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Author Topic: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?  (Read 6295 times)

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Offline H₂O

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2018, 03:34:37 PM »
nbox is around 2003?
rbox rumored to be in early 1990's (1993 - is this true?) - OK so 1991 per below
JK Labs (DVC and other product - can't remember both names - one was had the pre-amp and one didin't and simply replaced the bodies)  2001-2002 (possibly back to 1999) - 1998 or slightly before

nbox is an rbox (Reutelhuber box) built by Nick


Original nbox and rbox used some schoeps parts to build the capsule connectors (housing and contacts) - now nick uses nbob parts


Anybody know the timeframes around these?
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 01:45:15 PM by H₂O »
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Offline jefflester

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2018, 05:56:12 PM »
JK Labs (DVC and other product - can't remember both names - one was had the pre-amp and one didin't and simply replaced the bodies)  2001-2002 (possibly back to 1999)
Definitely earlier than 2001-2002. I borrowed a DVC and CK61 setup from Dan Schar in May 2000 for a few shows. His DAT trade list had some recordings made in 1998 with that setup:
Sam Butera and the Wildest
11-13-98   All   AKG CK61->DVC->HHB1Pro, 9ftstand, fob
MMW
6-20-98      ALL   AKG ck-61>DVC>SBM-1>D100   stage
Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos
6-20-98      ALL    AKG ck-61>DVC>SBM-1>d100   Stage


DVC was the one with preamp, ECMS was the one without.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2018, 06:03:50 PM by jefflester »
DPA4061 HEB/AT943 -> CA-UGLY -> R-09
Samson C02/Superlux S502/iSK Little Gem -> DR-680MKII
AKG CK63 -> AKG C460B -> DR-680MKII
AKG CK63 -> nBob actives -> Baby NBox -> R-09/DR2d

Offline daspyknows

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2018, 02:20:13 PM »
nbox is around 2003?
rbox rumored to be in early 1990's (1993 - is this true?)  April 18 1991 was the first show recorded with the first RBox.  Bill and I recorded Edie Brickel and the New Bohemians at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley.  I had spent considerable time working to convince Bill to attempt the first Schoeps RBox rig and purchased the MK4 capsules on spec.  Those are the same MK4 capsules I still use today.

nbox is an rbox (Reutelhuber box) built by Nick The original NBox was a more professionally built RBox.  We used to refer to the original RBozes as the bomb which wasn't good in the post 9/11 world.  The design has evolved through the collaboration between Nick and Bill and today's version is an upgrade over the original design.  I still have my original RBox and use it as a backup rig.


Original nbox and rbox used some schoeps parts to build the capsule connectors (housing and contacts) - now nick uses nbob parts


Anybody know the timeframes around these?

Offline DSatz

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2018, 01:11:46 AM »
Active accessories (cables, goosenecks, rigid extension tubes that go between the capsule and amplifier of a condenser microphone) were invented and patented by Schoeps in 1973 as part of the Colette series. They were called "active" because the capsule end of the cable (etc.) contains active circuity--equivalent to the first FET stage of the microphone's amplifier.

The second manufacturer to offer a variety of remote capsule extensions was Neumann, for the KM 100 series (their first interchangeable capsule series after they introduced a cardioid-only microphone, the KMF 4, that had a permanently-attached extension cable--it could ONLY be used with that extension cable in place). In order to honor Schoeps' patent, they put the active circuitry into the capsule heads rather than the extension cables / goosenecks / tubes. Thus their capsules were "active capsules" rather than the cables (etc.) being "active cables" (etc.).

After the Schoeps patent expired, Neumann discontinued the KM 100 series and replaced it with the KM-A and KM-D series, which use passive capsules and active extensions. It's a better system for people who work with interchangeable capsules, since you don't have to pay for the FET circuitry again and again in each capsule that you buy.

In the past, Neumann and AKG had both offered capsule extensions with no active circuitry in them. But those were quite limited in length and were an RFI and distortion hazard, since the connections were unbalanced and at VERY high impedance.

--On this board, the term "active" has come to mean any extension cable for a condenser microphone capsule, whether it is truly active or not. Of course that's a misnomer in some cases.

--best regards
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 01:15:32 AM by DSatz »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline justink

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2018, 08:53:07 PM »
I learned some stuff in here.

are the dpa402x series considered actives, or no?  i know all the guts are in the XLR connector.  i always considered my dpa4023/4028's as "actives".
Mics:
DPA 4028 (wide cards)
DPA 4023 (cards)
Earthworks TC25 (omnis) 

Pres and a/d's:
Oade ACM Grace Lunatec V3 (FOR SALE - Make Offer)
bm2p+ Edirol UA-5 (FOR SALE - Make Offer)

Recorders:
Oade CM Edirol R-44
Sony PCM‑M10

Offline Charlie Miller

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2018, 03:03:35 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,
Audio Engineer - Steve Kimock Productions


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

Offline noahbickart

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2018, 12:13:38 AM »
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.
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:    Schoeps VMS 02iub, Naiant Littlebox, Naiant IPA, 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 Charlie Miller

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2018, 03:01:52 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.
Audio Engineer - Steve Kimock Productions


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

Offline noahbickart

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2018, 12:19:21 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.

Why? and "better" how?

I believe that the kc5 is an unbalanced cable, which limits the usable length and perhaps provides less RF rejection, but assuming the kinds of lengths tapers tend to use, I can't imagine how the kc5 might influence the sound in any way- that's what the people who designed them say, anyway.

