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Building custom/DIY Audio Cables for Audio (Stereo and Multichannel) and video applications

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm trying to clean up my equipment rack of cables and get some custom cable lengths to run between components. I'm very technical, I have all the tools to create custom coax cables, terminate Cat5/6 etc. Currently, I have a 25 foot quad shielded RG6 coax cable that I use for a digital audio run and it works flawlessly between a USB to S/PDIF adapter and my receiver.

What I'm trying to accomplish is create custom cable lengths for stereo and multichannel audio between components. My quad shielded RG6 cabling is obviously stiff and I'd like to go with something more flexible. I'm looking at lengths between 3-8 feet max.

So my questions are as follows:
  1. Are RG59 and RG6 cables the best to use for analog audio and video (I assume I can use RG6 for both)? If not, what should I be looking for?
  2. Do I need anything specific when building analog audio or video cables? Can I just use any RG59 or RG6 cable? I prefer to have some kind of shielding on my cables.
  3. I assume that there is nothing wrong with terminating the custom cables with coax and then adding an RCA adapter as a screw-in on to the coax adapter?
  4. Where is the best place to buy the cabling? Can I just use a home depot or Monoprice roll or should I look to get a roll of Canare or Belden, etc.
  5. Where is the best place to buy the connectors for the cabling?
  6. Where is the best place to buy any sheathing or heat-molding to overlay between the cables and terminators?

I'm very comfortable building the cables. and have done so with RG6 quad shielding but it's just too stiff. I'm looking for someone who has experience and can offer the best way to go about this.

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 19
1: RG59.
2: Copper core and Copper braid, like your typical TV station video cable.
3: You assume wrong. Get the proper connectors, don't mess with adapters.
4: This looks like OK cable: http://www.amazon.com/Belden-New-Gen-Coaxial-Braided-1000Ft-black-/dp/B009X6FCYG/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1390359115&sr=8-18&keywords=belden+video+cable
5: And these look like connectors to me: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_9?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=rg59%20rca%20compression%20connectors&sprefix=rg59+rca+%2Caps%2C225&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Arg59%20rca%20compression%20connectors
6: ^^ The old same place ^^
post #3 of 19
wow, that sure sound like a whole lot of unnecessary effort for audio patch cords. but.. if you just enjoy tedious chores like making cables.
post #4 of 19
Yeah, I was going to say the same thing... Buy a mix of 1.5', 3', 6', etc. "Premium RCA cables" from Monoprice for $3/each and cable them up... The really "pretty" racks you see in the magazines (and here, too!) stuff the extra slack off to the sides to hide it, they aren't necessarily cutting each cable to length.

You really don't want to assemble those to the exact inch - you'll hate yourself when you upgrade a component and have to re-do a bunch of stuff...
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi guys and thanks for the info. I do indeed have some of the premium cables from Monoprice and I just don't like them.

I really need to terminate custom-length cables.
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thxtheater View Post

I do indeed have some of the premium cables from Monoprice and I just don't like them.

Curious... Because???
Quote:
I really need to terminate custom-length cables.

I doubt you NEED to... But if you want to, get a good set of compression tools and connectors for those - Markertek and a few other places that slip my mind are good sources for the raw wire, connectors and tools.

And do leave some slack tucked away so at least the wires can reach across the 19" rack span - so at least if you swap components for a replacement in the future, you'll have at least a chance to re-cable without starting over...
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Curious... Because???
I doubt you NEED to... But if you want to, get a good set of compression tools and connectors for those - Markertek and a few other places that slip my mind are good sources for the raw wire, connectors and tools.

And do leave some slack tucked away so at least the wires can reach across the 19" rack span - so at least if you swap components for a replacement in the future, you'll have at least a chance to re-cable without starting over...

I've had bad luck with a few of the MonoPrice premium cables so I don't trust them. I also don't like the plug ends. They are cheap.

Yes I absolutely need custom lengths because these are going in a custom cabinet with a back and the current extra cable length is a problem at the back in sliding the cabinet back.

I can appreciate all the questions and I'm happy to answer them. I'd just equally like some answers to my original post. Unfortunately I have a unique installation and getting this as neat and right as possible is essential.

Thanks guys!
post #8 of 19
Buy the Monoprice cables (assorted colors) cut off the plugs and SOLDER on the new ones of your choice. I assume you would want gold flashed connecters. As othwers suggested, leaving no slack in the harnessing will likmely come back to haunt you.

