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  • chaddavidkelly

on cables...

If anyone was interested to know, this is how I test the cables I make. As some may know, depending on which mic you buy, I may make as many as 3 specific cables that are included. a 7 pin XLR or Binder cable, a 3 pin XLR, and an IEC power cable (US IEC cable only at this time, sorry)... the 7 and 3 pin XLR's are tested on this handy dandy device, which is an Alctron universal cable tester, modified to convert the 8 pin Speakon i/o to 7 pin (+chassis GND) XLR format. It has 3 pin XLR already onboard (as well as 4 and 5 pin). Even folks like me make mistakes (dyslexia and/or lack of sleep can take their toll) and I never ship a cable that has not been carefully tested, and usually re-tested and tested again.

A lot more goes into the cable process than many suspect, esp. if you are as OCD as I am known to be. I mostly use Gotham stock now, and I pretty particular about how things are assembled. For instance, on the IEC cables I am now making, there is a very specific protocol. The shield is tied to ground on both ends, and insulated in a heatshrink with the ground wire. The wires are all stripped and tinned, and any excess rosin residue is cleaned off the tinned ends before they are clamped in to the internal set screws. the IEC outer shell is screwed down to to its cable-clamp with about 1/3 inch clearance between it and the base, before the base is connected... thus providing strain relief for the tinned ends. The copper or rhodium IEC pins are also treated in Caig Labs contact enhancer. The IEC cable is shielded Gotham OFC high grade copper, and the IEC connectors are Japanese audiophile components. I always put a Ferrite clamp (over-sized) on the transmission end of the cable to help block out HF interference, since there is so much of it these days.

Nearly every cable I make is treated with one variety of contact enhancer which I allow to dry into the metal before touching. I also clean the metal pins usually first before applying it, so contaminants don't get into the mix. If you ever look under a microscope powerful enough, the 'smooth' copper or nickel blades of a connector look more like the Rocky Mountain range... a contact lubricant helps level the field and allow more surface area to mate with the corresponding surface (which also should pick up some of the lubricant, if not get a treatment itself). It all matters. There's an old trick I use to prove this to skeptics. Find a rusty old flashlight that kind of intermittently dims or jitters off and on. Spray both contact ends and the battery ends with DeOxit by Caig, and put it back together, and watch what happens. bright, uninterrupted light. the stuff works. audio is the same.

People ask if these extra steps make a difference. The answer is yes. I've always heard it. The better IEC cables improve depth and spacial information, esp. in stereo use such as connecting a pair of monitors or the power supply to a monitor controller... it absolutely is audible. Its well worth the time and effort to make and include with my premium mics. The reason I use Gotham for the 7 pin cable in the first place comes from a time several years back when I sat alone in a dark room for about 2 days, evaluating cable and jotting down my impressions of what every cable did. I had everything from cheap generic cable that was horrible to some decent stock that was once used by Rode for the Classic, and some other brands. Nothing compared to Gotham. Nothing likely will. My use of their product stems from my own experience and impressions; never for simply marketing or name recognition purposes... I never really cared for that as a reason to do things.










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