Cables! Noob question

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humanoid01
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Cables! Noob question

Post by humanoid01 » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:12 am

Hi guys so I think I am ready to go ahead with my first build but now realise I only have about 5 x 3.5mm connector cables from my other gear, so my question is;

How many 3.5mm cables would you recommend I invest in to start off with and what variety of lengths would you suggest based on my proposed system below (in a 465mm x 475mm 3x84hp Doepfer case)? - yes I know subjective and the obvious answer is probably to get a lot but any advice to minimise waste would be greatly received

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/1275188

I have seen advice to colour code the cables by length to make life easier to organise but would bog standard 3.5mm cables be OK for reasonable quality and durability? Like the ones on Amazon and Ebay? It's only for home use but obv am wary of super cheap stuff that always seems to appear online via certain countries renown for fake/cheap products.

I like the Tiptop cables which seem very handy but quite expensive per cable and not sure I need them just yet until I have played around with the build in real life and tbh after shelling out on the above system (or as much of it as I can right now), I would like to keep cable cost sensible.

Also slightly unrelated question - with the build I have in the link above, could this be controlled via a Beatstep Pro and how would you do it? (I don't actually have a beatstep just yet but will be borrowing one for a while - I know it sends CV via gate/pitch/velocity but not sure if my system is geared up to receive pitch info to sequence or to have an external clock sync to it via the Beatstep should I wish to do so)

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by tuj » Fri Jul 24, 2020 3:27 am

Stay away from stackables, they have a high failure rate.

I like LMNTL and Doepfer cables. The Doepfer cables have small barrels so they work good in crowded jack locations. Both of these brands are good, LMNTL is a little stronger than the Doepfer cables. Color-coding by length is the best trick you can do. Then you don't need to sort your cables, just fish the blue or red one out of the box.

I'd start with 25 cables, probably 5 of each length starting at 6 or 12" and extending up to 36". You don't really know what you are going to need more of yet, so that's plenty to get you started but you will probably learn what length(s) you need more of.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by R.U.Nuts » Fri Jul 24, 2020 3:34 am

Buy special Eurorack cables. The consumer 3,5mm cables are almost always stereo cables (TRS) which can probably cause problems. Also the connectors are often very wide which could cause space issues with modules with jack connectors tightly spaced. Doepfer cables are quite cheap and they're color coded by lenght. You'd need at least some 90cm cables in case you want to patch between two opposing corners of your rack. But get some short ones, too.
You could get some Tiptop stackcables for signal distribution. Not all your cables need to be stackcables but you'll need some way to mult signals to various destinations. The other solution would be to put some multiples in your rack where the blind panels are. I prefer multiples over stackcables for several reasons. One being the fact that you probably won't be able to put the lid on your case with cable stacks. Making your own multiples is also a great gateway into learning to solder and synth DIY.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by starthief » Fri Jul 24, 2020 4:56 am

I like Modular Addict cables. None of them I've ever bought out of 100 or so (across all their different styles) have failed, they're cheaper than many Eurorack cable brands, they don't kink, and their lengths are fairly consistent. The downside is, they're not always in stock.

How many cables you need depends on your modules, your patching style, and how you like to organize things... e.g. some people like to minimize how many different lengths/styles of cables they have, while some want all their bases covered.

Definitely do get some that are long enough to reach corner-to-corner -- for your case 24" should work. You'll probably also want some short cables (6" or less) for self-patching and neighbors. The bulk of the cables will be in a middle range.

My estimate would be 5x 24", 10x 18", 10x 12" and 5x short, but you might simplify it to 10x 24", 15x 12" and 5x short.

Plus any stacking cables you might want to use, if not going with mults -- probably 2 each of 6", 12" and 18" is plenty.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Kattefjaes » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:11 am

Shitloads. Get more than you think you need- eventually.

Get some different lengths too, so you can get a feel for what works- sometimes, counter-intuitively, longer cables are sometimes tidier as they hang down in neat loops. Ideally you want nice cables that are pliable and bendy, with just enough stiffness to not tangle and route nicely. Maybe get a small number from multiple different brands, see what you like initially, before going mad.

I quite like "Audio Noodles", which are available in nice multipacks in a variety of cheerful colours. I also love the Mutable Instruments cables, which look and feel amazing- again, the longer ones work well, even on shortish runs because they hang nicely. However, YMMV, there are loads to try. Doepfer cables are plain and good. The ALM cables are solid, especially the long ones with velcro ties. Tendrils, which are right-angled can be nice, though they require a bit of effort not to go tangly and crazy. Just try different kinds, it depends what your friendly Euro dealer carries.

