How do you wind up microphone cables? There’s the old wrap around the elbow technique, loop the cable around your hand, wind the lavalier mic cable around the body pack, and, everyone’s favorite, crafting an impossibly tangled nest of wires and tossing it in the back of the shop. All of these techniques will shorten the life of your mic cables and make AV techs want to tightly wrap you up in 100 feet of coax.
The “over-under” mic cable coiling technique is the best way to extend the life of your microphone cables and keep the next person to use them from having an aneurysm.
Why “Straight Coiling” Mic Cables is Bad
Before we get to the over-under technique, let’s look at why winding the cable around your elbow doesn’t work. When you wind a cable in the same direction coil after coil (known as straight coiling), you’re actually causing the cable to twist with every loop you make. That’s why when you unwind it, it instantly twists up and ties itself into knots. This isn’t just frustrating. Constantly twisting a multi-strand cable in the same direction puts strain on the wires inside, as the outermost wires have to travel further than the inner wires. Over time, this will cause the wires to break prematurely.
The Over-Under Cable Coiling Technique
Also known as “over/under wrapping”, “counter-coiling”, and “flip-coiling”, the over-under technique helps relieve stress on cables, makes them easy to unwind, and it will make you a hero to every AV pro who sees you doing it. To do the over-under, twist the cable in one direction to make the first coil, and un-twist it to make the next, and repeat this until all the cable is neatly coiled. Yes, it takes some practice to perfect and a little more time on the winding side, but you make up for it when you use it next. This video does a really great job of demonstrating how to properly roll cable.
Coiling Mini-Mic and Lavalier Cables
Since miniature microphones are what we do, we have to show you how to wrap up their cables too. Since most mini-mics, lavs, and headset mics have integrated wires, folks are often tempted to wrap the wire around the mic or body pack. This is a big no-no. The tiny coils created by doing this put a big strain on the wires, causes them to knot, and the kinks will make it more difficult to lay the wires flat when mounting them on your performer. This video shows the proper technique for coiling miniature microphone cables, and is very similar to the over-under.
Using proper microphone cable winding techniques will save your cables and make you more popular around the shop. Start practicing now and show your friends!
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