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Cable brand / Cable length...how important are these factors? Modular Synthesizers
Old 13th September 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Cable brand / Cable length...how important are these factors?

Hello all,

I am in the process of setting up my first home studio, and I would be grateful to get some opinions / advice on decent brands of cables.

I am not looking to spend £20 per cable, but at the same time, I don't want to penny-pinch if the cable will effect my end results.

Also, is it true that you should always try to buy the shortest cable possible, as this will provide better results?

I will be recording and mixing in my studio.

many thanks....
Old 13th September 2011
  #2
Gear Head
 

Yes, when dealing with unbalanced/TS connections the shorter the cable the better. With balanced cable (TRS/XLR) you can use longer runs without loss of sound quality. I prefer Mogami cables if they are available to you. Monster makes a good cable as well but for some reason my Monster cables have not held up as well as the Mogami. I also like ProCo.
Old 13th September 2011
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
staylor200's Avatar
 

Any brand of cable bought new will usually work fine. Cheap brands will fall apart sooner, and brands like Mogami/Monster will last a long, long time. Your call. Nicer cables like Mogami Gold, technically sound better but don't worry too much about the sound quality. Just get the best cables you can afford. I build my own Mogami & Canare cables with Neutrik connectors and save a ton of money.
Old 13th September 2011
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Thanks chaps.....

I wasn't aware that Balanced cables don't lose sound quality....so thats good to know!!

Anybody else use other brands of cables? maybe around the £5 - £10 price region?
Old 13th September 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
 

The specs on the cable will tell you how well the screen works, among other things. Seems important to me.

Do to the economies of scale I have not found that I save any money buying parts and making my own. What I do get is custom cabling to fit my rig, without the extra lengths of cables bundled up in the backs of racks etc. o I often end up making my own anyway.

There is no evidence that Mogami or Monster lasts any longer than any other good quality commercial cable. About every 20 years or so you may need to replace cables when the jackets dry out and crack and the screens become faulty. I have guitar leads that I bought from Whirlwind in the 1970s that still work just fine. Others did not last as long.

Buy good cable... Belden, West Penn Wire, Gepco, Mogami or whatever floats your boat, or call one of the cable makers and let them build your cables for you. Just plan it all out ahead of time, and make sure to leave enough slack on the wires for service.
Old 13th September 2011
  #6
Lives for gear
IMO the best cheaper cables are canare.

They are flexable/not overly thick and are pretty transparent.
Old 13th September 2011
  #7
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edva's Avatar
Shorter cables are usually better. For signal cables, quality shielding, connectors, and soldering is important, "snake oil" not so much. For speaker cables, use the shortest, thickest cables you reasonably can, of any decent quality.
Old 13th September 2011
  #8
Gear Head
 

This is interesting. I pulled this up online for you.... "Balanced lines are made up of and carry 3 similar elements, a positive voltage signal, a negative voltage signal, and a ground (shield). Unbalanced lines, on the other hand, are made up of only 2 elements: the audio signal and the ground. The main difference between the two is that balanced cables utilize 3 conductors to carry an analog audio signal while unbalanced cables use only 2 conductors.
In the case of a balanced line, the audio signal is doubled or duplicated and "flipped" in polarity (hence the positive and negative) to reduce noise and increase cable lengths using a phenomenon called "Common Mode Rejection". In an unbalanced scenario the signal is not duplicated and the whole signal load is carried by only one conductor." I'm not 100% sure in saying this but... I believe you need to keep unbalanced cables under 30ft. Radial Engineering at one time told me you could run a balanced cable up to 300ft without significant loss or noise problems. I've never attempted that long of a cable run but they said it could be done.... Who knows? Anybody else know if this is true?
Old 13th September 2011
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brentley Womac View Post
I'm not 100% sure in saying this but... I believe you need to keep unbalanced cables under 30ft. Radial Engineering at one time told me you could run a balanced cable up to 300ft without significant loss or noise problems. I've never attempted that long of a cable run but they said it could be done.... Who knows? Anybody else know if this is true?
I wouldn't argue with the engineers at Radial, but I know for a fact that a lot of snakes are between 250 to 450 feet long. Television trucks run the longer ones typically.

Unbalanced cables? Depending upon to whom you speak, 5 feet is too long.
Old 13th September 2011
  #10
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Unbalanced cables can run just as far as balanced in a perfect world. Obviously a perfect world is hard to find. I've seen unbalanced runs in the 100'-200' that were just fine. Now. if there is any potential for interference getting into the cables you certainly want to run balanced. As to why people think you can't run unbalanced very far, that's because they are probably confusing impedance and level issues with balanced/unbalanced.

