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Offline checht

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Ethercon snakes
« on: September 05, 2023, 12:56:44 PM »
At a show yesterday a friend was running a SBD feed back to where we had our stands, using a 200' cat6 cable and xlr breakout boxes on each end. He used Lyx boxes, seems like there's quite a few manufacturers though.

What's the consensus on this type of system compared to running a traditional snake?

If the quality is there, the weight advantage seems pretty awesome...

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Offline H₂O

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2023, 05:09:27 PM »
I don't think these setups will work with use standard Ethernet cat6 RJ45 cables as there is no ground in the cable or on the connector.   


You would need to use cat6 shielded connectors/cable and possible ethercon connectors and/or ethercon spec'd cable.


I would think professionally installed sound systems would us Ethercon for audio snakes tough
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2023, 05:19:24 PM »
Joining discussion.  I've been curious about these for a while. A number of years ago I stopped by Jon of Naiant Studio's place when he was living in Kill Devil Hills on the NC outer banks, and at the time he was building a production run of the balun boxes needed at each end for another audio manufacturer.  It reduced the need for four separate mic cables down to one thin, compact, lightweight wire.

Not sure about the CAT 5/6 ground issue.  It may uses one (or several) of the conductors as ground, but even if that works, use of shielded Ethercon would be preferable.

Among others, I know Dave Rat's company sells them (not who Jon was building them for AFAIK).  Was looking at the web page for them last year, but went no further than that. 

A few more questions for the thread:
Seems like each cable carries 4 balanced lines.  Is that the max channel count for one connection?  Would 8 channels require two cables?

What about transmission of unbalanced signals?  If that works can channel count per cable be increased?  If so by how much?
« Last Edit: September 06, 2023, 08:40:37 AM by Gutbucket »
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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2023, 07:18:40 PM »
Just marking this thread as well. But these boxes look pretty cool. Seems awfully convenient.

https://www.lyxpro.com/products/lyxpro-4-channel-xlr-male-and-female-to-rj45-ethercon
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Offline Ronmac

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2023, 06:43:26 AM »
I would recommend CAT 6A or CAT 7 for this application, especially if used for phantom supplied mic lines, as it has shielded pairs as well as an overall shielded jacket. Because of the extra shielding these types are a bit stiffer and harder to terminate, so buying terminated cable off the rack is best, unless you have a good set of tools for the job.

For audio work we don't need to be concerned about higher bandwidth specs, but proper shielding and grounding are extremely important.

Good site here for specs and construction materials: https://www.truecable.com/blogs/cable-academy/know-your-cable-cat7-ethernet#:~:text=Cat7%20and%20Cat8%20cable%20are,is%20foil%20shielded%20as%20well.

Offline checht

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2023, 11:01:27 AM »
I would recommend CAT 6A or CAT 7 for this application, especially if used for phantom supplied mic lines, as it has shielded pairs as well as an overall shielded jacket. Because of the extra shielding these types are a bit stiffer and harder to terminate, so buying terminated cable off the rack is best, unless you have a good set of tools for the job.

For audio work we don't need to be concerned about higher bandwidth specs, but proper shielding and grounding are extremely important.

Good site here for specs and construction materials: https://www.truecable.com/blogs/cable-academy/know-your-cable-cat7-ethernet#:~:text=Cat7%20and%20Cat8%20cable%20are,is%20foil%20shielded%20as%20well.
Mr. Mac, what do you think of this cat6 option: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTV4JY1N/?coliid=I26GVZ8VHQQU21&colid=3DZZOP8FFXTR&ref_=list_c_wl_lv_ov_lig_dp_it&th=1

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Offline Ronmac

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2023, 11:41:43 AM »
checht, the link you provided is for CAT6 (not 6A) and looks to be well constructed. CAT6A will give you better crosstalk and RFI protection, but may not be a concern for your situation. If you were doing gigs in an environment where there was lots of RF spray (near comm towers, or dense city environs) I would hold out for 6A.

You can always buy it and return if it fails during real world test conditions in your area. A simple test would be to connect a couple of phantom powered mics and place a cell phone next to the cable.

Offline checht

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2023, 11:54:42 AM »
Thanks for your detailed advice for a noob to ethercon!
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Offline GLouie

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2023, 12:01:50 PM »
I've done a little research on these after hearing about them from then-Belden rep Steve Lampen 10 years ago. I haven't bought one yet.

Many manufacturers have them, since the concept is simple, but you should look at a few factors. Anecdotally, I have not heard of any particular problem with such snakes, so I would get one if I had a need.

