Cables (for the rest of your studio)

Distinct from Cables (for modular synths), and following on some discussion in Improving the signal chain - #176 by jlmitch5, I’m wondering how many other folks are DIYing their studio cabling, and interested to collect resources on the topic.

When I was in university and taking courses on Electronic Music (~2006), our professor recommended buying bulk cable and connectors (rather than buying off-the-shelf cabling) for two reasons: cost, and durability.

Is this still good advice?

I’m finally looking at getting a patchbay to make it easier to connect various devices, and am faced with the prospect of spending quite a lot of money on store-bought cables that look like they may break quickly, or spending quite a lot of money on raw materials to make my own cabling.

From the thread there, it sounds like Mogami 2893 is still a good choice. I recall our professor also recommending Canare cabling, which I managed to find a supplier for in Europe.

For those based in EU, are there other suppliers you’d suggest for finding Mogami, Belden, or other good cabling?

And for those with more experience in this department, is the braided mic cabling appropriate to use for balanced line level (or even hi-z instrument, or RCA line) cabling?

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i swear by my MOGAMI® - Gold Instrument (3, 6, 10, 18 or 25 ft) and i didn’t know you could buy raw materials from mogami… how hard is it to make your own?

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The problem is with this , for most cables. The time it takes to make your own cables , if you charged yourself minimum wage in EU at least. You might as well buy the cable. I only made my own when i did not have the money too! It works out more economic to buy overall

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I use Gotham mic cable (GAC 4/1), and Sommer everything else. I enjoy making the cables myself and can always have the exact length I want :slight_smile:

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Making your own cables is the way to go!

Custom lengths really helps keep everything tidy and if you ever need some random cable / adapter you can whip it up really quick.

When I worked at a venue, I made the XLR cables we used on stage and at FOH. We had good luck with Rean XLR connectors and this Mogami balanced bulk cable

I would take home all the broken cables / DI boxes and poach the beat up, but still useful Neutrik XLR connectors and transformers. I built up quite a junk drawer over the years and now when any friends are setting up a home studio, I’ll make whatever they need. Saves an incredible amount of $$$ that can be better spent on hardware.

For snake cabling I highly recommend the Mystery Boxes from Redco. Always high end cabling in usable lengths, and random configs that I would never think to order myself but have been super useful (3 ch balanced snake? :control_knobs:)

As far as connectors go, I love the look of the Amphenol 1/4" connectors but I have broken so many terminals during assembly that I no longer use them.

Years ago I bought a few hundred NOS Switchcraft TRS connectors from a seller on eBay. They came out to around $1 shipped per connector. I still have a bunch kicking around after making DB25 snakes and oodles of TRS cables.

Many a sweet deal to be found out in the world if you dig a bit and are willing to buy in bulk!

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anybody have tips where to find high quality right angle cables?

All balanced Mogami and Canare StarQuad in my studio. One thing I learned from studio work is to make sure you never have audio and power cables running together, or near one another, in parallel. If they must cross, cross them at right angles, perpendicular to each other. If you have the time and patience to make your own cables, there can be benefits of having them be just as long as you need them to be, so you don’t need to coil up excess lengths. Cable management in the studio is just as important as cable quality!

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I was wondering about this… maybe the economic math 15 years ago in California is different from today in Europe.

Thinking out loud a bit here…

It’s also tough to compare apples-to-apples. For example, I could buy 6 balanced 60cm patch cables for €10. This is definitely cheaper than DIYing when factoring in time-cost, but these cables don’t actually look very reparable in the long term - the jacks don’t look easy to disassemble to fix soldering issues (but maybe I’m wrong there?)

On the other hand, the same cable length from Cordial with Rean connectors is €7.50 per cable, or €21 for a Sommer cable with Neutrik connector.