Tech types can argue this 'til blue, but that has been my experience.
Old 14th September 2011
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brentley Womac View Post
Radial Engineering at one time told me you could run a balanced cable up to 300ft without significant loss or noise problems. I've never attempted that long of a cable run but they said it could be done.... Who knows? Anybody else know if this is true?
One of the production houses I work for has a 250 foot and 150 foot Whirlwind 58 channel mass connector snake which we frequently attach together for long runs. From there, we're known to attach 50-100 foot XLR cables onto that. We've never once had any issues. However, we always send phantom power from the monitor console when we use one, which is right on stage, so there's minimal voltage drop.

So yes, it can be run longer without any issues. I've never heard any audible difference. The best [live] mix I've ever heard was Colby Cailat off of that system through a Cobra 4 rig, and I've worked shows from 200 people up to 25,000 people. Man, that was a hell of a show.
Old 14th September 2011
  #12
Lives for gear
 
nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Just a thought; when some mention Unbalanced I want to know what kind of signal/source is driving the cable..is it a Unbalanced +4dB signal or a Gtr?? HUGE difference..
Old 14th September 2011
  #13
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TurboJets's Avatar
In the U.S. here.

I've used redco.com for several years now for simple Mogami premolded assemblies for my humble home studio. 6ft. cable usually satisfy my needs for interconnects and are $10 USD each for balanced, $7 USD unbalanced.

10ft. cables are slightly more $$ but only by around $4 USD each.

They're reliable cables and every Mogami cable I bought 10 years ago is still performing its basic function perfectly well.

The same endorsement FWIW applies to Mogami's simple Silver Series XLR cables. Inexpensive and completely reliable. The cheapest price I've found for Mogami Silver Series XLR (25ft) has been Musician's Friend. I'm not a fan of Musician's Friend, but I am a fan of their price for that cable.
Old 14th September 2011
  #14
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Silent Sound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brentley Womac View Post
This is interesting. I pulled this up online for you.... "Balanced lines are made up of and carry 3 similar elements, a positive voltage signal, a negative voltage signal, and a ground (shield). Unbalanced lines, on the other hand, are made up of only 2 elements: the audio signal and the ground. The main difference between the two is that balanced cables utilize 3 conductors to carry an analog audio signal while unbalanced cables use only 2 conductors.
In the case of a balanced line, the audio signal is doubled or duplicated and "flipped" in polarity (hence the positive and negative) to reduce noise and increase cable lengths using a phenomenon called "Common Mode Rejection". In an unbalanced scenario the signal is not duplicated and the whole signal load is carried by only one conductor." I'm not 100% sure in saying this but... I believe you need to keep unbalanced cables under 30ft. Radial Engineering at one time told me you could run a balanced cable up to 300ft without significant loss or noise problems. I've never attempted that long of a cable run but they said it could be done.... Who knows? Anybody else know if this is true?
It's mostly true. Balanced cables can definitely run further than unbalanced for those very reasons without being as subjected to interference from outside electro-magnetic noise like RF signals or that 60 Hz from running near a power cord. But that only accounts for rejecting interference. There is another component to a cable relative to it's length that is neglected here. That is resistance. The longer a cable, the more resistance the signal is subjected to and thus the weaker the signal will be, as some of it will be lost to heat. You shouldn't notice the cable getting warm unless you're pumping massive amounts of wattage through a thin cable, but you will usually notice some degradation in the higher frequencies and the signal-to-noise ratio if the cable becomes long enough. There's not really much you can do about it because most decent cable companies use a high percentage oxygen free copper (OFC) wire. You'd have to upgrade to something like gold cables (not just connectors) or platinum, and those just wouldn't be cost efficient at all.

So I say buy the shortest cables you need for cost savings and quality reasons. Also buy cables with connectors that you can get into if you need to repair one, or better yet, build your own. When you buy cable, look at the gauge of the wire and the thickness and quality of the rubber surrounding it. If you buy connectors, look for something that has room to get in and solder, and avoid the solder-less connections as they tend to fail more often. And if you need to buy a soldering iron avoid Radio Shack. I've bought two soldering irons from them in the past, and even they don't sell replacement tips for them anymore so now neither one of them is any good to me!
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