Wednesday, 10 September 2014

CABLES: working with long cables is a valuable technique and allows for environments to be mic'd & then allowed to re-settle before a recording is made. I regularly work with 50-100m cables & sometimes 200-300m cables & this is a technique used by lots of recordists in various contexts. Trailing the cables back to somewhere warm & comfy like your vehicle or even a nearby house is an added bonus ! However, the same tips also apply to shorter cables - for example linking a mic mounted on a boom pole.

So, which cables to use ? There's a large selection of different cable & connector brands around from cheap 'standard' mic cable, which is designed for indoor / studio use, to cable specifically designed for outdoor use or prolonged installation (but not standard 'installation cable'). Different coatings & shielding on the cables and solder points on the connectors are employed to reject interference and condensation. As with lots of pieces of kit, buy the best you can afford but in general most folks buy the cable on the reel & make the cables up themselves, due in part to the high cost of decent quality outdoor mic cable. There are certain brands with strong reputation including:
Van Damme
The cost, per metre (when purchased on 100m reels) can range from £2-3 up to £6-8 & more.
One feature of cables designed for outdoor use is that they stay flexible in extreme temperatures. Standard mic cable will often crack in very cold conditions for example. Mogami even make a cable called 'polarflex' for such situations.
Connectors: Neutrix have probably the strongest reputation & if you are on a very tight budget they also do the Rean range of lower cost, but decent quality connectors. Gold solder points for outdoor cables are a good idea if you intend leaving them on the ground for long-ish durations. This isn't because gold connection points improve the sounds (that's a myth) but because they reject oxidisation and condensation more easily.
If you're working on important sessions away from easily accessible replacements or a soldering iron then its often a good idea to replace connectors every year or so - you can have all the high end mics & recorders you want but if your cables go for the sake of a few quid spent replacing connectors that have corroded slightly then....

No comments: