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Snakes, snakes, snakes... Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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hughesmr's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Smile Snakes, snakes, snakes...

Hello Slutz,

Wanting to get some feedback on what stage snakes you may be using, and your opinions of same. I'm looking to get a great quality 8-ch solution that will greatly simplify cabling on classical remotes. My situation is:
  1. 8-channel pre and AD not onstage, so looking at 100 ft of 8-ch mic level signal
  2. A single return for a talkback might be nice, but I can string that with existing cable
  3. Lightweight (reasonably so)
  4. Reel-able

I currently own a single 50m 4-channel shielded Cat5e cable ("Instasnake") w/baluns from Redco:
RJ45/(4)MX-01 Ethernet to 4 Male XLR breakout cable, 1' | Redco Audio
and this cable:
http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/273717-Behringer-NCAT5E

I like the above system, except that the cable is VERY stiff and difficult to reel up -- MUCH stiffer than standard flexible rubber-ish outer sheath a la Magami/Canare -- and it also is a challenge to get to lay flat.

Has anyone tried this Cat6 cable from Redco?
Ethercon Cable-Heavy Duty Shielded | Redco Audio

If there is such a thing as good shielded Cat5e/Cat6 that is flexible and lays flat and reels easily, then I think I'd lean toward two of these (4+4 channels). If not, then a conventional 100' 8+0 or 8+4 snake is what I'm looking at.

Questions: -- which option would you go with, and why? If the 8-ch snake route, recommendations of brands/suppliers to favor (or avoid)? I've heard good things about EWI-Audiopile snakes -- but both good and bad about just about everything else.

PSX 8 Channel XLR Stage Snake

I tend to baby my gear, but I want something as stone-cold reliable/durable and high quality as I can reasonably buy. (And not break the bank OR my back!)

Your opinions/thoughts/experiences are welcome and appreciated. Thanks--
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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tourtelot's Avatar
Hi Michael-

My advice ($00.02) is to invest in the tools for terminating Cat5e cable and DIY. It is worth it in a number of ways; cheaper per cable, cheaper per length, custom lengths, etc. A ratchet crimper, 100 pass-through RJ45 connectors, a Cat5e wire stripper, checker-boxes to make certain that you cables are wired correctly, and 1000' of Cat5e (I think all can be had from Monoprice) and away you go. Probably cheaper than one RedCo Cat5. (and I like RedCo BTW) That saying, I can't imagine going to RedCo for all my Cat5e cables; I have literally made hundreds of them in the building of my Dante rig. It isn't hard to build Cat5e cables. The first few will be clumsy but you'll soon be making perfect ends. Reelers are available on eBay or even at Home Depot.

Cat6 is harder to build but I can think of almost no instance where anyone doing a few dozen of audio tracks would need Cat6. Big server farms use Cat6, not audio guys

I have an Insta-snake setup and it's okay. Only good for mic-level; line level cross-talks extensively. My real-world solution to losing the copper snakes? One word. Dante.

D.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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tourtelot's Avatar
Oh and if you carry these Cat5 tools on the job, and something happens to a critical cable, a quick trip to Home Depot will provide another 1000' of Cat5 cable so that you can, almost instantly, build a new snake.

Oh, and I use shielded Cat5e, shielded RJ45 connectors and Ethercon ends on all my cables. Those really insure RF protection and no pull-outs, ever. I actually solder the shield's drain wire to the metal on the RJ45, and since my rig is all Dante streams, I never have to worry about ground loops no matter what gear is plugged into what AC outlet. A very nice perk.

D.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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Larry Elliott's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr View Post
Hello Slutz,

If there is such a thing as good shielded Cat5e/Cat6 that is flexible and lays flat and reels easily, then I think I'd lean toward two of these (4+4 channels). If not, then a conventional 100' 8+0 or 8+4 snake is what I'm looking at.

I tend to baby my gear, but I want something as stone-cold reliable/durable and high quality as I can reasonably buy. (And not break the bank OR my back!)

