Looking for a tonearm cable
Straight din to rca.
1.2m or longer
It’s going to be used with my Graham phantom B44
What you got?
Looking for a tonearm cable
I made a new cable for the Xtension-10 recently, and it sounds very-obviously better than the one it shipped with, despite Pro-ject’s assertion that the cable is designed to provide the right capacitance for the Ortofon Cadenza… The right capacitance is as little as sanely possible IME… Anyway… You’re evidently handy with a soldering iron, so -
Zavfino 1877Phono TAD-3 - I’ve made a few tonearm cables, and this is the best plug I’ve ever used, by far - much better than Cardas for example, and not silly money.
Van Damme Silver Series Lo-Cap 55 coax. This is a PITA to use - but it’s key to this sounding good - it gets its low capacitance from its wider than usual diameter, but each channel requires stripping down to two bare conductors of the same diameter for about 4", then insulating them separately (I used 1.5mm kynar heatshrink - like Teflon, but tougher) so they’ll fit into the DIN plug. Twist them together to minimise any noise pickup by the short unscreened portion. Some 25mm 3:1 glue-inside heatshrink then holds plug and leads together nicely - bit of a Sellotape-tier bodge - neater solutions are possible if you can be arsed, but they’ll sound the same…
Couple of Neutrik Profi plugs on the other end. The screw-on caps for these need the cable-entry reaming-out to accommodate the width of the Van Damme cable, but they’re only brass, so a minute with a round file sorts that. You won’t be able to use the plastic strain-relief clutches the plugs ship with, so here again the glue-inside 3:1 doubles-up security. A dollop of hot melt inside the plug body would do the same.
About £70 in parts, and outperforms all the silly£ foo stuff.
Oh, and do make sure the screw-on caps for the Profi plugs are threaded onto the cables before you solder the plug bodies on: be astonished how many people miss that step…
Thanks @Mrs_Maureen_OPinion for the explanation on how to build my own Tonearm cable.
I had not thought about making my own.
Just a couple of questions.
- I’m struggling to visualise the discription you gave on what to do with fitting the cable to the din.
Can you send some pictures or something to give me a better idea how to do that.
- What solder is best to use
- How hot should soldering iron be when soldering silver cable?
- Having looked at the silver guitar cable. Im assuming the core is use for + and shielding is -
Thanks for the idea and the help
Hi Tim, sorry, I didn’t take any pics when I made mine I’m afraid. This will all make more sense when you have the materials together and actually start working on them.
First-up, I should just say - because of the tiny size of the DIN plug/pins, and general fiddliness, it’s not an ideal first cable to DIY! If you’ve not made cables before, it’s probably worth making a basic set of RCA-RCA coaxials - or even dismantling-and-remaking an old, cheap set you have lying-around, just to get a feel of what to do.
I’d guess there’s 1000s of how-to videos out there as well, but I’ve never looked.
Do dry-runs of every assembly stage if you’re unfamiliar/inexperienced.
Solder: use lead-based. As a private individual you’re not compelled to use lead-free, and lead-based flows much better at lower temps. Also means you don’t have to have the iron as hot - ~310C is plenty.
I use this stuff - 2% silver, 0.7mm dia - it leaves a rosin residue, but no nasty acids etc.
Soldering - the RCA plugs need a bit of heat to make sure you don’t get a dry joint, but at the same time be mindful that you don’t heat the centre-pin for too long or the insulating plastic around it can melt and distort.
Get the solder in there, let it melt, let it flow (yeah, baby), and release the rosin - about 5s should be plenty, a bit of smoke is normal from the flux. Joint should be smooth, even and shiny.
The Neutrik Profis have a cutting guide on the back of the packet, slightly longer (1mm or so!) is fine, but shorter is NFG. Slightly more info.
Strip off the outer, clear PVC from the cable, then carefully tease out the braid screen until the strands are straight-ish, then roll the equivalent of 1.5mm CSA into a nice tight bunch, and trim all the rest away. You’re only using about 10% or so of the strands - they need to fit through the little hole on the screen tab on the RCA plug. I leave this ‘tail’ long and don’t trim it until it’s in-situ in the plug - makes it easier to handle. You can pre-tin the tip so it doesn’t splay when you feed it thru the hole.
You can then trim away the inner, black carbon-impreg screen - it’s very soft, so a gentle cut around it close to the line you trimmed the screen back to then just peel it back. You want it all gone because it’s conductive enough to cause a short.
You can then trim the inner foamed-polythene insulator back by the recommended amount to expose the inner signal conductor.
If you haven’t already, thread the plug screw-on ‘boot’ onto the cable.
It’s worth aligning everything carefully and well, and some sort of ‘helping-hand’ makes life easier. I use a crude ‘jig’ to hold plug and cable together comprising a couple of old retort stands and clamps from a school chem lab.