So, that I think is where the bulk / quantity question comes in. If I were to buy 24 patch cables (it’s a 24 point patch bay… maybe I wouldn’t have everything patched all at once thanks to normalling), that’s €180 just on patch cables. To DIY, it’s €0.83 per meter of Cordial cable, plus about €2.50 per connector, or about €135 (or, paying yourself €45 to make 24 patch cables).

Not that great of a discount for 24 patch cables… I guess I’ll need to do the math on longer lengths too. Then there’s the question about quality of the Cordial CMK 222 cabling (€0.83/m) vs. Mogami or Canare (~€3/m)… It seems right on the border of “cost savings”

On a side note, I’ve also just finally noticed that Thomann also sells cable by the meter

I bought a reel of Mogami 2524 (unbalanced/instrument) and a reel of Mogami 2552 (balanced/mic) when I lived in Japan about 20 years ago, and hand solder all my own cables with that, using Neutrik gold plated connectors. Some I made 20 years ago are still going strong, and I’ve never had a concern about the sound or build quality.

I still have over half a reel left of each!

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Last time i calculated it , i did it with neutrik XLRs and medium grade cable. 10m meter cable for live sound YMMV!
If you are going to DIY it. Make sure its high quality jacks and minimum medium grade cable. Or else any way you cut it , your going to waste your time and money. If your going cheap buy ready made. If your going premium , DIY cables make more sense. But only more sense , maybe not more time /financial sense. The best advice is , do you have more money , or more time? Do you have all the tools , cable tester, good soldering iron , tools to strip wires etc? When you can answer that , you will know your own answer!

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I make my own mic/line cables, I sorta have a system down for making a bunch at once so they don’t consume much time and I can get the specific length I want and the specific shielding I want too.

For US/Canada-based peoples, the Redco branded cable and connectors are a great value and work just fine in most situations.

If it’s “back of the patchbay” (fixed install cables that aren’t going to be moved) you might get away with Gotham GAC-2 foil which is only $0.19/ft from Redco. Mogami 2549 is great for things you’re plugging/unplugging a bunch, Canare L-2T2S is just fine as well for that. I worked in one studio that had insane RF interference and Gotham GAC-3 saved us in that instance—but it’d be superfluous if you’re not picking up helicopter radio signals (as we were). For connectors, I find the Amphenol line of 1/4" TS/TRS jacks to be least annoying to solder, and Neutrik (or Redco) for the XLRs.

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hoping for community help - getting confused reading various (often conflicting) info on the web…

is it okay to connect an unbalanced output using a balanced cable to a balanced input? if i understand correctly, this will short negative input to ground - could that cause any issues? (my mixer balanced inputs are described as “Tip=Hot [+], Ring=Cold [-], Sleeve=Ground”.

are there any adapters / splitters that would allow me to plug a balanced cable into 2 separate inputs, one balanced and one unbalanced? seems it’s easy enough to find a TRS to 2 TS splitter - but i imagine it wouldn’t work, because if it’s coming from a balanced output, this could result in opposite phase signals. are there TRS to 2 TRS splitters (in which case it just becomes the same case as above)?

generally, it’s usually not an issue to short one of the two inputs to ground - if the driver or receiver is truly differential, you’ll wind up with a quieter signal since you’ll lose half of it, but you won’t usually damage anything

that said, if one side is unbalanced, i tend to prefer using an unbalanced cable, primarily based on various experiences with guitar pedals. some pedals will use a TRS jack, but expect a TS cable, and use the ring-to-sleeve short to connect the power circuit, and if you use a TRS plug in that jack, you’ll have Problems™ (the usual motivation for this is that the pedal is “off” when the plug is removed, to save your precious 9v battery)

i’m not familiar with something like this… something to remember is that the cable doesn’t care what kind of signal you run through it – a TRS-to-TRS cable could just as easily be used for stereo unbalanced as mono balanced. so, i’d guess you’re more likely to find a TRS-to-2xTRS splitter than anything that deals with inverting or summing a balanced signal… with that, maybe you could use a floating-ring cable to make the unbalanced connection to avoid shorting the negative signal to ground for the rest of the balanced connections?

