Some info on DIY audio cables
vmachine
Thread Starter
#1
14th July 2012
Old 14th July 2012
  #1
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Some info on DIY audio cables

#2
14th July 2012
Old 14th July 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
kasmira's Avatar
 

Hey, thanks for this. Just recently bought a soldering iron and some small electronics tools. Have been getting into building some simple circuits and have thought a lot about of starting to build my own cables too. Bookmarked.
vmachine
Thread Starter
#3
14th July 2012
Old 14th July 2012
  #3
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
After soldering electronics, cables are pretty easy.
#4
16th July 2012
Old 16th July 2012
  #4
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Franco's Avatar
 

What got me interested in electronics was the prospect of making my own cables, at custom lengths.

That was a cool article, but one thing I've noticed with some connectors is that sometimes pin #1 isn't always shield. I recently modded a set of headphones for my kid using a japanese (forgot the brand) female 3.5mm jack and the #1 pin was actually tip (what is commonly #3). It's always best to make sure by using a multimeter and checking for continuity when not sure (noticed a multimeter wasn't listed in the above article, and I think that's essential for making sure your connections were done properly, even when doing basic electronics, like making cables).
#5
27th July 2012
Old 27th July 2012
  #5
Gear addict
 
Arqen's Avatar
 

Thanks vmachine,

Good article, and useful graphic for explaining cables to people! I thought it deserved some exposure so I tweeted your article and seeded it on stumbleupon.

Cheers,

Tim
#6
17th September 2012
Old 17th September 2012
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

The illustration of connector pin numbers is too "stylized" and not accurate enough for real-world connectors. Furthermore, the pin numbers on XLR male and female connectors is OPPOSITE when viewed from the cable termination POV.

Separating braid from the outer-sheath end is BACKWARDS! It is MUCH MUCH EASIER to start at the CUT end and work you way down to the outer sheath. And using something like an awl (without any sharp edges like a screwdriver has) makes it much less likely to nick or break any of the braid strands when separating them.

Ideally there should be ZERO nicked or broken strands in either the braid or the inner wires. This is the NASA standard because nicks and broken strands significantly weaken the joint and make it fail faster (especially when used anywhere subject to vibration or repeated handling).

Building audio cables for 50+ years. My mic cables that I have managed not to lose or get stolen in 50 years are still going strong.
Quote
2
#7
17th September 2012
Old 17th September 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
fastlanestoner's Avatar
 

Cables are a perfect intro to soldering and more advanced DIY work.
#8
17th September 2012
Old 17th September 2012
  #8
Lives for gear
 
LeMauce's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcrowley View Post
The illustration of connector pin numbers is too "stylized" and not accurate enough for real-world connectors. Furthermore, the pin numbers on XLR male and female connectors is OPPOSITE when viewed from the cable termination POV.

Separating braid from the outer-sheath end is BACKWARDS! It is MUCH MUCH EASIER to start at the CUT end and work you way down to the outer sheath. And using something like an awl (without any sharp edges like a screwdriver has) makes it much less likely to nick or break any of the braid strands when separating them.

Ideally there should be ZERO nicked or broken strands in either the braid or the inner wires. This is the NASA standard because nicks and broken strands significantly weaken the joint and make it fail faster (especially when used anywhere subject to vibration or repeated handling).

Building audio cables for 50+ years. My mic cables that I have managed not to lose or get stolen in 50 years are still going strong.
Thnx for THE excellente info. You should be vallend THE cableguy.
vmachine
Thread Starter
#9
7th October 2012
Old 7th October 2012
  #9
Gear maniac
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcrowley View Post
The illustration of connector pin numbers is too "stylized" and not accurate enough for real-world connectors. Furthermore, the pin numbers on XLR male and female connectors is OPPOSITE when viewed from the cable termination POV.

Separating braid from the outer-sheath end is BACKWARDS! It is MUCH MUCH EASIER to start at the CUT end and work you way down to the outer sheath. And using something like an awl (without any sharp edges like a screwdriver has) makes it much less likely to nick or break any of the braid strands when separating them.

Ideally there should be ZERO nicked or broken strands in either the braid or the inner wires. This is the NASA standard because nicks and broken strands significantly weaken the joint and make it fail faster (especially when used anywhere subject to vibration or repeated handling).

Building audio cables for 50+ years. My mic cables that I have managed not to lose or get stolen in 50 years are still going strong.

The article i wrote was just the bits of information I picked up while building my first few pairs of audio cables. The cables I built work fine following what I wrote.
#10
9th October 2012
Old 9th October 2012
  #10
Lives for gear
 

The things I like to emphasize about audio and power cables are.

