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Instrument Cable vs Speaker Cable

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Al Felder
Instrument Cable vs Speaker Cable
on Jan 12, 2014 at 11:12:11 am

Hey folks
I'm recording from a Mixing board directly into a portable recorder (Zoom H4); what's the best cable to use: Instrument Cable or Speaker Cable? And why (just so I know). It's a live event and no time to experiment and no 2nd takes; what's your recommendation pros?
BTW, the feed is 1/4 inch not xlr.

Thanks in advance

HD


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Richard Crowley
Re: Instrument Cable vs Speaker Cable
on Jan 12, 2014 at 1:50:55 pm
Last Edited By Richard Crowley on Jan 12, 2014 at 1:55:13 pm

Calling a cable "instrument" or "speaker" is not very helpful in identifying exactly what it is. Really, neither traditional "instrument" cable nor "speaker" cable are ideal for your application.

"Instrument" cable often means special, fine-gauge, low-capacitance cable specially designed for high-impedance connections from passive electric guitars/basses to their amps. While it MIGHT work, it would not be on my list of preferred cables.

And "speaker" cable is often unshielded (because speaker connections don't need shield). So it would not be suitable for your application, either.

What you need is ordinary shielded mic-level/line-level cable with the appropriate connectors on each end. A cable called "instrument" or "speaker" immediately casts doubt whether they are suitable, at least IMHO.

What kind of cables do you have available? Why do you call them "instrument" or "speaker"? Or are you intending to go out and buy something for this application?


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Al Felder
Re: Instrument Cable vs Speaker Cable
on Jan 12, 2014 at 4:54:51 pm

Good morning Richard,
I went on Amazon looking for 1/4" to 1/4" cables, aside from brands and lengths, the options that came up were "Instrument" and "Speaker". Here's a link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/cart/view.html/ref=lh_cart_vc_btn

If you can make a recommendation that's be great Richard.

HD



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Bill Davis
Re: Instrument Cable vs Speaker Cable
on Jan 12, 2014 at 8:00:41 pm

Al,

Just search on XLR-M to XLR-F cable and you'll get plenty.

You want XLR connectors because they maintain balanced connections. An "instrument" cable, typically terminates in a 1/4" phone plug - and while that's an input option on your H4n, it's smarter to keep with XLR since 1/4" cables are often wired as mono - and XLR is almost never wired that way.

Traditional male to female XLR "microphone" cables will handle low level mic signals or line level signals with equal ease.

BTW, your local Radio Shack will have these as well - the gauge of the cable and the quality and shielding is only important for longevity and if you're going to be using these in difficult situations or for years. If so, you'll better off ordering premium quality cables from a pro audio vendor. If you're just dong a gig and aren't sure you'll be in the business for he next decade, just buy local.

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Al Felder
Re: Instrument Cable vs Speaker Cable
on Jan 12, 2014 at 10:21:21 pm

Thank you very much.



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