Gear / Technical Help > Cables

Build/modify your own mic/interconnect cables


Brian Skalinder:
A discussion some folks had in the Open Forum section recently (04/03) prompted this one.  I've only made a couple cables, so if I've flubbed the write-up, lemme know!  Any other tips or suggestions are welcome - just reply here and I'll incorporate them into the initial posting for easy reference.

Same principles apply to other cables:  digital coax, power, etc.  If folks are interested, I can write up those, too. 

Want to save some cash and build your own cables?  Modify your existing cables to utilize different connectors?  Anyone with some basic soldering skills can do it - really!  I'm all thumbs, and I've done it.  :D

In addition to the instructions below, check out Drew McIntosh's excellent instructions in the reference section:

You'll need the following:

[a]  soldering iron
  rosin core solder
[c]  cable
[d]  connectors
[e]  wire strippers or blade of some sort
[f]  multimeter

Mic / Interconnect Cables
Making your own mic cables can be a great way to save money.  All it takes is a little soldering skill (and I mean little) and the correct parts.  For mic cables, I like to use Neutrik connectors  (part nbrs here) and Canare Starquad cable (L-4E6S).  These instructions are specific to the Canare Starquad cable, but will be very similar for other cable.

[1]  Gently remove the outer plastic housing off the end of the cable.  This should reveal a paper sheath and metal shield as well as the wires within the shield.

[2]  Gently cut away the paper sheath and unbraid the shield.  You should now have access to 4 wires inside the shield - 2 blue, 2 white.

[3]  Strip the plastic housing off the tips of the 2 blue and 2 white wires within the shield.

[4]  Twist the ends of the 2 blue wires together.  Twist the ends of the 2 white wires together.  Twist the unbraided shield strands together.

[5]  "Tin" the blue wires that are twisted together;  then the white;  then the shield.  Tinning is like priming - coat the wires with a small amount of solder.  This will help hold the twisted wires together and make the final solder connection more secure.

[6]  Solder the blue, white and shield wires to the XLR connectors' pins as follows:  1 = ground (shield), 2 = (+) (blue), 3 = (-) (white).  Whether you solder blue to pin 2 or 3 (and likewise for white) doesn't really matter as long as you're consistent on both the male and female XLR on each end of the cable.  But "blue to two" is easy to remember.  :)

[7]  Check for continuity with your multimeter.  Basically you want to make sure that an electrical signal can be carried from one pin of the XLR cable, through your soldering, across the cable, through the soldering and to the same pin on the other XLR cable.  Set your multimeter to the "continuity" setting.  Apply one lead from the multimeter to the XLR male connector, pin 1.  Apply the other lead from the multimeter to the other end of the cable, XLR female connector, pin 1.  If the multimeter beeps, you have continuity - this is good!  If the multimeter does not beep, you have a problem.  Likewise, apply one multimeter lead to pin 1, and the other to pins 2 or 3.  The multimeter should not beep.  If it does, you have continuity across pins.  This is bad.  If you don't have a multimeter with a continuity setting, but do have a resistance setting, I assume you know how to check for continuity already.

That's it!  Pretty easy, eh?  Some part numbers and places to find cable and XLR connectors:;action=display;threadid=2178

Brian Skalinder:
Cable wiring / pinout diagrams:


[0] Message Index

Go to full version