Many of us work in venues with a fiscal year that ends in June.
The familiar mantra of the annual budget cycle is that you must “use it or lose it.” Some are getting seasonal venues ready.
Others, preparing to tour this summer, have a budget that includes various “consumables” such as tape and batteries.
Whatever the case, consider a new set of star quad microphone cables as the most affordable way to improve sound. Current deliberations about wireless mics remind us of alternatives.
Nothing that costs so little can make such a big difference in the quality of a sound system as its mic cables.
Years ago at a Burbank rehearsal studio, an assistant from the sound company shop was helping “loom up” our drum cables by taping them together with electrical tape.
I commented on his addition of several spare mic cables, and his response was that if one was good, then several were better.
These were made of Belden 8412, an industry standard that employs an inner jute strength member and a braided shield, but these cables were as old as the sound company, perhaps older, as they had famously bought another company in the first of what would become a tradition of mergers and acquisitions in live sound.
Most channels in our input list required phantom power, which places a higher demand on mic cables than simple passive devices.
A couple of troubled line checks into that tour, I told our production manager that I would order a new set of mic cables, and if the tour didn’t want to buy the receipt from me, I would simply take them home at tour’s end. Peter Janis recommended Radial Engineering’s house brand of quad mic cable.
Quad mic cable contains four 24-gauge wires instead of the usual single 22-gauge pair. The four wires spiral together tightly so they alternate plus and minus, creating better “looping” that improves resistance to electromagnetic interference, raising common mode rejection (CMRR) by a factor of 10, or about 20 dB. With today’s growing RF transmissions, quad cables provide increased immunity to radio interference.
Star quad cables can also improve sound quality. Most report clearer highs, less mud in the mid-lows, and a lift of the “haze” associated with previous mixes. Individual channels combine better, take EQ better, and compress better.