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Ethernet wire with XLR connectors
Old 30th January 2009
  #1
Lives for gear
Ethernet wire with XLR connectors

I'm thinking of trying to make a cheap(ish) microphone snake using either wire. I would Cat5 would be enough since it's just carrying signal and not power.

To my knowledge, Cat5/6 wire has 8 conductors. I could run 2 XLR signals down each Cat5 group of wires.

Has anyone tried this before?
Old 30th January 2009
  #2
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bitman's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I am running cat5 from the direct outs (line level) of a mixer to a group of ATI distribution amps in the tracking room. This is the monitor mix channel send and are balanced drives. I get 4 pairs per cable and forsake the ground relying on the fact that 1.) The signals are hot. 2.) they go about 20ft max) and 4) the CMR of the balanced inputs on the ATI amps. Works great.

Furthermore, from there I needed to get thr distro outs to the behringer mixers at the play stations and used ..... Flat unshielded scsi cable that would run under rugs. Relying on the CMR of the behringer balanced line inputs. And it works.

Your mileage may vary.
Old 30th January 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
CAt 5/6 is usually 24 AWG twisted SOLID core wire. the twist may help with balance and rejection, but solid core is more prone to breakage and less flexible..
thus stranded cores usage
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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Thank you for filling me in on this. hmmmm, I wish I could make a cheap mic snake. I just feel its wrong to charge $200 for a 8mic 25ft snake.
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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tmarra's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Just tell me where do you guys learn these things? Certainly not here on Gearslutz.

Microphone cable is shielded for a reason. You want to make a mic snake? Use shielded mic cable not computer cable.

-Tony
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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Mylithra's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarra ➑️
Just tell me where do you guys learn these things?
I use to wire datacenters with everything from cat5, coax, fibre, power, you name it.. I probably have dragged it under a raised floor. You can get cat5/6 in stranded core which is much more flexible. It does come in shielded variaties and 1000' foot of that is much cheaper that 1000' of mic cable.
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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tmarra's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Gee I thought we were talking about Microphones and Recording Studios here. My mistake.

-Tony
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
The OP was talking about CHEAP,,, this is GS you know thus his question about cat 5 which is cheaper than 3 conductor mic cable ,, even the shielded stranded cat 5 which comes from overseas BTW is cheaper ,BUT not necessarily better ... or desired ....


Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarra ➑️
Gee I thought we were talking about Microphones and Recording Studios here. My mistake.

-Tony
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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tmarra's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
OK I'll be fair. Let's really look at what you guys are recommending.

I'm not a computer networking specialist, so I may not be aware of all the types of Cat 5 or Cat 6 cable available out there, but I pretty sure when you guys are are saying "Shielded Cat 5 cable" you are talking about 4 twisted pairs or 8 individual conductors with a overall foil shield. And I hope but I'm not sure because I've never used it the foil shield has a drain wire.
So now you want to use that as a 4 mic or line snake correct?

Have any of you thought anything about what type of crosstalk that would occur between the individual channels in such a snake? And I believe one of you even one of you suggested to run line level +4 signal down that configuration. Manufactures strive to keep channel to channel crosstalk down to a minimum and you guys are suggesting to run around 20 Volts of peak to peak audio right next to another wire with nothing to isolate it except maybe .5 mils of plastic.

Or how about using that Cat 5 microphone snake where it is connected to mic pre-amps with 60 to 70 dB of gain on their inputs? You don't think that channel 2's mic input is going to pick up a good portion of what ever your feeding into you channel 1's input?

Also another one of you guys up above mentioned relying on the CMR of his balanced Behringer line input to help. I'm not saying this in any condescending way so don't take it like that but... CMR (Common Mode Rejection) on a balanced input will keep hum or RF noise to a minimum within it's own signal pair. But it will not help crosstalk from an adjacent channel. To this day I don't of any manufacture who makes a mixer or multi-channel mic pre that can recognize that the vocal signal on Channel 1 is supposed to go ONLY into Channel 1 and if it gets into channel 2's guitar signal by mistake it will reject it.

