Just how important are microphone cables anyway?

Are they as important as the microphones that they’re connected to?

Probably not ………right

But they still have to be important on some level

And if you ask a bunch of professionals you likely won’t get any clear answers

Primarily because they take for granted what they have always had

And what they have always had is likely good quality cables

So it’s likely never really crossed their mind

I would be willing to bet that the quality of the average studio cable the pros use are pretty high-quality

But like anything prices can range pretty extreme with my cables

So I created this guy to help you through the landscape

Getting Started With Mic Cables

First, let’s talk about a little bit of general lingo and statistics to do with mic cables

Some common terms you might hear are…

a) Low Impedance vs High Impedance
b) Balanced or unbalanced
c) XLR vs TRS

For more detail on this subject check out this post

Otherwise at read on

Budget vs. Premium cables

A quick internet search and you will find lots of cables ranging in price from $5 to $100 or more for a standard 20-foot length

So if you’re just getting started you may Wonder…

What should I really pay for a good cable

Opinions will vary so here’s a couple of tips that we recommend

1) stay away from the super-cheap versions since they will probably break in short order

2) avoid the really expensive ones since the higher cost doesn’t justify the Slate Improvement in performance

Four typical users, cables between 25 and $40 will get the job done just fine

This is not earth-shaking advice and you’ve probably heard similar before so….

Let’s talk about how cables are put together so you can have a better understanding

Microphone cable Anatomy 101

Each manufacturer will have some unique aspects to their design


Some of the standards will come down to five main components

1) 2 conductors
2) insulation
3) filler cord
4) shielding
5) outer shell

Here’s how they all go together

1) there are two copper wire conductors at the core of every cable wrapped in their individual insulation
2) these pair of wires are twisted together then a filler covers them to prevent warping and keep the cable round
3) to prevent the conductor’s from interference these are now covered in a copper shielding
4) the cable is then covered in a rubber outer shell to protect it from damage

Although all cables will have these components they vary quite a bit in quality

The main components of a high-quality cable

Funny enough, even after you read the product descriptions you will notice that there’s no information about what makes a particular company’s cable better than someone else’s

Primarily because most people really aren’t interested in that level of detail

But maybe you should be

So let’s go over the six major factors that contribute to the performance and cost of Premium cables

1) The number of strands
2) The lay of the cable
3) The shielding
4) Ability to absorb impact
5) Conductivity of connectors

1) Number of Strands in the Cable

If you were to examine the cable by taking it apart you would see that each wire is actually made up of finer strands of wire bundle together

The quality of the cable and its ability to deliver signal is directly correlated to the strand count

Tire strap count will equal higher cost and also higher quality

2) The “Lay” of the Cable

The two copper conductors in the cable will have a certain amount of twist

This is referred to as the lay, which is just a way of measuring the distance between the beginning and the end of a twist

By making the lace shorter which is common in high-end cables you get an improvement in noise cancellation and flexibility

This also means using more wire which drives up the cost

3) The Shielding in the Cable

There are three common types of shielding

1) Braided Shielding – this type of shielding is far stronger and far more durable. It also has higher conductivity and better frequency response in the high-end

2) Serve Shielding – While more flexible than braided Shields, the flat copper strand system and surf shielding is slightly less effective then it’s braided counterpart

3) Foil Shielding – Using foil wrap in combination with the copper wire. Less effective for shielding and not as durable. Commonly used for permanent installations like stage snakes

4) Impact Absorption

There’s a difference between stage cables and Studio cables

The main difference will be impact absorption

Stage cables are designed with higher impact absorption because they get stepped on and banged around a lot more

This component is less critical in a studio cable which gets handled less and or gently

5) Conductivity of the Cable Connectors

Silver and gold are the most preferred source for a good quality connector due to their high conductivity

Silver has a slight edge and durability over gold since gold is extremely soft

Gold has the edge since it doesn’t require cleaning like silver does

Gold is also significantly more expensive but generally accepted as better than silver overall

Let’s talk about low-cost mic cables

Now that you have a little more knowledge about my cables let’s look at some of the best options in the various price ranges

The budget microphone cable list

1) Hosa Pro Rean
2) Planet Waves Classic series

While we feel obligated to show some cheaper options we recommend buying from the following list

Best mid-priced microphone cables

These would fit into the 25 to $40 range we spoke of previously

Some options in this price range include

1) Pro Co AQN
2) Mogami Silver
3) Rapco Horizon N1M1

The top premium quality mic cables

These are probably totally unnecessary for the average home studio user

However, some people like to have the best so why not lay out the choices

1) Mogami Gold Stage
2) Mogami Gold Studio
3) Monster Performer 600
4) Monster Studio Pro

Building Custom Mic Cables

Obviously, precut cables are going to be your choice starting up

However, as you build up your studio you may feel the need to create custom cables

By learning how to cut and solder your own cables you can not only fix old cables but create custom links for your studio it may not be available in off-the-shelf versions

This might seem a little tricky at first but practice makes improvement

There are plenty of resources on YouTube that will teach you how to do this right