Please recommend a Belden alternative for my XLR cables
October 22, 2007 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to make a bunch of XLR cables. I have everything but the cable and I'm hoping for some brand advice.

I'm good for heatshrink and Neutrik connectors. My question: what is some great mic cable that I can buy in bulk in Europe for a tolerable price? Belden is expensive here. Those who solder your own, share your favorite brands (also sources) if you don't mind! I'm in Berlin, Germany if it matters. Thanks!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've tried again and again to make cables by hand and I am decent at soldering, and I always fail. Any tips from on how to that too?
posted by bigmusic at 10:56 AM on October 22, 2007

Response by poster: I'd enjoy hearing other people's cable-making tips too, as long as it's accompanied by a non-Belden cable suggestion that is available in Euroland ;) .
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 11:07 AM on October 22, 2007

Best answer: Canare Star Quad was highly recommended to me a while ago. I don't know if this is available in Germany. I'm not an expert, most of my information came from the head-fi forum DIY group.
posted by cazoo at 11:15 AM on October 22, 2007

Best answer: Canare Star Quad is awesome, with high EMI & RF rejection, and great durability, but if you haven't made cables before, it can be frustrating. Here's why:

Standard cable has two wires plus a shield (which forms the ground wire, usu. to pin 1). Star Quad has four wires, which need to be stripped and joined into pairs before soldering them to the jack. This can make for excruciatingly tight assemblies, and you have to be a lot more exact in your wire dressing before assembly.

By dressing, I mean, trimming to the correct lengths, stripping just enough but not more, and tinning the pairs together neatly before soldering them to the jacks.

Any slop, and you likely won't be able to make it work as there is far less "wiggle room" with two pairs of cable trying to squeeze into the jack housing.

That being said, I haven't had a Star Quad cable fail on me yet (15 years of live shows), except when I screwed up the join and it broke loose on assembly. D'oh!

P.S. Belden 1192a cable is the exact same product (AFAIK), if you can't find the Canare brand.
posted by Aquaman at 11:52 AM on October 22, 2007

P.P.S. It's all expensive (twice the copper), but it's WORTH IT, unless you like fixing cables...
posted by Aquaman at 11:54 AM on October 22, 2007

Definitely Canare Star Quad. I use it for my interconnects and recabling a couple pair of headphones as well.
posted by mrbill at 2:35 PM on October 22, 2007

When I used to make XLR cables the thing that helped me the most was one of these . It seriously cuts down on the "WTF!!!" factor when you are finished soldering.
posted by Asbestos McPinto at 2:50 PM on October 22, 2007

Seconding the cable tester. It makes things much easier.

(but I always hated making XLR cables. grrr.)
posted by icebourg at 6:41 PM on October 22, 2007

Best answer: Looks like a consensus! I searched for Canare but couldn't turn up any here, but then I searched for "star quad" and discovered that (awful Euro radio-shack-like electronics shop) stocks Belden 1192a for €4.81 a meter, which I can deal with. I'm going to mark the first Canare suggestion and my results here as the best answers for future searchers. BTW, anyone who buys from Conrad, take a minute to do a search for Conrad Gutschein or Conrad Bonus, it'll most likely result in free shipping and then you don't have to go into one of their escape-horizon-esque shops.

OK, let's open the floor to soldering advice if anyone wants to contribute! Mine: use a "third hand" to remove jiggle from the equation, know the melting point of your solder and use an adjustable-temperature soldering iron that you can match to it, use the right kind of solder (usually 60/40 for audio cables) and eschew the cheap stuff, and yeah, have some kind of continuity tester -- lots of cheapass multimeters have them, you don't need a dedicated cable tester necessarily. I have also heard that "Wonder Solder" is the easiest brand to work with, although I haven't found it in Europe yet.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 5:39 AM on October 23, 2007

Response by poster: So, the cables turned out great BTW -- they are silent, hot, and it was no problem getting the two separate wires entwined, tinned, and into the Neutriks. I had read warnings about that in several places but it just didn't come up. I had some leftover cable so I made a couple of mono patch cables with the extra.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:35 PM on June 17, 2008

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