InstaSnake questions
nate_dennis
Thread Starter
#1
27th January 2013
Old 27th January 2013
  #1
Gear nut
 
nate_dennis's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 75

Thread Starter
InstaSnake questions

Some background before my question...

I have relatively little recording experience, though I have lived vicariously through many forums and online videos. I'm finally in a position to start my recording setup and I want to make sure it's the best it can be. I'll be using a Mackie Onyx 1640i into a MacBook Pro. There will be times I'll want to do some location work, so.....

(Forgive me if this first question is stupid) I read somewhere that the InstaSnake keeps things analog...is that true? I didn't know one could pass an analog signal down Cat5/6 cable.

Is there any reason the InstaSnake would not work with the Mackie unit?

Using this unit would be like any other snake, in that the sound of the mic pre would be maintained, correct?

Again, sorry if these are stupid questions, I'm just trying to nail down the specifics before I buy everything.

Thanks,
Nate
#2
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #2
Gear addict
 
Larry Elliott's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2006
Location: Auckland , New Zealand
Posts: 498

No such thing as a silly question.

Instasnake will work fine in your situation, I use them all the time. Only thing you need to be wary about is that you get screened cable and the screen is connected at both ends. Otherwise no phantom volts foe condenser mics.
#3
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #3
Gear addict
 
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Northwest NJ
Posts: 373

The cat5 cable in the instasnake is just acting as a good quality wire. Copper doesn't care if you send a digital or analog signal along it (though the signal cares about being sent down the right type of cable and in this case, because of the way cat5 is speced, it is more than good enough for analog audio)

Cat5 is basicly 4, very nice twisted pairs in the same cable, and then with the instasnake you need the sheilded cable for phantom power (the sheild is used as the ground for the phantom power.) I am actually planning on making my own version of the instasnake when I get time. From what I have gathered and seen from tests (I would need to find the link again) they are just expensive adaptor boxes, no transformers even.
#4
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #4
Gear addict
 
Bibster's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2011
Location: Near Toulouse, France
Posts: 374

I made some myself...
Cheap, and works like a charm!
Each of the 4 pairs (bleu/blue-white; green/green-white etc. etc.) are pin 3/2 of a channel. shield is pin 1, all together. (SHIELD IS PIN 1).

I've got 100m (300ft) on a drum.

P.
#5
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #5
Gear nut
 
Joined: Jan 2004
Location: Storrs. CT
Posts: 93

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Elliott View Post
Only thing you need to be wary about is that you get screened cable and the screen is connected at both ends. Otherwise no phantom volts foe condenser mics.
I too use InstaSnake. The SHIELDED Cat 5 is difficult to find sometimes and some dealers think what they are selling is shielded when it is not.

I finally located a supply of the correct cable at Redco Audio. The Redco guys seem to know everything you can imagine about cables:

Professional Recording Equipment Accessories: Shop Our Selection of Audio Equipment Accessories, Custom Engraved Panels and Custom Audio Cables - Redco Audio Professional Audio Equipment Accessories

Great service too.

Bob Miller
#6
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Portland OR USA
Posts: 3,259

nate_dennis
Thread Starter
#7
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #7
Gear nut
 
nate_dennis's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 75

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bibster View Post
I made some myself...
Cheap, and works like a charm!
How did you make the adapter? Did you use a plan/schematic online?

Thanks for all of the help guys!
#8
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Portland OR USA
Posts: 3,259

Bibster gave the complete details in his posting. Each of the four pair goes to pin 2/pin 3 of one of the XLR connectors (or TRS, for that matter). And the Shield goes to pin 1 of ALL the connectors. What more is needed than that?
nate_dennis
Thread Starter
#9
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #9
Gear nut
 
nate_dennis's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 75

Thread Starter

I'm new to DIY electronics. I'm sorry. Thank you for the answer.
#10
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #10
Gear addict
 
Bibster's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2011
Location: Near Toulouse, France
Posts: 374

Just make sure you really use a PAIR for each of the 4 channels.
Note that regular RJ45 'network cable' is normally paired like this:

1+2
3+6
4+5
7+8

Just look at the colours in a regular network cable.

best of luck, and welcome to the joys of DIY ;-)

Paul
#11
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #11
Gear nut
 
Joined: Mar 2008
Location: High Wycombe
Posts: 112

How do you handle the connectors on the RJ45? I've never seen the inside of one so it could be extremely simple but being so small I am assuming that they are a bit too small to solder.
#12
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #12
Gear addict
 
Bibster's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2011
Location: Near Toulouse, France
Posts: 374

nate_dennis
Thread Starter
#13
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #13
Gear nut
 
nate_dennis's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 75

Thread Starter
#14
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #14
Gear addict
 
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Northwest NJ
Posts: 373

I actually plan on using DB-9 connectors when I make mine (they are cheaper than buying the nice RJ45 jacks and they should hold up better). They also have a better way of being secured. Though I will have to make my own cables (not a huge deal for me).

