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.
“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 components.
- 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)
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 name MOGAMI. My friend, and audio engineer of the stars — Cliff Zellman — gives Mogami his highest recommendation. That’s good enough for me. They’re not cheap. They ARE excellent.
I also kept coming across the name “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 Lenard….what’d I miss?