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  #1  
Old 04-12-2011, 08:16 PM
AJNystrom AJNystrom is offline
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Default Mic Cables

Hi,
I've taken a little time away from here because I've recently moved back to the south shore of Massachusetts from Austin, TX (yes, I AM missing the warmth right now). I'm working on buying everything necessary to start recording my own drums to save time and energy for myself as well as whomever decides to hire me.

With that said, I've hit a snag when it comes to deciding on what mic cables to run. Currently I'm going to be running a combo of SM57's on the snare, hi-hats, and toms (just to start out, but can't go wrong with 57's), AKG D112 for the kick, MCL 604's for the overheads. I'll be running those through whatever mic cables I get into a Pro Co XLR to TRS 25ft snake (so the cables don't have to be too long, maybe 6-9 feet). Pre-amp is going to be the M-Audio Octane interface interacting with Pro Tools 9 HD (which I'm getting from my recording partner as I'll be doing most of the drum tracks for his company).

The problem: I've been trying to be diligent on my homework as far as figuring which is best for my budget (right now we're running about $2500-ish). I've heard to just get anything to get started then upgrade but I'd like to do things once and have them last. I know the better product quality you buy, the better product quality you'll put out.

The question: What is the "best" (very subjective term and I HATE using it) mic cables for recording drum tracks? Mogami, Vovox, or can I legitimately get away with an el cheapo Musician's friend model?

Thanks for your input and if this is a repeat thread please just direct me to where I need to go- I did a search and didn't come up with anything directly pertinent.

A.J.
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  #2  
Old 04-12-2011, 08:32 PM
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caddywumpus caddywumpus is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables

In all honesty, if you're in a controlled environment with grounded electricity and "normal" levels of radio activity, any cable under 25ft will do. Imagine that the cable is like a giant radio antenna, waiting to pick up a signal. If there is any electrical or radio interference, then the cable is ready to pick up noise. The shorter the cable, and the better the shielding, the less chance of picking up noise. As far as the actual signal that goes THROUGH the cable, they're all about the same.

More expensive cables = more shielding and lifetime warrantees and stuff like that. Anyone who buys a more expensive cable thinking it will make their drums "sound better" doesn't have a grasp on what's going on. If you have a problem with noise on your tracks, check your electrical situation, and the condition of all of your recording gear, and *maybe* get some more expensive cables for the shielding. If you're going with a "strictly recording" setup, you may consider getting a snake, if your room setup allows it.
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:37 PM
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Default Re: Mic Cables

Given that you're talking about a recording environment, Caddy's right on the money, unless you're thinking uber high end studio. On the road's a different matter though. In that environment, reliability is the top priority. We use neutrik van damme leads for everything without exception.
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Old 04-12-2011, 09:11 PM
simmsdn simmsdn is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables

My rules for cables:

1. shielded (I don't think I've seen an 'unshielded' new cable in the past 10 years)
2. look/feel solid to the touch (if it looks and feels right, it's probably good)
3. short as possible (signal loss over distance traveled)
4. affordable (given quantity needed)

Like mentioned, you don't need to go ultra high end to get a quality sound, but you can't go completely cheap either. Go the middle ground on price and you'll have a cable that suits your needs. I seriously doubt 99.99% of the population can hear the difference between a $30 and $100 cable when they are used in the same environment (same studio). Especially on drums which will be post-processed and fed into a bus with mastering effects applied.

A 25' cable should be fine. I imagine that you'll be feeding into some kind of pre-amp before going into the interface/DAW, so that will alieviate issues with signal loss.
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  #5  
Old 04-12-2011, 11:33 PM
mediocrefunkybeat
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Default Re: Mic Cables

I tend to make my own cables depending on the situation. If I want high-quality, I buy Neutrik ends and get the best cable I can get hold of. If it's less critical, I go down a few notches. Having a basic knowledge of soldering and cable making can really help in a lot of situations. I needed phono to XLR the other day and I just went and bought the parts and made four high-quality cables in a couple of hours.

You may or may not save money on making your own cables. But you can customise them and you'll know exactly what's in there. It can be fun too provided you don't breathe in too much flux!
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Old 04-13-2011, 04:15 AM
AJNystrom AJNystrom is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables

Thanks for the posts and they only reiterated what I thought/assumed. Considering that my drums are going through M-Audio Octane pre's before mixing, compression, and mastering (not to mention a few other tricks I'm sure, once they leave my hands).