I'm sure that the cost of Cat 5 shielded or unshielded is substantially less than even the cheapest 4 pair multi-conductor audio cable, but just look at the resultant degradation to your audio signal. Shouldn't the end result be better audio? Even on a budget I should hope that you are all striving for a better quality result in everything you do.

Please use Cat 5 to connect all your data and DC lines and run audio where it belongs, through individually shielded balanced audio cable.

-Tony
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarra ➑️
Please use Cat 5 to connect all your data and DC lines and run audio where it belongs, through individually shielded balanced audio cable.

-Tony
All I was looking at was DIFFERENT way of doing things. Seriously, HAS ANYONE on GS even TRIED? We can talk theory and what should happen all day long, but test results are what people respect.

I'm going to give it a shot, and see what happens. I understand that solid core isn't as flexible, but I'm not really looking for a lot of flex, just length. If it fails, it fails, and only thing I'll be out is a cat5 cable as I can take the mic cable ends and use them with mic cable.
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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tmarra's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
No djgizmo you are not looking for a DIFFERENT way to do things, you are looking for a CHEAPER way of doing things.

So you want test results huh? And you think I'm only offering you theory. So why don't you build that snake your talking about. And when your done, do us all a favor and do a simple test like this:

Plug 2 microphones into it, one into channel 1 of your snake, and the other into channel 2. Then put mic 2 into another room and throw some pillows and blankets on top of it so that no noise from the other room can leak into it. Plug both channels into your mixer and have someone sing or talk into mic 1. Bring up channel 2 on the mixer (the mic that is in another room under all the pillows and blankets) and report back here just what you hear.

Please do this and tell us just how good that Cat 5 cable is.

-Tony
Old 14th February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarra ➑️
No djgizmo you are not looking for a DIFFERENT way to do things, you are looking for a CHEAPER way of doing things.
It's different if you or someone else hasn't done it before. Have you? Link me a post on ANY forum that has already tried it.


Quote:
...So why don't you build that snake your talking about. And when your done, do us all a favor and do a simple test like this:

Plug 2 microphones into it, one into channel 1 of your snake, and the other into channel 2. Then put mic 2 into another room and throw some pillows and blankets on top of it so that no noise from the other room can leak into it. Plug both channels into your mixer and have someone sing or talk into mic 1. Bring up channel 2 on the mixer (the mic that is in another room under all the pillows and blankets) and report back here just what you hear.

Please do this and tell us just how good that Cat 5 cable is.

-Tony
I've already have the mic ends, I'll sit down with my soldering iron tomorrow, make a 25ft snake and perform that test. I'll even up you one by recording my test via my mbox.

If the snake fails your test, then we have reproducible proof that Cat5 is not a viable option for Microphone level signal. However, if the snake does not fail the test, then you must concede that even you can be wrong.
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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thenoiseflower's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Ok, but whats the point.


I could see it
A)not working, low level, noisey as all hell, useless = not working

B)working, but sounding totally degenerated. could be cool, prolly wont be,

C)if the cable is old, and may have a break somewhere and a short is possible, ....if you rally want to be an idiot and do this in the hopes its going to be fine, PLEASE dont tund on 48v til you know both sides are cleanly passing signal and no big cross talk problem, you could end up frying something at either/any end of your ****ty snake.

I have tried to use them (cat5/6) for analog unbalanced HP sends in a house in college, but they sounded like **** and we ended up running new unbal RCA cables to the HP amps.

also, snakes standard kit. so bite it and buy or make one. you are going to have 2 XLRF and 2XLRM already after this experiment. besides, its that connectors that are expensive anyway, not the snake..... also, audio wire is meant to be soldered, cat 5 is a biatch, specialy with he type of teflon they use, its like lighting a fuse, it just runs backwards while melting... more trouble and issue and ??? than its even worth IMO.
IM WITH TONY. this is not a good idea.


advice from a man who LOVES making cables.
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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tmarra's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
First off here's your links:

Feeling unshielded? A guide to unshielded cable

Using Network CAT 5 Cable for Audio

Running Audio on Cat5 -- Possible???

