WHAT MAKESa cable sound like, well, a cable? The material that the signal carrying leads are made of, be it copper or aluminium, and the grade used. Has that been exposed to oxygen during manufacture? The material for the insulation is important and likewise the shield, braided or wrapped. The type of solder used to connect the cable to connector plays a part: the more silver in the solder the better the connection. One downside of analogue
cable is that after a run of a certain length signal loss occurs, but it is regarded as cost effective and able to withstand the rigours of touring. In the digital domain, point-to-point copper or fibre connections are used to transport
The spread of fibre optic, advances in manufacturing techniques, the volatile price of copper and digital audio networking are just some of the issues affecting the audio cabling industry, discovers Simon Duff
the binary codes representing a digitised waveform of a signal. Arguably the biggest rival to copper cable in the past decade is the commercial roll-out of fibre optic. Made of tubes of glass or plastic it suffers little loss in quality or delay over long runs as the signal travels at the speed of light and can carry a large number of different signals simultaneously. A disadvantage is that the cable is traditionally seen in the audio community as relatively fragile and not easy to repair. VDC Trading has earned an
enviable reputation for making robust and reliable products. Dug Guthrie, technical director, believes that the rise in fibre optic within pro audio is inevitable. He
comments: “Going back to the early days of fibre optic systems for audio, the first Optocore system for example, take up within the industry was limited by the high costs involved for the interface electronics and a little by distrust in unproven technology used within critical live events. Over time engineers have learned to trust the technology and the costs for that technology have decreased. “We now have multiple fibre optic options used and available within pro audio such as MADI over fibre, Optocore/DiGiCo, Hypermac (AES 50), and the various Ethernet protocols such as CobraNet, Dante and EtherSound naturally leading to
more use of fibre. At VDC, Neutrik’s opticalCON system sales are increasing year on year.” Canford Audio’s Dave
Holloway agrees with the Neutrik endorsement. “Rugged fibre systems are still in their infancy compared with copper but testing shows that the new Neutrik opticalCON Advanced design will achieve the longevity needed to pay back the investment,” says the marketing director. Peter Rieck, key account and
distribution manager at Sommer Cable is also keen to stress the advantages. “The transmission of extremely large bandwidths over extremely long distances is possible with virtually no loss. But with a thin and light line (300m
Link’s stand at PLASA 2012
from our OCTOPUS PUR 4 x 50/125 including cable reel just weighs 14kg). We are working on changes coming up in future releases. We use a fraction of the total potential of the fibre.” American brand Gepco – now
available in Europe via global wire and cable dsitributor IEWC – launched several new products in the field of copper cabling, “not something that many traditional manufacturers seem able to do”, claims Gepco’s Jeff Peters, director of business development EMEA. But Gepco too has expanded its fibre product lines “significantly in recent times”, says the company, “particularly since being acquired by General Cable in 2009”. The
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