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Author Topic: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?  (Read 12943 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:    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 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
(4) AKG 460's (CK8's, CK63's and CK1's)
Lunatec V2  & Lunatec V3
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.
Schoeps CMC6 (MK22's) / AKG C480B (ck61, ck63, ck8) / DPA (4061) / Neumann KM100 (AK40, AK50) / Audio Technica AT4050ST/ AT853s  (cardiod, omni) / CA-14 (cardiod) / CA-11 (Omni) /
Mixpre-10t / Mixpre-6 / Mixpre-3 /Roland R-07 /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
(4) AKG 460's (CK8's, CK63's and CK1's)
Lunatec V2  & Lunatec V3
Sound Devices 744T

Offline bobwiely

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #37 on: February 07, 2019, 12:21:34 PM »
The Epic AKG Active...started in 2006
http://taperssection.com/index.php/topic,59577.0.html


I'm showing my ts.com age here but JK Labs made them before Nick did.  Not many but they worked.  There may even still be a set in the hands of someone here.

You are correct sir. I have had Dan Schar’s Jon Kajol Labs DVC (#6) for a decade or so, lol.
I have actives for both akg ck (61) and schoeps mk (4 & 41) caps.
[Mic pairs:]
AKG:    C414 B-ULS’s, CK61,
Nakamichi:    CM100, CP1, CP2, CP4
Sonic Studios:   DSM 6
Schoeps:    Bodies: CMC6 (x2pr), Caps: MK2, MK21, MK4 (x2pr), MK41, & a single MK8

[Pre’s Active’s & A/D’s:]
Carbonetta:   NBOX Platinum [kcy](x2)
Grace:   Lunatec V3(6v)
JK Labs:   DVC (#6 w/actives for ck & mk caps)
Schoeps:   KC5 (x2), KCY 250/5, KCY 250/0, & KS 5 I
Sonosax:   SXM2 (x2)

[Deck’s:]
Sony:  Oade ACM M10
Sound Devices:   722, 744t
Tascam:   DR680 MKII, Oade ACM HDP2, PR10


~JustB

Offline jefflester

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #38 on: February 07, 2019, 05:26:21 PM »
The Epic AKG Active...started in 2006
http://taperssection.com/index.php/topic,59577.0.html

I'm showing my ts.com age here but JK Labs made them before Nick did.  Not many but they worked.  There may even still be a set in the hands of someone here.

You are correct sir. I have had Dan Schar’s Jon Kajol Labs DVC (#6) for a decade or so, lol.
I have actives for both akg ck (61) and schoeps mk (4 & 41) caps.
Cool! I borrowed that JKLabs rig a few times from Dan when he was at UCLA, back around 2000.
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 bobwiely

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #39 on: February 19, 2019, 03:51:35 AM »
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[/i]


I was there for these :) We ran the 414s upstairs.
[Mic pairs:]
AKG:    C414 B-ULS’s, CK61,
Nakamichi:    CM100, CP1, CP2, CP4
Sonic Studios:   DSM 6
Schoeps:    Bodies: CMC6 (x2pr), Caps: MK2, MK21, MK4 (x2pr), MK41, & a single MK8

[Pre’s Active’s & A/D’s:]
Carbonetta:   NBOX Platinum [kcy](x2)
Grace:   Lunatec V3(6v)
JK Labs:   DVC (#6 w/actives for ck & mk caps)
Schoeps:   KC5 (x2), KCY 250/5, KCY 250/0, & KS 5 I
Sonosax:   SXM2 (x2)

[Deck’s:]
Sony:  Oade ACM M10
Sound Devices:   722, 744t
Tascam:   DR680 MKII, Oade ACM HDP2, PR10


~JustB

Offline rippleish20

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #40 on: February 19, 2019, 10:30:04 AM »
I meant one box that could connect to the cables and either allow for phantom power or provide battery power.

Tha Naiant IPA (Not PFA) can be powered via internal 12v battery, external battery, or phantom power...
Schoeps CMC6 (MK22's) / AKG C480B (ck61, ck63, ck8) / DPA (4061) / Neumann KM100 (AK40, AK50) / Audio Technica AT4050ST/ AT853s  (cardiod, omni) / CA-14 (cardiod) / CA-11 (Omni) /
Mixpre-10t / Mixpre-6 / Mixpre-3 /Roland R-07 /Tascam DR-100mkIII / d:vice

Offline jerryfreak

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #41 on: April 12, 2019, 06:57:48 AM »
Active cables - any cable that has active components (components that need power to be provided to operate) as part of the cable, connectors, etc.
Passive cables - any cable that does not have active components as part of the cable, connector, etc


Active components could include Transistors (i.e. FETs), opamps, vacuum tubes, etc


Examples of active cables for microphones: - Schoeps KC5, KCY, nBob's, DPA d:dictate series, New Neumann KM A/D series LC4 cable

Examples of non-active extension cables for microphones: Neuman KM100 series cables, MBHO 603 cables, Schoeps vintage CMMT cables,  Sennhieser MKH 8000 series extension cables

so were the neumann km100 series "actives" as ive always seen them called more subject to noise than say a true active solution?
in:
small: MK4/4V > CMR > V3 or J.Williams Mod MicMan Jr or no pre at all >AD2K/R07/PCM-A10/Oade Warm 661/DR100-MKIII

smaller: 4061/4099 CORE or 4011/4018V> d:vice MMA



out:
home:Benchmark DAC1 HDR > Dynaudio BM15A active monitors
shop: Musical Fidelity VLink 192 Asynchronyous> coax> DAC1 > Rokit RP8 active monitors

Offline Gordon

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Re: What are active cables and why do so many people use them?
« Reply #42 on: April 12, 2019, 08:35:59 AM »
^^^

I think technically but I ran them for 12 years and never once had any noise or cell phone interference.  my set was made prior to 2007 but no idea how long before.
Microtech Gefell M20 or M21 > Nbob actives > Naiant PFA > Sound Devices MixPre-6 II

https://archive.org/details/fav-gordonlw

 

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