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Re: What is the best mic cable for nature recordings

Subject: Re: What is the best mic cable for nature recordings
From: "Walter Knapp" waltknapp
Date: Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:48 am ((PDT))
Posted by: "Michael Oates"

> What is the best mic cable for nature recordings, ideal qualities being:
> - flexible even in low temperatures

no problem with canare cables, at least down below freezing. We don't 
get below zero F around here so I've not really tested it in super cold 
conditions. Like any plastic I'm sure it has limits.

Canare's covering is also a matte finish which is not that slippery even 
when wet. Very nice to handle.

> - lightweight (got to carry it!)

The smaller diameter canare star quad is lightweight. And still fairly 
reasonable to handle.

> - hard wearing, (rocks and trees can take their toll)

I've yet to wear out canare star quad cables in many years use. They all 
still look new. I use, but don't abuse the cables. I don't drag them 
around on the ground.

It is not immune to Beaver bites, however, ask Lang Elliott.

> - capable of stereo transmission (prefrable to two seperate cables)

Canare starquad in either diameter works fine for stereo nature 
recording for myself, Lang Elliott, and others. And we, at times, use 
long lengths. I've run out more than 400' a few times and it worked fine.

> - good RF rejection ? I don't know how important it is to use starquad
>   when used outside. Any starquad is going be less flexable and greater
>   weight, so is this needed?

For nature recording you are usually far away from strong EMF fields. 
Except if you record under high tension power lines. And under those the 
mics and recorder will generally not have enough shielding either. Note 
I don't think I'd recommend doing stereo with the star quad in other 
types of recording where much more EMF is around. There you'd need to 
either go to snake or two conductors.

I don't think you will do much better than the high quality starquad. At 
least the Canare is very flexible. Either diameter is not all that 
heavy, the smaller diameter is particularly lightweight. This is well 
designed cable for the job it's doing. The Canare starquad is also not 
very likely to produce noise when bent, at least if you do not go to 
extremes. Some less well built cable will creak when bent. Be sure 
whatever you get it has a full braid shield instead of foil shield. Foil 
shield is intended only for permanent installations where it won't be 
moved, though you will find it in cheaper cables where it does not belong.

> Canare starquad L-4E6S was mentioned in recent posts, but the spec doesn't
> seem anything special. And to be honest using it for stereo seems rather
> dodgy as each channel is not twisted together.

Actually the 4 conductors of the star quad are twisted together. So when 
you use 2 opposite conductors for one channel and the other two opposite 
for the other they are still twisted together. In other words use the 
two blue conductors for one channel, the two white ones for the other. 
You do have to use a meter when making them up to ID the hot and cold 
wires for each channel.

I used to worry about crosstalk between the channels, but have never had 
that problem.

> So what do you recommend?

I use and recommend Canare star quad in either diameter. I also use some 
of the even finer diameter star quad stripped out of Canare star quad 
two channel snake for the short Y breakouts.

BTW, if you want to completely preserve the full capabilities of Canare 
star quad while avoiding two cables you could use the two conductor 
snake. But it is big and heavy. Still surprisingly flexible and 
reasonably easy to handle.

If you are unsure, order in a small length and make up a cable and try 
it. That's what I did when I first started. I order much more at a time 
now to get cheaper per foot rates.


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