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Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?
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Author:  tombethe [ 30 Oct 2011, 19:22 ]
Post subject:  Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?

Project Page - Tom has put together a guide showing the construction of the DIY Shielded RCA Interconnect Cables. :cop:
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Hello dear members and guests!

I am very intrigued in building some easy but good DIY interconnects. While searching for some informations on the web i sticked to this website: This guy made interconnects from instrument cable and i think this is a good idea actually.
I have some meters of "Sommer Cable" tricone MKII - AWG24 inner conductor slightly similiar to the Mogami W2524 / same specs like the MGK18
This tricone comes with a polymer carbon coated xtra shielding and has very low inductance and capacitance. The hull (can we call it hull?) is made of PVC and very flexible + soft.
I already made very (!) good experiences with this cable. It's my favorite cable for 1/4 jack connectors.

What do you think about the idea to use it as RCA Interconnect cables?
I want to give it a try - maybe some of you already has some experience with similiar cables for RCA interconnects?

Author:  Geek [ 30 Oct 2011, 20:04 ]
Post subject:  Re: Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?

Instrument cable is excellent. It has to have a good shield to keep out RF and noise, as well as low capacitance to keep from rolling the pickup top end off. Go for it!


Author:  Gio [ 31 Oct 2011, 09:17 ]
Post subject:  Re: Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?

Hi Tom, microphone cable is an excellent choice and works real well. I'm using the same Neutrik Pro Fi RCA plugs and I like them too. Let us know how you make out.

Author:  tombethe [ 01 Nov 2011, 18:00 ]
Post subject:  Re: Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?

Hi Gio, hi Gregg,

thanks for the input! I'll try to make some interconnects when the plugs arrive - soon i hope. I'll surely post my results asap ;-) Thanks!

Author:  tombethe [ 16 Nov 2011, 07:00 ]
Post subject:  Interconnects made of instrument cable - long

Dear Members and Visitors,

after asking if it would make sense to use high quality instrument cables for RCA interconnects on this forum i decided to make a pair for testing.
The decision to make a pair for testing purpose was pushed by Gregg (aka Geek - many thanks), because his statement that instrument cables are designed to
transport the the whole frequency range of guitar pick-ups to an amp or recording equipment without losses is a point. That makes a lot of sense!
Studio grade microphones and preamps also use high quality instrument cable wirings for the signal transfer.
Thus - why shouldn't it work for RCA interconnects?

I ordered some meters of Sommer Cable "Tricone MKII" (AWG#23), which is comparable to the Mogami 2319 (AWG#23) or Prefer
MGK-16 (AWG#22). The Tricone cable is very flexible and soft due to its Skin PE material. It comes with a double shielding made of the
copper conductor and an additional layer of carbon coated shield material bound to the signal conductor insulator.
Mogami and Prefer cables come with the same principle. 1 meter is about US$1,70 (4,30Euro / 5m in Europe)

I also ordered some REAN (Neutrik Company) RCA connectors NYS373-2 with red and white colour rings, gold plated contacts and rubber end-boots to hold the cables in place.
This RCA connectors come with an variable inner strain relief for cables with an outer dimension of 4mm to 6mm (see instructions).
The REAN connectors are US$1.30 each at Parts Express (about 2,30 Euro in Europe).

I did not want to buy some extraordinary RCA plugs, because the REAN plugs are very good quality plugs (i already used them before).
An other option are the Neutrik NF2C-B/2 plugs for example. ... er=092-114
This plugs look really perfect, but you will have to dig a little deeper in your wallet (US$ 16,20 a pair).

The Neutrik website provides pdf documents with informations and assembly instructions for the NYS373-2 plug: ... etail.aspx

Due to the softness of the outer skin it was not easy to strip the cable. I used an older kitchen knife to cut the outer skin. This worked well and did not damage the shield conductor.
The same worked for the inner skin. I wasn't able to use my automatic stripper. Both skins are a bit fiddly to strip.

Here are some photographs of the single steps:

The conclusion:

I must admit i never believed cable quality could change a little. I don't believe in voodoo.
But, it really makes sense. The new cables have less capacitance and the shielding is hearable better.

I have measured my old "standard style" interconnects and the new interconnects:
Old = 1 pair with 56pF / 1m
Old = 1 pair with 62pF / 1m
New = 3 pairs with 26 to 28 pF / 1m

The new set of interconnect is a real improvement.
Noise floor is much lower now (speaker tested at full volume level with shorted inputs and scoped out).
I can say that the mids and highs are clearer and i think more detailed (my impressions).
This was tested using 2 speakers next to each other. One chanel connected with the standard (stock)interconnects and one channel with the new ones.
I switched between the two channels to check for a difference. The signal was a mix of repetitive audio snippets converted to
two channel mono (Audacity). 5 and 10 seconds on left channel then the right channel. It was a little tiring, but it worked well.
The speakers i used were the Klipsch RF-62 series II.

This interconnects are better interconnects. The costs are low but the gain is high!
It is definately worth to give them a try. I believe you will never think about using standard stock type interconnects again.

Author:  Geek [ 16 Nov 2011, 07:14 ]
Post subject:  Re: Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?

Those Rean connectors are the ones I use as well :D


Author:  Gio [ 16 Nov 2011, 21:48 ]
Post subject:  Re: Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?

Great work Tom.
I've been using the Neutrik NF2C-B/2 Profi RCA for about a year now and I really like them. Very good quality for the price.

Author:  tombethe [ 17 Nov 2011, 20:25 ]
Post subject:  Re: Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?

Hi all,

I have done some further test today.
This time with an other amp (DIY 20W - OPA frontend with solid state push-pull outputs) and my older Yamaha SM10 IV speakers.
I didn't test the sound this time - only the noise floor. The amplifier is nearly free of noise at full output.
I have used a scope again to see the noise spikes. 3 different cables (again with non shorted inputs / ends left open) were compared.
A neon lamp was used as a "noise generator". This lamps are real good noise generators.
I had kept the cable to the lamp and then connected to the amplifier.
The tests came out like before. The stock interconnects (one shipped with a NAD player and an other from a HiFi store) had hearable more noise.

Now i am very sure the DIY interconnects are my preference.

BTW - I made a mistake on the post from Nov. 16th.
I wrote "shorted inputs" instead of "non shorted inputs". Sorry - it jumped into my eyes as i've read the post again. Mea maxima culpa!

Author:  Johnny2Bad [ 13 Dec 2011, 00:15 ]
Post subject:  Re: Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?

I've used microphone cable for interconnects for years ... more than 10. I use the star-quad configuration; Canare L46ES and the two Mogami variants. The twisted-pair construction (when used as a single-ended interconnect) offers more noise rejection, at the cost of slightly higher capacitance (around 40 pf/M). I connect the shield at one end (signal source) and leave it floating a the other end (downstream component), and mark the cables for direction.

High quality microphone cables are also constructed for minimum handling noise and maximum flexibility.

Virtually every recording studio, sound stage, mobile, and concert hall worldwide uses Mic cables for audio interconnection. You pretty much can't listen to a CD or watch a TV show or movie without listening also to this type of cable.

Mogami is found in the majority but other types can also be found.

It's my basic "go to" cable and any cable that claims to be superior has to beat it first. I like the Canare RCAs but any reasonable construction variant is fine. The Neutriks don't connect to all my equipment RCAs very tightly so I don't use them anymore (still have a few around built with them, though).

Author:  tombethe [ 13 Dec 2011, 16:17 ]
Post subject:  Re: Interconnects made of instrument cable - good or not?

Hi Johnny2Bad.

Welcome and thanks for the input. I've read about the star quad cables (Star Quad at Sound on Sound) and i also like the idea very much.
This also would be a very interesting project and worth a try. Seems to be a no brainer too.
Maybe you would like to share your cable project?

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