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In-depth Feature:  Tools of the Studio Trade
Albert Potts writes: .

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8. Console Tape for marking mixers, cables, etc. I never used to mark much of anything in my studio, but didn't have to back in the days when it was small and simple. As the studio has grown in size and complexity I've found that marking *everything* makes a huge difference in terms of efficiency and ease in tracking down problems. When all cables are properly marked on both ends it becomes a breeze to swap them or move the gear in and out.

Marking cables is one of those annoying chores that seems to get in the way right when you want to plug the cables in and start playing, but taking the time to do it will make your life easier every time you use your studio. There are all kinds of solutions from the nearly free to expensive printing devices that create custom labels. I currently use simple adhesive tape to mark cables. I just tape it around the cable near the end, with a tab sticking out, and write on that with a pen. Very low tech, cheap, and terrible looking, but it gets the job done!

A recording artist I know has taken labelling to an extreme and has little name tags attached to not only everything in her studio, but also in her office and home! It's quite amusing to see kitchen items marked with the same attention to detail as cables and patchbays, but you always know where things are at her place.

9. A cable organization system. I bundle cables together with black string or reusable plastic tie wraps. Black string can be hard to find, but theatrical supply stores will often carry it. There are of course far better looking solutions which cost more money, but my studio changes configuration so often that it is handy to be able to untie a bundle of cable and re-bundle it easily and cheaply.

I think that cable organization is one of those areas where commercial studios get separated from the home studios. When a music studio has exposed cables running every which way in a big tangle, it creates an impression of disorganization and amateurism in the eyes of others, an impression which can be hard to shake. On the other hand, when a studio owner has the cabling well organized and tucked away neatly it immediately creates an atmosphere of professionalism, efficiency, and attention to detail. Beyond appearances, neatly wrapped and routed cabling can also sound better, as it is easier to run it past possible sources of interference like power cables. Incidentally, you may also wish to wrap power cables together and route them as far from audio cables as possible. If they must cross, make sure the audio and power cables cross at ninety degree angles.

10. Tape measure. Self explanatory really, but I find myself using a tape measure quite often in my studio, measuring lengths for cables primarily. A tape measure can also be useful in measuring exact placement of speakers, and in figuring out sizes and positions of studio furniture.

11. Cable making equipment. There are many folks who have neither the time nor the inclination to make their own cables, so this is not an important consideration for them. However, if you have the time and interest, there are advantages to making your own cables such as outfitting your studio with premium cable at an affordable price, and having your cables be the correct length. Length is important as it allows you to avoid stretching cables to the limit or having long lengths of cable hanging low onto power cords or coiled on the floor in back of racks. Having custom high quality cables made to the correct lengths by a music shop is another option, but it's less expensive doing it yourself if you have a lot to build. The list of cable making supplies is fairly basic:

Soldering iron, clamp to hold connectors in place while soldering, 60/40 resin solder, wire clippers, wire strippers, a small fan to blow the toxic fumes away (if you wish), the connectors of your choice and cable of your choice. That's pretty much all you need. I use mostly Neutrik connectors and Canare cable. Mogami also makes excellent cable that many pro studios use.

The art of making cables is indeed a skill that takes practice to master. I found it took me more than a few cables to get the hang of it, and even now I sometimes make a dud. However, cable making can be a nice quiet hobby and can even be somewhat meditative.

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