Quote:
Originally Posted by nate_dennis View Post
StudioHub Studio Hub ADAPT-XLRM XLR Male to RJ-45 CAT-5 Cables at Markertek.com

would these work well? They have male and female versions.
Those look like they would do the same thing.
#15
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Portland OR USA
Posts: 3,259

The disadvantage of using DB9 connectors is that it is non-standard and you are committed to using only your own home-made cables.

The beauty of using Cat5 cables with 8P8C (aka. "RJ-45") is that you can buy them ready-made almost anywhere for less $$$ than it would cost for the components to assemble it yourself.
#16
28th January 2013
Old 28th January 2013
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Portland OR USA
Posts: 3,259

nate_dennis
Thread Starter
#17
29th January 2013
Old 29th January 2013
  #17
Gear nut
 
nate_dennis's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 75

Thread Starter
Bibster, would you be willing to post a photo of your DIY instasnake? If it's an inconvenience, don't worry. But if it wouldn't be too much trouble it'd be nice.
nate_dennis
Thread Starter
#18
31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
  #18
Gear nut
 
nate_dennis's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 75

Thread Starter
I'm getting pretty excited about building one of these. I just have one last (I hope) question. The silver shielding that goes around the cable: do you just cut that into slits to solder to the ground pin? (Or does each pair have it's own shield that you solder the ground pin?) I know I'm asking questions that are probably simple and I'm sorry. I live on an island and I don't really have the ability to go to the store to look at the cable and understand it. So I have to get info online. Thank you for understanding. InstaSnake questions-cat6.jpg
#19
31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
  #19
Gear addict
 
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Northwest NJ
Posts: 373

The pairs are not individually sheilded. The foil goes around all of them and may, or may not, have a drain wire. For RJ-45 connectors you gennerally don't solder them, but use a crip tool. Or are you just using the cat5 cable as snake cable and going right to XLR's?
#20
31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Portland OR USA
Posts: 3,259

Quote:
Originally Posted by nate_dennis View Post
I'm getting pretty excited about building one of these. I just have one last (I hope) question. The silver shielding that goes around the cable: do you just cut that into slits to solder to the ground pin? (Or does each pair have it's own shield that you solder the ground pin?) I know I'm asking questions that are probably simple and I'm sorry. I live on an island and I don't really have the ability to go to the store to look at the cable and understand it. So I have to get info online. Thank you for understanding. Attachment 328279
The picture you show is Cat6 shielded computer network cable. As x_25 says, not all shielded Cat cable includes that drain wire.

The whole benefit of using Cat5 or Cat6 cable is that already-terminated cables are readily available at very inexpensive prices (because of the ubiquity of the internet). As x_25 says, Cat cable is crimp-terminated with 8P8C connectors (commonly called "RJ45"). Regular Cat-style network cable has four precision-twisted-pair and NO shielding. It is called "UTP" or "UNSHIELDED twisted-pair". There is a version of that cable that adds a single foil shield around the bundle of four pairs. It is not nearly as commonly available as UTP, but it is still much more convenient than making your own cables from scratch.

Note also, that using those four twisted-pair inside the Cat cable DEPENDS using true-balanced signals. That means using a transformer if your source (or load) is single-ended. You can get away with using "conventional" shielded twisted pair cable (such as regular audio "snakes") with single-ended signals because each pair is shielded from the next with an individual shield. But Cat-style cable maintains low crosstalk with unshielded pair because the signals are fully balanced.

Note that you require the shield in order to use microphones with phantom power, because the shield is the ground-negative-return path for the phantom power.
#21
31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
  #21
Gear addict
 
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Northwest NJ
Posts: 373

Just a quick add on to the note Richard made above. You only need the sheilded cable if you want to run four channels and phantom power. If you only run three balaned lines you can use the fourth twisted pair as the ground. This is actually my plan, because after thinking about my setups (for live) have three channels per box would be perfect for me.
#22
31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
  #22
Lives for gear
 
hughesmr's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2006
Location: SW Ohio

Is there any concensus on the benefits/drawbacks of solid core vs. twisted pair CAT5e? Improved immunity to RF, etc. Thanks for any insights...
nate_dennis
Thread Starter
#23
31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
  #23
Gear nut
 
nate_dennis's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 75

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by x_25 View Post
The pairs are not individually sheilded. The foil goes around all of them and may, or may not, have a drain wire. For RJ-45 connectors you gennerally don't solder them, but use a crip tool. Or are you just using the cat5 cable as snake cable and going right to XLR's?
Yes I'm intending to make a snake. So I would be going directly to XLR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
The picture you show is Cat6 shielded computer network cable. ...


