Pro Audio Cables | FQA


Frequently asked question (FAQ) pages (or hubs) help you with your needs in getting the information needed more quickly and appropriately.

Can I also get my cable with a private label?

There are indeed several options to have your SOMMER CABLE product private labelled! As a response to the disappearing cables (e.g., at live events), many companies have their cable jackets privately labelled. This can be done either with an inkjet printer or above a specific minimum order via a printing wheel. Inkjet printing is free of charge, whereas labelling with a printing wheel is not exactly a low-budget affair but offers several benefits. It is somewhat cleaner and more precise, and complex company logos or small graphics can be incorporated. If you have a printing wheel made, you can, of course, with enough forethought, use it for all the cable types that you order from us down the road. 

Cable with inkjet print 

Cable labelled with printing wheel.

Typically, the colour of the imprint is white or, with brighter coloured cables, black. Unfortunately, our cables cannot be overprinted later, but only simultaneously during our bulk cable production. 

Therefore we require a minimum quantity for specialised printing jobs. Please ask for the minimum order quantity and the printing wheel costs at

Many ready-made SOMMER CABLEs are already fitted with transparent heat-shrink tubing. A printed paper strip can be slid after the fact. 

For a small premium, we can also personalise connectors or cable breakout boxes and panels. For example, we can laser-print your company name or reference to a company anniversary or a dedication on our TRICONE phone plug housings.

SOMMER CABLE has a professional laser facility that can also be used to label metal parts (e.g., 19 "panels or compact stage boxes). 

What is the difference between a CAT.5, CAT.6 and a CAT.7 cable?

The simple CAT.5 standard was designed for 100 Mbps LANs and was established around 1990. This standard – as is expected in the fast-changing world of computer technology – soon reached its limits and was replaced by the CAT.5e standard, which supports the operation of full-duplex fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet. CAT.5 is a 100-MHz standard, just like big brother CAT.5e. In June of 2002, the CAT.6 standard was ratified by TIA/EIA, with a significantly higher performance than the CAT.5e standard and a transmission capacity of 250 MHz. Of course, all CAT.6 components are downward compatible with CAT.5e components. CAT.7 cable is designed for data transmission up to 600 MHz, and CAT.7a up to 1000 MHz. It is favoured for use in buildings because the wire pairs are individually shielded, with very low crosstalk. 

What is the difference between an unbalanced and a balanced cable?

Unbalanced cables are mostly used to connect guitars and amplifiers, hi-fi components, or simple control cables. They consist of a signal wire and shielding. 

Balanced cables have two signal wires with their phase inverted by 180° (±). The opposite phase cancels out interference signals, which is why this type of cables are preferred for long transmission distances or sensitive, interference-prone components such as microphones and mixing boards, etc. 

For a small premium, we can also personalise connectors or cable breakout boxes and panels. For example, we can laser-print your company name or reference to a company anniversary or a dedication on our TRICONE phone plug housings. 

How important is the quality of the solder?

The soldier's quality and especially the quality of the solder joints should not be underestimated for the clean transmission of audio signals. Bad solder or a soiled solder bath can increase transmission resistance. This is not only physically detectable but in rare cases, it can also be heard. 

So, use high-quality solder to work with (partially with silver), make sure to provide a clean working environment and do not touch the wire insulation with the solder tip. 

Are all shiny things made of gold? 

Or: How important is the gold-plated contact on a plug connector? Right off the bat, let's be clear: Pins made of pure gold would not only be too expensive, but they also wouldn't make technical sense either. Gold is so soft that it will break after only a few plug cycles unless you alloy it with other materials. To affect hardness and surface properties usually, nickel-plated pins or silver or copper alloys are used and then gold-plated. Most connectors are only lightly gold-plated, and cheaper plugs are sometimes only painted, which means that the most inexpensive plugs cannot possibly be gold-plated. 
Besides, you can only take advantage of gold's excellent conductivity if both socket and plug are gold-plated. If this is not the case, the harder alloy simply scrapes off the soft gold and builds up oxides. Contrary to popular belief, a layperson cannot tell the quality of the gold by the colour. It often happens that complex alloys are used on the connectors, depending on the application and expected cycles.  

What is the maximum transmission length for HD-SDI cables?

That's hard to say because it very much depends on the peripherals used and the quality of the interface installed. It's like asking the filling station attendant: If I pump ten liters/2.6 gallons of gasoline into my gas tank, how far can I drive? The answer to the question would depend on the type of vehicle, and the same is true for HD-SDI cables. Here too, the hardware specs must be taken into consideration to calculate the transmission length. 

