Recently, I’ve been spending most of my free time writing, creating illustrations, and laying out Music and Audio: A User Guide To Better Sound. I can tell you that progress is painstaking but coming along. I’m pushing very hard to complete the project in time for the upcoming AXPONA Show, which will held in the middle of April. It’s going to be tight…especially as I haven’t started designing and preparing all of the elements that will go on the accompanying Blu-ray disc.
Today, I spent the whole day writing about cables. It just seemed so appropriate after the recent focus on the YouTube video featuring the AudioQuest HDMI cables. I’m not going to dig further into the topic right now but I can say that I’m continually amazed at what I read online and in other “high-end” audio books. However today, I’m going to talk about wiring of the new studios.
The new studios in the AIX Media Group building are coming along. All of the walls are up, there is insulation between the studs, the floors have been raised, and even a layer of soundboard has been attached to the walls. It’s time to figure out the wiring requirements of three individual spaces. The new tenant plans to have three rooms that can operate independently and in concert. The live central room is flanked by two recording and mixing spaces. And there’s a separate machine room in the corner of the largest 5.1 mixing room. So how does one figure out what types of cabling, how long they should be, and what sorts of terminating connectors should be on the ends? The answer is to methodically list all of the equipment that will be installed in the room and identify all of their associated inputs and outputs. It’s a laborious task but is critically important if you want to avoid mistakes and ensure everything is properly connected.
Additionally, one has to think about any future expansion and the flexibility that will be built into the wiring. In my main room, I have a number of panels strategically placed around the main studio, the isolation booth, and the machine rooms. These custom designed and fabricated panels have a combination of different connectors located on them. There’s also an analog and digital patch bay in the main studio that I can use to reconfigure the inputs and outputs of every piece of equipment available. The panels allow me to plug in a microphone and route it to the microphone preamps in an external rack, send line level signals to the headphone monitoring system, and connect the analog and digital inputs and outputs to the amplifiers and speakers.
All of the cabling comes from Belden, Canare, or Mogami depending on which what available when I went to Pacific Radio Exchange last week. The most expensive cable I purchased (the 24-pair cable to be used for microphones from the iso booth to the main room) was less than $4.00 per foot. In a 24-pair cable, the individual cables are not star quad and thus not effective against magnetic interference. I will be laying a variety of cables (microphone level, line level, MIDI, Ethernet CAT 5, HDMI, 12-gauge speaker, and Thunderbolt) in the troughs that run around and between each room. As long as I keep the main AC power leads away from the audio wiring, there shouldn’t be any induced noise.
Finally, I’ll be bringing all of the cabling through ELCO multi-pin connectors. These are large, rectangular connectors that have to be laboriously hand wired. They allow the engineer to quickly connect or disconnect an entire rack or machine with in one move. They use small gold contacts and are extremely reliable. The 24 microphone cables will show up on the side of the wall in the main room in a single ELCO connector and then to the back of the patchbay.
Laying out the wires and terminating each connector will take weeks. The smell of solder is going to floating through the space for a while.