Note that you require the shield in order to use microphones with phantom power, because the shield is the ground-negative-return path for the phantom power.
This will almost always be the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by x_25 View Post
Just a quick add on to the note Richard made above. You only need the sheilded cable if you want to run four channels and phantom power. If you only run three balaned lines you can use the fourth twisted pair as the ground. This is actually my plan, because after thinking about my setups (for live) have three channels per box would be perfect for me.
I felt like I was doing so well till then! Now I'm lost again. How would the third pair act as a ground for three other channels? But assuming four channels, how does the shield get attached to the four ground pins? I swear I'm so close to understanding this concept!

Side note: I know I'm asking dumb questions. I need to buy a book on these things. that'll happen soon. Thanks again for not killing me.
#24
31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
  #24
Gear addict
 
Bibster's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2011
Location: Near Toulouse, France
Posts: 374

You should buy ready-made cables. With the RJ45 plugs preferably NOT moulded, and the plug with METAL sides.
Like this:
RJ45 Plug CAT6 shielded connector CAT5e solid stranded wire CAT7
The top one is a SHIELDED plug, the second is unshielded.

You can now easily mount a neutrik ethercon over it! OVER it, yes. (I think this is really cool...)

Aks your local network installer for this kind of cable.
#25
31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
  #25
Gear addict
 
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Northwest NJ
Posts: 373

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr View Post
Is there any concensus on the benefits/drawbacks of solid core vs. twisted pair CAT5e? Improved immunity to RF, etc. Thanks for any insights...
Solid core? Not sure what you mean by that, but Cat5e is very immune to noise by design. The twisted pair configuration, for a balanced signal, has extremely good noise rejection, and Cat5 is manufactured to very tight specs, to the point where each twisted pair has a different (and specified) number of twists per meter to avoid crosstalk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nate_dennis View Post
Yes I'm intending to make a snake. So I would be going directly to XLR.
I would recommend against this and add in a jack of some sort. That way the length can be changed easily and the cable replaced when (not if) it eventually breaks.

Quote:
I felt like I was doing so well till then! Now I'm lost again. How would the third pair act as a ground for three other channels? But assuming four channels, how does the shield get attached to the four ground pins? I swear I'm so close to understanding this concept!

Side note: I know I'm asking dumb questions. I need to buy a book on these things. that'll happen soon. Thanks again for not killing me.
It's ok, it takes time to learn new things!

Both are answered the same actually. A ground is just a reference point really, and in most systems, everything connects to the same ground eventually. So the ground pin (pin one on an XLR) just needs to be connected to ground somewhere. In most cases, there is a separate ground wire (or shield on a mic cable) that runs from the mic pre to the microphone. Lets take the example of a mixer though. Inside the mixer, all the grounds eventually connect together forming one reference point (voltage wise) for everything else to be relative too.

It really doesn't matter where this connection happens, they don't care so much (and actually you can even leave it disconnected and let the microphones float!) as long as it only happens once. If each point that needs to be grounded can find more than one path to the ground reference, then you have aground loop and that is bad (you have probably heard about them).

So long story short, you would, in the case of four channels, connect all the pin ones to the shield. In the case of the three channel one, you would connect all the pin ones to the fourth pair (or two pin ones to each wire in the pair of you prefer.)

Did that help? Probably clear as mud...
Quote
1
#26
31st January 2013
Old 31st January 2013
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Portland OR USA
Posts: 3,259

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr View Post
Is there any concensus on the benefits/drawbacks of solid core vs. twisted pair CAT5e? Improved immunity to RF, etc. Thanks for any insights...
All Cat-style cable is twisted pair. By definition.

Some Cat-style cable uses solid-core wires, and some use stranded wire. The advantage of solid is that it is cheaper and somewhat more uniform over long distances. That is the kind you normally find inside walls, ducts, etc. for permanent wiring.

The advantage of stranded is that it is more flexible. You typically find stranded Cat-style wiring in the short cables that go between your computer and the wall jack. Or in the "patch bay" back in the wiring closet.

Cat-style wires are "precision twisted" for high immunity. Mostly immunity to crosstalk from the other twisted pairs inside the same sheath. That same precision twisting makes them more immune to audio-style stuff, but RFI typically comes in as "common-mode" and it is the design of the input circuit, and not particularly the properties of the cable that keep RFI out.
nate_dennis
Thread Starter
#27
1st February 2013
Old 1st February 2013
  #27
Gear nut
 
nate_dennis's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 75

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by x_25 View Post
I would recommend against this and add in a jack of some sort. That way the length can be changed easily and the cable replaced when (not if) it eventually breaks.
That's a good point.




Quote:
Originally Posted by x_25 View Post
Both are answered the same actually. A ground is just a reference point really, and in most systems, everything connects to the same ground eventually. So the ground pin (pin one on an XLR) just needs to be connected to ground somewhere. In most cases, there is a separate ground wire (or shield on a mic cable) that runs from the mic pre to the microphone. Lets take the example of a mixer though. Inside the mixer, all the grounds eventually connect together forming one reference point (voltage wise) for everything else to be relative too.