Your opinions/thoughts/experiences are welcome and appreciated. Thanks--
I have been using Vandamme 268-450-000 Tourcat CAT5ESTP Flexible for over two years and have not had any problem
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
I don't bother with STP for Ethernet stuff, though I'd certainly recommend it for carrying analog audio or for other cases (like AES50) that require it. I've never seen any evidence of Ethernet being affected by RF except in extraordinary circumstances (like the PAVE PAWS radar site, where you don't want to be when it's active unless you want FLKs).

Doug's being smart because his cables will work equally well for multichannel analog audio, or Ethernet/Dante. But if you're not gonna run analog, you'll save money and suffer no ill effects by running standard UTP cabling for your Ethernet networks.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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Larry Elliott's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
I don't bother with STP for Ethernet stuff,
I agree about STP, but this was the only "flexible" cable I could find and as you say it can be used for other purposes as well.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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tourtelot's Avatar
That stuff looks expensive and really hard to work with in a first viewing. Like others have said, for what we do, almost any Ethernet cable will do. That means that you find a cable type that does all you need and nothing that you don't need. That reduces cost and labor. I use a stranded cable, with a shield ('cause I like shielded cable) and buy it from Monoprice at a good price. Flexible enough, lies flat enough, goes on a cheap reeler well enough. Perfect! But in an emergency, I can go to my big-box store and but 1000' of replacement for almost nothing that will get me through a job.

Cat6, braided shield, expensive ends. Not for me thanks.

D.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
On a related note, would any of our more Networking-savvy folks know if there is a particular name/category/term for network cable whose sleeve/shielding is similar to a traditional XLR cable, as compared to typical consumer ethernet cable? And a recommended source for purchasing some? Say 100' or so. I have been using a Dante-based rig since August and I'm planning to get something longer and more robust for the long control room run.

I'm attaching a picture of what I mean below -- I notice this type is often sold with ethercon connectors (as in picture). I use these all the time at my work, and they're so much easier to coil when doing long runs, plus they seem much more robust. I'd like to compare my options for buying a good length of this stuff, but if there's some way I could use appropriate search terms to filter out all the thinner, twistier, consumer-type cables from my search it would be a huge time-saver.

Thanks all!
Attached Thumbnails
Snakes, snakes, snakes...-pro_co_sound_pce2_50_procat_5_10_100_base_t_1435781153000_404273.jpg  
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
I'd look for terms like "stranded", "tour grade" "STP". Maybe add "flexible".
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
We go through about 20,000 ft of Cat6 a year. We find that it makes no sense to buy the rubber jacket Cat5 cable that costs about a dollar a foot when we can purchase stranded Cat6 UTP for $0.12/ft. This cable coils neatly and lays flat and is easily field repairable. In the shorter pieces we re-use (50-200'), we typically get about 5-6 years from stranded UTP before somebody jams it in a door, severely kinks the cable or smashes a connector. In our situation, it is often less expensive to abandon the cable rather than pay 3 hours of stage hand bills to remove it.

The thing to consider is "What is the application?" If you plan to use this as Data cable only, then there is no reason to use anything other than stranded UTP Cat6 that is $0.12/ft. If you must have Ethercon connectors, they cost $1.79 ea and mount around a standard RJ-45 connector. We do not use them under any circumstance. 99% of devices do not have Ethercon connectors. Those that do do not require a cable with ethercon connectors to plug into them. We use the Platinum EZ-RJ45 connectors and locking boots along with the Platinum tooling. Nothing faster and easier.

One thing to invest in is a proper Cat 6 cable qualification tester. I bought a couple of these on ebay for $150 ea. (They typically go for about $1k new ) You don't need a certification tester. You'd me amazed how many cables pass a basic continuity test but fail a qualification test. We test each cable for CAT6 qualification each time we terminate a cable or come back to it after a period of time. This will also very quickly make you good at doing proper CAT6 terminations. Watch the videos on line and practice. I find that to get a really good CAT6 termination, it takes me about 5 min per termination.

If you are planning to run analog signals through the cable, I would suggest you look for Stranded Cat5 SSTP. This cable has a drain wire, an over all foil shield as well as individual beldafoil shields for each pair. When properly terminated, this provides good analog performance for mic as well as line level or AES. it coils easily and lasts for years. If you are planning to use the cable for both data and twisted pair audio, go for Cat6 SSTP. This is bulkier than the others, but is still robust and easy to coil. I find that it is easier to have separate data and audio cables. Buy one spool of each. Pre-make appropriate lengths and get on with the task at hand.

