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  #1  
Old 07-14-2014, 08:29 PM
JerryTheCat JerryTheCat is offline
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Default Mic Cables...

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
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  #2  
Old 07-14-2014, 08:30 PM
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Dr_Watso Dr_Watso is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

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.
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  #3  
Old 07-14-2014, 08:47 PM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

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
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  #4  
Old 07-14-2014, 09:28 PM
JerryTheCat JerryTheCat is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Quote:
Originally Posted by KamaK View Post
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!!
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  #5  
Old 07-14-2014, 10:07 PM
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JimFiore JimFiore is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

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!
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  #6  
Old 07-14-2014, 10:15 PM
New Tricks New Tricks is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

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.
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  #7  
Old 07-14-2014, 10:26 PM
JerryTheCat JerryTheCat is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimFiore View Post
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
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  #8  
Old 07-14-2014, 11:00 PM
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GruntersDad GruntersDad is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

If you want great cables of all types and great prices try www.monoprice.com. all of my computers, TV, stereo have cables from Monoprice
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Last edited by GruntersDad; 07-15-2014 at 01:18 AM.
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  #10  
Old 07-15-2014, 12:05 AM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimFiore View Post
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.
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  #11  
Old 07-15-2014, 12:39 AM
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Vintage Old School Vintage Old School is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

+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.
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  #12  
Old 07-15-2014, 12:54 AM
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Bo Eder Bo Eder is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

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.
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  #13  
Old 07-15-2014, 12:58 AM
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No Way Jose No Way Jose is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

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.
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  #14  
Old 07-15-2014, 12:59 AM
JerryTheCat JerryTheCat is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Quote:
Originally Posted by KamaK View Post
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?
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  #15  
Old 07-15-2014, 01:03 AM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryTheCat View Post
So you are saying the GLS cable is bad quality?... It wouldn't work well?
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.
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  #16  
Old 07-15-2014, 01:08 AM
JerryTheCat JerryTheCat is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Quote:
Originally Posted by KamaK View Post
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?
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  #17  
Old 07-15-2014, 03:24 AM
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ncc ncc is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

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 $$$.
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  #18  
Old 07-15-2014, 02:06 PM
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JimFiore JimFiore is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

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).
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  #19  
Old 07-15-2014, 05:13 PM
ChrisB ChrisB is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Neutrik makes the best connectors, IMO.
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  #20  
Old 07-15-2014, 05:44 PM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimFiore View Post

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.
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  #21  
Old 07-15-2014, 06:08 PM
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groove1 groove1 is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Always unplug the connectors by pulling on the connector housing and not the cable. Coil
the cables up in a nice circle when done and your cables will be trouble free for years. Avoid
stepping on the cables. Dittos to all above about a cheap soldering iron....maybe even learn
how to use an inexpensive volt-ohm meter for checking continuity etc.
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  #22  
Old 07-15-2014, 06:21 PM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Last note on mic cables. Learn to roll them properly and 'the cable' will last forever.
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  #23  
Old 07-16-2014, 07:11 AM
SeveBC SeveBC is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Neutrik XX series connectors are reliable and of the highest quality, particularly the NC3FXX-B and NC3MXX-B. For interference prone situations read up on Star-quad cables and check the different products, especially bulk cable, from manufacturers such as Canford Audio in the Uk, Belden, Canare, Van Damme, Gotham and Sommer. If you chose to make them up yourself go for batch production with thorough tinning and consider a low cost soldering station or higher cost from Xytronic. For non CE applications consider using old school lead / tin solder as it is still more reliable than lead free products that require higher temperatures; even the high cost lead free solders with higher %ages of silver. Van Damme and Sommer offer ready made cable manufacturing.
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  #24  
Old 07-16-2014, 07:17 AM
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Aeolian Aeolian is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

10 odd years ago I bought a bunch of cables from Orange County Speaker Repair. It was like $40 for ten colored cables. They have the lower end Neutrik connectors on them. Years of abuse and I've had like one die on me. I have a handful of cables I made myself from Canare wire but those cheapies take a licking and keep on ticking.
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  #25  
Old 07-16-2014, 02:09 PM
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JimFiore JimFiore is offline
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Default Re: Mic Cables...

Neutrik makes some nice stuff but they also make some not-so-good stuff. Gotta be careful there. The same is true for other manufacturers. I came across some not so great Switchcraft 1/4" plugs a few years back. (In fairness, they could've been knock-offs. I was told they were Switchcraft but didn't see the stamp I'm used to.)

A final item, if anyone is thinking of making a mic snake, virtually all multi-pair cables use foil shields because they take up less space and are flexible. Also, the fact that there are several pairs inside the outer jacket lends strength to the whole package. Otherwise you'd wind up with a huge diameter snake.

Belden also makes a "French Braid" shield that they claim is the best of all worlds. I haven't tried it.
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