I solder the signal conductor first, let it cool, flip the plug/cable over and solder the screen/ground.
As I said, the supplied plastic strain-relief chucks won’t fit with the thick cable, so it’s just a case of screwing-on the cover or ‘boot’, then repeat with the other cable. Leave the heatshrink until everything’s assembled and tested.
That was the easy bit…
Next is the DIN plug assembly. It’s only slightly wider than one RCA plug, and you’re going to attach 5 separate conductors to it, none of which can short against one-another or the plug body…
You need to strip-back pretty much everything on the cable far enough back to be able to slide the DIN plug ‘boot’ on and still have room to solder the various conductors to the DIN body. I managed with about 3" stripped back, you may want to leave yourself a bit more room.
Start with the outer insulation - then comes ballache as you need to unravel all of the braided screen, so that you can then tease-out about 1.0mm CSA of the conductor wires that are going to form the return conductor - just like you did with the RCA plugs, but much, much longer and ‘tanglier’… It’s a pig of a job, take your time. Twist the strands you do want into a nice even bundle - you can solder the end to make it easier to handle, and trim the rest away.
You can then grab your skinny heatshrink, cut 5mm shorter than the conductor you’ve made, slide it one and shrink in place. When that’s cooled, grab ~1cm length and slide that over the new wire and shove it as far from the tip as it’ll go - you’ll want that later - belt’n’braces…
Next is the signal conductor - to get everything to fit you need to get rid of the foamed-poly insulator, almost all of it - just leaving about 1cm in place so signal and ground can’t short… Nip it off in short lengths <1cm a bit at a time. Take care - you don’t want to lose any of the conductive strands.
Once the conductor’s exposed, twist, solder, and then heatshrink; and again, let it cool, then slip an extra 1cm of heatshrink and shove it as far from the tip as poss!
Have a cuppa, come back, and dress the other cable.
With that done, give some attention to the transition point between original cables and where you trimmed back and exposed the conductors - there’s usually a tiny amount of exposed wire. Double-check there are no stray pubes of wire that can short across signal/return. A bit of insulating tape or glued heatshrink here can help make sure nothing unexpected can work loose and form an annoying short later in use.
This is also a good point to check continuity with a DMM - make sure there really are no shorts or bad conns anywhere.
Now’s as good a time as any to make your grounding flylead - a length of 20-26AWG stranded wire, something with a nice soft insulator and about 25cm longer than the RCA (depending on where the grounding point is on your SUT/phonostage) is good. Up to you how to terminate it.
Now’s time to thread the 5 different wires through the DIN plug ‘boot’ -double-check each wire has a spare, short bit of heatshrink, twist each pair of signal and return wires together into a spiral (but not both pairs together!) then set-up your DIN plug for soldering.
Each pin of DIN has a tiny ‘cup’ to take the conductor + solder. One of the reasons for using the Zavfino plug is the insulating plug is PTFE, so harder to fuck this stage up than cheaper options.
The usual scheme for wiring is this -
Do double-check yours is like this - sometimes it’s different, and some cunning fuckers have even used 5-pin DINs that have different pin spacing!
So make your connections accordingly - the tiny pins get hot Fast, so no need to linger, but once soldered use a pair of tweezers to check joint integrity. Also check there are no shorts. Some people connect screens and/or grounding together: DON’T!
Once they’re all done, it’s time to (hopefully!) slide all the little 1cm sleeves you put on days-ago all the way down to cover the grotty-looking solder joints TBH it’s a very belt’n’braces thing to do, but worthwhile IME.
Now it remains to connect the plug boot to plug body, then lash the whole thing securely together with some heatshrink.
When I mentioned H/S earlier, it was 3:1 glue-inside type - this is a bit of a 1-way road, as it’s a BASTARD to remove, so bear that in mind and do nowt with it until you’re sure everything works fine, but it does a grand job of securing the whole lot together.
I always get in a mindfuck over H/S sizes, cos the stuff usually arrives flat and I think in terms of the width of that - which is dum and Rong. Sizes properly given are the diameter of the unshrunken tube - so buy accordingly: iirc 18mm fits nicely over the plug and doubled-up coax cables. You’ll need about 6".
Any better ideas strongly welcomed!
It’s nice to be first onboard with these traditions
I should prolly buy a vidya camera, but then I’d have to make another cable and fuck that.
Could you elaborate?
Sad times when there’s no longer a single “How’d you mean?”…
Me and you, we’re the same…
Are there any others we’ve missed?
Saffron Walden Thai Massage Emporium: 6/10, sub par blow jobs and lacklustre girlfriend experience.
Oh god, I remember that. No problem with the general concept, but time and place man!
Also cats dancing with Hitler, and photos of gurning Farage and Geert Wilders not required.
Got all the bit’s just waiting for the heat shrink then I’ll be having a go at this