I have always advocated using patch-bays for your equipment, whether you are an audio rental guy or if you are doing a rack for a client. Reason being is because you do not have to reach behind the racks and pull wires. Plus, it makes it a whole lot neater and it is faster to patch things in instead of tracing cables. This rack above was made for a client. You can see various types of XLR connectors there and all of them serve their purpose. Yep. Keep it neat and tidy all the time.
Many big audio companies and equipment rental companies have the luxury of having dedicated flightcase boxes for their cables. I do not have this luxury because I have a small company and travel light. So what I did was to make a dedicated cable case for all my audio cables for gigs. This is very useful indeed as you never know what cable to use for a show. So what I did was to get a pouch or even a bag that I was not using anymore and converted it into a cable pouch. I put all my cables in that pouch and all I have to do is to shove that pouch into my backpack for the next show. In that pouch I have a variety of audio cables. I have female and male XLR to 1/4″ TRS, XLR to XLR and even 1/4″ TS to 1/4″ TS. You never know when it may come in useful. I know I used all the cables in this bag for my NYE gig about three weeks ago. So go on. Make a cable pouch like this. It is very useful indeed.
Just last night, one of my colleagues told me that the Mackie mixer belonging to a client of mine has issues so it must be sent for repair. Unfortunately, the client needs the mixer for an event today. So we search our store and the only mixer that we have available is a Behringer Xenyx 802. But unfortunately, the Mackie mixer has XLR balanced outputs and the Behringer only has unbalanced 1/4″ outputs. So how do we solve this?
Simple. I asked my colleague if they had any DI boxes in the store. She said that we have a single DI box. So what I do is to make a XLR Y-cable and a couple of 1/4″ to 1/4″ TS phone jacks. I had some spare plugs and XLRs left over so they would do nicely. The way it is going to be connected is:
- 1/4″ to 1/4″ TS phone plug cable will be plugged to the unbalanced output of the Behringer mixer
- The other end of the 1/4″ to 1/4″ TS phone plug cable will be plugged to the input of the DI box
- The output of the DI box will be connected to the XLR Y-cable
- The two outputs of the Y-cable will be plugged into the existing XLR cables
This is the only way this is going to work. Meanwhile, I have to make sure we have a proper mixer with a balanced output. Unbalanced outputs like the one that Behringer has is not gonna cut it these days
I have a customer that wanted to get the mic cables attached to his Polycom ceiling ball mics lengthened. So what we did was to got to the Polycom distributor and bought some cables. These are the cables above and I have to admit…they cost a pretty penny. And this is the shocker. These mic cables were made for Polycom using Belden cable. That got me thinking. If they could make their own cable, why couldn’t we? These cables were using special 4-pin DIN (Deutsche Industrie Norm) or mini XLRs and I am sure that if we could get these plug, getting the cables pre-made would be easy. And I bet they will cost cheaper than the Polycom ones too! Hmmm…food for thought…
A couple of months back, I was at a hotel and we tried to plug our mics into a floor receptacle in the board-room. After the event was over, we tried ti unplug our XLR mics and to our horror, the XLR socket came out with the plug! What the hell I thought. Then I noticed that the floor-points were in a bad state of disrepair…almost worn out. I wonder if the hotel checks their stuff regularly because there will come a day when a customer breaks it and the AV staff will get the shit. In any case, I told the manager present that day and he promised that he would get it fixed. Hope it gets fixed soon
Most of the time, when we are fixing or terminating XLR plugs, the brand in question is almost always Neutrik. That is why while I was at a customer’s place a couple of days back, and they asked me to terminate a new XLR plug for them, they gave me this packet, with a new XLR plug inside it. Apparently, they had some spare ones from CPC UK and they wanted to use them first. So I said no worries and proceeded to do the termination. This XLR plug, in my honest opinion, was not built as well as the Neutriks. I do not know how to describe it but it does not have the quality that Neutriks “ooze”. But all that being said and done, this plug was soldered on the old cable (the old XLR plug had lost its rubberised ring) and it was put back to use.
Just last week, I was stripping down the training room of a client’s place. That training room had a huge video wall, complete with a good audio setup. So when we stripped, we had to cut off all the cables and I had these left over. Talk about a haul! Neutrik XLR plugs and Speakons! This will come in very handy when I have installations next time…I can simply reuse these cables and they are spun! They are still in very good condition. Looks like being a “garbage collector” has its uses!