An SDI cable should be capable of transmitting 270 Mbit/sec. The HDTV cable is designed to carry about 1.5 Gbit. HD-SDI's range depends on the bitrate used (compressed or not). At 1.485 Gb/s (uncompressed), the damping value is drawn at half the bit rate (720 MHz). The cable length possible at a damping value of 20 dB/100 m or 30 dB/100 m (6 dB/100 ft. or 9.1 dB/100 ft.) is the relevant parameter. Please note that the electrical values (attenuation, capacitance, etc.) in a multiple or hybrid video cable can deviate by about 10–15% from a single wire's measured values. Due to the tight stranding, the individual cables end up being longer in hybrid cables. 

What's the difference between diameter and cross-section?

The diameter in mm is a linear measure; the cross-section in mm² is an area measure.
For solid conductors and single wires, the diameter is specified in mm. For inner conductors, which consist of multiple individual wires/braided wires, we quote the cross-section.
The cross-section (A) can be calculated from the diameter (d) using the following formula: 
A = (d² x Pi)/4 ≈ 0.785 x d² 

There is no doubt that the length of the guitar cable affects the sound. But does the optimum cable length only depend on the cable values? 

It is not easy to answer this question because low capacitance is not the only thing that's important for a guitar cable's sound. The entire cable construction must be considered. 

A guitar cable can have an extremely low capacitive value and still sound dull and lifeless. This is often when the individual wire strands are stranded in parallel instead of concentric strands (as they are with SOMMER CABLE). In parallel stranded cables, the conductive surface is too small and breaks too easily. An inadequate conductive surface is even noticeable with a bass cable: even though it will transmit the typical low frequency sounds okay, the essential "attack "and dynamics elements will be missing. 

The insulation material of guitar cables having incredibly low capacitance is often very highly foamed. But highly foamed insulation is susceptible to pressure. It loses stability after having been wound just a few times, for example, after each gig. That increases the capacitive values. SOMMER CABLE uses an exceptionally robust and lacquered insulation material to seal porous surfaces to avoid this effect. Cable manufacturers have to compromise between good electrical values and maintainable stability of the insulation and jacket. If capacitance were the only thing being considered, the ideal cable would have to be 30 cm/12 "long, which would not be very practical. The solution: check out the sound or sound characteristics of different cables and select the shortest available cable in the desired format (usually between 3 and 4.5 m/10 to 15 ft.) – just to be on the safe side. 

Naturally, you can wind up.

... any cable. But you should not use your arm or elbow for winding. Every wire inclines to bend in a specific direction. With a little feeling, every cable can be easily wound up by hand or removed from the reel. Wind the cord without using force in the direction in which it is naturally inclined to bend, and it will reward you with long life and consistent electrical performance. 

Don't be cross with us.

 If we do not state the "minimum bending radius", What is the minimum bending radius? The bending radius of the cable jacket protects the cable strands and shields them from being damaged. The scope of about five times for fixed installation and ten times for mobile use of the cable's outer diameter is standard. All of our cables are within this range. Most are even more flexible.

Why do cables twist? 

Almost every multi-wire cable in the audio and video sector is submitted to standing or laying direction to give the cable its compactness and bending properties during the production process. Multi-Wire cables are most often stranded in multiple layers. 

Highly flexible cables are subject to an increased torsion strain, which will often take the stranded compound to its breaking limits. For technical reasons, the stranding elements in the stranding layers are of different lengths and subject to various strains. In some multi-wire cables, the inner components (such as the connectors' contact points) will often tear first. However, a wire bundling would be ideal, which is impossible in some instances (e.g., with 4- or 8-wire speaker cables) because the cables would become too thick and too cumbersome.
Suppose the cable is forced into an unnatural position by an extreme or reverse bend and at the same time exposed to tensile forces. In that case, the individual wires may" jump "out of their guides and cannot slide back anymore. The result is a formation of knots or cable twisting. Glueing cables together with other cables is not recommended either because a" jam "can occur just as quickly in this constellation since the wires within the stranded bundle cannot relax.

Some cable makers think they can avoid the problem by merely injecting a thicker outer jacket in the extrusion process as a means of protection for the inner elements – provided the overall diameter allows it. But this will only shift the problem into the cable interior because instead of the general construction, the individual wires will now twist and tear. 

SOMMER CABLE has employed a new, zero torsion stranding method (X-Torsion) for quite some time which handles this problem very well. Yet, the case of improper handling of the formation of knots cannot be avoided altogether. Please make sure to relax cables before reeling or to lay them out full length before spinning them onto a cable drum.