Have a strategy for storage and management. I don't really have room for a large cable stand, so I under-and-over wrap identical kinds and use a chunky velcro cable tie to keep them together- undoing and flopping them over the back of the sofa to use. However, if you have space, a cable hanger is awesome.

Practically, I'd get a few different types from dealers you like, different makes and lengths. Get a few Stackables too, as they're handy, but don't go mad upfront, as they're not cheap. Do get a bag of chunky cable ties, though- not the thin ones with a hole in, but nice wide easy-to-use ones, they're cheap and come in really handy for all sorts of things when you're a nerd with lots of machines.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by tuj » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:12 am

Don't buy stackables or waste space in your rig with passive multiples: use flying multiples instead. Much easier.

Like this:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... l-splitter

There are two reasons to avoid stackables. They are expensive for their high failure rate and they put excess leverage on your jacks.

If you stack two or three cables into a single jack you are creating a cantilever on the inside of the jack from all the weight that is extended from the panel. This creates more leverage inside the jack potentially leading to premature failure.

The other thing is stackables have no strain relief which is why they fail.

Look at this picture:

Image

Notice where the cable meets the jack there is nothing there.

Now look at this Alibaba cable which *does* have strain relief:

Image

The second one will last longer than the first. By a lot. I bought about 50 stackables when they came out. All but two have failed.

Cable hangers are big wastes of time. When you unpatch, just throw everything into a bag or box. If you color-coded by length, you'll have no problem fishing out what you need. I have hundreds of cables, there's no f'ing way I would ever use a cable hanger.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Multi Grooves » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:22 am

Dunno where you're based but I enjoy Fomu cables. They're pretty slim bodied so do not take up excess space, they have the best colour range esp now with the braided options. You'll get better prices on their website than you will on Ebay.

In terms of length, the most efficient system I came up with depends on how many cases do you have?

If just the one, then the longest should span corner to corner without being physically stressed, then another batch about half that length.

If you have more than a case, again, first length should be the furthest possible patch distance and then a second batch that can span the longest distance within the same case. Depending on funds, then half the length of the single case diagonal.

Hope this makes sense?

The final issue of cable colours depends on how your brain works: one each for: CVs, trigger and audio is one approach. Or you can colour according to the voice? I use the latter approach.

Hope this helps.


In addition Fomu also do the 5way mono splitter pretty cheap on their website. Also consider 3.5mm mono couplers. Plastic are lighter, electronically inert. They can help when you've run outta of cables in a dense patch session.
Last edited by Multi Grooves on Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Multi Grooves » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:25 am

Forgot to add FOMU also do a right angled plug option; good for those modules with a lot of patch points that you actually use but tradtional plugs would inhibit wiggle room. Though using them on things like Vincursal VCA (a super dense module) finding space for all the plugs with right angles can bring its own issues..
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Kattefjaes » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:26 am

Multi Grooves wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:22 am
In terms of length, the .ost efficient system I came up with depends on how many cases do you have?

If just the one, then the longest should span corner to corner without being physically stressed, then another batch about half that length.

If you have more than a case, again, first length should be the furthest possible patch distance and then a second batch that can span the longest distance within the same case. Depending on funds, then half the length of the single case diagonal.

Hope this makes sense?
I'm not sure that's optimal, from a tidy, stress-free cable management POV. Ideally you should have cables a fair bit longer than your patch range so you can manage them comfortably- a nice "drop" or slack or other management. Maybe too many years in data centres have made me twitchy, but chaotic rat's nests of cables make me twitchy, especially when it's my fault.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Multi Grooves » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:38 am

Kattefjaes wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:26 am
Multi Grooves wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:22 am
In terms of length, the .ost efficient system I came up with depends on how many cases do you have?

If just the one, then the longest should span corner to corner without being physically stressed, then another batch about half that length.

If you have more than a case, again, first length should be the furthest possible patch distance and then a second batch that can span the longest distance within the same case. Depending on funds, then half the length of the single case diagonal.

Hope this makes sense?
I'm not sure that's optimal, from a tidy, stress-free cable management POV. Ideally you should have cables a fair bit longer than your patch range so you can manage them comfortably- a nice "drop" or slack or other management. Maybe too many years in data centres have made me twitchy, but chaotic rat's nests of cables make me twitchy, especially when it's my fault.
Bear in mind, the next cable length up from my case diagonal length leaves excess cable to be able that allows manoeouvreability of the cable and keep on top of things.
...but Cynthia, my Daddy never had a heath kit..