You can also buy Canare V5C3 75 ohm 5 conductor, color coded video cable. Most major electronics components suppliers carry it or the belden equivalent. This cable manufaturer also sells the custom sized crimp tools and connectors as this cable is slightly smaller in diameter than traditional RG59. The tools is not cheap BUT it is top quality, as are the connectors. They have top grade RCA, BNC, and 1/4 phone plugs for this cable. Buy 10 ft and remove the outer jacket of the bundle and you have 5 super flexible, color coded cables. That should suit your purposes.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Guys, I've been a monoprice user for years shortly after they opened. I buy lots of stuff from them but I'm not happy with their premium audio interconnects. If I was then I wouldn't be asking for other info here. Please, I appreciate it but I'm not interested in any Monoprice help at this point.

Perhaps the best thing is for me to just buy good raw cable from bluejeans and consult with them.


The thread has veered off my initial questions. Unfortunately, I have a very unique installation.
post #10 of 19
Olyteddy answered most (if not all) of your questions back in post #2... PartsExpress is another good source for the raw components and tools.

And yes, if you know the exact lengths you want, ordering them made up from BlueJeans would be highly advisable.
post #11 of 19
Curious: You posted here asking for advice and several of us gave you the same advice from our rather extensive experience. You STILL have not explained what the"bad luck" you had with Monoprice cables was. Then you insist on maintaining a "NO MONOPRICE" stance. You obviously want to hear something else so tell us what you want us to say. Would that help?

Sorry but I do not understand why people post here soliciting advice and then argue with everyone who tells them the same thing.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
I did answer in a previous post. I own and have owned several of the monoprice premium cables and I've had them go bad. Specifically the cables failed. I don't trust them. I've had a similar experience with a specific line of Radio Shack cables several years ago too.

I also don't like their connectors and the jacket. The former is a technical reason and the latter is a preference. So for both technical and preference reasons I don't want to consider MonoPrice.

My seeking advice was on custom cables not monoprice. So the devils advocate question is why can't I just get answers to my question on making custom cables?
post #13 of 19
Perhaps because as one who has 40 years in professional AV, I am trying to figure out your cables "failed". Did the cable short internally? Open? Come clear out of the connector? Did the shield unravel? Did you start hearing AM radio on the terminated cable?

I know there are some inherent problems with some cheap cables but I have not had any "malfunctions" with MP cables aside from molded plug being yanked off the cable from improper handling and I have used these cables on worldwide Satt uplinks and terrestrial broadcast events with the networks.

My suggestion of using aftermarket plugs of your choice on MP cable is quite practical and logical. That being said, I guess you will have to keep asking until someone says that MP cables are junk and so is premium Radio Shack.(Not at all true) BTW, did you know that Radio Shack does NOT manufacture anything? They use the same cable suppliers that 90% of the rip off joints like Best Buy et al sell but at a reasonable price.

Are you looking for a cable based on audiophile APPEARANCE?

Best of luck in your quest.

Out.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gizmologist View Post

Perhaps because as one who has 40 years in professional AV, I am trying to figure out your cables "failed". Did the cable short internally? Open? Come clear out of the connector? Did the shield unravel? Did you start hearing AM radio on the terminated cable?

I know there are some inherent problems with some cheap cables but I have not had any "malfunctions" with MP cables aside from molded plug being yanked off the cable from improper handling and I have used these cables on worldwide Satt uplinks and terrestrial broadcast events with the networks.

My suggestion of using aftermarket plugs of your choice on MP cable is quite practical and logical. That being said, I guess you will have to keep asking until someone says that MP cables are junk and so is premium Radio Shack.(Not at all true) BTW, did you know that Radio Shack does NOT manufacture anything? They use the same cable suppliers that 90% of the rip off joints like Best Buy et al sell but at a reasonable price.

Are you looking for a cable based on audiophile APPEARANCE?

Best of luck in your quest.

Out.

I appreciate your input as one who is also far from a neophyte. I simply asked some questions about RG6 and RG59. If you don't know the specific answers, that's cool and OK. That's what forums like this are for—especially when I'm asking questions such as the differences (if any) between RG59 and RG6 for analog interconnects.

My understanding is that the RG6 cables have better attenuation at higher frequencies (over 50mHz) but for analog audio and for audio at shorter distances this is irrelevant and RG59 is just fine. I've also found this as being differences between the two cables but I haven't found any charts for the under 50 MHz range to compare.

