Like most of you, I try to keep things pretty neat around the studio. It just makes sense—the less that’s sitting around, the less you’ll accidentally step on or trip over
But after about four hours of working, do you have cables lying all over the place? Does your place start looking like the floor of the Well Of Souls from ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ (“snakes…why’d it have to be snakes…”)?
Much as I hate to admit it, the average computer nerd has a better sense of cable organization than the average recording nerd. So if you can’t beat ’em, at least shop where they do!
If you peruse a computer parts catalog or visit your local computer store you’ll very likely find a whole aisle dedicated to cable management. One handy little item that I now can’t live without is a 6-inch-long strip of fuzzy nylon webbing with an inch of plastic Velcro hooks on one end. The ones I use are made by Case Logic. Why they don’t sell these things at music stores I’ll never know.
$3 or $4 lets you bundle up six mic or line cords. $25 or $30 buys enough reusable cable ties to cinch up most every cable in the place. Oh yeah, they work on DAW cables too. How convenient.
Is it a wrap—is it a coil?
Okay, so you’ve gone out and bought several dozen of these wondrous cable ties and it’s time to put them to work. Wait! Don’t do it yet! You weren’t about to cock one arm at a 90-degree angle and just wrap that cord between your hand and elbow, were you?
I’m not going to harangue you about how rotten that is for the internal shielding of the cable and how it drastically shortens the life expectancy of the cable. Nope, I’m not gonna do it. Instead, let me appeal to your rational side.
Take the mic cable and carefully coil it into a loop, like sailors do with rope, allowing a quarter-twist for each loop you make. Tie it off with the Velcro strap, but leave it as an open loop instead of that figure-8 shape everyone seems to like so much.
Do you have a mic stand with a wide, solid base? How about using it to store your cables? Pile your mic cable hoops onto the stand to keep them out of mischief. It’ll hold dozens of them, they’re easily accessible, and they won’t get tangled together anymore.
Best of all, when you need to hook up a mic you can undo the Velcro strap and only uncoil enough cable to get from the mic to the jack. Then tie the remaining length of cable back up.
Less work—more cord
Even as I write this, I’m looking at the box end of my recording snake where most of the mic cables that are in use still have significant lengths left as Velcro-ed coils. It’s much neater than it used to be, and I’m not stepping on my cables anymore.
Then when it’s time to put them away, half of your job is already done for you. Grab a loop, undo the Velcro, re-coil the two dangling ends, and cinch it back up.
No more six-pound knots of mic cable. No more frustration when you try to figure out which is the other cable end from the one you currently have in your hand.
I think the computer nerds knew this all along and have been holding out on us!
Matt Seiler is still running a studio in the Chicago area and looking for newer and better ways to build the perfect room.