So you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on upgrading your studio setup. You’ve finally got your dream microphone, you've nabbed yourself to a pair of top-grade studio monitors, treated yourself to some outboard rack equipment, and you’ve acoustically treated your space, but those flimsy, cheap-old XLR cables will still do the trick... right? Wrong.
High-quality cabling is an often-overlooked necessity to any studio, live rig or audio setup; but you wouldn’t step out on stage with rusty, battered guitar strings, would you? Read on to find out why investing in your cables is just as important as any other part of your setup.
Interference and noise reduction
Interference and unwanted noise can come from a number of sources when you’re dealing with electronics, so it’s important to tackle the ones that are in your control.
Cables love picking up other singles between their input and output. The better quality the cable, the less unwanted noise and interference your signal will pick up on its journey down the cable. This is often down to having more adequate shielding around the cables internal copper wires.
Audio quality is key
High-quality cables retain data more accurately as it travels through the wires resulting in less loss of quality, unlike cheaper and more poorly made, mass-produced cables.
"Not unlike your microphones, monitors and instrument pickups, the frequency response of your cable plays a huge factor in its quality, and the replication of the audio it is transmitting."
The higher the quality of the cable, the wider range of frequencies it can transmit accurately to provide you with a better product, be that your recording signal, instrument tone or audio playback.
It’s worth noting that the longer the cable, the more likely it is to suffer from a loss of quality. Keep devices as close to the input source to retain as much precious audio quality as possible. With higher-quality cables, the length of the cable can be increased further without sacrificing your audio quality.
"But It’s not just about sound quality…"
Durability of cables
In the same way that we swoon over the performance of our amplifiers, instruments, computers and studio equipment, you don’t want your cables to fail you mid-session, performance or whilst listening to your favourite record.
Professional cables tend to be tougher and more resilient to damage due to their thicker and often more flexible jackets which will help protect them when they are far too often chucked around, thrown in cases, and trampled over on stage.
Better quality cables have a thicker outer rubber covering, which along with the shielding assists in the durability of the cable and prevents internal breaks that could cause intermittent faults.
"We should consider our cables as every bit as important as every other part of our setup."
Although we cannot promise you that a more expensive will last you forever, with most higher-priced cables the manufacturer will often offer a lifetime or extended guarantee for your product, allowing you to have your cable repaired or replaced if does fail you.
Please just remember to coil your cables properly after use...
What's the difference between a balanced and unbalanced cable? Find out here