As always, YMMV.
All the best,
-mark
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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tourtelot's Avatar
Where do you get Cat6 at .12 a foot? And do you need to buy 10,000'? I would move all my new cabling to Cat6 at .12 a foot. For data, do you agree that no shielding is needed?

FWIW, I like Ethercon. They work perfectly in my closed network. I decided to spend the money on racks of chassis mounted Ethercons and all my interconnects have them. They seem to be better able to take the abuse; I hate the little plastic "clickers" on a standard RJ45 connector. Seems fragile and a point of failure that can be prevented with Ethercons. Imagine, if you will, your FOH to stage Cat5 coming out in the middle of a show. Now imagine it NEVER coming out til you want to disconnect it. Seems like an easy choice.

As Mark said, YMMV.

D.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Where do you get Cat6 at .12 a foot? And do you need to buy 10,000'? I would move all my new cabling to Cat6 at .12 a foot. For data, do you agree that no shielding is needed?
Here is a link to Cat6 Patch in 8 colors for $0.12/ft

Quote:
FWIW, I like Ethercon. They work perfectly in my closed network. I decided to spend the money on racks of chassis mounted Ethercons and all my interconnects have them. They seem to be better able to take the abuse; I hate the little plastic "clickers" on a standard RJ45 connector. Seems fragile and a point of failure that can be prevented with Ethercons. Imagine, if you will, your FOH to stage Cat5 coming out in the middle of a show. Now imagine it NEVER coming out til you want to disconnect it. Seems like an easy choice.
As Mark said, YMMV.
D.
My issue is what happens when you need to plug into an outside system. FWIW, I've not had an RJ45 come loose ever. The opposite is actually relatively common. Getting the clips to disengage in tight spaces can be difficult.
Also, adding the transition panels/connections with ethercon jacks reduces the effective cable length by about 20%. Not an issue for most, but we find that added connections are by far largest source of lost packets and connection problems. I'd be far more likely to trust a single 100m piece of CAT6 than 3 10m pieces coupled together.
All the best,
-mark
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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hughesmr's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Hi Mark,

Thanks for the great info. I'd be using only to carry 4 channels of mic level analog signal + 48V phantom -- so shielded cable is a must (cat5e or cat6). I was under the impression that ethercons were necessary for this config to carry phantom for four channels ... am I mistaken there?

Anyone who could address lukedamrosch's post above (Snakes, snakes, snakes...) ... he pretty much has stated my question better than I did...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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tourtelot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr View Post
Hi Mark,

I was under the impression that ethercons were necessary for this config to carry phantom for four channels ... am I mistaken there?

.
No. Only shielded RJ45 connectors. The Ethercons pick up the shield from shielded RJ45 connectors as do most devices used in audio over IP.

D.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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tourtelot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post
Here is a link to Cat6 Patch in 8 colors for $0.12/ft

My issue is what happens when you need to plug into an outside system. FWIW, I've not had an RJ45 come loose ever. The opposite is actually relatively common. Getting the clips to disengage in tight spaces can be difficult.
Also, adding the transition panels/connections with ethercon jacks reduces the effective cable length by about 20%. Not an issue for most, but we find that added connections are by far largest source of lost packets and connection problems.
Makes sense. There certainly are a lot more connections in my rig than if I just patched into the Ethernet (Dante) ports on my devices. The Ethercon patch panels on my switches make patching very simple and I use silver/black Ethercons to differentiate between regular ports and ports carrying PoE for devices like my stage cameras, my Rednet headphone amp and Amphi-Dante pigtails. I think that care in wiring will eliminate most of the worries you speak about while increasing flexibility. I carry around a bunch of Neutrik boxes to make it easy to patch into some odd-ball device that I don't have set up for Ethercon.

Neutrik etherCON RJ45 Feed-Through Coupler for Cable NE8FF B&H

I really like them, what can I say?

