Skip to main content

Cable Choice Matters

Consider the installation location—indoors or out.

Indoors, say in a fixed installation, cables can be run through plenum, cable trays, conduits, or computer flooring. The installations are usually in some kind of controlled environment so environmental factors aren’t as much a concern as with cables used outdoors.

Consider cable diameter, which will affect how many cables can fit in a cable tray or conduit. Don’t over-stuff and make sure cables don’t get stuck along the way.

Keep in mind that cables installed in plenum ceilings need special fire-retardant or low-smoke plastic jackets.

Cables used outdoors live much rougher lives, as they’re required to hold up in all kinds of weather extremes. For temporary events like remotes, they are constantly being unrolled, stretched out, stepped on, and rolled back up, stored and shipped for the next job. Here’s where you’d want to consider thicker jackets, waterproof and abrasion resistant, and greater flexibility. Check specifications on operating temperatures. When using, prevent knots and kinks from forming.

Whether indoors or out, choose electrical parameters like resistivity and capacitance wisely. For longer runs, less resistance and capacitance per foot means less signal and high frequency loss along the entire length. For digital especially, make sure the impedance is correct, 110 ohms for twisted pair AES signals. Because you’re dealing with a high frequency signal, low resistance and capacitance per foot is also crucial to maintain a sharp waveform.

And don’t forget to consider other cable parameters like gauge, conductor material, type of conductor (stranded or solid), and type of shield (foil or braided).

For a successful audio installation, don’t take your cables for granted and take care of them well.