Cables

In the last post about Audio Cables we covered all Analog Cables, in this post I will give you guys a look into digital Cables that are commonly used in audio engineering and their purposes.

If you’ve read through the Analog and Digital blog, by now you know what the difference between the two is, Analog signals are continuous signals that carry information like Voltage, Current etc whereas Digital Cables transmit Binary Data that our computers understand.

No. 1

USB Cable

This is the most common cable that one would see in a recording/production setup. These cables are used on Soundcards and for MIDI Devices like an Ableton Push, or a MIDI Keyboard. They work by transmitting digital signal generated by these devices to the computer.

There are a bunch of usb cables out there, the one that I referred to earlier is the USB 2.0 to USB 3 cable or also commonly referred to as the “Printer Cable”
No. 2

FireWire

Though the firewire system is pretty much outdated, there are still a few Interfaces and systems that rely on FW. There are two types of firewire cables namely the FW400 and FW800.
400 and 800 stands for the transfer rate of both of these cables. viz. 400Mbytes/s and 800MB/s respectively. You also get adaptors to convert an 800 pin to a 400 pin.
Cable
No. 3

Thunderbolt

The Thunderbolt system was put together by Apple and Intel in early 2011 and has gone through many iterations to the TB we know now. Thunderbolt 3 systems use a Type C cable to transmit data and they do so at a staggering transfer rate of 40G/s.

Most of the audio interfaces like the UA Apollo and Apogee use these for effective transfer of data. Using the TB connectors these interfaces are capable of transferring the converted Analog signal at a high speed without causing any buffer issues.
Cable
No. 4

TOSLINK

These are Optical fiber cables that transmit digital data using ADAT formatting. These cables are usually used to connect two interfaces to each other using the ADAT for expanding the Input and Output capability. They can transmit multiple channels of audio through a single cable, making them a great option if you’re trying to reduce the number of cables in your studio.
Cable
No. 5

Digital Coaxial or SPIDIF

Digital coaxial cables are used to send S/PDIF-formatted digital signals between devices, and use RCA connectors. One digital coaxial cable is capable of transferring two channels of uncompressed PCM audio, or compressed 5.1/7.1 surround sound; this is possible due to the fact that digital coaxial cables transmit digital signals, and not analog signals.

Cable
No. 6

MIDI Cable

MIDI cables unlike USB cables carry only MIDI information from a device and transmits this information in form of pules to an interface to convert it into information that a DAW can understand.
MIDI cables can be used to record MIDI in a DAW or also be used to send MIDI signals back into a device like a Keyboard from a DAW.
This comes in hand when you want to quantize midi information in a DAW and then record this quantized information back from the Keyboard.
Cable
No. 7

BNC Cable

A word clock cable is a coaxial cable with a BNC connector on each end; it’s used to sync the internal clocks of multiple digital devices in your studio. BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman) connectors are radio-frequency connectors that use a quick connect/disconnect. By turning the coupling nut a quarter turn on the male connector, it mates with the female connector and forms a secure connection.

BNC cables are also used on devices like UB MADI which transmits digital signals from the stage rack of mixers with MADi functionality and converts it into a digital signal which can be stored in the computer as digital signal.
Cable

Get in touch!

If you guys have another other questions you would like to shoot at me, just shoot me a mail at ronak@gray-spark.com.
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