Mic Cables...

JerryTheCat

Junior Member
Hey everybody,
I'm a 'budget recording artist' (kinda not really) and was wondering what is the best deal for mic/xlr cables.

I already have some Musicians Gear cables. one of the three I got stopped working within about a month, so I'm kind of disappointed with that.

I'm probably going to want 20' to 30' cables, and would like to keep it under 1$ per foot.

Thanks guys
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Grab a soldering iron and open up the plug housing on your broken cables. You'd be surprised how simple they are, and how easily they are fixed.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I second that. Even a $10 soldering iron from radio shack will save you a ton of money. Just for reference, there are three grades of mic cable....

1: Complete Trash (Unshielded)
2: Not Trash (Shielded)
3: Not Trash, but really really expensive because of a brand name and marketing bullshit (AKA, MONSTER!!!!). "Oxygen Free Copper" My Ass!


Avoid 1 and 3 and you're all set. A good cable normally stays good unless you wind them wrong when packing up. Grab some velcro strips if you don't want to be bothered winding them properly.

If you're already handy with a soldering iron, you can get ends in bulk for about a buck a piece and some bulk mic cable at 20-cents-per-foot. Shop around a bit
 

JerryTheCat

Junior Member
I second that. Even a $10 soldering iron from radio shack will save you a ton of money. Just for reference, there are three grades of mic cable....

1: Complete Trash (Unshielded)
2: Not Trash (Shielded)
3: Not Trash, but really really expensive because of a brand name and marketing bullshit (AKA, MONSTER!!!!). "Oxygen Free Copper" My Ass!


Avoid 1 and 3 and you're all set. A good cable normally stays good unless you wind them wrong when packing up. Grab some velcro strips if you don't want to be bothered winding them properly.

If you're already handy with a soldering iron, you can get ends in bulk for about a buck a piece and some bulk mic cable at 20-cents-per-foot. Shop around a bit
Wow. I never thought of that. I do have a bit if experience with a soldering iron and will look into making my own cables.

Thanks man!!
 

JimFiore

Silver Member
I must admit, I've never seen an unshielded mic cable. Crappy shields, yes; unshielded, no. Maybe people try to make them from zip cable but that's just looney.

I suggest you make your own. Find someone who knows what they're doing to show you how to solder the right way, preferably someone who's done mil spec soldering. Don't breathe the vapors! For low Z mic cable, my preference is Belden 8412. Unlike most run-of-the-mill mic cable it's 20 AWG and has a braided shield. Expensive, but this stuff will take a beating. Then, get some good quality XLRs like the Switchcraft A3 series. (To be honest, I haven't had to purchase an XLR in years so they might make them more cheaply these days).

Anyway, these cables will last a lifetime and even if something does go awry, since you made them, you won't be afraid to rip them apart to fix them!
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I usually got go for this type of thing but, I ALWAYS get the lifetime warranty cables from GC.

It's not like they are double the cost. Just bring it back and they give you a new one. Simple.

I have had cables fail within a year with absolutely no abuse.
 

JerryTheCat

Junior Member
For low Z mic cable, my preference is Belden 8412. Unlike most run-of-the-mill mic cable it's 20 AWG and has a braided shield. Expensive, but this stuff will take a beating. Then, get some good quality XLRs like the Switchcraft A3 series. (To be honest, I haven't had to purchase an XLR in years so they might make them more cheaply these days).

Anyway, these cables will last a lifetime and even if something does go awry, since you made them, you won't be afraid to rip them apart to fix them!


Thanks, but I think I'll go with the GLS cable..Because top of the line isn't necessary for me, and I have a GLS cable and love it to death! :)

Aaaannnndddd, I really like the GLS connectors too... But thanks for the input! (It's a joke.. Get it? since we're talking about cables (Input))

Lolololololol
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I must admit, I've never seen an unshielded mic cable. Crappy shields, yes; unshielded, no. Maybe people try to make them from zip cable but that's just looney.
Indeed. With cheap mic cables, they'll do 2 conductor wires, and will use a coaxial-style wrap as the third conductor.

The 3rd conductor 'is' the shield.



You want the cable that looks like this...



You can also usually save the spool the virgin cable came on to store/transport your finished mic cables.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
+1 for learning how to do your own repairs. Huge money saver. Just make sure you're using the right type of solder on your connections.