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Multi Grooves » Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:22 am

Look at what the postman just delivered. They seem to be CV19 immune; I ordered less than 48hrs ago.
20200724_114312.jpg

Having a rack in this format for cable duty is a must for me.
cables2.jpg
cable1.jpg
Last edited by Multi Grooves on Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by starthief » Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:22 am

tuj wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:12 am
Don't buy stackables or waste space in your rig with passive multiples: use flying multiples instead. Much easier.
I don't like that style of floating mults. I've got a couple of cheap star mults that work, but they wind up dragging on cables and/or sitting on something, getting in the way.

There is NEVER a reason to stack three things into one jack. Think daisy-chain, not star configuration. If you regularly need to connect more than 5 things you're probably better off with an actual mult, possibly buffered.


My cable experiences:

Modular Addict stacking cables: I own 15. 0 failures
TipTop Stackables: I've owned about 8. 0 failures

Control BT: I've probably had about 30 of them. 0 failures, but the kinks never fully worked out even after two hot water treatments and hanging for months.
Control Crono: I've got 10. 0 failures. They have minimal strain relief, but they're also short.
Erthenvar: Probably about 30; 4-5 failures or DOA.
LMNTL: Probably about 25? 0 failures.
Make Noise: A few from the 0-Coast and 0-Ctrl, 0 failures, but I haven't used them that much. The stacking cable included with the 0-Ctrl is identical to the Modular Addict ones.
Modular Addict braided: I had about 35, 0 failures.
Modular Addict skinny: I own 55, 0 failures. They have no strain relief
Polar Noise: Bought 10, one was DOA.
Tendrils: I have about 10, 0 failures but most of them have been very lightly used.

(Why so many? I had a mishmash of cables at first, trying to find ones I liked or ordering a few at a time from wherever I was getting modules. Then I went all in on Modular Addict braided and stacking cables, and sold off most of the menagerie. When I switched cases I decided I wanted thinner cables so I went for the MA skinnies instead. Tried Tendrils to see what I thought and for some specific connections, and got the Polar Noise because MA was out of stock when I felt like I needed more 12" cables.)

Treat your cables and jacks well -- hang them up for storage, don't yank them out by the cords.
Last edited by starthief on Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Agawell » Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:36 am

I remember the days when people used to just recommend counting up the jacks on the modules and dividing by 2 - which works for newer users quite well - as you get more and more modules - it's likely you'll need fewer cables per jack as you will be less likely to use all modules at once

If you are going to get some stackcables - and they are really useful - then maybe 20% of the total should be stackcables

this will mean that you should not run out of patch cables until you expand

it's also a good idea to buy a few 1/8" to 1/4" cables - just in case you need to interface with something else

you can reduce the strain quite significantly by daisy chaining alternating stackcables and regular cables- for example stackcable from Marbles Y into Plaits Timbre - regular cable from stackcable in plaits timbre into stackcable in jove resonance and the other end of that stackcable into something else
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Multi Grooves » Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:38 am

Triggers may need to be sent to several destinations...with no worry about droop.

Js
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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by ea67 » Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:43 am

I'm also fairly green with Eurorack, so discount my advice accordingly, but I've been quite happy with the cables I'm finding on Amazon. (Typically the HOSA multicolor set, now venturing out to try others.) I prefer color coding by function, rather than by length. (Use a rack to store your cables, rather than a rat's nest. When travelling, I bundle all my cables into a "sheaf", tie it at the neck using a gear tie, and finally fold the result into a nylon mesh bag, a la:



Keeps stuff from getting all tangled up in transit, and reasonably organized for use on-the-go.

Regarding stackables, I agree with others: these risk creating high-torque situations that will ultimately weaken the solder joints of PCB-mount jacks! Everyone hates broken stuff, but there's actually one thing that's a million times worse -- intermittent[/] stuff. So save your pennies for active mults -- you'll never regret having more buffering than you really need!

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by MarcelP » Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:48 am

Get stackables; daisy-chain them rather than stacking multiples sky high in one Jack, take care when unpatching that you don’t just yank them around and store them sensibly. I have used loads of the things over five years and not one has failed.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by tuj » Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:54 am

Started in euro in 2011. Start with Frac in 2003.

