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Cables and Connectors

Cables and connectors are the lifeblood of electronic gear and each component (audio, video, data, etc.) requires its own specialized connection. 12/10/2012 11:13 AM Eastern

Cables and Connectors

Dec 10, 2012 4:13 PM, By Mark Johnson




Let’s face it, you can have the best electronics going, but if it’s not connected to anything else, it really isn’t worth much. Cables and connectors are the lifeblood of electronic gear and each component (audio, video, data, etc.) requires its own specialized connection. For connectors, good metal-to-metal for data signal transmission and a secure fit into its mating device is key, while durability is paramount in portable applications where connectors can be subjected to frequent patching and unpatching.

THE CANNON CONNECTION

The XLR microphone cable, probably the most common cable/connector combination employed in pro audio, is used to connect mics to mixing consoles as well as to interconnect pieces of equipment. James Cannon, founder of Cannon Electric, invented the XLR, hence the occasional reference of the connector by some of the more mature people in the audio industry as a “Cannon connector.” The original designation of the connector was the Cannon X series. A latch was added to the design and the designation changed to include that configuration (XL). The “XL” was amended with “R” when the female contacts were embedded in a resilient polychloroprene.

The cables, whether used for installation or portable audio applications, share the same basic form factor: one or two twisted pairs (also known as “Star Quad”) of individually insulated wire with a shield that is either braided, spiral wrapped (serve), or foil, and an insulating jacket. Serve shields help to provide flexibility but can open up when the cable is bent. Braid shields provide more consistent coverage and remain closed. The braid shield provides better electrical performance and greater pulling strength.

AUDIO AND DATA CABLING

Invented by Alexander Graham Bell, the twisting of the conductors helps to improve the common mode rejection ratio (CMRR)—reducing hum and buzz from transformers, fluorescent ballasts, and silicon-controlled rectifier (SCR) dimmers— and helps to reduce crosstalk from any adjacent pairs. The tighter the twists, the better the CMRR is. Star Quad cables use two twisted pairs, twisted together in place of a single pair of twisted wires. This allows electromagnetic interference (EMI) to be reduced by as much as 20dB over a typical single twisted-pair mic cable.

While seemingly disparate, audio and data cabling are now linked by virtue of the overwhelming amount of professional audio electronics that can be networked, monitored, or controlled via a web interface.

Atlas Signal AS2XLR

Atlas Signal AS2XLR

For networking, the cable of choice is the Ethernet cable. Sometimes referred to as “unshielded twisted pair” (UTP), Cat-5 and Cat-5e (enhanced) are probably the most common for networking audio gear, however, Cat-6 offers increased performance. Like its audio brethren, Ethernet cables are made up of twisted wires (there’s just more of them to a cable) and there is no shield. Cat-5 cables can be made up of four twisted pairs of either solid or stranded wires, with an application rule of thumb for the solid being used for long runs and the stranded used when flexibility is required. Cat-5 cable is designed to support 10 Mbps or 100Mbps Ethernet with a capability of up to 100MHz. Cat-5e provides lower levels of near-end crosstalk (NEXT) than Cat-5, and supports Gigabit Ethernet. Providing twice the bandwidth of Cat-5, Cat 6 supports 10GB Ethernet and operates up to 250MHz. Cat-6 cables still use four twisted pairs of wire, though a longitudinal separator isolates each of the pairs, reducing crosstalk and allowing faster data transfer. The good news is Cat-6 is backward compatible with Cat-5 and 5e, so upgrades and expansions can be readily accommodated.

Atlas Sound product group, Atlas Signal, features the AS2XLR in three lengths: 3 meters, 10 meters, and 15 meters. The cables comprise an ergonomic, professional-grade XLR connector with integral strain relief, braided copper-clad aluminum shielding, and a pliable, high-quality cable jacket.

Atlona high-quality Cat-6 cable is designed to support full 550MHz, network applications for 10 to 100Base-T networks and comply with TIA/EIA standards. The cable features four 26AWG pairs of conductors, snagless PVC jacket, molded-strain relief, and 24K gold-plated connector. The cable is available in 10ft. lengths.

Audio-Technica AT8314 series

Audio-Technica AT8314 series

Audio-Technica AT8314 series premium microphone cables are designed for low-impedance operation. These balanced cables feature heavy duty, 24-gauge stranded copper conductors and professional Neutrik connectors. Each conductor has an individual spiral shield inside the molded insulating sheath. A conductive PVC layer inside each shield dissipates static buildup during flexing. They are available in lengths ranging from 1.5ft. to 100ft.