RG 59 Signal Loss (in dB) per 100 ft:
Loss at 50 MHz: 2.4 dB
Loss at 100 MHz: 3.4 dB
Loss at 400 MHz: 7.0 dB
Loss at 900 MHz: 11.1 dB
Loss at 100 MHz: 12.0 dB

RG 6 Signal Loss (in dB) per 100 ft:
Loss at 50 MHz: 1.5 dB
Loss at 100 MHz: 2.0 dB
Loss at 400 MHz: 4.3 dB
Loss at 900 MHz: 6.8 dB
Loss at 100 MHz: 7.0 dB

Just to repost, this is what I'm asking:

Are RG59 and RG6 cables the best to use for analog audio and video (I assume I can use RG6 for both)? If not, what should I be looking for?
Do I need anything specific when building analog audio or video cables? Can I just use any RG59 or RG6 cable? I prefer to have some kind of shielding on my cables.
I assume that there is nothing wrong with terminating the custom cables with coax and then adding an RCA adapter as a screw-in on to the coax adapter?
Where is the best place to buy the cabling? Can I just use a home depot or Monoprice roll or should I look to get a roll of Canare or Belden, etc.
Where is the best place to buy the connectors for the cabling?
Where is the best place to buy any sheathing or heat-molding to overlay between the cables and terminators?
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thxtheater View Post

My understanding is that the RG6 cables have better attenuation at higher frequencies (over 50mHz) but for analog audio and for audio at shorter distances this is irrelevant and RG59 is just fine. I've also found this as being differences between the two cables but I haven't found any charts for the under 50 MHz range to compare.

All of that is probably irrelevant for the 3-10' you're talking about... But a typical RG59 wire is better suited for baseband (we're talking 20-20kHz here for analog audio, ~3MHz for SPDIF) than RG6 not because of the conductor, but the shielding construction. Unless you do get the specialty RG6 wires from Belden as the BJC guys specify...
Quote:
Just to repost, this is what I'm asking:

Are RG59 and RG6 cables the best to use for analog audio and video (I assume I can use RG6 for both)? If not, what should I be looking for?
Do I need anything specific when building analog audio or video cables? Can I just use any RG59 or RG6 cable? I prefer to have some kind of shielding on my cables.
I assume that there is nothing wrong with terminating the custom cables with coax and then adding an RCA adapter as a screw-in on to the coax adapter?
Where is the best place to buy the cabling? Can I just use a home depot or Monoprice roll or should I look to get a roll of Canare or Belden, etc.
Where is the best place to buy the connectors for the cabling?
Where is the best place to buy any sheathing or heat-molding to overlay between the cables and terminators?

Olyteddy provided answers to all of those.

1) RG59
2) No, not really for the lengths of cables you're talking about. If you want to get the "best" wire - look at the stuff BJC specifies for a good list of materials.
3) Nothing wrong with it, but if you're building cables, terminate them with RCA - if you're so tight on cable space that you MUST build custom lengths, you're adding non-flexible connector distance to each end, which could also get in the way of dressing cables and/or bend radius issues.
4) I don't know if you'll find anywhere selling the specialty wire per foot that wouldn't end up being more expensive than buying the cables you need, custom-ordered to length, from BJC...
5) Parts-express.com, among others. I would suggest the compression fittings available from several makers - names I forget but browsing CEPro will give you lots of leads.
6) Probably PartsExpress again...
post #16 of 19
Back to square 1, Canare V5C3 will suit all your needs. Buying a piece of this canare bundle cable is a best bet. RG6 is totally overkill and for the freq reasons as well as the strain it would place on all the connectors. Remember, 99% of rear panel jacks are mechanically supported ONLY by the solder connections to the PCB or lightweight plastic frame for the jackfield. If you are concerned about connectors then why add 1.5-2" lenghth to a connector body to convert from an F 56 connector to an RCA?

As I mentioned, Canare has everything you need in one stop. Where are you located? If you like, you can order all the cable and connectors as well as the tools to properly make them up from Pacific Radio in Hollywood or Burbank, CA. Canare makes TOTL connectors and cable. Google Canare V5C3 and check the specs.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys really appreciate it. Good points. I did check out the Canare and that does look perfect. I was leaning towards RG6 but excellent points about the RG59. I have an older set of ITC RCA connectors with Audioquest RG59 cabling. They are compression connectors but hold a good fit. All my RG6 cabling (it's monoprice and I like it. smile.gif ) is quad shield and heavy as you mentioned. I likely don't have enough of the audioquest RG59 on hand so I can supplement with the Canare.

Because I've been using mostly compression connectors as opposed to soldered for the better part of two decades any long-term drawback in using compression vs. soldered connections? I've had one bad experience with a soldered 75ohm cable where the soldering separated because of repeated plugging and unplugging and (I think) the person wasn't careful with the bend radius in the rack.

I'm this setup I expect that one pair of analog interconnects will be pulled out and put to different inputs with some regularity--perhaps a few times a month.
post #18 of 19
Do not use copper braided coax. It is poor for shielding outside interference. I have been an installer for 11 years. Any Copper braided cable we rip out. It can act more like an antenna to outside RF interference and that you do not want. If you say quad shield is too stiff get tri shield. That's what comcast uses. Just stay a way from copper braid
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the help guys. Everything went well and I very much appreciated and heeded much of the advice here for this particular installation.
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