Good Balanced Cables?

ecc83

Well-known member
My understanding of the proper way to maximize noise reduction is to wire both blue together and both whites together. It is the twists in the pair that reduces the noise. Separate them and you negate this.

All I could find as yet but doesn't help a lot because that has four colours!

My understanding of star quad operation is that in any given run there is a more even common mode current induced into all the wires and that gives greater rejection.
However, I confess I have never wired any SQ cables nor had one apart for examination. Rest assured however. I SHALL find the definitive answer!
Oil be bek!

Dave.
 

Folkcafe

Active member

All I could find as yet but doesn't help a lot because that has four colours!

My understanding of star quad operation is that in any given run there is a more even common mode current induced into all the wires and that gives greater rejection.
However, I confess I have never wired any SQ cables nor had one apart for examination. Rest assured however. I SHALL find the definitive answer!
Oil be bek!

Dave.
Belden introduced a twisted pair star quad cable with and without ground with bonded pairs. This page that explains the operation and the wiring. How Star Quad Works

All the cables I used to order from Markertek with Canare were wired same color combined. In the Canare cable, the two colors are twisted together. If you read how that operates in the page I linked, you'll have a better understanding. It operates the same way twisted pair cat does.

In balanced audio, the + & - are differential inputs, meaning out of phase. Any induced noise enters both at the same phase. Simple differential math is 1 + -1 = 0. Star quad further reduces noise via the twisted pairs.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
As I've just replied in the other place -

Here's a good place to start

https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advi ... quad-cable

Basically you connect the opposite cores together - whether they are the same colour or not depends on the cable construction. If you had checked the link in bmg's post you would have seen a picture of the correct way to wire an XLR to this cable.
Yup, just had chapter and verse from Hugh at SoS. The diagram I found was wrong it seems...You do pair colour to colour.

Dave.
 

bmg

Member
OK - hopefully all will go well, as I've just got some boutique EQ's and don't want to blow them up.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I've had a few poor cables over the years, balanced and unbalanced. In the main, cable differences, for me are to do with how bendy they are, how easy they coil, how nice they are to strip and solder - stuff like that. Some might have foil screening, some braid, and other conductive plastic screening with a drain wire. The only electrical spec that matters in capacitance if you intend sticking guitars through them - I've found them fine for even normal line level High Impedance sources - just not some guitars and piezo pickups.

On the star quad front the stripe thing is a bit of a 'red herring' - most common star quad cables are NOT made like telecoms cables with striped connectors and cable lays like network cabling, although to be fair, they make excellent audio cables too - most Canare, and specialist cables use simply two colours - red and white, or blue and white etc. So you join the same colours. It goes wrong on some German quad cable as it is red/yellow/white/blue and you should join the red and white, and the blue and yellow. Only some brands do what they do0 with data cables and have different lay lengths - as in when the twist has done a complete rotation. Most are simply twisted.

Remember that the extra rejection is only measurable when you go a very long way - so if you have to feed a cable through your generator farm 500m away, then it might be worth checking, but for a ten metre cable? Forget it. Joining the wrong cores (as I have done many times through ignorance and not reading the spec) makes no difference.

It is fair to say that I started using star quad a long time ago when I also supplied lighting - so the stories of crosstalk between power and data and audio worked me. I bought star quad and had noise free audio. Then I began to (not) notice that ordinary mic cables also gave me noise free results, and I've hardly bothered since.

If you have time and some speaker cable, it will put things in perspective to make up an XLR 3 to XLR 3 with speaker cable between pins 2 and 3, no connection at all to ground. Plug in a dynamic mic and discover a perfectly quiet hum-free mic. Move the cable near things to experiment. You can often virtually touch these unscreened cables to the wall-wart type power supplies before you hear and noise, and that's just because one conductor is closer to the noise source and the hum cancelling lessens.

A few star quad might help, but this is one of the physics and folk lore mixes. Telephone cables on their posts across the countryside are not screened at all and has anyo0ne ever complained about hums?

Conductive plastic is not the best shield, but cables that use it are very flexible.

