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Author Topic: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?  (Read 4993 times)

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Offline noahbickart

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2018, 11:14:58 PM »
I have no evidence or examples or comps or anything scientific to prove anything...  but as great as PFA'a are, I don't/can't believe that they equivalent to mike bodies/amplifiers.IMO.

Respectfully, I don't think you get to have it both ways. If you think one piece of gear sounds better than another, you must think that on the basis of some evidence.  :banging head:

I can think of loads of reasons that one might prefer the mic body to a PFA even if their sound is identical. Durability and ease of interfacing with studio gear come immediately to mind. The sexy nextel grey is another. We've already noted the ability to drive much longer cable runs.

But in terms of sonics? The only way to answer this question is with a double blind test. I’m skeptical that anyone would be able to identify a difference let alone a preference. But I’m willing to be convinced by evidence.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2018, 11:55:22 PM by noahbickart »
Recording:
Capsules: Schoeps mk41v (x2), mk4v (x2), mk22 (x2), mk3 (x2), mk21 & mk8
Cables: 2x nbob KCY, 1 pair nbob actives, Darktrain 2 and 4 channel KCY extensions:
Preamps:    Naiant Littlebox, Naiant IPA, Naiant PFA, Sound Devices Mixpre6
Recorders: Sound Devices Mixpre6, Sony PCM m10

Home Playback: Mytek DSD 192> McIntosh MC162> Eminent Tech LFT-16; Musical Fidelity xCan v2> Hifiman HE-4XX / Beyerdynamic DT880

Office Playback: Grace m903> AKG k701 / Hifiman HE-400

Offline wforwumbo

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #31 on: April 06, 2018, 11:53:23 AM »
I don't know the innards of the PFA circuit topology, but if the circuits are identical and the components are made to the same spec/tolerance, there should be no discernable difference. Electrons are electrons, and filters are filters; short of heat causing component drift, I don't see why they will sound any different.

Re: longer cable runs and reduced noise... that could be a function of running balanced vs. unbalanced. I thought the 5-pin binder KCY was balanced, but I can't say that I know whether or not the KCY/PFA implementation is fully balanced; if it were, then there should be no discernable difference on that front.

For what it's worth, I have zero issues running my KCYs and don't see a need or desire to run full bodies. If there is a significant difference, I'll take the convenience of active cables any day of the week, it's not like they don't make absolutely phenomenal tapes. I hear very little-to-no noise running my KCYs + PFA into my sound devices converters/preamps.
2x Schoeps mk21 (matched pair) -> nbob KCY -> Naiant PFA -> Sound Devices Mixpre 6

Offline jbell

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #32 on: April 06, 2018, 01:53:10 PM »
KCY cables aren't balanced!

I don't know the innards of the PFA circuit topology, but if the circuits are identical and the components are made to the same spec/tolerance, there should be no discernable difference. Electrons are electrons, and filters are filters; short of heat causing component drift, I don't see why they will sound any different.

Re: longer cable runs and reduced noise... that could be a function of running balanced vs. unbalanced. I thought the 5-pin binder KCY was balanced, but I can't say that I know whether or not the KCY/PFA implementation is fully balanced; if it were, then there should be no discernable difference on that front.

For what it's worth, I have zero issues running my KCYs and don't see a need or desire to run full bodies. If there is a significant difference, I'll take the convenience of active cables any day of the week, it's not like they don't make absolutely phenomenal tapes. I hear very little-to-no noise running my KCYs + PFA into my sound devices converters/preamps.
Microtech Gefell M20's> Nbob KCY> Naiant PFA(60V)> Sound Devices Mixpre-6

Offline wforwumbo

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #33 on: April 06, 2018, 02:49:38 PM »
KCY cables aren't balanced!

This is good to know, thanks! That does change things a little bit, though not in the way many are probably thinking it will.

The major benefit of running the full-bodied capsules, then, is in running balanced outputs. For the better, this allows for better noise rejection in noisy setups (though if you're running a battery-powered unit and have noise issues with unbalanced and any cable run less than 75 feet, there are bigger problems in your setup that should be addressed first). For the worse, balanced outs require additional circuitry at the output stage of the mic and the input stage of a mic pre. This additional circuitry usually means less linearity in the overall signal chain. So preferring balanced outs/bodies discredits the theory that signals should remain as pure as possible between the microphone and playback.

I can understand that there's a difference in sound between the two; as to whether or not the difference is significant or even noticeable, and if it's possible to identify why - I can't really say.
2x Schoeps mk21 (matched pair) -> nbob KCY -> Naiant PFA -> Sound Devices Mixpre 6

Offline Charlie Miller

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #34 on: April 06, 2018, 04:26:37 PM »
Is there any difference in sound when using actives? I used to have KC5's for my Schoeps but got rid of them since they were more of a hassle when doing hundreds of shows a year (recording on stage). I honestly don't remember if I ever did a comparison to see if there was any difference,

I also noticed that the AKG 460's sounded better than the actives. Fuller sound. I ran a bunch of tests with obaaron using both of our mics.

Schoeps states that there is no sonic difference. However, some tapers claim to hear one.

 I would think that the full-bodied mic would have a better sound.
I can only speak from the experience ive had with the akg naiant actives, but to my ear, theres a slight less “balls” on the lower end with the actives than the full body 460/480’s. Im guessing this isnt quite the case with shoeps actives or neumanns. The convenience factor is substantial though.
Audio Engineer - Steve Kimock Productions


Schoeps CMC6/MK4 & AKG C460b/CK8
Lunatec V2  > Sound Devices 744T

Offline rippleish20

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #35 on: April 06, 2018, 04:43:09 PM »
Is there any difference in sound when using actives? I used to have KC5's for my Schoeps but got rid of them since they were more of a hassle when doing hundreds of shows a year (recording on stage). I honestly don't remember if I ever did a comparison to see if there was any difference,

Schoeps states that there is no sonic difference. However, some tapers claim to hear one.

 I would think that the full-bodied mic would have a better sound.
I can only speak from the experience ive had with the akg naiant actives, but to my ear, theres a slight less “balls” on the lower end with the actives than the full body 460/480’s. Im guessing this isnt quite the case with shoeps actives or neumanns. The convenience factor is substantial though.

And even if if there is a sound difference, it could be attributable to the Naiant amplifier/power supply, not the active cable.


I'm with Noah, unless someone does real sound tests everything is just speculation.
MK22's / MK41's / AKG C480Bs+ck61, ck63, ck8 / Telefunken FET M60 Cards & Hypers (for sale) / DPA 4061's
KCY 250/5 and 250/0 > naiant PFA or IPA or Nbox 
Mixpre-10t / Mixpre-6 / Sony M-10 / Tascam DR-100mkIII / d:vice

Offline Charlie Miller

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #36 on: April 06, 2018, 06:33:05 PM »
I’m traveling but will post the samples when I get back. There’s a clear difference with the AKG’s
Audio Engineer - Steve Kimock Productions


Schoeps CMC6/MK4 & AKG C460b/CK8
Lunatec V2  > Sound Devices 744T

 

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