Monthly Archives: January 2015


Box full of audio cables

Box full of completed cables for the WGMU Production Studio

It may not look like much, but that box full of cables represents several days worth of work.

Unfortunately, the necessary cables never come in the box when it comes to pro-grade audio equipment – you have to make them yourself.

Part of the problem is that there are so many different types of connectors for audio equipments, including XLR, RCA, 1/4″ phone, 3.5mm mini-jack, etc – the list goes on. Also, every studio is different, so you never know what length you’re going to need. For our Logitek AE-32 Audio Engine, I had to create cables that go from DB25 to XLR, RCA or terminal block with lengths ranging from 6 feet to 18 feet.

It takes time to measure, cut, solder, test and label* each wire. A couple of things slowed me down.

First, I don’t have a dedicated workbench so I have to set up everything each time I work. After hauling out all my tools and warming up the soldering gun, 30 minutes pass without actually accomplishing any real work.

Second, I use lead-free solder that has a melting point of 422.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a good 50 degrees higher than 60/40 tin/lead solder. That makes it more difficult to work with since you have to wait longer for everything to heat up (unless you like cold-solder joints). Of course, you’ll become infertile after being exposed to lead, so lead-free solder does have some benefits.

These factors combine to make it necessary to have a full hour of uninterrupted work time in order for me to complete anything. Unfortunately, I rarely have an hour when I’m not interrupted so needless to say, the Production Studio upgrade has gone very slowly.

* It is important to label each wire. It may not seem important at first, and if you never ever repair, replace or add any equipment to your studio (yeah, right), you might be able to get away with it. However, without labels and documentation, repairs, upgrades and additions become very difficult – tracing connections is no fun. I guarantee, you will not remember how you hooked things up a year from now and it may not even be you who does the repair, upgrade or addition.

Patch Chart Screenshot

I keep very copious notes about where every single conductor goes. This makes repairs, upgrades and additions easier.