Originally Posted by commsysman
Anyone who suggests that you use unbalanced cables for over 6 feet needs a reality check!
Theory, bench testing and field experience shows that length is a secondary justification for using balanced I/O. The primary justification is the way that balanced I/O circumvents minor grounding problems.
Balanced is the only way to go.
Which begged the question from another poster: "Even if you don't have a balanced source and load". It may or may not surprise that poster to learn that most of the benefit of balanced I/O is obtained when the load is balanced.
Unbalanced sources can be connected to balanced loads through balanced cables in ways that are highly advantageous and address both subtle grounding problems and interference pick-up.
The only time that unbalanced wiring is justified is when both
the source and the load are unbalanced. If only the load is balanced, then a balanced cable can still provide a benefit if properly wired (Please see Rane Note 22). Perhaps that is what the poster meant.
Please check the zzounds website for the Hosa cables. 50 feet is $27.95 and 25 feet is $17.95; these are excellent cables, and those are cheap prices.
Hosa makes lots of XLR cables in different grades. I prefer their CMK series. 20 gauge conductors, Neutrik connectors, low noise relatively flexible cable. I have about 15 in various live sound applications and after 2 years absoultely no problems.
Standard AES/EBU cable uses 22 gauge wire; a lot of the others use 20 gauge. The gauge is not critical, but 16 gauge seems a bit odd; never seen that before. Audio engineers use the standard 22 gauge cable for runs of 100 feet and longer; no problem there.
Agreed that 16 gauge is overkill for mic and line level cables. Heck, 20 gauge is overkill. 24 gauge suffices, but 22 gauge gives you extra margin.
I can't over-emphasize how much difference actual assembly quality makes. I once was given a bunch of XLR cables by M.. F.. as part of a package deal with mic stands. The stands were good, but the cables all failed within a year of live sound use. I reterminated them, noted the assembly flaws (lack of proper strain relief) and they became reliable. Same cable, same connectors.