and returns!) than you think you'll ever will thank yourself later!!
    While you are at it...think of all the cable/signal types you might ever want to have and run them NOW while it is easy/cheap.
    The obvious ones can be handled by a live snake sure, and with some clever use of adapters and transformers, you can meet most of your audio needs, but then there are still more:
    -MIDI cables? (Ah...often overlooked!) Chances are it will come up eventually. Run some cheap multistrand and you can always solder the plugs later.
    -As mentioned...speaker cables.
    Consider a video might sometimes want to have a video monitor in the soundroom. (I forgot that one, and had to run it later. Total hassle in my situation)
    -An optical cable? Toslink? Firewire? you get the idea.

    Also...yes an extension cord with the ac plugs replaced with 1/4" jacks makes a great speaker cable. Between the head and the amp you need power handling not shielding's cool.

Share This Page