Cables are something easily taken for granted, but not all cables are created equally. There are countless options available between different connectors, cabling options, and wiring specs….oh and of course build quality. You never want a cable to be the reason you can’t finish a work day. Higher build quality cables with proper strain relief help minimize them from failing at inopportune moments. Unfortunately outside of standard cable options there aren’t a ton of choices, and they quickly take a sharp uptick in price as you end up having to hire a cable building service to make them custom for you. Knowing how to solder cables, you can reduce the cost outside of materials while having full control over the cable, connectors, & build quality.
Two Functions, One Cable: Camera Snake or 4 Channel Mic Snake
This is a build I’d thought about for a little while prior, but with COVID-19 and the need for being further apart on set; it fast tracked the need to get cabling for mics and camera feeds further distances easier. I wanted cables that would extend the distance between my Sound Devices 664 and Remote Audio breakaway camera snakes, but also with alternate breakouts be able to carry 4 channels of analog audio over XLRs.
10 Pin Hirose Connectors
10 pin Hirose connectors were a logical choice since the Sound Devices 664 & Remote Audio both use them, and have enough pins for 4 lines of analog audio over them borrowing from the standard for analog audio over cat 5e or cat 6 (except without RJ45s or Ethercon). The Hirose RM15TJD-10S(71) [Female] & RM15TPD10P(71) [Male} connectors are fairly rugged, have good strain relief, can be daisy chained, and allows a continuously shielded connection when interconnecting cables.
For XLRs I opted to use Neutrik X series since they are solid reliable XLR connectors, and they also allow for two different options for color coding.
Since the Sound Devices XL-10 wiring standard only utilizes 8 of the 10 pins, and running 4 channels of analog audio over ethernet cables needs a 9th shield conductor, a shielded cat 6 seemed like a logical choice. I’ve never been super pleased with the quality of most ethernet cabling out there and especially its stiffness and use of solid core conductors. Looking for the perfect cable, Redco was the only place that stocked a cable to the exact specs I was looking for. The cat 6 cable I chose has stranded 24 AWG oxygen free copper, 2 separate layers of rubber jacketing, each twisted pair has a foil shield around them and a braided shield around all the shielded pairs.
For the 4 channel mic snake breakouts I opted for a low profile option since four separate cables needed to exit the hirose connectors. I opted for Canare’s thinnest shielded mic cable that comes in at around ⅛” thick.
Ruggedizing Cable with Techflex
To further make the cable tougher both the breakouts & main snakes are coated in Techflex. If you’ve never used Techflex, it is an expandable PET mesh that allows you to give your cabling an extra layer of protection. The standard PET version is also available in 85 colors which makes it great for color coding your wires on breakouts. The ends of the techflex coating can be affixed using heat shrink inside the connector.
Strain relief starts at the connectors, but continues into accessories for the cable. I like to use a carabiner ring attached to one end and on the other end a length of high strength double sided velcro to wrap around camera, stands, or carts. By taking any movement stresses (being pulled on) out of the equation, it helps cabling last much longer. The velcro is also great for cleanly coiling them when not in use.
10 Pin Hirose Pinout & Wiring Diagram
Bill of Materials
100 ft. – Shielded Stranded Cat6 Cable
15 ft. – Canare L-2B2AT Low Profile Shielded Mic Cable
4 – Male Neutrik X Series XLR Connectors
4 – Female Neutrik X Series XLRs Connectors
8 – Neutrik XCR Color Coding Rings (Red, Blue, Orange, & Purple)
120 ft. – Techflex PTN0.25 (Orange)
20 ft. – Techflex PTN0.13 (Red, Blue, Orange, & Purple)
4 – Hirose RM15TPD10P(71) (Male)
4 – Hirose RM15TJD-10S(71) (Female)
Written by Henri Rapp
Henri Rapp is a Production Sound Recordist based in Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about great quality sound, I’ve been recording for more than a decade. Starting in the commercial studio Bad Racket, I have since transitioned to predominately doing sound for Film, TV, & Commercials.
One thought on “Building High Quality CAT6 Audio Snakes”
Excellent article. Great cabling work. Thanks!