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how important is microphone cable?

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  • how important is microphone cable?

    Is it worth buying expensive ones, or do cheap ones usually hold up fine? I generally buy expensive guitar cables, but I never really notice a sound difference, just durability.
    Good transactions

  • #2
    its basically the same thing for mic cables. very little sound difference, just reliability.
    Originally posted by Old Steve Ok, so you're a friggin' ninja....that'll make this all the more simple.


    • #3
      It depends on what you consider "cheap." You can get some fairly inexpensive cables that sound good and hold up, and you can also buy really expensive cables that really aren't any better than the more moderately priced ones. I'm sure as a guitarist you've been exposed to the Monster Cable hype - those things are expensive and not very durable at all.

      Still, there are a lot of decent cable makers out there. Try www.audiopile.net if you need inexpensive cables that won't crap out on you. Most music stores should have a selection of good cables by Hosa, Whirlwind, etc as well. Don't buy the cheapest ones Musician's Friend sells.


      • #4
        What you get in general as you move up the mic cable food chain is reliability and durable materials/connectors.
        Former product development engineer: Genz Benz, a KMC Music/FMIC/JAM Industries Company, continuing factory level product support and service for Genz Benz

        Currently product development engineer: Mesa Boogie


        • #5
          A lot of cheap cables come with a "lifetime warranty", but that warranty dosen't mean much at 11:45PM, when the main return cable to your amp rack dies in the middle of a show.

          As mentioned above, the more expensive cables are more durable. I might use a cheap cable for an individual input, but I would absolutely recommend spending the extra money to put higher quality cables in all the connections from the mixer to the amps.


          • #6
            We ship over 5000 feet of mic cable a month. Most of it is Audio Technica brand Value series. In the past 12 months there has only been one warranty claim and that was for a 25' cable that got pinched in a steel door.

            There is no need to ever buy Monster Cable at monster prices.
            Bill Cronheim
            Entertainment Systems Corporation
            Back stage since 1965
            Equipment specialist since 1973


            • #7
              Some time ago, maybe they still do, Musicians Friend had 10 20' mic cables for $50. After about a year, I've had one failure. At that price, I just carry a bunch of spares in case one fails. They've been much more reliable than I expected.


              • #8
                Hmmm, so how much do you have to spend to get an adequate quality cable?

                I have bought all my cables from www.audiopile.net and have bought the more expensive ones, and mostly, the pro quad blue, figuring that everyone else's will be black and I can hang on to more of my cables that way, (which has worked out well). I have liked them and they have worked great.

                Usually, I hear people saying that "good enough" is good enough, that companies like "Monster Cable" generally are just adding a bunch of hype to a "good enough" cable, that is of course still good enough, but actually is ONLY JUST good enough - not really much more.
                Fav. Quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world."


                • #9
                  Wow...these prices on Audiopile are crazy. I can't believe I didn't know about this site sooner. And their cables are good?


                  • #10
                    Wow...these prices on Audiopile are crazy. I can't believe I didn't know about this site sooner. And their cables are good?

                    Best bang for your buck you'll find anywhere. No worries. Mark (Audiopile) is a great guy who's input on this, and other forums, is always appreciated.


                    • #11
                      As mentioned above, the more expensive cables are more durable.

                      In addition to durability:

                      1) How the cable lays and coils. Manufactures of better cables go to great lengths to get this right. There's a lot involved:
                      A) The right jacket PVC (which isn't commonly or universally available)
                      B) The right dielectric. Some "better" dielectrics make a cable really stiff, which isn't good if it's a cable intended for portable applications. The trick is to use a good dielectric that is also flexible.
                      C) The manner of braiding and twisting the filaments of the conductors and shield.
                      D) The right fillers... being the right material and assembled in a "just right manner.

                      All of this stuff is a judgment call. Tougher PVC that remains flexible over a wide temperature range is more expensive, and not widely available,, and even if you have just the right blend of PVC, the extrusion process is very temperature sensitive, so it's not just a crank-it out thing.