Cable that is stiff, or cracks, or won't lay flat is the enemy. cheap types that are copper covered aluminium are hard to solder, stiff thick braid is easier to short out in the connectors - etc etc - this is far more vital than being concerned a cable has a 21mm lay. 164pF/m is a decent figure for capacitance, but so is 91pf/m from a competitor? I'd pay more attention to a review that said "This cable is rubbery and tough and coils really easily"
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Thanks Rob. Re unscreened mic cable, in the very early days of my PA work we used twisted clear plastic 5A 'lamp' wire. Often runs of 100 mtr and no sign of hum. Mind you that was with 30 Ohm mics (STC 'Ball&Biscuit!) and GOOD transformers. Also there were no 'radio controlled' taxis about then!

CAT x cables is special stuff. I worked in the industry for some years. The four twisted pairs all have different twist rates (so don't put RGB down it!) to reduce crosstalk. The firm I worked for had a product, a pre prepared 60mtr 4 port system that non-technical folk could 'drop in' a building. The raw cable came on a mtr by mtr drum and the poor sod in charge of the project had to cut 1mtr from each batch and COUNT the twists in each sample! When completed the unit was tested for loss. return and crosstalk on a £40k analyser. Just the in and out plugs for that were a grand apiece.

As you say the stuff makes excellent audio cable for fixed installations. Handles MIDI pretty well too.

Dave.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
It's really common now with CAT5/6 cables installed everywhere to fine people with breakout boxes squirting balanced audio down them for nothing other than convenience. At the moment, I have DMX going down audio tie lines, video going down CAT5 and DMX cables where somebody used star quad to wire all pins being used for stereo audio. They should all be separate and 'proper', but they're not. I actually have some old XLR3 speaker cables wired with blue/brown/green-yellow 1.5mm2 laying around and loads of people have used them for mics accidentally. In the 80's this was the doom and gloom stories - but it just worked!
 

Folkcafe

Active member
It's really common now with CAT5/6 cables installed everywhere to fine people with breakout boxes squirting balanced audio down them for nothing other than convenience. At the moment, I have DMX going down audio tie lines, video going down CAT5 and DMX cables where somebody used star quad to wire all pins being used for stereo audio. They should all be separate and 'proper', but they're not. I actually have some old XLR3 speaker cables wired with blue/brown/green-yellow 1.5mm2 laying around and loads of people have used them for mics accidentally. In the 80's this was the doom and gloom stories - but it just worked!

You'd probably get a lot of pushback on the part of the statement I highlighted by many. While I might agree with the overall sentiment, the specifics as to why Cat is used has spec numbers behind it. It is all about frequency response limits aka frequency cutoff due to self-capacitance. Now the other end of the story. I've run the numbers for the cut off frequency between Canare and a couple of common Cat cable types at 100ft. The -3db point for star quad is well past 30khz. While this has always seemed acceptable to me, Cat cabling's numbers are a lot better. When I argue the numbers with professional designers, I get the same answer, Cat is still better.

Back years ago, my live rig was set up for mobile recording and everything was star quad including the snake, as were all the mobile rigs I built as part of my job at Bose. I looked at it as insurance against noise. I do commercial AV installation work using light foil shielded cabling with cables routed through walls and ceilings with all sorts of electrical and electronic devices. Noise is seldom an issue but teleconferencing is at quite a different level to high quality sound recording.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I thought this was an interesting test. I've read posts of people obsessing about how much loss they might get with their 1/2 meter cable if they don't use some super duper cable. This guy took it to an extreme.

 

bmg

Member
Seems the star quad is what most dealers sell these days.
What would be a good, 2-conductor cable to use for a balanced line?
I see that Mogami 2549 is highly-rated, but is more $ than most.
(I want to be buying by the foot; and not a large amount.)
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Seems the star quad is what most dealers sell these days.
What would be a good, 2-conductor cable to use for a balanced line?
I see that Mogami 2549 is highly-rated, but is more $ than most.
(I want to be buying by the foot; and not a large amount.)
You have not, AFAICT told us friend what you want the cables for? As I said at the top of this thread there is little point in paying for heavy duty cable and posh plugs if the wires are static behind a rack. The link to the foil screened cable should help. Belden cable is readily available throughout the world I think. Note you are looking for "cut" cable do however have a 'count up' since if you need close to 50mtrs say, a drum will come cheaper.

Dave.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
What Dave is trying to get at, is there are different types of cables. Typical mic cables are considered "portable", meaning for stage work or studio set-ups that get reconfigured all the time. These cables are heavier and designed to stay flexible. They also cost a whole lot more. Then there is what used to be called "console" cable. This is lighter and sometimes less flexible but designed for permanent installation. As it is a lot lighter and doesn't need to meet the high handling requirements, it is cheaper.