Cat5 as Audio Cable - AVS Forum

Audio over cat 5?? - Blue Room technical forum

And getting me to concede if I'm right or wrong is not the issue, I would never do it and/or recommend it. I've spent too much time crawling in the back of equipment racks and patchbays in studios trying to get rid of hum, buzz, crosstalk etc. that I would never suggest something that may marginally work. If you want to use it go ahead, it's your name that eventually goes on the end product.

-Tony
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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huub's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yes, have tried it.. Does it work? Yes, kind of.. Does it cause many problems? (hums, buzzes. what not).. Yes..

Ethernet wire with XLR connectors-p1000669.jpg
Nice idea.. But no good..
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoiseflower ➑️
Ok, but whats the point.

I could see it
A)not working, low level, noisey as all hell, useless = not working

B)working, but sounding totally degenerated. could be cool, prolly wont be,

C)if the cable is old, and may have a break somewhere and a short is possible, ....if you rally want to be an idiot and do this in the hopes its going to be fine, PLEASE dont tund on 48v til you know both sides are cleanly passing signal and no big cross talk problem, you could end up frying something at either/any end of your ****ty snake.

I have tried to use them (cat5/6) for analog unbalanced HP sends in a house in college, but they sounded like **** and we ended up running new unbal RCA cables to the HP amps.

also, snakes standard kit. so bite it and buy or make one. you are going to have 2 XLRF and 2XLRM already after this experiment. besides, its that connectors that are expensive anyway, not the snake..... also, audio wire is meant to be soldered, cat 5 is a biatch, specialy with he type of teflon they use, its like lighting a fuse, it just runs backwards while melting... more trouble and issue and ??? than its even worth IMO.
IM WITH TONY. this is not a good idea.


advice from a man who LOVES making cables.
Thank you for your advice.

If you've said you've tried it and it doesn't work well, then I believe you. I'll probably do it for the sake of just trying it to see how much degradation there is to the signal. Thank you for the heads up about phantom power. I'll be sure to test this with dynamic mics only then.
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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Thank you for the links. I'm reading them now to learn more for others experience.
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huub ➑️
Yes, have tried it.. Does it work? Yes, kind of.. Does it cause many problems? (hums, buzzes. what not).. Yes..

Attachment 110334
I don't understand why you had a RJ45 connector on the other end. For patching purposes maybe??
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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huub's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
It was for a pre cabled situation (beijing olympics) where there was only ethernet cable where we would possibly need intercom and/or microphones.. Thus the connector..
We never used these cables, xlrs were soldered directly to the ethernet cable (using two wires for every pin, so 6 wires were used)
Both intercom and microphones had buzzes... (was very long cable run though)
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
i use 4 core mic cable for 2ch drop boxs. it does mean the earth is common to both signals but it seems to work fine and at under $2 a meter (on a 100m roll) its a hell of alot cheaper than specialised multicore. for a small setup 2ch boxes seem more flexible than having everything come to a single box, but i know thats not true for mid and larger setups. when my setup grows ill still be able to use these from a main drop box anyway.

so far ive got the cable comming out of one box to a 5pin XLR, and plan to use more 5pin XLRs in future cables/boxs so i can leave the cable in place and connect whatever boxes with whatever connectors i need. it will give more flexability for mics, line level signals and headphones.

if you needed heaps of gain on something then you would probably get a bit of cross talk but for what ive tried so far its been fine. then again cheaper multicores often get cross talk and in theory the individual lines are shielded, so whats the difference.

Royer use Canare star-quad for their stereo cables, which is certainly not the intended use of star-quad, but for stereo who cares who cares about cross talk as a signals is going to be in both channels anyway.
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
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thenoiseflower's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by huub ➑️
Yes, have tried it.. Does it work? Yes, kind of.. Does it cause many problems? (hums, buzzes. what not).. Yes..

