You Ask, We Answer: Best Affordable Cables - EMusician

You Ask, We Answer: Best Affordable Cables

Choosing the best affordable studio cable
Author:
Publish date:

I NEED TO BUY CABLES FOR MY STUDIO AND WOULD LIKE TO GET YOUR OPINION ON WHICH BRAND HAS THE CHEAPEST AND BEST THAT I CAN GET.

ROD DAVIES
BENNINGTON, VT
VIA EMAIL

The SHE’S singer Sami Perez builds cables at Women’s Audio Mission in San Francisco. Unfortunately, when it comes to quality audio gear, cheap and best rarely go together. Although so-called accessories such as cables and stands are an integral part of your setup, this is where people are most likely to skimp when they outfit their personal studios. You can have the best mics, preamps, and speakers in the world, but you’ve wasted your money if you use them with cables with lousy shielding or flaky connectors.

Image placeholder title

That’s not to say that you need to spend thousands of dollars on products made with exotic materials, either. A number of companies focus specifically on these studio products, and cables of any useful length (25 feet for mic cables, for example) can run you $15 to just over $50 each.

The most cost-effective solution for XLR, TRS, and even regular instrument cables is to build them yourself, and the DIY skills required to do this are elementary and easy to master. Simply order a length of cable that will cover your needs, purchase the connectors, and then solder them on. This is what pro studios do, because they want to have control over every aspect of the signal path, and it’s significantly cheaper to make them than to buy off-the-shelf cables of the same quality. While you’re at it, you can create all the cable varieties you need—XLR (male or female) to TRS, balanced 1/4" headphone extension cables, and so on—each color-coded by length for easy, at-a-glance identification.

For a step-by-step guide to building your own cables, visit emusician.com/solder101.
THE EDITORS

Got a question about recording, gigging, or technology?
Ask us! Send it to ElectronicMusician@musicplayer.com.