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good point, i haven’t considered that duplicating the same balanced connection into a balanced and unbalanced inputs would affect the balanced input…

is there such thing as a floating-ring plug/socket adapter? my case is complicated by the fact that the balanced signal is coming from a patchbay via a snake, so would be difficult to replace that with a different cable (like using an insert cable and then duplicating just the tip part).

What’s your actual use case for splitting / de-balancing?

Re: floating ring cables, I was thinking of these style eurorack cables, but I guess they’re all 1/4” TRS to 1/8” TS, but even a stereo 1/8->1/4 adapter on the TS plug would short to ground without affecting the balanced ring connection. Or, if you’re making your own cables anyways, it shouldn’t be too hard to “just connect what you need”

this is for xone 96 mixer, i have a send effect which i want to route back to the mixer. typically i will use channel C for that - it’s a simple extra input with no EQ and not connected to the USB audio card, it just gets summed to the main output - this would be for jamming / recording a complete mix. channel C is perfect for that as it means i don’t have to tie up one of the 6 main channels. this is the unbalanced input.

but occasionally i want to record the effect track, in which case i want to route it to one of the regular channels (which are balanced) - i could simply manually replug cables, but it’d be nice to be able to simply use a switch on the mixer itself.

Hello, I am looking to make an 8-channel and 12-channel high-quality RCA <-> TS snakes to go from my 16/4 console (Teac Model 5B with extender) to my patchbays (two Samson S-Patch Pluses).

I currently use these cheap-y Hosa snakes for the job, and about a quarter of the rca tips have broke as I was setting up and adjusting the cabling (very thin metal around a plastic base…the metal easily breaks off).

My first question is around materials. These are the components I am thinking for these new cables from Redco. If any one has any recommendations for rugged (but cheaper) neutrik ends, I’d love to know.

My second question is about wiring. After reading, it seems like there are 4 pieces to the 2932 cable:

  • colored wire. this goes to tip
  • clear wire. this would go to ring in a balanced setup
  • drain/shield. these are conductive to each other and cary ground they’d go to sleeve

It seems for unbalanced use, the colored wire still goes tip to tip to cary the signal. There seems to be a couple ways people handle ground:

  1. connect the drain wires to sleeve, leaving clear wire disconnected on either side.
  2. connect drain and clear to one side’s sleeve and just drain on the other side.
  3. I guess you could also connect both drain and clear to sleeve on both sides, though I haven’t seen that mentioned on my searches.

Is there a reason why you’d favor one of these methods over the other?

If I understand (and remember) correctly, this is something you don’t want to do, because by connecting the clear wire to the drain at both ends, you effectively create a wire loop, which behaves as an antenna (and/or ground loop?). Since this is connected to your ground, and your “signal” is the difference between the colored wire and the ground, you’ll hear whatever the antenna picks up on the output.

How are the drain and shield connected? If this is a connection that you make yourself, I’m under the impression that the “correct” way to wire those connectors with that cable is to leave either the colored, or the clear, wire completely disconnected (and in this case, you’d connect the drain lead to the sleeve at both ends, and only connect the shield at one end)

I don’t have too much knowledge around part sourcing or selection though, so I can’t be of much help there

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Thank you for your thoughts. What you describe seems to me to be the ideal way to me too. A forum I was on mention the idea of connecting the clear wire on one side only as another option, but I didn’t really understand the point of that. Figured I’d see if anyone else did. Good to know about the other way being bad.

I’ve got a growing # of small synths & effects boxes that all take stereo in and out. PiSound, Norns Shield, Organelle… And regular 1/4 cables, their plugs, and adapters kind of overwhelm the units and take up room on my desk.

I want have them connected up together to a Ferrofish. I need to access the UI so mounting them to something would only work for the two pisounds.

Does anyone make smaller weight cables with light plugs - even better if they’re stereo or quad. ++ if they have options for right angle connectors?

Maybe I should just solder up my own?

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