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
I only use Ethercon on my Behringer gear for AES50, and then only because on a few early generations of stageboxes they wired the ground from the Ethercon shell to the ground on the stagebox, but NOT the ground from the RJ45 STP jack.

For the rest of it I use UTP stranded CAT5e or CAT6, with the booted RJ45s which both protect the locking tab on the RJ45 from damage and make unintentional removal more difficult (at the cost of making intentional removal a PITA sometimes). Like Mark, I consider my 200+ meter reels of stranded UTP to be life-limited replaceable items, and I think I could replace a reel 3 or four times for the cost of one of the "rugged" cables. It makes more economic sense for me to operate that way. I'd take the opposite approach with long runs of fiber. That stuff is hard to repair correctly in the field, it's expensive, and it's far more fragile, so using the ruggedized versions makes economic sense.

That said, I understand Doug's desire to standardize on EtherCon.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
I use Mogami AES/EBU digital 9 pair snakes for that sort of stuff. Good for any signals, analog or digital, it's thin and very flexible. Redco will terminate it with anything you choose.

The best performer is the Mogami 3173 long distance AES cable with 18 awg conductors. It makes an incredible mic cable too. About $1.30 per foot but worth it.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Lives for gear
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Yep, recommended over any "audio" cable.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Gear Maniac
i try avoiding all copper cables and use madi fiber (on sc or opticalcon)
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i try avoiding all copper cables and use madi fiber (on sc or opticalcon)
I crashed once with MADI optical link. Saved by an analog backup recording next to the mic pre.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
Gear Maniac
well done!

and to be honest: in addition to the 2 twin fiber cables (1 pair beeing redundant), i run 2 'aes cables', 2 more madi on bnc, 1 power and 1 cat5 for remote controlling devices: they all get used regularly as well...

p.s. i use madi for additional midi transmission
Old 1 week ago
  #25
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tourtelot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 9sbean View Post
I crashed once with MADI optical link. Saved by an analog backup recording next to the mic pre.
Yep, no telling what might go bad on a particular day. The more technology, the more chances. I just do my best to keep my stuff in good repair and back up the critical units. And hope for the best.

Oh, and have plans to move to the East Coast of Mexico; landline phone, good gas stove with an oven, washer and dryer (couldn't do with out those) and that's about it. Done! Who needs the rest of this crap?

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
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Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

So, are most people done with using copper cable snakes, even if the intended use is regular audio (not digital)? Nobody still digging a traditional snake, even for 8 or fewer channels?
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Gear Maniac
sub snakes

njet,

we're not done with snakes: we're all (?) using sub snakes on stage/to the booths - and as a spares something digital goes down...
Old 1 week ago
  #28
Gear Addict
 

I still use analog snake:50' and 100' 12 channel Whirlwind Medusa Elite with stage box at one end-rugged even when stepped on or crimped in door. Plus 30' and 50' 4-channel and 50' 2-channel Canare Star Quad snakes from top of stands.
All coiled into Husky tool bags.
Works for me.
Old 1 week ago
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy-boy View Post
So, are most people done with using copper cable snakes, even if the intended use is regular audio (not digital)? Nobody still digging a traditional snake, even for 8 or fewer channels?
To be honest, our long 27/32 pair snakes haven't left the building in at least 5 years. (We've long since moved them into longterm storage) We use 8 pair subsnakes with boxes on stage to the Horus/Hapi stagebox, but all the heavy lifting is done over IP.
All the best,
-mark
Old 1 week ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy-boy View Post
So, are most people done with using copper cable snakes, even if the intended use is regular audio (not digital)? Nobody still digging a traditional snake, even for 8 or fewer channels?
Many of the applications discussed here require many channels run over great distances with very fast setup/strike times, lots of redundancy and possible interface with existing digital systems. If you aren't doing that kind of thing there isn't any more issue with analog copper snakes than there ever was, which is to say they work just fine if you take care of them. They are also cheap, since it is almost impossible to sell a copper snake used anymore, you can pick up ones in decent shape on CL very cheap, sometimes free. We got some EDAC-XLR fans from Urban Ore Recycling in Berkeley of all places for pennies compared with what we would have had to pay Redco or LA Audio to build them for us.
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