Mic Cable Babel

by | Oct 16, 2011 | Equipment, Hardware | 4 comments

The day you spend hours searching-out a scratchy sound or electrical hum in your audio chain is the day you start wondering if the hi-priced mic cable is REALLY better than the bargain brand.

Right?

“Microphones output a very low signal by nature. Using a really high quality cable on your mic connection will allow the best of a bad situation: your low-output mic will give you better definition, more robust frequency extremes (better lows and more highs), and most importantly, remain even truer to the source.” (from this source)

Some factors to consider when choosing mic cables:

-Price doesn’t necessarily dictate the quality of the cable, but as with most things, you get what you pay for.
-Age of the cable.
-Length of the cable.
-Shielded vs. unshielded (shielded is better)
-Impedance (resistance)  cheaper cables tend to have more resistance due to bad soldering and lower-quality componenets
-Thickness by itself does not dictate a better cable…but better cables are sometimes thicker
-Metal used as conductor (yes, gold is tops, but also most expensive).

“A mic signal is very low power, low impedance, balanced. It is quite susceptible to external interference, which is why it’s balanced: the idea is that the same interference will affect both signal conductors identically, and the mic preamp then subtracts one signal from the other, hopefully eliminating the interference.  Some mic cables use “Star Quad” wiring where there are actually four, rather than two, signal conductors; they are intricately braided together and then paired up at the ends so that they behave like two conductors that are very close together physically.”  (from this source)

Resources:

Mic Cable Comparison article #1

Mic Cable Comparison article #2

DMX Cable vs. Mic Cable YouTube Video

Musician’s Friend Audio Cable Buying Guide

Bottom line:  A reliable mic cable should be shielded, made of good materials, not too long, not too old, and have good worksmanship (some sales people at music stories tend to want to sell you a “Monster” brand cable.  Be sure to ask ’em why “Monster” is better).

In research for this article, I kept coming up with the term “NEUTRIK” brand connectors and cables.  Apparently, a lot of people think highly of their quality.  Here is the Neutrik Website for Audio Cables.

George Whittam, Dan Friendman….what’d I miss?

CourVO

 

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4 Comments

    • CourVO

      Cliff,

      You and several others commented about the quality of Mogami….’gotta try ’em I guess!

      best,

      Dave C

      Reply
  1. Dan Friedman

    This all looks good to me Dave!

    Neutrik and Switchcraft connectors are both well known for reliability and quality. I think it is easy to get obsessive over cables (although to me they are one of the least sexy necessities of a studio). Use good quality, reliable cables, and treat them well, and they will last for years.

    When upgrading you have to determine if the sound quality improves enough to warrant additional cost. In other words, does a $90 cable give you $45 worth of better sound than a $45 cable. Only you can decide the value in that.

    Dan Friedman
    http://www.sound4vo.com
    http://www.procommvoices.com

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Thanks, Dan… I always feel better when you sign off on the equipment stuff.

      I appreciate your stopping by.

      Dave C

      Reply

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