The Importance of Cable in Sound Installations: Quality, Materials, and Technical Considerations

21/05/2024 | Hospitality | Restoration | Technology
Sound | Ambient Sound | Cables
Sound cable coils at VisualPlanet used for professional audio installations
In the world of sound installations, the quality of the cable is a determining factor in ensuring optimal and long-lasting performance. Although often overlooked, choosing the right cable can make a significant difference in the final result of any sound system. This article explores the different types of cables, their impact on installation, and best practices to ensure superior sound quality.

Types of Cables: Materials and Their Effects

Pure Copper Cable
Pure copper cable is one of the most commonly used in sound installations due to its excellent conductivity and ability to transmit signals with minimal loss. However, it is susceptible to oxidation, which can cause noise and connection failures over time, especially in high humidity environments.

Oxygen-Free Pure Copper Cable (OFC)
Oxygen-free copper (OFC) offers better resistance to oxidation compared to standard pure copper. This translates to greater durability and lower risk of interference and noise over time. It is ideal for high-fidelity sound installations where quality is paramount.

CUA Cable (Copper and Aluminum)
The CUA cable, a blend of copper and aluminum, is a more economical option but less efficient in terms of conductivity. Although it can reduce initial costs, the voltage drop and higher susceptibility to oxidation can negatively impact system performance, especially in installations with long cables.

Importance of Cable Section
Regardless of cable quality, it is crucial to correctly calculate the section to support the necessary power based on the distance. An insufficient section can cause significant voltage drops, reducing system efficiency and potentially causing equipment damage. Using the appropriate section ensures the system operates at its maximum capacity, providing consistent and reliable sound quality.

Avoiding the Temptation to Cut Costs
It is tempting to reduce costs in an installation by using low-quality cables or inadequate sections to present a tighter budget. However, this practice can result in poor performance and costly future repairs. Even if speakers, amplifiers, and other equipment are high quality, choosing an inappropriate cable will compromise the entire system, delivering an unsatisfactory final result.

An aluminum cable instead of copper has a higher resistivity, resulting in a greater voltage drop.
To give an idea, a 1.5mm2 aluminum cable has a voltage drop 67.86% greater than a copper cable. This means that the last speaker connected on the same sound line in an installation will sound weaker than the first speaker.

Balanced vs. Unbalanced Cables

Balanced Cables
Balanced cables are essential in installations where the distance is considerable, as they are able to eliminate interference and noise thanks to their design. They use two conductors and a shield to protect the signal, offering clear and distortion-free transmission.

Unbalanced Cables
Unbalanced cables, on the other hand, are more susceptible to noise and parasites, especially over longer lengths. They are suitable for short connections and where interference is not a significant concern.

Shielded vs. Unshielded Cables

Shielded Cables
Shielded cables provide an additional layer of protection against electromagnetic interference and parasites, which is crucial in environments with a lot of electrical and electronic equipment. This protection ensures that the sound signal remains clean and clear.

Unshielded Cables
Unshielded cables are more economical but also more vulnerable to interference. In environments where the presence of other electronic devices is minimal, they can be a viable option.

For those responsible for a future sound system installation, choosing the right cable should not be underestimated. Investing in quality cables, with the appropriate section and necessary features for the specific environment, ensures excellent performance and greater system durability. Avoiding the temptation to cut costs in this crucial aspect can make the difference between a mediocre sound installation and an exceptional auditory experience.

At VisualPlanet we are experts in sound and acoustics projects.
For more details or to arrange a visit, you can Contact us.

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