Someone on a recording forum was raving about the difference between a vovox and some other cable on vocal recordings and had wav files to prove it- I guess you've got to be listening through something other than generic computer speakers to appreciate it.

Anyways, the fact of the matter is that I'm well on my way to getting started. Thanks for your assistance and look forward to sharing my new works with you in the near future.

Drum to Live, Live to Drum

A.J. Nystrom
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:08 AM
audiotech
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Default Re: Mic Cables

I make most of my own interconnecting cables for mics, speakers, headphones, stage snakes and video applications. For microphone cable I use usually one of three manufacturers, Belden, Canare Quad or Mogami using mostly Switchcraft and Neutrik connectors. I must stress that if you decide to do this, practice your soldering and cable dressing techniques. A badly made cable is basically useless. Things such as cutting or nicking the copper strands off the stripped wires, shorting wires inside of the connectors, too much heat, too little heat, cold solder joints and cross polarization are just some of the examples of very poor cable making techniques that can make the cable intermittent or completely inoperative and actually cripple the on board phantom power supplies of many mixers. I also like to use a number 20 gauge conductor or a 22 gauge being the thinnest I'm most comfortable using for a flexible cable.

BTW, try to stay away from RS connectors.

Dennis
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Old 04-13-2011, 01:33 PM
Soupy Soupy is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables

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  #9  
Old 04-13-2011, 03:26 PM
AJNystrom AJNystrom is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables

Thanks again for the tips and tricks of the industry. My dad has been working with electronics and computers for most of his life (he's actually making a comp on steroids + external hard-drive for my recording) so I've got a soldering expert right in my own home. I'll work with him on learning how to solder and dress wires properly so that I can make my own cables to my specs.

Thankfully I'm coming in well under my projected budget so far.

AJ
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Old 04-15-2011, 05:58 PM
AJNystrom AJNystrom is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables

I apologize for the *bump* but I'm hoping you guys can point me in the right direction once more for the final piece of the puzzle I need to find to get started.

I'm looking for a 20-25 foot, 16 channel snake cable with female XLR on the box and TRS on the other side. I'm thinking it'll have to be a special order from Pro Co or Horizon but if I can find it from another company without special ordering it I'd be happy.

Thanks to everyone for their assistance.

AJ
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:34 PM
claywood claywood is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables

According to their website, Pro Co makes a couple snakes that meet your configuration needs. SMA1604FBQ-25 (Stage) and MT16BQXF-20 (Studio). Hope this info is helpful.

http://procosound.com/snakeworks/studio-snakes
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  #12  
Old 04-15-2011, 11:52 PM
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FelipeJose FelipeJose is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJNystrom View Post
I apologize for the *bump* but I'm hoping you guys can point me in the right direction once more for the final piece of the puzzle I need to find to get started.

I'm looking for a 20-25 foot, 16 channel snake cable with female XLR on the box and TRS on the other side. I'm thinking it'll have to be a special order from Pro Co or Horizon but if I can find it from another company without special ordering it I'd be happy.

Thanks to everyone for their assistance.

AJ
Building on audiotech's comment above, it might make more sense cost-wise to seek out someone who builds cables in the area. There's got to be someone out there that is running cable for studios. Most of the time you'll find someone who can get you top-level cable (Canare/Mogami) at about 1/3 the price of what you pay for pre-packaged cable at music stores. These guys can usually build out snakes and fan boxes as well.

It's the next best option other than building your own.
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  #13  
Old 04-16-2011, 12:18 AM
AJNystrom AJNystrom is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables

Thanks for your assistance, once again.

Claywood- I had looked at that site (in particular) and had come up with those exact model numbers (specifically the model with the fanbox). I went to look for them on amazon, ebay, and other such sites just to price out my options-- surpised that they're all under my budget, but that's irrelevant at this point- and the picture they were coming up with showed a fan box with XLR outputs rather that TRS. I assume these are stock photos and are not necessarily what the actual product is.

FelipeJose- My dad is the area electronics guru and although he's willing and very able to show me how to go about making my own and teaching me proper techniques for soldering (already have a decent handle on that), stripping wires, using shrink wrap, and making good connections he wants to see how the "pros" are doing it. Also, having a pre-packaged model allows me to get my project off the ground a little quicker.

Thanks for all the feedback and assistance, I sincerely appreciate the time, patience, and knowledge.

AJ
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