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Old September 3rd, 2005, 08:17 PM   #1
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XLR Cables? Quality or quanity?

Ok, I know cables aren't the HUGEST deal when buying equipment but I'm sure someone will insist I buy $300 cables and that anything else is worthless. So I'm looking for two 50' cables to run from studio mics into my Beachtek into my camera. Here are some cheap brands on E-Bay and just wanted to know what you thought, and/or which you would get, or if you have 'em yourselves. Thanks. I was thinking the 1st three maybe.
Conquest
http://cgi.ebay.com/50-foot-Conquest...QQcmdZViewItem
Legion Sound
http://cgi.ebay.com/TWO-50-foot-XLR-...QQcmdZViewItem
Whirlwind
http://cgi.ebay.com/2-Whirlwind-50-X...QQcmdZViewItem
ASG
http://cgi.ebay.com/Two-50-XLR-Micro...QQcmdZViewItem
???????? Neutrik conntectors
http://cgi.ebay.com/Two-50-XLR-Micro...QQcmdZViewItem
No-Name El Cheapos
http://cgi.ebay.com/2-XLR-3-Pin-Mic-...QQcmdZViewItem
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Old September 3rd, 2005, 08:20 PM   #2
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Old September 3rd, 2005, 08:53 PM   #3
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Balanced mic cables have 2 (or sometimes 4) conductors plus a shield braid. All kinds of seemingly little things about a cable impact its quality and longevity. The design of the cable, the materials used, the diameter of the conductors, and so on. Then there are the connectors at the ends, which are even more crucial. Most cable failures happen where the cable meets the connector.

You needn't buy $300 cables. You can get cables made with very high quality components that will cost you $50-70 each for 50' lengths, or if you are handy with a soldiering iron, you can make your own for quite a bit less.

Traiditionally, a balanced mic cable has been 2 conductors in a twisted pair, surrounded by a shield braid. The shield is connected to Pin 1 on the XLR connector, the "Hot" or "Positive" conductor to Pin 2, and the "Common" or "Negative" conductor on Pin 3. Belden 8412 cable is pretty much the professional industry standard for this type of cable, as it is built VERY tough and has large gauge conductors.

http://raq4.buydonlin.com/Merchant2/...ldenmultia.gif
Belden 8412

More recently, there has been a move to 4-conductor-plus-shield mic cables, which have 2 twisted pairs that are themselves twisted together, all surrounded by a shield braid. The purpose of doubling the number of conductors is to reduce outside interference. Because of the twist in the wires, interference tends to bleed into both the hot and common conductor equally, which allows it to be cancelled out. This cable configuration is usually referred to as "Star-Quad." It is arguably not as tough as, say, Belden 8412, but it is better in environments with a lot of RF interference.

Common high-quality brand/models of "Star-Quad"

- Belden 1192A
- Canare L4E6S
- Mogami W2534

http://www.westlake-electronic.com/i...EL-1192A_t.gif
Belden 1192A

As far as connectors go, Neutrik brand connectors have become the industry standard. Having used just about every brand of XLR connector out there, I can vouch for the superiority of the Neutrik XLR connector. They consist of 4 simple parts, and make for a very robust connector. There are no tiny set-screws to come loose or fall out, and they tend to resist corrosion better than most other brands.

Hope this helps.

-Troy
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Old September 3rd, 2005, 09:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
You needn't buy $300 cables. You can get cables made with very high quality components that will cost you $50-70 each for 50' lengths, or if you are handy with a soldiering iron, you can make your own for quite a bit less.
If your soldering skills are anything like mine, the cables will be of poor construction quality and may be more prone to breaking. It also takes time to solder cable. It probably makes more sense to just buy constructed cables.
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Old September 3rd, 2005, 10:10 PM   #5
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Soldering does need to be done right, but with a small bit of instruction, most anyone can learn to do it well.

The main thing is to heat the metal(s) you are connecting, NOT the solder. When the metal (the wire and the terminal on the connector) are hot enough that solder will melt on contact, the solder is going to flow properly and you won't end up with cold solder joints that break easily.

But, I would agree that if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always buy what you need. There are a number of places who will even make your cables to your desired length using the above brands of cable and connectors.

You don't need to buy Monster Cable (and many would argue that Monster Cable is actually detrimental) at $500/cable to get good sound, but buying cheapie no-name cable will probably mean that you'll eventually have a cable failure at the worst possible time.

-Troy
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Old September 4th, 2005, 05:41 AM   #6
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Audio Technica cables from our sponsors is a
good value way to go.
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Old September 4th, 2005, 12:49 PM   #7
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I bought HOSA cables from B&H. One 100' run, one 50', two 25' and two 10'. They are inexpensive cables that function electrically as well as any other of the same guage, but I anticipate wearout sooner than with higher quality cables and connectors. Since mine don't see frequent use, these are fine for me.
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