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Why are Cat5 "snakes" so expensive?
Old 2nd October 2018
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Why are Cat5 "snakes" so expensive?

I love the idea: a little box with an RJ-45 split into four XLRs (or whatever) connected by a piece of category cable. You can run phantom power down the cable if you use shielded cable.

What I don't love is the price for these things! Even the recent Radial Mini boxes are US $90 an end. I just did a little informal research and found a BUNCH of 50' 8+-input prosumer snakes under $200.

These little category boxes are cute and all but it feels like I'm paying for the privilege of the manufacturer NOT providing all that copper! What gives?

I gotta say, though, the Whirlwind Catdusa ($167 each end) looks like the best of the lot: paralleled male and female connectors for each pair so you don't have to worry about ordering a specific M/F configuration or using adapters. Still, $334 for 16 XLRs and 4 RJ45s in a steel box WITHOUT THE CONNECTING CABLE seems a little steep.
Old 3rd October 2018
  #2
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

That is apparently what the market will bear.
I completely agree the prices are absurd considering that it is nothing more than an empty box with a few passive connectors.
I have even fancied the idea of making a kit or modular unit where you could snap in whatever connectors you need.
Old 3rd October 2018
  #3
Pro level equipment = pro level $$$.

If they are selling them then the price point is valid.

FWIW
Old 3rd October 2018
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Pro level equipment = pro level $$$.

If they are selling them then the price point is valid.

FWIW
I don't have a problem with companies charging what the market will bear but with this particular class of product the prices just seem insane!
Old 3rd October 2018
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
I have even fancied the idea of making a kit or modular unit where you could snap in whatever connectors you need.
I could get behind that idea!
Old 23rd January 2019
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
That is apparently what the market will bear.
I completely agree the prices are absurd considering that it is nothing more than an empty box with a few passive connectors.
I have even fancied the idea of making a kit or modular unit where you could snap in whatever connectors you need.
Here's a Public Service Announcement:

I've been revamping my remote recording rig, and decided to do some 'modular' snake solutions. After pricing out the components at the, uh, cost-effective end of the scale, I was over $26 per box without having lifted a finger to drill anything.

- Four XLRf panel mount connectors $10
- One EtherCon RJ45 panel mount $7
- One 5x4x1.5-inch aluminum box from China $8
- Short RJ45 cables and short Cat5E internal wiring ~ $1.00
- Mounting screws ~ $0.50

Yesterday, on eBay, I ran across the ProX XC-SBCAT6-4XM 4-Channel Cat6 Male XLR Snake Box + Female Snake Box Pack at ~$66 for the pair. They even sell individual M or F ends ProX XC-SBCAT6-4XF 4 Channel Cat6 Portable Snake Box w. (4) XLR Female Inputs at $33.40 each including shipping.

I ordered a couple of M/F pairs and two XLRf boxes. The hope is that the durability is acceptable, and that I can make a 1U custom EtherCon panel to go in the rack to directly terminate two of the 4x XLRf "stage boxes".

If this works, and is robust enough, it'll be a pretty cool solution. I feel an article coming on, so I'll report back when the stuff arrives and I get something built and tested.
Old 23rd January 2019
  #7
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I've used the MuxLab 500033 quad audio balun with success (for an installed system where they aren't banged around). These are line-level passive four channel RCA to (or from) RJ45 baluns, at around $50 each, with a pair of them (and, of course, some twisted pair wiring) needed for a complete interconnection.

I think it's interesting that the price of these, with adequate if not superior transformers for balancing/unbalancing, is very competitive with boxes with connectors but nothing more. (Admittedly, I suspect the "snakes" are built in sturdier boxes and have more robust connectors, which do cost money. I would at least hope that's the case.)
Old 24th January 2019
  #8
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ALL cables are a cash suck.
Old 7th February 2019
  #9
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mikefellh's Avatar
Maybe one of these days I'll be motivated to open up my Radial Catapults (one transmitter, one receiver) to see what's actually inside. I can't believe the money spent on those, but it was what was needed for the job!
Old 7th February 2019
  #10
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

You may not want to do that if you enjoy peaceful sleep at night.
The passive versions are nothing more than the connectors, the box and the wires.
It is only a matter of time before some anonymous factory in Asia starts selling the equivalent for $10-15
But, of course when you add all the middle-men, each taking their profit, and advertising costs, etc, you are at nearly $100
Old 9th February 2019
  #11
Gear Nut
 

I corresponded with a guy at Radial and he confirmed their boxes are just wire and connectors (except for the transformer versions which are still just wire and connectors!). In fact, the distinction between their RX and TX boxes is simply the legending on the boxes! The in/out XLRs are wired in parallel; the legends just help the “less-informed” hook things up (my assessment, not his).