                      2) Purity and type of conductors. 99%+ pure annealed copper is what should be used for audio conductors. Typically 99%+ pure annealed copper is first run copper, not recycled copper... but 99%+ annealed is expensive... and takes special handling methods to press and draw into filaments from ingots or the integrity of the annealing will be destroyed. Since the electron flow is generally on the surface of the filaments of the conductors, and impurities in the copper also consolidate on the outer shells of the molecular lattice structure... the electron flow basically happens where the impurities are... and since silver is the ONLY mineral that conducts electricity a little better than copper, and all other minerals conduct worse then copper, a little impurity is actually a lot. Recycled copper tends to be loaded with zinc, and lead, and other "stuff" that's not nearly as good of conductors as copper.

                      BTW: OFC in my opinion is a marketing catchphrase, since I'm fairly certain that the country where much of the OFC marketed cable is being manufactured, OFC is basically unavailable there... and if it is, guaranteed they don't go to the necessary lengths to maintain the integrity of the OFC.

                      3) How the filaments are twisted in the conductors, and how the shield is constructed. Loose twisting can cause noise in the cable. Tight twisting is better if done correctly, but takes more expensive of machinery running at a slower product rate. Incorrect twisting diminishes the noise reduction potential. How's the shield constructed... a good braided shield takes more to expertise to construct than a simple spiral shield.

                      And then there's the ends. And then there's the assembly of the ends. And then there's service to back the product.

                      Guaranteed, commodity grade cable is not fussed over to get it right. In business, time is money, and money is money. Cheap cables are generally the product of cheap ingredients, cheap equipment running at the fastest speed possible... with minimal maintenance... operated by under skilled labor and absentee management. Knowing what I know, I find it extremely difficult to believe that cheap cables can be produced and sold to the public as cheap as they are without cutting some serious corners... and I've examined enough samples to confirm my suspicions.


                      • #12
                        Unbelievable. haha...I wish I knew about this 2 days ago when I just blew way to much money on cables at Guitar Center.


                        • #13
                          Unbelievable. haha...I wish I knew about this 2 days ago when I just blew way to much money on cables at Guitar Center.

                          30-day return policy.....
                          "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else" - Yogi Berra, 1925-2015


                          • #14
                            Unbelievable. haha...I wish I knew about this 2 days ago when I just blew way to much money on cables at Guitar Center.

                            Well... if the cable lays and coils fine as-far as you're concerned, and seems to have a tolerably low noise floor, and seems to be reliable enough for your applications, then it's fine. Triboelectric noise in the cable is a problem 'cause it's hard to identify, but there's this "noise" happening that you can't quite put your finger on.

                            One quick check you can do to make an assessment of what lengths were went to on constructing the cable is to disassemble one of the ends enough to look at the termination of the shield. First you can see what type of shield it is. Decent braided shield is generally preferred over spiral shield. Note: A good double reverse twisted spiral shield can offer excellent shielding properties, but might not be suitable for a cable that gets a lot of flexing. Next, look to see if the shield was "sized" at the termination. "Sizing" is a practice of cutting off some, or many of the filaments in a conductor to make the job of terminating to conductor easier. Some semi-automatic cable prep procedures involve the use of basically a wire wheel to separate, or comb out the braiding of a shield... which tends to shred the braid. Since electrons flow on the outside of the filaments (the strands), and electrons don't easily jump from filament to filament, any nicked, shredded, or cut-off shield filaments diminishes the ability of the shield to function properly. Disassembling the end also gives you a chance to look at the solder job. Some high-speed assembly procedures skip past the part of stripping the insulation off the conductors... they just solder the insulated conductors straight into the solder wells... using the hot solder to melt the insulation enough to get some sort of solder bond to the conductor.

                            Of-course then there's the part about the cable being actually wired correctly. "Gee... what's that nasty humm... why is the D ring strapped to pin 1, and why won't "this" cable carry phantom power, but it seems to work fine otherwise?"

                            Anyway... pull an end apart and take a look.

                            Also... there's little details... like some sort of identification as to the length of the cable. I have a real disdain for cables without length identification... especially if you have a whole plastic tote full of um.


                            • #15
                              Extra cables are still no substitute when one fails in the middle of the show. I did one show with someone else's equipment and had a mic cutting in and out due to a bad cable. I also don't let anyone else coil them up after the show. (Sometimes it's difficult to hold them off after a church event and people want to "help".)

                              Nice to see some right-angle cables.