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DIY XLR Cables


Saif and Sound

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Hey Guys,

Decided that I want to start making my own cables/adapters to custom fit my needs.  I was just wondering does anyone know a site or place in the L.A. area where I can buy XLR cable in bulk?  As well as a connectors?  Also, are there differences in the quality of the cable when buying in bulk or is it all the same or in the connectors.  Obviously I'm sure it's MAINLY in how you solder it and such.  But I just want to make sure if there are differences in manufacturer's before I buy.  If anyone has any links or info at all, I'd greatly appreciate it.  Thanks!

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Yes Star Quad as John says, is what most folks use.Star Quad Cable is what should be used, It has a drain cover and a braided string that you cut off around the shield cord (ground) and 2 blue wires(+/-) and 2 white wires(+/-). Be careful when stripping the cable so you dont knick any of the little wires inside. When tinning be careful that you do not use to much solder.

It may take practice so do not expect best results right away. Soldering is a zen art.

Good Luck

Matt

As a heads up when using Canare Star Quad, for maximum interference protection the blue pair must go to pin 3 (negative) and white pair to pin 2 (positive) of the XLR connector.

Eric

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Eric, that is a bunchahogwash and ya know it doesnt matter which color is what as long as it is the same on the other end.

ground on 1 hot on 2 cold on 3, pick yer colors.

Really? Go tell that to Canare. The quote is from the Canare website regarding Star quad wiring. I have a feeling they don't think it's hogwash.

"In order to maximize noise rejection, Star Quad must be properly wired to the XLR-3 connector (or terminal block). White to the positive, Blue to the negative"

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Really? Go tell that to Canare. The quote is from the Canare website regarding Star quad wiring. I have a feeling they don't think it's hogwash.

"In order to maximize noise rejection, Star Quad must be properly wired to the XLR-3 connector (or terminal block). White to the positive, Blue to the negative"

My guess is they're just trying to establish a standard.  A lesser possibility is that there's a way the wire is wound that Canare has determined makes some difference when used with an unbalanced circuit.  It'd be an interesting question to ask their tech support.

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This is what mogami says about their quad cable wiring.  They don't say why.

<<Just connect both blue conductors to "hot" or signal + (pin 2 on XLR, tip of TRS) both clear conductors to "low" or signal - (pin 3 of an xlr, ring of TRS) and attach the shield to ground (pin 1 of an xlr, sleeve of a TRS).>>

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Keep in mind that it could take you quite awhile to collect all the tools, strippers, heat shrink, flex wrap, various size and types of cable stock, myriad of connectors, resistors for pads, heat gun, soldering iron, iron tips, measuring instruments, etc....  It ends up being a lot of materials. 

Not that it isn't worth it because it is great to be able to wire up a custom cable the night before you need it and not worry about having to order it from a vendor on short notice and wait for delivery etc..

That said I wish there were a better parts supplier in my area because I still run into the situation where I don't have a seven pin xlr or some nonstandard part, I still have to order it from mouser or the like.

Anyway have fun!

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As a heads up when using Canare Star Quad, for maximum interference protection the blue pair must go to pin 3 (negative) and white pair to pin 2 (positive) of the XLR connector.

Eric

That's interesting! Never saw that designation. One would think if it's "that" important, they would include those instructions with every spool they sold. Damned if I'm going back to re-solder over 100 cables. To this day, I have never heard any issues. Since I have been using Canare Star Quad cables, I've always connected Blue to Two, because it rhymes. That way, I don't have to think about which cable I put on the other end and standardized all my cables. Love to hear their rational.

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That's interesting! Never saw that designation. One would think if it's "that" important, they would include those instructions with every spool they sold. Damned if I'm going back to re-solder over 100 cables. To this day, I have never heard any issues. Since I have been using Canare Star Quad cables, I've always connected Blue to Two, because it rhymes. That way, I don't have to think about which cable I put on the other end and standardized all my cables.

Love to hear their rational.

It's all there on the Canare website under the audio cable link, then star quad, then technical specs. Note that Canare says "MAXIMUM" protection not no protection.

Eric

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when using Canare Star Quad, for maximum interference protection the blue pair must go to pin 3 (negative) and white pair to pin 2 (positive) of the XLR connector.

Eric

It doesn't actually say that. It says "In order to maximize noise rejection, Star Quad must be properly wiredconnector (or terminal block)." and the diagram shows how to wire it. It is aimed more at getting the grounding correct. The colour designation is to set a standard that is easy to follow. There is no difference in sheilding between white or blue (and therefore can make no difference). And the twisting also negates any possible differences.

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" Blue to Two, "

mee, also!

I suspect that what matters is connecting both blue (and both white) wires together and to a single XLR pin...

and I clearly recall discussing this at a Canare booth at an NAB in the last millennium when this was new; they explained the Physics of their then new system, and it had nothing to do with the colors.  Back then they handed out tech papers, including pictures of scope traces...

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I always do but this is also a hotly contested practice..

You bet this is a "hotly contested" issue...  been around as long as I can remember even looking at an XLR connector. I really wish there was a definitive answer but none has showed up in the last 40 + years of my career. At this time, the majority of my XLR cables, long ones 25' and longer, do not have the shield tied to the shell on either end. Some of the short jumpers for mic connection do have the shield connected to the shell on the MALE end. I can't give you any reason for any of this. When you get the answer, let us all know.

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Eric (and others!),

What's your opinion about using AES (110 ohm) star quad vs. mic (75 ohm) star quad.

Occasionally I see discussions about it, and it seems that some number of folks just use 110 ohm cable across the board since it works well with microphone/line level signals as well as digital audio signals and they don't have have to keep separate sets of cables around.

Mind you these discussions are often from studio types, but with field mixers and cameras slowly moving towards AES I/O... perhaps it's time to pick the discussion up again?

As far as DIY, thanks for the wiring link. I've been a big DIY user of Canare Star Quad but I haven't paid any attention to white vs. blue.

One thing about star quad cable construction that struck me early on in my DIY career (which is still early on as a whole), is that while Canare's braided shielding is much more of a nuisance to work with than Mogami's loosely wrapped shielding, it seems the former would stand up much better to some of the abuses we put our cables through out "in the field." Thoughts?

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