I, too, am waiting for an import, no-middleman version of these devices.
Old 12th February 2019
  #12
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mikefellh's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
You may not want to do that if you enjoy peaceful sleep at night.
But then again it's built like a tank...but then again I don't need it to survive roadie abuse, once it's plugged in it's there to stay.

Certainly a lot better than the Pyle Di I have (they didn't think smart regarding that brandname...Pyle of....).
Old 12th February 2019
  #13
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I decided against drilling EtherCon panel mount holes in a 1U rack blank. Instead I used industrial velcro to mount two of the Cat5E XLRm boxes on the back of the Midas MR18. Then I used 3-ft 4-way XLR jumpers to connect to the ART S8 mic splitter. The direct hard-wired XLR-outs on the back of the splitter go back to the front of the MR18 as inputs, and the transformer XLR-outs from the splitter go the the QSC TouchMix-16 that's at the right side of the 4U case.

Despite all the hassle of junior XLR snakes, and making grommets for the cable pass-through at the lower edge of the case, everything is/should-be pretty convenient. When I set up at a remote venue, I simply have to plug in the Cat5 EtherCon cables in the back, and then connect the two 4-way jumpers over to the QSC.

Pictures attached.
Attached Thumbnails
Why are Cat5 "snakes" so expensive?-mr18front1.jpg   Why are Cat5 "snakes" so expensive?-4uurear1.jpg   Why are Cat5 "snakes" so expensive?-mr18-4u-qsc-.jpg  

Last edited by MediaGary; 17th February 2019 at 06:11 PM.. Reason: added pic to show QSC
Old 17th February 2019
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MediaGary View Post
I decided against drilling EtherCon panel mount holes in a 1U rack blank. Instead I used industrial velcro to mount two of the Cat5E XLRf boxes on the back of the Midas MR18. Then I used 3-ft 4-way XLR jumpers to connect to the ART S8 mic splitter. The direct hard-wired XLR-outs on the back of the splitter go back to the front of the MR18 as inputs, and the transformer XLR-outs from the splitter go the the QSC TouchMix-16 that's at the right side of the 4U case.

Despite all the hassle of junior XLR snakes, and making grommets for the cable pass-through at the lower edge of the case, everything is/should-be pretty convenient. When I set up at a remote venue, I simply have to plug in the Cat5 EtherCon cables in the back, and then connect the two 4-way jumpers over to the QSC.

Pictures attached.
This looks great. Are you using their cable, too? If so, does it lie down as well as mic cable?
Old 17th February 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmaier View Post
This looks great. Are you using their cable, too? If so, does it lie down as well as mic cable?
The little 4-XLRm and 4-XLRf boxes don't come with any cables. All of the short (3-ft) 4-way-XLR snakes are from Monoprice, bought on Amazon. They're about $5 each as an add-on to an order of $30 or more.

I'm awaiting a shipment of Seetronic EtherCon shells to finish making the box-to-box Cat5E cables. I'm using Elite Core Tactical Shielded Soft Cat5E cable. I've already cut a few lengths (10-ft, 45-ft, 60-ft, 90-ft, 150-ft) just based on my experiences/annoyances with what I've needed for stage snakes across the years. Moreover, I plan to get at least one EtherCon coupler that will allow me to combine two of these Cat5E cables in a situation that may require a 240-ft snake.

I added another picture to post #13 so you can see how the portable table would look at a venue.