It really doesn't matter where this connection happens, they don't care so much (and actually you can even leave it disconnected and let the microphones float!) as long as it only happens once. If each point that needs to be grounded can find more than one path to the ground reference, then you have aground loop and that is bad (you have probably heard about them).

So long story short, you would, in the case of four channels, connect all the pin ones to the shield. In the case of the three channel one, you would connect all the pin ones to the fourth pair (or two pin ones to each wire in the pair of you prefer.)

Did that help? Probably clear as mud...
It actually helped a lot. I think a lot of this will be easier when I get my hands on some cable and such. It's hard to visualize but the concept is getting clearer. Thank you for being patient.
#28
1st February 2013
Old 1st February 2013
  #28
Lives for gear
 
mpdonahue's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2002
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 615

Quote:
Originally Posted by x_25 View Post
So long story short, you would, in the case of four channels, connect all the pin ones to the shield. In the case of the three channel one, you would connect all the pin ones to the fourth pair (or two pin ones to each wire in the pair of you prefer.)
Or you could use shielded Category cable and get 4 pairs. More below.
Quote:
Did that help? Probably clear as mud...
I would like to add a bit of clarification to this discussion. There are two styles of conductor used in Category cable, solid and stranded. Solid gives better performance in fixed installations where the wire will not be repeatedly bent or twisted. Stranded (or "Patch" as it is called) gives up about 10% in distance in Gig Ethernet and digital audio applications, but in analog audio they are for all intents and purposes interchangeable. For AES/EBU transmission we regularly run 96k PCM on stranded Cat5e over 500 ft. with no loss in performance. So for this discussion the obvious choice for the application is stranded. The bigger question is what kind of Category cable are we talking about? There are many different variations and they all have impact on the application.
So, there are basically 3 kinds of category cable and they are UTP, STP and SSTP.
UTP stands for "Unshielded Twisted Pair". This is 4 twisted pairs in a single jacket. We use this regularly for AES but it is not the ideal choice for analog as there is no shielding.
STP stands for "Shielded Twisted Pair". This is the same as UTP but with the addition of a drain wire and a an overall "beldafoil" shield. This is a better cable overall for audio applications and is dirt cheap. We buy pre-made 100 ft CAT6A STP for $35 ea from IOfast by the crate. Most times it is cheaper to abandon the cable in a concerthall than to pay a stagehand to remove it. We have Cat6A cable installed in dozens of concert halls all over the world that is there just waiting for our return.....
However there is an even better choice for analog audio over category cable.
SSTP is "Screened and Shielded Twisted Pair". This wire has individually shielded pairs with an overall foil shield. This is perfectly suited for the "Instasnake" application as the crosstalk between pairs is reduced further than just twisted pairs. Also, this cable has a lower resistance in the ground connection that improves Phantom Power performance. Often this cable comes in a 23 gauge variant. I would avoid this as it is difficult to terminate into standard RJ45 connector and offers very little benefit over the standard 24 gauge variant.
Finally, the different numbers associated with Category cable are related to their bandwidth. For analog audio purposes, there is no real difference between Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6A and Cat7. If you plan to send digital audio over the pairs, then the higher the number, the longer the distance the signal will travel without degradation. Like I said above, you can send 8 channels of 96k PCM over 500 ft (150m) over plain CAT5e UTP, so for most folks there is no need to upgrade to the higher tolerance cable.
As always, YMMV.
All the best,
-mark
nate_dennis
Thread Starter
#29
1st February 2013
Old 1st February 2013
  #29
Gear nut
 
nate_dennis's Avatar
 
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 75

Thread Starter
Thank you for the info! I was wondering about all the differences. I think at first I'm going to use the two channel adapters I found (linked above) because I can get a billion foot long snake that will meet my needs for about 100. I will then learn more about everything and start building them. the prefab "INSTASNAKE" i found out is two different components so it comes out to be way more money than I wanted to spend. Thank you all so much for the information. One of the first projects I plan on doing is a Fado group here on the island I'm on. I'm going to try to get a cathedral to let us record there so the length will be nice. If the results are listenable I'll share them with you all. Thanks again.


-Nate
#30
1st February 2013
Old 1st February 2013
  #30
Gear addict
 
Larry Elliott's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2006
Location: Auckland , New Zealand
Posts: 498

Thanks Mark for the detailed explanation.
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Topic:
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
Kyleseglin / Bass traps, acoustic panels, foam etc
3
yodog / So much gear, so little time!
2
punyn00b / Music Computers
0
KennaOkoye / Electronic Music Instruments & Electronic Music Production
0
Jimbo / Geekslutz forum
3

Forum Jump
 
Register FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.