Weekend Warrior Project! Create a Custom Cable

I’ve got an entire box full of audio cables in my closet but not one wire in this tangled mess meets my needs? Am I really going to have to buy another adapter? If you’ve ever asked yourself a question like this then you need to watch the video above. With ten minutes and $15 in parts you can easily make a high quality cable worth $40 that will last a lifetime.  While you may be thinking right now “…but Mike, I’m no electrical or wiring guru”, don’t worry. I thought the same thing, but in reality, almost anyone can make a cable that is ten times better than your average RCA. 

The Challenge:

I recently switched my primary controller from a piece of gear that included a built in soundcard, to one that did not.  The problem was the outputs on the soundcard are 1/4 inch and the inputs on my external mixer are RCA. I decided it was time to put my foot down.

  • *No more adaptors!
  • *No more cheep 1/4″ to RCA cables!
  • *No $40 monster cables!

So, while I had absolutely zero experience with wiring and soldering, I decided to give it a go and make my very own custom cable.

The Solution:

The internet can be a magnificent resource. I was able to find video tips on soldering, diagrams on making the connections, and websites where I could order the parts I needed inexpensively. The only problem was that the information was scattered. Check out the above video for an overview of just how easy it can be to create your own custom cables using tools you already have, and materials that allow you to make four cables for less than the price of one.

The Mike Charles PSA:

Even if you don’t own a soldering iron or a pair of wire strippers, odds are someone you know does. Ask your buddies or neighbors if you can borrow theirs. In most of the videos I watched, the instructor was using a fancy expensive soldering iron, which left me feeling as if I may not have the right tool for the job. Don’t worry, I’m here to tell you that a 30+ year old, less than optimal iron will solder well enough to meet the task.

In audio engineering school I learned how easy it is to make a high quality cable and why the best components are really much better and last longer. There are three main benefits from a good cable.

  • Quality connectors fit well.
  • They last forever.
  • Good shielding cuts out the noise.
  • Good wires coil and store much better.
  • They look and feel great!

you can buy 30ft of mogami cable (you want the twisted pairs with shielding) and neutrik connectors (the best in the world) for under $20 from the internet. The resulting cables will last forever and literally work much, much better. If you have the time, I can’t recommend enough building your own cables.

– Ean Golden

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