For purchasing new cables I'd recommend Pro Co cables for general gigging or a basic home recording studio on a limited budget. You can order them through Sweetwater Audio.

Personally, when I'm on location for film or video I use Mogami for my field location recording gear and Remote Audio cables for my wired mics.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Unless you need really specific lengths, I would just buy what you need. As told already, the ProCo stuff is pretty good, and if it's not going to be traveling around, they'll last forever. In the beginning I used to make my own cables, then I calculated out buying all the parts (like Switchcraft connectors and Mogami cable), and then figuring how long it took me to build the cable, and although I had super high-quality custom-made cables in the end, I probably ate more money in the time it took to make them (I get paid so much an hour as an audio engineer so I used that hourly rate as my base).

I do fix my own cables though, when they do break. But for the initial investment, it ends up being about the same if I either made my own, or bought new.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
I fix cables about every week or two. Open up the connector, use a magnifying glass and look at the wires. I often see little wires touching the other connectors. Sometimes all I do is push the wires away from the other connectors.
 

JerryTheCat

Junior Member
Indeed. With cheap mic cables, they'll do 2 conductor wires, and will use a coaxial-style wrap as the third conductor.

The 3rd conductor 'is' the shield.

*Image here*

You want the cable that looks like this...

*Image here*

You can also usually save the spool the virgin cable came on to store/transport your finished mic cables.
So you are saying the GLS cable is bad quality?... It wouldn't work well?
 

JerryTheCat

Junior Member
No idea. I've never seen GLS cable. Just pointing out what to look for. Looking at the price, they're probably the shielded variety.
Well assuming the GLS cable is the shielded type, is it really bad or dose it not make a whole lot of difference?
 

ncc

Silver Member
I just bought 10 Whirlwind cables from there 'in-expensive' MC line. Less than $10 US each from ZZ Sounds and/or on amazon. I was impressed by the quality of these cables. Much better than many of the ones I've seen elsewhere for more $$$.
 

JimFiore

Silver Member
That "bad" cable is a shielded cable. The shield is the "3rd conductor". That's normal. The problem is that it's just a spiral wrap and there's little else in the construction. A braided shield is much more robust. Here's the technical data on the 8412: http://www.belden.com/techdatas/metric/8412.pdf

Generally, there are three kinds of shields:
1. Spiral wrap (1st pic)
2. Foil with drain wire (2nd pic)
3. Braid (8412)

Spiral wrap is generally cheapest. Foil has 100% coverage but is generally not as robust. Braid generally has good coverage (85%) and is strong. It is also expensive and a little more difficult to deal with. Soldering the shield of spiral is relatively easy. For foil, you cut away the foil and just solder the drain wire. For braid, you have to unbraid the end before soldering.

I will second the Whirlwind cables. Good quality stuff if you don't want to make your own (not sure about the line mentioned above but the ones I bought years ago used 8412 or the Whirlwind version of it). Do not buy any cable that has molded ends unless you don't mind thinking of it as disposable. I also don't see the point of buying crazy expensive cables with crystal-aligned, cryogenically adjusted, super wave conductors, or whatever the hell they're trying to sell these days. No joke, I've seen loudspeaker cables being sold for several thousand dollars each, for just a couple meters. My favorite of all time was an AC power cable to replace a standard molded modular power cable for over $1000. Seriously. And people swear they can hear a difference. Yeah, I guess if I just paid a grand for a power cable I'd be pretty motivated to hear a difference, too.

Another thing I like about the 8412 is the EPDM rubber outer jacket. Very flexible, lays flat. Some cheaper cables use a lower quality material that doesn't work as well. Some use what appears to be a vinyl jacket (ugly stuff).
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Generally, there are three kinds of shields:
1. Spiral wrap (1st pic)
2. Foil with drain wire (2nd pic)
3. Braid (8412)

Spiral wrap is generally cheapest. Foil has 100% coverage but is generally not as robust. Braid generally has good coverage (85%) and is strong. It is also expensive and a little more difficult to deal with. Soldering the shield of spiral is relatively easy. For foil, you cut away the foil and just solder the drain wire. For braid, you have to unbraid the end before soldering.
Thank you. Awesome and succinct explanation. It's nice to learn new things.
 
Top