Balanced analog audio cables:
a] XLR pin#1 is chassis shield not audio ground.
b] Symmetry of the Plus & Minus wires is most important.

Unbalanced analog audio cables:
a] Low end to end resistance of the shield is the only important thing.

Speaker and power cables:
a] Twisting is good.

Also:
a] Radio Frequency Characteristic Impedance has nothing to do with analog audio cables (unless your cables are miles long).
b] Skin Effect has nothing to do with analog audio cables (unless your cables are an inch in diameter).
#11
14th October 2012
Old 14th October 2012
  #11
Gear Head
 

One very important rule when making your own cables, get yourself a real Wire Stripper!
Quote
1
#12
17th December 2012
Old 17th December 2012
  #12
Lives for gear
 
LeeYoo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
b] Skin Effect has nothing to do with analog audio cables (unless your cables are an inch in diameter).
Not an inch.
About 0.5mm depth for copper at 20khz.
Leo..
#13
4th August 2013
Old 4th August 2013
  #13
Gear interested
 

Im surprised nobody mentioned this yet

#14
2 Weeks Ago
Old 2 Weeks Ago
  #14
Gear nut
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeeYoo View Post
Not an inch.
About 0.5mm depth for copper at 20khz.
Leo..
yeah, and his other advice is inaccurate also:

Quote:
Speaker and power cables:
a] Twisting is good.
No it isn't, for speaker cables.

It increases the capacitance, and for longer runs, this becomes significant.

High current capacity low capacitance cable is often designed
to be flat and oriented for least capacitive coupling.



Constructing cable this way also makes better use of the 'skin effect'.

Quote:
Unbalanced analog audio cables:
a] Low end to end resistance of the shield is the only important thing.
Actually, no there are other important things.

For instance for guitar cables, cable capacitance can make a big difference in high-frequency response and tone.

That may be the 'only' important thing for ground loop problems,
but then again, unbalanced cable should never be used in long runs,
or between pieces of gear that have their own ground and may be
connected to different mains circuits or via different length routes.

Another important thing is the nature of the grounding of the shield,
because you can be electrocuted if there is a potential voltage between
say the shield-line of your guitar (which your hand touches) and
the shield of a microphone (grounded to the case and connected to a mixer).
#15
1 Week Ago
Old 1 Week Ago
  #15
Lives for gear
 
S2udio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nazaroo2 View Post
yeah, and his other advice is inaccurate also:



No it isn't, for speaker cables.

It increases the capacitance, and for longer runs, this becomes significant.

High current capacity low capacitance cable is often designed
to be flat and oriented for least capacitive coupling.



No excuse for my double posts ...except WTF

No Excuse for the double entendre ...

Constructing cable this way also makes better use of the 'skin effect'.



Actually, no there are other important things.

For instance for guitar cables, cable capacitance can make a big difference in high-frequency response and tone.

That may be the 'only' important thing for ground loop problems,
but then again, unbalanced cable should never be used in long runs,
or between pieces of gear that have their own ground and may be
connected to different mains circuits or via different length routes.

Another important thing is the nature of the grounding of the shield,
because you can be electrocuted if there is a potential voltage between
say the shield-line of your guitar (which your hand touches) and
the shield of a microphone (grounded to the case and connected to a mixer).
"Bullshit central Marketing Central" then !
#16
1 Week Ago
Old 1 Week Ago
  #16
Gear nut
 
nazaroo2's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by S2udio View Post


No excuse for my double posts ...except WTF

No Excuse for the double entendre ...

No excuse for your bad editing either,
attributing these words of yours to me.

Quote:

"Bullshit central Marketing Central" then !

I'm just a scientist.
I don't care about marketing or products.
I chose the picture at random from Google Images: "flat cable".

I couldn't care less about overpriced products.
My advice is don't pay more than you'd pay for regular cable,
because it costs the same to make it more or less.

The purpose of the photo was to help people understand
what the kind of speaker cable I was talking about looks like.

Flattening the copper wire increases the surface area of the wire,
and allows more copper to be involved in the 'skin effect',
and less copper to be wasted in a 'core' carrying little current.

This means less copper for the same current-carrying capacity.
It has nothing to do with audio quality just efficiency.

The second point is better illustrated by a picture too:
Laying two flattened wires edge to edge instead of on top
of one another or with most of the copper close,
ensures that there is low capacitance between the two wires.

The capacitance is a direct short across them for high frequencies,
and so this cable can transport clearer, flatter high frequency,
better than a round core packed tight and twisted.

You can always make crappier cable for speakers,
but why not make it right?

No marketing hype here, or any suggestion you should pay more:
Just science.
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