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Special Cables

Essential stuff that you can't buy 


Once in a while the free market fails us. It's not out of maliciousness, or incompetence; it's really a matter of risk and liability.


At the left is a picture of a MIDI cable that I successfully used at a jazz concert a few days ago. I made it 5 years ago, tested it, and put it in a drawer.  The cable's job is to allow a MIDI signal to go far past its 25-foot specification to reach my recording equipment. 


I tested it through a 100-foot XLR audio snake from a drum 'brain' and it worked. The first 'under fire' useage was at the concert to capture the keyboard player's MIDI stream. I inserted a common 25-foot XLR cable in the mating pairs of XLR connectors, and the total 40-ish foot assembly worked fine.


In post-production of the concert, I was able to replace the thin, tinkly piano sound of of the Korg stage keyboard, with a richer Yamaha grand sound from Native Instruments. I was also able to enhance the Korg's blues organ B3 sound with a Native Instruments Hammond B4 physical model.  Everything worked as expected.  


My total cost for this cable is about $8.00 in parts, and a few minutes of soldering.  It's a lifesaver, but there isn't any business person that I know that would deliberately make an out-of-spec cable for sale. In this litigous society (the USA has about 70% of the world's lawyers), it's not reasonable to do this. 


The other picture is of my one-click-trick snake. I made two 8-channel snakes but just one picture tells the story of both:  


The analog inserts on a board give the preamp channel signal to a TS cable inserted to the first click where the tip of the plug contacts the ring of the jack. I put a 5/16-inch nut ($0.11 each at Home Depot) on the TS end, held it in place with an inch of 3/4-inch diameter heat shrink tubing. Everything works as expected, and the total cost of the project is only about $2.00 because I had the tubing on hand.


Once again, misusing the inserts on a mixing board isn't a formula for sonic success (or financial success) but it sure makes my world go forward in the face of limited options.  I was able to simultaneously record  16-channels via the firewire interface natively in the PreSonus mixing board, and via its tapped inserts into a second computer. 



- Ted of TedLand

Nov 30, 2015








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