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Author Topic: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please  (Read 11702 times)

Joseph D. Macry

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Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« on: December 06, 2011, 11:29:52 am »

Like many of you here, I routinely build my own mic/line cables as needed. Often, I will even resolder cheaper pre-made cables before deploying them. Lately, I have been providing some extra spare-time stock to local musicians who don't want the cheapest thing off of a Chinese assembly line, or who just like the hand-built ethic. Now I'm considering expanding and marketing my hand-built mic cables.

Opinions please: How important are the following to you for analog mic/line cables, on 1-to-10 scale? (1=unimportant, 10= essential) Include comments as you wish please.
1. Hand-assembled, as opposed to machine made
2. Quad conductor instead of 2-conductor
3. 22awg instead of 24awg wire
4. Name brand, premium cable such as Mogami
5. Neutrik connectors, instead of Switchcraft or other
6. Neutrik XX connectors, instead of X series
7. Braided shield instead of twisted shield
8. Heat shrink tubing on shield end
9. Heat shrink tubing on end of stripped outer jacket
10. Black connectors instead of silver
11. Lower resistance instead of lower capacitance
12. Availability of multiple colors
13. Color coding of connector
14. No-questions warranty
15. Lead free solder
16. Thick, beefy outer jacket
17. Made in USA

Other questions:
1. What are your favorite lengths?
2. What do you pay apiece for your usual pre-built cable (say, 25ft length)?
3. Is water/dirt intrusion into the connectors a problem?
4. Do I have to much time on my hands?
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Joseph Macry,
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2011, 12:03:15 pm »

Like many of you here, I routinely build my own mic/line cables as needed. Often, I will even resolder cheaper pre-made cables before deploying them. Lately, I have been providing some extra spare-time stock to local musicians who don't want the cheapest thing off of a Chinese assembly line, or who just like the hand-built ethic. Now I'm considering expanding and marketing my hand-built mic cables.

Opinions please: How important are the following to you for analog mic/line cables, on 1-to-10 scale? (1=unimportant, 10= essential) Include comments as you wish please.
1. Hand-assembled, as opposed to machine made
2. Quad conductor instead of 2-conductor
3. 22awg instead of 24awg wire
4. Name brand, premium cable such as Mogami
5. Neutrik connectors, instead of Switchcraft or other
6. Neutrik XX connectors, instead of X series
7. Braided shield instead of twisted shield
8. Heat shrink tubing on shield end
9. Heat shrink tubing on end of stripped outer jacket
10. Black connectors instead of silver
11. Lower resistance instead of lower capacitance
12. Availability of multiple colors
13. Color coding of connector
14. No-questions warranty
15. Lead free solder
16. Thick, beefy outer jacket
17. Made in USA

The real question is what is your time worth?  How fast can you do it properly?

Rather than a scale-here are some of my opinions.
Be prepared as each of these topics can become a discussion thread all on its own.
1:  I think most cables are hand made anyway.  Maybe the real elcheapo ones aren't.
2: That depends on the length.  Long lengths can have HF rolloff.  Short lengths can reduce interference due to better common mode rejection
3:  22 ga is stronger.  It doesn't sound any better or have any less loss 9that you would be concerned with
4: Brand name cable is generally better
5: Stick with quality brands. The cheap brands tend to fall apart
6: Have no opinon on the difference
7: Dependson how much time you want to spend preping the cable  Braided can be physically stonger and offer better shielding, but most of the noise rejection comes from the twisitng of the wires-not the shielding.  Think about it telephone wires are not shielded and they go miles.
8: Pretty- but an extra usually unnecessary step.
9: Heat shrink can add strength to help resist breakage-but adds cost and time
10: Personal opinion will drive this.  While black connectors can "dissappear" more easily they also have the problem in that they can dissappear and not be so easy to find on a dark stage.  Double edged sword
11:  Less resistance will not buy you anything.  Lower capacitance can help reduce HF loss-but only over longer distances
12: Personal opinion again.  Colors can help to identify cables, but not not look as professional
13: You need to keep it standard  Generally the lighter color is pin 2.
14:  How much are you willing to stand behind connectors that are ripped off, connectors that are crushed, cables that are cut and so forth.
15:  Stay away from it if possible.  It is not as stong-harder to work with and there is a reason the US military does not use it (or so I have been told).  They want the gear to last for a long time and be reliable.
16: That can add strength and help to reduce the pressure on the wiring.
17: Some people care-others don't.

Anyway that is my opinion.  I am sure others will be different
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Matt Errend

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Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2011, 01:03:32 pm »

Like many of you here, I routinely build my own mic/line cables as needed. Often, I will even resolder cheaper pre-made cables before deploying them. Lately, I have been providing some extra spare-time stock to local musicians who don't want the cheapest thing off of a Chinese assembly line, or who just like the hand-built ethic. Now I'm considering expanding and marketing my hand-built mic cables.