I can understand why, if you didn't need to be "low profile," or weren't worried about weight on the stand, that you'd prefer to just mount the capsules on the bodies. Fewer parts = fewer potential points of failure.

On the other hand, the advantages of a smaller lighter mounting system, especially given the dedicated mounting options for active cable, are fairly obvious. I suspect nobody could successfully discern which rig was which in a mk4> cmc6 vs. mk4> kc5> cmc6 ABX comp.

There's another reason not to run the bodies these days: Cost. A nbob KCY> Niant PFA system is about half the price of a pair of cmc6 bodies. That's why I run actives all the time.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 12:26:09 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:    Schoeps VMS 02iub, Naiant Littlebox, Naiant IPA, 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 ts

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2018, 11:38:30 AM »
So what exactly does a PFA do? I have 2 sets of active cables, both configured with Naiant PFA’s. I always assumed the PFA operates in a similar manner as the old Audio Technica phantom power modules, allowing 48V to be supplied to the mic cap. But as usual I’m probably wrong.  ???

Offline noahbickart

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2018, 02:49:16 PM »
So what exactly does a PFA do? I have 2 sets of active cables, both configured with Naiant PFA’s. I always assumed the PFA operates in a similar manner as the old Audio Technica phantom power modules, allowing 48V to be supplied to the mic cap. But as usual I’m probably wrong.  ???

Yes. The PFA takes the 48v Phanton Power and converts it to the 60v which the capsule needs.

Which, by the way, is exactly what a CMC6 does.
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:    Schoeps VMS 02iub, Naiant Littlebox, Naiant IPA, 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 Gutbucket

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2018, 03:38:02 PM »
A PFA does a few other things besides simply converting phantom power to whatever juice the microphone needs. 

When used with externally polarized condenser capsules such as this, it provides the polarization voltage as mentioned (commonly 60V but varies by manufacturer and sometimes mic-line), converts high microphone capsule output impedance to a lower impedance suitable for a cable run and driving the preamp or recorder inputs correctly, provides some amount of signal amplification (the first stage of amplification is the most important), and provides a balanced output.  All that is also the same functionality of the equivalent microphone amplifier body which the PFA replaces.

Some PFAs provide a much lower voltage for powering pre-polarized electrets (PIP mics) and varying degrees of amplification (some with unity gain). This is the same functionality as the AT PPAs.

Not all PFAs are alike, being made to suit specific microphone types and brands, but all serve the same basic roll in providing an appropriate interface between the microphone (capsule) and recorder input.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<<

Offline yug du nord

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2018, 05:58:33 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.
If so, then all mike bodies/amplifiers would be nothing but "snake oil".
Is the only reason that Schoeps (or any other brand) doesn't make their own PFA because it would eliminate the need for consumers to purchase their mike bodies/amplifiers??
I can't buy into that theory.

I do think that PFA's are fantastic..  they allow for lower profile rigs and they allow many more people the ability to run higher end capsules at a more affordable price. 

But I think that the electronics in high end microphone bodies/amplifiers help achieve the sonic character of the capsule that the manufacturer intended. 
Just my two cents and defense in running mike bodies/amplifiers. 

I've never run capsules with PFA's, but I've ran a few different variations of "active" mikes...  and have been strictly running bodies/amplifiers for a number of years now and am absolutely in favor of running bodies/amplifiers.  Although different preamps have also made a difference in the overall sound IMO.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2018, 06:43:43 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.
If so, then all mike bodies/amplifiers would be nothing but "snake oil".

No snake oil. They both perform a number of vital rolls in the recording chain as outlined above.  That they may or may not perform those rolls to the same specification shouldn't be an overly contentious thing to assert on a recording forum.  Obviously each microphone manufacturer uses a somewhat different implementation, and Schoeps has an outstanding reputation for quality.  Each implementation should be expected to measure somewhat better or worse in each category.  Whether those physical implementation differences and measurable specification differences are audible or not is another question - and a more difficult one to answer.  Some may not hear any audible difference, some may, and that difference might actually be significant or it may be imagined, and in either case some other unconsidered variable may be having a larger influence.

Quote
Is the only reason that Schoeps (or any other brand) doesn't make their own PFA because it would eliminate the need for consumers to purchase their mike bodies/amplifiers??
I can't buy into that theory.
 

A PFA is an amplifier body.  Its a replacement amplifier body from a different manufacturer.  Schopes actives are their "PFA" solution by a different name.

Quote
I do think that PFA's are fantastic..  they allow for lower profile rigs and they allow many more people the ability to run higher end capsules at a more affordable price. 

But I think that the electronics in high end microphone bodies/amplifiers help achieve the sonic character of the capsule that the manufacturer intended. 
Just my two cents and defense in running mike bodies/amplifiers. 

Of course, yet I don't see any one arguing against that.  Substitute the word preamp for PFA. Schoeps offers various preamps and their microphones work well with them.  Their microphones also work well with other manufacturers preamps.  They should be expected to measure somewhat differently.  Some will also sound different, others won't sound significantly different. 
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<<

Offline jcable77

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2018, 10:01:18 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.
ADK a51tl’s, Telefunken m60’s tk60’s,61’s,62’s, Teac me-120’s(c,o,sh)
AKG 480’s ck61’s, a60’s>ck22’s>akg active naiant pfa’s>
V-3,Mini-Me’s
Mixpre 6, pmd661

 

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