If you want to use UTP (unshielded twisted pair CAT) and phantom power, you are limited to 3 channels. The cable has 4 twisted pairs, so they have to use one pair for the P48 ground. No shield, so you rely only on the twist for common mode rejection. Apparently not a problem in most usage. Some people do this using pre-installed CAT cable that usually isn't shielded.

If you go with shielded CAT5 or higher, then you can get 4 balanced channels with P48. It's unclear what happens if you try UTP.

Note that different CAT cables have a different twist rate to each pair in an attempt to optimize certain performance criteria, such as for digital video. In theory, the audio noise performance could be slightly different between channels, but you have no way of knowing which is which. Probably only a theoretical problem for analog audio. I guess there may be a tiny higher amount of crosstalk, since all pairs are not separated and run parallel.

ETS for one, sells the 3 channel units for UTP as well as 4 channel units:
https://etslan.com/products.cgi?cat=9

And well known manufacturers include Whirlwind's Catdusa:
https://www.whirlwindusa.com/products/digital-audio-networking-cat-6-catdusa

and Radial's Catapult:
https://www.radialeng.com/product/catapult

You do see low-cost no-name products, probably not a problem if you understand the limitations. Same for the CAT cable.

I've heard that the ultimate interference test is a piezo barbecue fire igniter, clicked near the cable.

Edit: my faulty memory, the BBQ clicker was used on a digital snake testing shielded CAT5 vs. unshielded.

The upshot is that if you see 4 channels on unshielded CAT, it must not support phantom power, and the pairs won't be shielded.





« Last Edit: September 07, 2023, 11:52:25 AM by GLouie »

Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2023, 12:45:58 PM »

I've heard that the untimate interference test is a piezo barbecue fire igniter, clicked near the cable.
+T            we used to hold the hydrophones near Florescent light fixtures. (the "switching" ballast is what causes the interference by oscillating the light frequencies inside the tubes.) EMI or RFI. It was a sure fire easy non technical way for us to do basic tests of interference. If it passed the Florescent test, we moved it along the assembly line  toward approval, maybe put it in the submersible tester at that point.
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Offline Chanher

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2023, 03:57:59 PM »
Oddly enough, after reading this thread I happened to spot a couple of ethercon boxes on Facebook Marketplace for $45. Just went and grabbed them, the guy said he did 4 mics with 48v all on a 300ft Cat5 cable, zero problems. However it was for a podcast in a home environment.

I do think a crowded venue with hundreds of cell phones is completely different, but alas real world tests are the best way to find out. I'll see if I can find a non-critical show where I can test out an old 50ft Cat5e cable that my dad made years ago and report the findings, probably won't be for a while though. I do have a small box of assorted snap-on ferrite beads that I'll have to try as well.

tip: Whenever I go into Goodwill and Arc to look through the book section, I try to glance through the electronics and cable section and I'm always seeing ethernet cables; I recently snagged a 25 ft. flat Cat7 cable for like $4.
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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2023, 08:16:44 PM »
There are some folks on GS Remote Possibilities who have used these Ethernet baluns successfully, on very long cable runs. I seem to remember one of them recommending solid conductors vs. stranded.

One thing I can say as a former computer/network tech: You want to get actual copper cable (preferably CMR-rated), and avoid CCA (copper-clad aluminum).
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Offline tourtelot

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2023, 08:08:09 PM »
Cat5e STP (shielded twisted pair) works fine.  I use stranded cable because it handles better.

FWIW, I find cross-talk quite acceptable, tested on the bench, which was quite surprising to me.  Even at line level.  Who woulda guessed?

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2023, 08:41:09 PM »
Cat5e STP (shielded twisted pair) works fine.  I use stranded cable because it handles better.

FWIW, I find cross-talk quite acceptable, tested on the bench, which was quite surprising to me.  Even at line level.  Who woulda guessed?

D.

Very interesting, especially with it being good at line level! If it sounds good (and measures good), it is good.
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Offline checht

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Re: Ethercon snakes
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2023, 12:47:49 AM »
Thanks for the info! 2 questions:
What cable are you using?
is cat6 ok, or is the issue that in 5e, each pair is shielded on its own?

Thanks!
Schoeps MK41 x 2, MK22 x 2; Vanguard V1s matched pair; Niaint x8
Schoeps kcy5, nbob actives
Naiant PFA 60v, PFA 48v, IPA
Sound Devices MP-6II; Sony PCM-A10

Recordings at LMA

 

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