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Guide: How to Make a High-Quality Audio Interconnect for Your PC

hardnrg    -   May 29, 2007


What You'll Need:


There isn't really much point totally cheaping out on the cable and connectors here, else you may as well stick with that piece of crap cable you're using at the moment.

Materials

Here is a list of the materials and components used for this cable:

  • 5 metres x Van Damme Classic Ultra Purity Silver-Plated Oxygen-Free Copper / Oxygen-Free Copper microphone cable (£0.58 x 5 = £2.90)
  • Switchcraft Heavy Duty 3.5mm stereo jack plug (35HDBAU) (£5.17)
  • Neutrik Pro-Fi phono/RCA connectors, twin pack (NF2C-B/2) (£1.97)
  • 5 metres x 6mm black nylon braided cable sleeving (£0.95 x 5 = £4.85)
  • 25cm x 3mm black nylon braided cable sleeving (£0.85 x 0.25 = £0.22)
  • 5cm x 8mm black heatshrink
  • 4cm x 5mm black heatshrink
  • 12cm x 3mm black heatshrink
  • Double-sided clear tape
  • 4% silver solder

I already had the silver solder, clear tape, and the heatshrink, so I only paid for the braided cable sleeving, cable and connectors.  The cable and phono connectors are usually more expensive, but I got these from work for cheap.  A total cost of £15.11 for the materials I needed.


Here are the 3.5mm and phono connectors I will be using:


You could use individually or overall screened cable.  Theoretically, individually screened minimises the likelihood of cross-talk.  I went for this overall screened cable because the signal cable uses a mixture of high purity oxygen-free copper (OFC) and silver-plated OFC, and the screen itself is OFC which is also good because the screen carries the signal for single-ended systems (a single-ended audio system uses a signal and a ground, as opposed to a balanced signal where the signal is carried over two complementary magnitude signals with a shield that doesn't carry the signal).  Anyway, enough of the techno-babble, this is what you're aiming to get, a single round cable with two cores with either individual shields or a common shield:


For adding protection and a touch of refined style, I decided to use black braided nylon cable sleeving.  This is not really necessary, but I think it just looks cool.  The same type of sleeving is used on Monster AV cables, PSUs, etc.  I chose 6mm braiding as the cable has an outer diameter of 6.35mm (1/4"). Heatshrink and double-sided tape will be needed for the cable split.


Tools

Here is a list of the tools I used, not all are required, but you'll probably find them useful for making the interconnect:

  • Soldering iron
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • Sheath cutter or sharp knife
  • Pliers
  • Flux applicating pen or flux paste
  • "Third Hand" / "Helping Hands" crocodile clip stand

Here's my trusty soldering iron, you could probably use a 25W iron or something, but I prefer putting my 50W variable iron near the hottest setting so I can apply a lot of heat quickly to the terminals of the connector to avoid melting the plastic component parts of the connector.


Over here in the UK we must have the most heavy duty mains plugs in the world. It takes 13 amps at 240 volts, holds fuses (3, 5 or 13 amps) and can stand a lot of physical abuse. I've not seen a more heavy duty standard mains connector in the USA, Europe or Asia. I took a picture of it to show how awesome it is! If you stand on one of these, the pins don't bend and you hurt your foot!


The flux applicating pen is not required, especially if you have multi-core solder, but most people like to use flux for making the best connection.



If your chosen cable contains silver, then silver solder is required, otherwise it's optional.


The crocodile clip stands I find so useful for making cables that I always use them.  I don't have to use them, but it would be a lot more annoying and time-consuming without them.


 



  1. Introduction
  2. What You'll Need
  3. Preparing The Cable
  4. Making The Interconnect - 3.5mm Jack Plug End
  5. Making The Interconnect - The Phono (RCA) End
  6. Final Product Photos & Conclusion
Random Pic
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