Cables and Connectors

Dec 10, 2012 4:13 PM, By Mark Johnson




BTX Technologies YA-XLRPXLRJ

BTX Technologies YA-XLRPXLRJ

BTX Technologies manufactures and distributes a broad assortment of interface and integration products. They feature the YA-XPXJ microphone cables with Neutrik connectors and the YA-XLRPXLRJ microphone cables with Mogami cable and Neutrik connectors. Both models come in lengths from 3ft. to 100ft.

Belden offers its 1776 Super-Strong Analog Microphone cable featuring a minimum pull strength of 250lbs. The cable is constructed of two 20 AWG stranded (19x32) custom alloy conductors and a TC (tinned copper) braid shield that provides 85-percent coverage, wrapped with a cotton spiral. The standard length is 250ft. and comes in black. Also from Belden is the Brilliance CatSnake Cat-5e 1305A cable. Available in 500ft. or 1,000ft. lengths, the cable is upjacketed for use in harsh environments and features Bonded Pair twisted pairs of 24 AWG stranded wire with a PVC inner jacket and a matte black flexible PVC outer jacket.

Black Box Network Services provides a CATx Cable Selector that allows you to find the exact category cable you need. The online tool’s step-by-step process includes selection of cable attributes, MHz rating, Boot or LockPort, color preferences, and length. The configurator then provides the description and SKU for the Black Box cables that match your criteria.

C2G

C2G Cat-5e and Cat-6 cables

C2G features Cat-5e and Cat-6 cables either in bulk or assembled patch cables in various lengths (from 1ft. to 250ft.) and a variety of colors. For voice/data/video distribution, the Cat-6 cable will handle applications up to 550MHz and meets all Cat-6 TIA/EIA-568-B-2.1, draft 9 standards. Each of the individual pairs is bonded together to help maintain the twist spacing throughout the line. The RJ-45 connector features a molded, snagless boot.

Clark Wire & Cable’s MINK4 quad microphone cable features a double-balanced, four-conductor design for RF/EMI noise rejection. MINK4 features finely stranded 24AWG (41 strands of 40AWG) copper conductors and a drain wire, in addition to the 95-percent corrosion-resistant braid. MINK4 uses Clark’s proprietary MINK matte PVC jacket compound that is ultra-flexible and abrasion resistant. Clark also features Cat-5e and Cat-6 cables in various ratings (riser, plenum, direct burial, and tactical).

Canare L-4E6S/L-4E5 Star Quad cable is for all handheld microphone applications. The 21 AWG cable features 40 strands for each conductor, a braided copper shield, and it fits in all XLR-type audio connectors, remains flexible in cold weather, and is available in 10 matte finish color jackets. The L-4E5C is a narrow-profile version of the L-4E6S, designed to save space and reduce weight during remote field use or installations where space is restrictive.


Cables and Connectors

Dec 10, 2012 4:13 PM, By Mark Johnson




Gefen UTP cables feature Belden 10GX12 category 6A cable. It exceeds the TIA/EIA category 6A standard and provides 625MHz of guaranteed bandwidth. The #23AWG GX cable incorporates SpiralFleX technology and the Beyond 10G performance exceeds all parameters specified in the proposed augmented category 6 standard. The cables are available in lengths from 50ft. to 300ft.

Gepco RunOne

Gepco RunOne

RunONE cables from Gepco combines one channel of power with two, eight, or 12 channels of balanced audio for line level, mic level, or digital AES audio signals for application with self-powered speakers or DMX lighting control. Additional configurations of RunONE include two channels of Cat-5e cable. Also, Gepco Cat-6 and 6+ cables feature extended bandwidths to meet or exceed the latest TIA/EIA and ISO standards. They are available in both plenum and riser constructions.

Hosa Technology Elite Series

Hosa Technology Elite Series

Hosa Technology features the Elite Series microphone cables available with Neutrik XX-Series connectors. Available in both Lo-Z (XLR3F to XLR3M) and Hi-Z (XLR3F to 1/4in. TS) configurations, the cables use 20 AWG oxygen-free copper (OFC) conductors and polyethylene dielectrics. A 95-percent OFC braided shield is employed for noise-free signal transmission. Nylon webbing over the cable's PVC jacket provides cut and abrasion resistance. The Hosa Elite series microphone cables are available in lengths from 3ft. to 100ft.

