Keeping Up with Your Cables

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Cables are the lowliest part of your sound system and often one of the most neglected. I was recently at a church doing some testing when I started getting a country radio station over the speakers! The culprit was an intermittent connection in one of their mic cables. I recently went through all the mic cables at my church and found several in poor condition. On two, the rubber jacket was cracking. On another, the jacket was just deteriorating (sticky) from age.  The cable for our piano mic had been smashed a couple of times in the stage box, cutting the jacket and some of the shielding. I ordered a spool of mic cable, got out my soldering iron and built several new cables.

If you aren’t that handy with a soldering iron, then simply replace your cables with new ones.  There is no need to buy expensive ones, instead pick a nice middle grade cable with good reviews, don’t pay more than $1 a foot and stay away from “budget” cables. (PROCO SMM series is a good cable and made in the USA.) I strongly recommend that you order them online, since your local music store can be double the price. Whether you are buying or building don’t forget that a spare cable can turn a major disaster into a minor bump in the road.

One of the best audio tools you can buy is a cable tester and they really aren’t that expensive. The Pyle Pro PCT-10 is $25 and the Behringer CT-100 is $30. Both of these will test balanced and unbalanced ¼ cables, XLR mic cables, RCA cables. The Pyle Pro will also test Speakon type speaker cables. Again, no need to buy super expensive testers, all of the above models will work great for the occasional use that church audio requires. Don’t forget to wiggle the cable at the connection while its plugged in to check for intermittent connections and shorts. Happy testing!

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