Before you dismiss this idea as impossible, let me assure you: you can build your own audio cables and enjoy the benefits. Compared to my dad and my brothers, I am very un-handy. If I can do this, anyone can. But why would you want to?
So glad you asked. Here are four benefits:
1. Completely customized cables. You can create cables with whatever combination of connectors you need. You can build them to any length you need. You can even make them whatever color you want, as long as it’s black. (Just kidding, there are other colors available!)
2. Quality control. When you buy a cable off the rack at your local music store or online, you often have no way of knowing what you’re getting in terms of quality. Unless it’s a premium cable where the component manufactures are clearly labeled, you’re likely getting substandard components, and probably paying too much for them, which leads me to…
3. Cost savings. Whether you’re aiming for mid-level or premium quality, you can save about 65%. Now, that doesn’t take into account the cost of soldering tools (which you may be able to borrow), but that’s major savings! In the accompanying video, I show a cable I built just like this one ($69.95 online) for about $24.
4. [bonus tip not in the video – oh yeah!] Satisfaction. Which cable would you be more proud of – one that you paid for or one you built yourself? Yup, me too.
Getting the parts
Here is the equipment you’ll need:
– solder (pronounced SOD-der)
– soldering iron
– wet sponge for cleaning the iron tip
– wire strippers, preferably spring-loaded, like these
– needle-nose pliers
– an assistant, or an alligator clip holder
For the components, I recommend Redco.com. They have a great selection of products, and they’re easy to work with. Here is what I recommend for different levels of quality.
Balanced cable (for microphones, keyboards, and most other audio gear)
Mid-level balanced cable : Redco LO-Z1
Premium balanced cable: Mogami 2549
Unbalanced cable (for guitars, other unbalanced gear): Redco TGS-HD
Speaker cable: Redco 12/2
Snake cable: Mogami (I don’t recommend the Redco for snake cables)