Opinions please: How important are the following to you for analog mic/line cables, on 1-to-10 scale? (1=unimportant, 10= essential) Include comments as you wish please.
1. Hand-assembled, as opposed to machine made
2. Quad conductor instead of 2-conductor
3. 22awg instead of 24awg wire
4. Name brand, premium cable such as Mogami
5. Neutrik connectors, instead of Switchcraft or other
6. Neutrik XX connectors, instead of X series
7. Braided shield instead of twisted shield
8. Heat shrink tubing on shield end
9. Heat shrink tubing on end of stripped outer jacket
10. Black connectors instead of silver
11. Lower resistance instead of lower capacitance
12. Availability of multiple colors
13. Color coding of connector
14. No-questions warranty
15. Lead free solder
16. Thick, beefy outer jacket
17. Made in USA

Other questions:
1. What are your favorite lengths?
2. What do you pay apiece for your usual pre-built cable (say, 25ft length)?
3. Is water/dirt intrusion into the connectors a problem?
4. Do I have to much time on my hands?

Ivan pretty much hit the nail on the head. I didn't really see anything in your list that I cannot currently get from several manufacturers such as CBI, Whirlwind, Rapco, BJC, ect. The question is, can you be cost-competitive with them?
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Neil Deyarmin

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Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2011, 03:55:58 pm »

I also agree with that statements above.  I have always stayed away from making my own cables, becuase in the end the cost ends up about the same, unless you are doing tons of cables or need a custom made cable.  I would say only do it if you enjoy making cables and can offer a considerable lower price with the same quality as other top brands.  On a positive note I would much rather buy a local supplier of hand made cables over a larger company if the quality was matched or greater.
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Riley Casey

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Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 10:55:19 pm »

Belden 8412 with Switchcraft A3M and A3F.  Black on the female end, silver on the male end.  A loose piece of half inch clear shrink at each end to cover the length ID color stripe and label that the end user will apply.  That's a mic cable.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2011, 09:18:50 pm by Riley Casey »
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2011, 11:01:42 pm »

Belden 8412 with Switchcraft A3M and A3M.  Black on the female end, silver on the male end.  A loose piece of half inch clear shrink at each end to cover the length ID color stripe and label that the end user will apply.  That's a mic cable.

Oh yeah.

Mac
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Jim McKeveny

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Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2011, 07:15:10 am »

I like Riley's idea, except IMO no names/codes/colors near the A3F end. A mic wire needs to be ready for its closeup.

I've come across silly soundco's using tie-line/velcro.  It inevitably gravitates to the female end.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 11:44:51 am by Jim McKeveny »
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John Halliburton

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Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2011, 08:50:28 am »

Belden 8412 with Switchcraft A3M and A3M.  Black on the female end, silver on the male end.  A loose piece of half inch clear shrink at each end to cover the length ID color stripe and label that the end user will apply.  That's a mic cable.

I...hate....Switchcraft A3 XLRs.

Neutrik all the way.

John
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Mike Caldwell

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Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2011, 09:38:53 am »

Neutrik connectors all the way.

I did have some cables with Mogami 2792 and in the course of a year had about three of them develop some strange intermittent problems/noise. Those cables were maybe four or five years old and not abused. Since then all Mogami has been purged and replaced with cables made from Canare L2T2S.

Yes I do make all of my own cables.

On the Mogami 2792 I did have the conductive plastic trimmed back from the stripped wire end.

Joseph D. Macry

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Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2011, 10:11:03 am »

Thanks for the input, all. I'll keep watching for more.

What I'm gathering so far is that mic cables don't need to be premium quality, but be cost competitive and simply work right.

Riley, you are the first person I've ever heard express a preference for Switchcraft connectors. I have always considered Neutrik the standard. (Still debating Neutrik's X series vs XX series connectors.) I do like your idea of leaving a bit of clear heat shrink for the end-user's label or color stripe (which should go on the male end, to clean up appearance at the mic).

Still considering various cable manufacturers/models.

This is no big business venture I'm considering, merely hoping to make some spare hours more productive than watching CSI:Hoboken while the wife plays Farmville. I do find cable assembly to be a relaxing, Zen-like task.

Gonna need: better home workstation with illuminated magnifier, cable measuring device (to unspool correct length), dedicated soldering gear (not the one I use at my job), some sort of packaging/labeling, shipping supplies, order-tracking software, set up dealership with suppliers. Thinking about marketing and business plans. Wondering how to better ventilate the area (back bedroom-turned-workspace) without feeding fumes to the rest of the house.
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Joseph Macry,
Austin, TX

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Hand soldered mic cables - opinions please
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2011, 10:11:03 am »


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