Kramer Electronics provides Cat-5e and Cat-6 cabling in 1,000ft. lengths and a choice of six different colors. The cable features four pairs, 24AWG stranded center conductors, and a bandwidth of 550Mhz. The PVC outer jacket features sequential foot markers and the cable is RoHS compliant.

Mogami Cable’s Gold Stage balanced microphone cable, available in 20ft., 30ft., or 50ft. lengths, was designed using Mogami’s Neglex OFC series cabling. It features #22AWG conductors with 105 strand cores and a 100-percent coverage braided shielding and twisted pair construction. The conductor insulation is cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE), which has excellent electrical characteristics and prevents shrink-back during soldering.

The Performer 500 microphone cable from Monster Cable features heavy-duty black Neutrik XLR connectors, high-density braided shield, MicroFiber dielectric, and a Duraflex jacket. A carbon polymer shielding around the conductors is designed to minimize handling noise.


Cables and Connectors

Dec 10, 2012 4:13 PM, By Mark Johnson




And speaking of Neutrik, the connector manufacturer features no less than 14 different series of XLR cable mount connectors including the XX Series, the crystalCON series made with Swarovski crystals, and the convertCON, the world’s first three-pole unisex XLR cable connector. Neutrik also manufactures the etherCON conector for Cat-5 and Cat-6 cables as well as premade Cat-6 patch cables in lengths ranging from one to 30 meters.

Pro Co Sound’s Lifelines cables are comprised of a 24AWG quad cable with braided shield and oversized Kevlar core jacket for added strength and to prevent stretching. The cables feature Neutrik XLR connectors and are available in nine different sizes ranging from 3ft. to 100ft.

RapcoHorizon M1

RapcoHorizon M1

M1 microphone cable from RapcoHorizon features two 24-gauge bare copper center conductors and a 95-percent coverage serve shield. The outer jacket is a matte PVC compound and is available in a range of standard and neon colors, including black, blue, green, purple, red, and white. Connector brand options include: RapcoHorizon, Amphenol, Neutrik, or Switchcraft. Standard lengths are: 1ft., 2ft., 3ft., 6ft., 10ft., 15ft., 20ft., 25ft., 30ft., 50 ft., 75 ft., and 100 ft.. Custom lengths are available upon request.

SnapAV Binary Cat-5e and -6 cables

SnapAV Binary Cat-5e and -6 cables

SnapAV Binary Cat-5e and -6 cables come in bulk (1,000ft. lengths) and a variety of colors. Both are available in CMP (plenum) and CMG (general use) rated versions. Also available are Cat-5e premade patch cables in .3-, 1-, 2-, and 4-meter lengths and orange, gray, yellow, and blue colors.

Switchcraft features five different series of XLR cable-mount connectors, including the original A series and AAA series, which features a two-piece design with integral strain relief. The pin insert is preloaded into the front shell. A flat area on the handle is designed to accommodate custom labeling options. The R series connectors are right angle versions of the AAA connector and the T series connectors are versions of the A connectors with a two-position slide switch.

West Penn Wire provides Cat-6 and 6A bulk cables, connectors, and assemblies. Cat-6 UTP comprise 23 AWG solid conductors with versions rated for riser, plenum outdoor, and indoor/outdoor applications. Cat-6 assemblies come in 3ft., 7ft., 10ft., 15ft., 20ft., and 25ft.

Whirlwind MK series

Whirlwind MK series

The MK series cables from Whirlwind are flexible and resistant to handling microphonics. Constructed of Accusonic+2 cable, the MK series are fitted with the company’s XLR connectors and feature finely stranded center conductors and braided shield for noise rejection. Stock lengths are: 3ft., 6ft., 10ft., 15ft., 20ft., 25ft., 30ft., 50ft., and 100ft. Custom lengths are available on a special order basis. The XLR connectors are also available with custom laser logo engraving on the barrel, numbered sets, and color-coded strain reliefs. Also available is the ENC1 heavy-duty Cat-5e cable that features Kellems strain relief and a metal W1-style connector shell with a dust cap.

Wireworks TacCat multi-channel assemblies feature four individual Cat-5e cables jacketed in a single outer jacket. The individual Cat-5e cables are color-coded and each of the Cat-5e cables is terminated with etherCON connectors or standard RJ-45s. Wireworks BG Unisex XLR Cords feature Wireworks MusiLUX microphone cable or AES/EBU digital cable with Neutrik’s convertCON three pin XLR connector. BG Unisex XLR Cords are available with convertCON on both ends or with a convertCON on one and a standard male XLR, female XLR or TRS plug on the other.


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