Attachment 110334
Nice idea.. But no good..
also note that the splice was audiowire to cat5 not cat5 to xlr, thats is the way to go if you do it. I have a friend who went to the olympics to do work, and I'm gonna ask if he saw/ used any of these ties, thats so funny, I love the pic!

the concept is fun, maybe Ill acctually try to make it work and have a cool "signal degenerator/bandwitdh remover" patches like those in ur pic, just use those & the inevitable unused ethernet as my tie for when I need something to sound like total trash. I'm actually exited to have this **** in my crap drawer now. right next to my microphonic lightbulb I built in a few years back.
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoiseflower ➑️
also note that the splice was audiowire to cat5 not cat5 to xlr, thats is the way to go if you do it.
Yea, that's what I've been reading. Seems that anything low voltage, Cat5 seems to be ok. (data, speaker level, line level) once you hit mic or higher voltage, it seems cross talk becomes more abundance.

Anyways, any recommendations for mic snake cables that all I have to do is add the ends?
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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thenoiseflower's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Redco.com

look around for a while there,

and they do build to suit too.
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #24
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plexisys's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Been there, done that. A total waste of time and money. The prefect balance of noisy and flimsy.
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plexisys ➑️
Been there, done that. A total waste of time and money. The prefect balance of noisy and flimsy.
Thank you for your feedback.
Old 6th February 2010 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
From memory ... Sommer 8-channel shielded snake cable was not that expensive ... yeah, OK not Cat5-cheap, but then in the grand scheme of things worth the money considering what you're actually getting in terms of build quality, easy prep & solder, great shielding etc.

sommer cable

Also, Google for a company called D.A.P. who make cheap snakes & such and you can order online (from Europe somewhere). Quality is OK and price is totally aimed at the home studios. However their balanced XLR/TRS runs are not much cheaper than home-made Sommer / Neutrik assemblies, so I've gone down that route, taking the manpower hit myself.
Old 8th February 2010 | Show parent
  #27
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Hmmm... I never considered using network cable for anything else, but now that it's brought up, wouldn't it make good cable for a MIDI breakout box? You could run 4 pairs with it. The only problem I can see is that since it's unshielded, it would probably create crosstalk noise with any audio cables running adjacent... then again if audio is running balanced, and the heads have a good CMR it should be ok. Any thoughts?
Old 8th February 2010 | Show parent
  #28
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djmukilteo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
FWIW
I'm pretty sure CAT5 is really just telephone twisted pairs (wht/blu, wht/ora, wht/grn, wht/brn) which is 600ohm impedance transmission line which is the same as Ethernet data lines....it's 24AWG solid core because they terminate easily to standard telco punch blocks.....they are not shielded....there is shielded telco and shielded data cables but those are a single overall jacket shield over all pairs not individually for use in high interference problems like radio stations or heavy EMI situations.
Telco is -48VDC (talk battery) plus 90VAC (ring). The twist profile provides a balanced 600ohm path for telco but I would think that would be a little high and lossy for mic level plus it's unshielded.
Line In/Out unbalanced which would be closer to 10Kohm impedance or MIDI even should work OK....probably get away with a speaker level to a point.....say under 50W...
but then this is why there are different kinds of wires....hey coax comes in 50ohm or 75ohm unbalanced and you can get baluns to convert to 300ohm too!
Old 8th February 2010 | Show parent
  #29
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nucelar's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hi,
Check out the twisted pair product line from RDL. Might be what you are looking for.
Radio Design Labs Product Subcategories
Old 8th February 2010 | Show parent
  #30
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Wavebourn's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Computer networking twisted pair cables work just fine; the question is how to utilize their capabilities. I'm trying now to find a source of reliable 4-pair sockets, but all I found are military ones that are too expensive.
Did anyone try to use RJ-45 for such purposes?
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