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High Quality Audio Cables for 3.5mm to 1/4"
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author High Quality Audio Cables for 3.5mm to 1/4"
slentthndr
My understanding is that it's important to use TS cables rather than TRS because of the potential for a ground loop when using a TRS cable with unbalanced gear (eurorack). I'm also of the persuasion that cable quality matters for professional recording applications, so now I'm in need of a 3.5mm to 1/4" cable that is TS Mono and has gold connectors, etc. I can't seem to find anything at all. What do y'all use? Or did all the hi-fi geeks among you just make your own cables? I can't even find high quality 3.5mm to 3.5mm cables to use with an adapter, which would be less than ideal but still better than using random patch cables.
Sinamsis
slentthndr wrote:
My understanding is that it's important to use TS cables rather than TRS because of the potential for a ground loop when using a TRS cable with unbalanced gear (eurorack). I'm also of the persuasion that cable quality matters for professional recording applications, so now I'm in need of a 3.5mm to 1/4" cable that is TS Mono and has gold connectors, etc. I can't seem to find anything at all. What do y'all use? Or did all the hi-fi geeks among you just make your own cables? I can't even find high quality 3.5mm to 3.5mm cables to use with an adapter, which would be less than ideal but still better than using random patch cables.



What specifically are you trying to do? Is this for recording audio? Because really, if you want to be an audiophile, something like the NW2S balanced IO would do the job with just a cable snake. Ha, I also happen to have one I'm selling. Otherwise, I would argue that a regular HOSA 1/4 to 1/8 cable would be better than using an adapter of any sort. I do believe there are quite a few places you can order custom cables though. I ordered some TT to 1/8 inch TS cables from these guys:

https://www.harpooncables.com
Dave Peck
Why do you think you need gold plated plugs? Do you know what kind of plating is used in the jacks these will be mated with?

Just get patch cords made from decent, brand-name cable (Belden or better) with a good shield design and using high quality connectors like Neutrik or Switchcraft and you're good to go.
slentthndr
It looks like https://www.harpooncables.com makes the right kind, and I'm sure they're higher quality than Hosa but perhaps there's still something better out there? They don't say anything about what materials are used.

Dave Peck wrote:
Just get patch cords made from decent, brand-name cable (Belden or better) with a good shield design and using high quality connectors like Neutrik or Switchcraft and you're good to go.


Where do you recommend I look for that? And do you know of anyone that makes 1/8" to 1/4" specifically? That way I don't need to mess around with adapters. This is for taking audio from modular out into my Clarett 8Pre. I have no idea what kind of metals are used lol, I just want something nice.
sduck
I wouldn't worry about the gold hardware part, the benefits are extremely minimal (99% of the benefit is to the manufacturers wallet). And I've had great luck with the hosa 1/4" to 3.5mm cables - available in a variety of lengths - https://www.amazon.com/Hosa-CMP-310-inch-Interconnect-Cable/dp/B000068 O3I/ - at this price you can get several of various kinds, experiment, or keep them as backup.
ranix
the quality part you'd care about for playing live is that the connections are all solid and you can repair them if necessary. Like, Monoprice cables aren't the best for my kind of use in modulars because they have this dollop of epoxy over the connector and I can't rework it unless I break that crap off. And the Hosa cables are all one molded piece and can't be repaired at all (and the strain relief is poor).

I use the Hosa cables myself for 3.5mm to 1/4" because all the cable I have is too thick to really work with the small jacks. I might buy some thinner cable and make my own next time but it's not a priority.
Sinamsis
I maintain if you’re looking to take audio out or bring it back in to the modular and you want to maintain the best signal possible you should get a balanced IO module. Otherwise there are other unbalanced IO modules as well that do this job very neatly with a cable snake instead of needing up to 8 cables. You don’t need to worry about custom cables. You just get a DB25 to 1/4 inch snake and you’re set.
hamildad
I've been rolling my own to make sure they are well made and repairable..

this is for using with various sequencers etc.

for audio out, I would really recommend a IO output, with a headphone out as well makes it super useful;.
xenosapien
I would agree with what Sinamsis (and others) said:

forget the "high quality cables" for going from 1/4 to 1/8 inch, get a proper balanced interface module and use the cables that you already own.

Two modules I would recommend:
Vermona TAI-4 (XLR outputs)
HappyNerding Isolator (TRS outputs)

Both are transformer balanced, which I personally like.
The Vermona has both Ins and Outs as well.
Dave Peck
I tend to agree that a dedicated output module, with 1/4" TS connectors, is a good idea for a Eurorack modular, especially if you ever plan to use it live - I would not trust those tiny little 3.5mm connectors with the large cable that runs from the modular to the rest of the sound system.

But if you don't want to do that, you probably want something decent like this:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PMQ10--pro-co-10-foot-excellin es-1-8-inch-mini-to-1-4-inch-cable-unbalanced

Just make sure you use some kind of strain relief at the synth end to secure the cable with a bit of slack at the connector, so if something pulls on the cable it doesn't damage the module.
Sinamsis
Depending on the size of your system, I can’t recommend something like the NW2S IO highly enough. There’s another company that makes something similar but it’s only 8 ins on a module slightly smaller (the other gives you 8 ins and outs) but also offers attenuators. The DB25 connector is great. Also the WMD Performance Mixer had a DB25 expander. If you only want a couple ins and outs I’ve really enjoyed my Intellijel IO. Ladik also offers a few different options. I recently got a balanced input module to use with my Fumana.
Pelsea
If your output cable is longer than about a meter, I urge you to use a balanced output module with either TRS or XLR connectors. Of course that requires a balanced receiver on the other end, like a studio mixer.

If you are within a meter of the mixer, you will probably be fine with the 3.5mm to 1/4" cables mentioned above. Audio quality is not the issue (that would be fixed by using balanced wiring), durability is. Putting the snake oil aside, the one good thing about premium cables is they are usually more durable than the toss in the box kind. But not that much more durable. The question is do you want to pay $3 for a cable that will last 3 years or $30 for a cable that will last 5 years?
slentthndr
Very interesting. Any other recommendations on what I/O module to use? I don't want to mess with a snake. I'd love to use regular balanced cables, and I need at least 3 outputs and 1 or 2 inputs.
whatmeworry
I have been using and liking Belden 1800f for balanced signals and have been looking to use Belden 1505f for unbalanced audio. Both are very flexible, low capacitance, good for longer runs. The last one is actually video cable, but is highly regarded in the hi-fi world. Both would be radical overkill, but if you are looking for quality cable, there it is.

For 3.5mm patch cables, I've used Redco TGS-1. Small diameter, super flexible and lays flat.

Switchcraft or Neutrik are go-to connectors for a reason. Most others are just a copy of one of those two, or un-neccasarily fancy boutique items trying to be high end.

I like Switchcraft for TS/TRS and Neutrik for XLR

Switchcraft also makes some really slick right angled connectors in TS/TRS and RCA, if you need that. Both gold and nickel plated.
Thorsday
https://www.noisebug.net/products/vermona-patchmate-150cm
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