Mogami makes interconnect cable or console cables in different grades. Basic is W2944. Not my favorite to work with as the shielding is far more difficult than Belden installation cable. Belden 9451 is foil shielded with a drain wire 22 gauge wire with the jacket bonded to the foil. This make stripping way easier and faster as the foil cuts with the jacket. Otherwise you just need sharp wire nips to also trim the foil.

If this is for permanent or semi permanent use, I'd consider a standard cabling if you need to buy it unless the quantity is small and you don't care about the extra cost. My old set up had a 24 track inline console and a ton of analog connections to recorders and outboard gear. Every channel had mic, line, insert send and return, tape out and tape return. Directs going to Tascam DA38's and 8 busses into ProTools. Add for aux's for headphones and it makes for a lot of connectors and cabling. I used Belden 9451 without issue. Also the smaller cabling makes wire management easier.

Don't know where you are out of, but I have tons of installation supplies like lacing bars, rack blanks and such if you ever needed a care package sent, PM me. I also have thousands of ft of West Penn 22 gauge foil shielded audio installation cable (plenum rated). Doing AV installation or a living, it builds up in the shop and I am in the middle of cleaning out once again. Giving it away is better than tossing it all into a dumpster.
 

bmg

Member
This is for outboard gear - pultec eq's and some compressors.
I only need about 30-40 ft. at this time, but want something high quality and easy to work with.
2944 looks to be too thin from what I can see - these will terminate in Neutrik connectors, and I'm not sure that wire will be a good fit.
The Canare cable in post #11 is perfect as far as size and feel.
That, without the extra wires, would be perfect.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
This is for outboard gear - pultec eq's and some compressors.
I only need about 30-40 ft. at this time, but want something high quality and easy to work with.
2944 looks to be too thin from what I can see - these will terminate in Neutrik connectors, and I'm not sure that wire will be a good fit.
The Canare cable in post #11 is perfect as far as size and feel.
That, without the extra wires, would be perfect.
Folkcafe has me pegged a'right. Very generous offer from him.

Cable diameter matter not, you just sleeve it up to fit. I find 50mm of CAT 5e outer is just about perfect and CAT cable is a cheap as chips and most network firms will give you hundreds of mtrs of the stuff.

Dave.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
This is for outboard gear - pultec eq's and some compressors.
I only need about 30-40 ft. at this time, but want something high quality and easy to work with.
2944 looks to be too thin from what I can see - these will terminate in Neutrik connectors, and I'm not sure that wire will be a good fit.
The Canare cable in post #11 is perfect as far as size and feel.
That, without the extra wires, would be perfect.
The integrated strain relief on Neutrik NP3X TRS or any of the NC series XLR's clamp down all the way to Belden 9451 or West Penn P25292 diameters. It might be time to utter my common refrain, you're over thinking it.
 

bmg

Member
That Belden is pretty cheap - can't believe how much of a difference in price from the others.
Any good sources for it by the foot?
I called one place, but they hit me with crazy shipping charges, so I cancelled the order.
 
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Folkcafe

Active member
That Belden is pretty cheap - can't believe how much of a difference in price from the others.
Any good sources for it by the foot?
I called one place, but they hit me with crazy shipping charges, so I cancelled the order.
Markertek is about 46 cents a foot with free shipping at $49. If you are buying connectors at the same time, easy enough to rack up the free shipping. You want some West Penn, I'll ship you some for free. I don't get that much for it as scrap, though one time I had so much RGBHV video coax that it added up to over $400 but was nearly a pickup bed full.
 

bmg

Member
I'll hold off until next week, when I get the connectors.
I'll try my hand at making come cables with the Canare I already have, and see how it goes from there.
(Soldering is a whole other skill I have to brush up on.)
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I used to use canford audio HST the standard BBC safe cable in the uk. Everything about it was good. It’s now too expensive so now I’m using Thomann’s own brand and it’s just as good. I have hundreds of metres and cannot see the ‘to be fixed’ pile with more of this brand in it. I also buy just black and purple. Neutrik connectors were my standard but I’m buying a Chinese supplier’s ones now and have zero problems.
 
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