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Suggestions for small 4-channel (or so) snake? Traditional? Cat-5/6?


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I'm looking for a new XLR analog snake. Maybe up to an 8x4, but a basic four-channel snake would see more everyday use. I think I want a small junction box at the input/XLRF/stage end rather than a fan. Leaning towards 30 meters / 100 feet, maybe just half that distance (still thinking). Not thinking of DIYing; my soldering skills are still OK (and improving because of some hobbies), but I don't know if I'd get everything right on a snake. Not really a fan of Whirlwind (are they better these days?), definitely not a fan of Hosa. Considering a Cat-5/6 system. Is that a good idea?

 

What are the real-world advantages of a simple traditional XLR snake running over something like multi-channel star quad such as:

http://www.canare.com/ProductItemDisplay.aspx?productItemID=55

Who's making solid four-channel snakes (either fanned or boxed)? Markertek/Sescom? Remote Audio?

 

What are people's experiences with shielded Cat-5/6 systems such as the ETS InstaSnake and Radial's Catapult?

There was a discussion here about InstaSnake, but most of it took place 10 years ago: https://jwsoundgroup.net/index.php?/topic/5054-instasnake-from-ets/&

 

Any updated experiences? Are the Cat 5 systems holding up in the field? Looks like phantom power works over ethernet cable. Is that working out in the real world? Any drawbacks to using a simple Cat 5 audio snake? Any brands that are especially reliable?

 

Thanks!

 

Jim

 

 

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I am not a fan of analog over Cat-cable.  Any signal down anything less than Cat7 (four by individually shielded pair)  will need to be mic level, in my experience, to protect from cross-talk at higher levels.  You will need to use shielded Cat5e/6 in any case if you need to send P48.  I have a couple of someone's Cat-breakout boxes but I never use them in favor of Mogami 4-pair snakes when I need to run analog signals over distance.

 

Check out Redco Audio and have them build you what you want.  "Normal"audio snake won't have any cross-talk (to speak of) even with line level.  You might even find something on Reverb.

 

https://www.redco.com/home.php

 

Just my $.02.

 

D.

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Mogami or Canare are excellent choices, if you are decent with a soldering iron you can order the cable from Markertek.  Buy some Neutrik black/gold xlrs and you will have a nice cable for many years.

If not into soldering then Doug's Redco suggestion is the one.

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https://www.audiopile.net/DSX-8-25-Pin-DSUB-to-Female-XLR-Stage-Box_p_5742.html

I've been moving myself over to a set of these for 8 to 24 channel recordings.  The quality is good and I like the idea of being able to have  multiple smaller stage boxes closer to the sound sources instead of one big box and longer cables running to it across the stage etc..  I've been using these for a few years now and am quite happy with them.  The Audiopile folks are great, very helpful.

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Philip.  Any concerns about the Db25 connector on the Audiophile snake box?  I think those connectors are good for a plug-it-once situations but the design has proven dodgy at best when plugged and unplugged multiple times.  FWIW, on my 24-channel analog snakes I use Elco/Edac connectors.  Bomb proof.

 

For four-pair multi-pin cables, I used to use amp CPC connectors but now don't have any four-pair that aren't simply four XLRs on each end.  I do have a bunch of them, tho.  Two-pair as well.

 

D.

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1 hour ago, tourtelot said:

Philip.  Any concerns about the Db25 connector on the Audiophile snake box?  I think those connectors are good for a plug-it-once situations but the design has proven dodgy at best when plugged and unplugged multiple times.  FWIW, on my 24-channel analog snakes I use Elco/Edac connectors.  Bomb proof.

 

For four-pair multi-pin cables, I used to use amp CPC connectors but now don't have any four-pair that aren't simply four XLRs on each end.  I do have a bunch of them, tho.  Two-pair as well.

 

D.

When I started with these I wondered about that too, but a lot of hard experience with them has shown me that they work just fine.  As with any join in a modular multipair snake you have to be careful with where you locate it (out of the way), be mindful during joining+unjoining, and take care of the connectors when they are in a bag etc.   Like most of my gear anymore I'm the sole user of these (they aren't turned over to a house crew or etc), so I know how they are being handled.   For my current relatively small world they have been a great combo of economy, utility and easy of use vs. my older larger-input-count snakes.  I pretty much insist that snakes I use be modular these days--no more permanently attached stage boxes and fans for me, and large capacity modular snakes are expensive (and heavy).  I also have not really entered the world of digital snakes to any great degree, since they don't make sense with my current recording gear, so these little snakes have turned out to work very well for the jobs I'm doing these days.  A bonus is that they are cheap enough that if they develop "personalities" I have no compunction about replacing them.  I have some EDAC stuff too, but while I have made and repaired DB25 cables anything EDAC is beyond my current level of skill, patience and eyesight to work on (I tried).  In my experience EDAC is no more rugged than DB25, and DB25 has a small enough capacity that I can have spares.  On the job damage to a filled-up EDAC snake is a showstopper.

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18 minutes ago, Philip Perkins said:

On the job damage a filled-up EDAC snake is a showstopper.

Now these are true words. :)  As do you, I am always the one hooking this stuff up.  This makes all the difference of course.

 

D.

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Have a look at LK connectors and Eurocable for analog multicore. 
 

I’ve got a 24 channel (20/4) made from these components and it’s never let me down. It’s been extremely reliable. I had a company in Sydney make up 2 x 25 metre lengths with 2 sets of tails so I can use it as a 25 metre or 50 metre. It’s completely modular. 
 

LK have 4 channel versions etc. 

 

http://www.lkconnectors.info/lk_audio.htm

 

ive also got a Whirlwind CATDUSA that I bought for a job and then never used it. Though on testing it worked fine with all line level signals. Mixed mic and line is not good for cross talk with average CAT cable. Get some quality cable built for location deployment (wrap/unwrap many times over) with good quality ethercon connectors and the cable will last. 
 

cheers 

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I did some testing of the 4x Cat6 boxes I have with line level and sent completely different program over two lines, not a similar sounding stereo pair, and the cross-talk present itself in spades.  Now I am not saying all the Cat boxes do this, although I won't assume that they don't.  But my experience was not good with a line level test.  I did not test in the -10dB range so I can't speak to cross-talk, but mostly, I never use them for anything important.

 

D.

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For my music jobs I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the german brand Sommercable. I am using Sommer Cable Quantum Highflex Multipair 4, and 8 for up to 20 meters multipair connections.

They are not starquad but, like the Canare you gave link to, the advantage is each pair has its own insulation ( basically you have 4 cables put together in one bigger insulator) so that you don't need to connect a breakout, you have what you called the fan version. You just need the XLR connectors and some large thermal sleeve to make a nice and rugged finish.

But no advantage for you if you only want boxes.

(btw thanks cause I did not know the term "fan" used for the multipair cables ends, improving my english 😉 )

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