Sort of related, so far, I have measured that the QSC draws 24-watts in operation, and the MR18 draws 20-watts. That makes those 150Wh portable lithium power inverter supplies very interesting as a way of ensuring power to one of the recording mixer devices (probably the QSC, but will have to change the hard-wire S8 port choice) during a concert.
Old 14th June 2019
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Does anyone know if it's possible to contructs a EtherCon Cat tail with a mix of Female and Male connectors? Obviously if it's possible it will need to work with a mirror version of the same thing. I'm getting the feeling that it won't be possible due to the shared ground, but thought I'd ask.
Old 14th June 2019
  #17
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dkay View Post
Does anyone know if it's possible to contructs a EtherCon Cat tail with a mix of Female and Male connectors? Obviously if it's possible it will need to work with a mirror version of the same thing. I'm getting the feeling that it won't be possible due to the shared ground, but thought I'd ask.
Yes. The cable doesn't care which way the signal is going. Grounding/shielding is a separate, independent issue.
Old 14th June 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dkay View Post
Does anyone know if it's possible to contructs a EtherCon Cat tail with a mix of Female and Male connectors? Obviously if it's possible it will need to work with a mirror version of the same thing. I'm getting the feeling that it won't be possible due to the shared ground, but thought I'd ask.
I am intrigued by this question because I've never seen a female RJ45 connector that would fit in an EtherCon shell. There are double-female EtherCon couplers that are used for extending the normal double-male EtherCon cables.

Is your intent to extend a cable, or is there some directional requirement as you imply in the question?
Old 14th June 2019
  #19
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lynngraber's Avatar
This is a pretty expensive way to make an analog snake. Its not really adding any "convenience" by the time you put enough cat5 cables together to get 32 plus channels.

That being said, I own a couple of the Radial boxes. They are useful when you need a few extra lines to and from stage, or a small drop snake on stage.
Old 14th June 2019
  #20
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Thanks for the info, I'll just make sure I'm explaining my question accurately.

I saw these available https://www.vfmaudio.com.au/ethernet...nel-xlrm-3-pin

and was hoping that it might be possible to have 2 male and 2 female xlr's on each end, have the mirror on the other end and have them connected by one ethercon cable?
Old 14th June 2019
  #21
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dkay View Post
Thanks for the info, I'll just make sure I'm explaining my question accurately.

I saw these available https://www.vfmaudio.com.au/ethernet...nel-xlrm-3-pin

and was hoping that it might be possible to have 2 male and 2 female xlr's on each end, have the mirror on the other end and have them connected by one ethercon cable?
Electrically, Mechanically, Yes. 100% possible. No problem at all.

Note, however, that since the pairs are not shielded from each other, it is not recommended to combine mic-level and line-level signals in the same cable. So, sending mic level in one direction and line-level back in the same cable may result in crosstalk or even feedback depending on several conditions of your situation.

Assuming you are using ordinary UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) CAT cable. Of course there are varieties of CAT cable with overall shield, and versions with individually shielded pairs inside.

The UTP variety of cable does not provide ground from one end to the other. So it can be used only with fully balanced sources and destinations.

Using UTP can be a perfect solution in many situations, but it is not the universal solution that conventional audio cable provides.
Old 14th June 2019
  #22
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
it would be useful to have some basic circuit boards imo. maybe setup so that it could be easy to
substitute in a panel mount ethernet connector as an option to a normal PCB mount connector.
then it would be pretty easy to take any generic box and use those to put in a panel.

I noticed this range of connector pass through guitar pedal board accessories the other day.

https://www.thomann.de/gb/rockboard_mod_2.htm
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Electrically, Mechanically, Yes. 100% possible. No problem at all..
Thanks Richard for the confirmation. It led me to do some further internet searching. And I stumbled on this link.
https://3dhdgear.com/collections/aud...l-to-rj45-jack
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Wow, that price is highway robbery IMHO.
As soon as some clever Shenzhen closet-manufacturer gets a clue, they will be available for $19.95
Special this week: $14.95
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dkay View Post
Thanks Richard for the confirmation. It led me to do some further internet searching. And I stumbled on this link.
https://3dhdgear.com/collections/aud...l-to-rj45-jack
Check the pictures in post #13 . I bought those boxes for $33 each, not $170 each.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MediaGary View Post
Check the pictures in post #13 . I bought those boxes for $33 each, not $170 each.
Ok, great. I see that those boxes are all male or all female, but having thought through the setup I think I might be able to make this work. Coincidentally this is for a setup involving the XR18! Love the back mounted panels!
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