Have Doepfer cables still going from pre-2010.
Stackables roughly 2012.
Have LMNTL cables going from 2013(?)

Have had failures of every brand of cable. If you haven't ever had a failure, it's very likely your sample size is too small and your usage period too short.

No one has addressed the fact that stackables do *not* have *strain relief*. This is a very important feature, and all of my stackables that failed, failed at this critical point. They are engineered wrong. Plain and simple. Caveat emptor.

Image
Last edited by tuj on Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by dreamdead » Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:59 am

Not the most popular answer from what I've gathered, but I'm pretty happy with the hosa cables. I also have a bunch of the hosa hopscotch cables for multing duties. I actually prefer them to the tip top stackcables I used to have.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by ea67 » Fri Jul 24, 2020 3:19 pm

One thing I really like about the HOSA cables is their narrow ends. What I dislike is the limited set of sizes offered.

I just ordered some ExcelValley via Amazon, because they offer 4" & 6" sizes, of which I would like to keep at least a few on hand. They actually arrived today, but so far, I've only been able to determine that 1) they work as expected and 2) the colors are not ultra-crap, however they appear a bit weakly tinted.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Schrank » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:02 pm

tuj wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:12 am

I bought about 50 stackables when they came out. All but two have failed.
Tiptop Audio reacted to the high failure rate of their cables and improved the design. They are very reliable despite not having strain relief. I have ~35 Stackables in use since about three years and not one has failed so far. I hope they won't fail for a long time because yes, they're really expensive.
Also, like Starthief mentioned, there is no reason to stack more than two cables and from stacking two plugs high, the jacks of a module won't break.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by pekbro » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:15 pm

I refuse to buy any cable's that cost $8 a piece. Sooner or later I am just going to buy a shitload
of those nice metal connectors and a bunch of, I dunno 26 awg copper wire, which is what they
all say they are using, and the go to town and make em, even if they are all the same color.
Though of course I probably get some paracord sleeving to go with it.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Yes Powder » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:18 pm

Stackables are much better than they used to be. They shouldn't be your primary cable and definitely don't go making towers out of them, but they're nice to have.
And to answer OP's question, the answer is always, "Get more than you think you need." Like, a lot more. If you're clicking the Checkout button and thinking, "Damn, do I really need all these cables?" you have right amount.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by pekbro » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:36 pm

I have one pretty complete (length-wise) set of the hosa version of the stackables,
they work fine when I want to use them, which is hardly ever. I just use a buffered
mult or make multiple identical versions of the source signal. Mostly the modules I
would use them for can already output multiple identical gates or whatever anyway.

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Multi Grooves » Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:52 am

Agawell wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 7:36 am
I remember the days when people used to just recommend counting up the jacks on the modules and dividing by 2 - which works for newer users quite well - as you get more and more modules - it's likely you'll need fewer cables per jack as you will be less likely to use all modules at once

If you are going to get some stackcables - and they are really useful - then maybe 20% of the total should be stackcables

this will mean that you should not run out of patch cables until you expand

it's also a good idea to buy a few 1/8" to 1/4" cables - just in case you need to interface with something else

you can reduce the strain quite significantly by daisy chaining alternating stackcables and regular cables- for example stackcable from Marbles Y into Plaits Timbre - regular cable from stackcable in plaits timbre into stackcable in jove resonance and the other end of that stackcable into something else

I've found the 3.5->6.35mm mono adaptors also fine.
...but Cynthia, my Daddy never had a heath kit..

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Re: Cables! Noob question

Post by Multi Grooves » Sat Jul 25, 2020 7:36 am

pekbro wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:15 pm
I refuse to buy any cable's that cost $8 a piece. Sooner or later I am just going to buy a shitload
of those nice metal connectors and a bunch of, I dunno 26 awg copper wire, which is what they
all say they are using, and the go to town and make em, even if they are all the same color.
Though of course I probably get some paracord sleeving to go with it.
Rolling my own caused the biggest failures by a country mile Vs bought cables. At first they were fine but then over time the connections started going funny- dunno if it was due to the quality of solder that I used... :despair: The majority are still in use, but I shudder at the thought of taking them apart for re-solder. The bottom plug is a joy to use but when the suppliers ran out, I was forced to using the upper one. The fit is so tight it requires greasing before being able to slide the barrel up the cable to get to the critical parts :
cable5.jpg
When I factored in the time it took it wasn't favourable. Then adding repair times, it was definitely not making $£€/time sense.
...but Cynthia, my Daddy never had a heath kit..

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