Wait, there’s a proper way to wrap cables?
Yes, there is. Aside from avoiding opening a cable trunk full of tangled cables, properly wrapping a cable will keep it lasting longer, help the cable to lay flat at your event, and make it easier for the next guy to wrap the cable.
This isn’t just a technique for microphone cables, it applies to almost any cable you’ll ever handle in your life. XLR cables, dmx cables, electrical cables, ethernet / network cables, and BNC cables all benefit from being wrapped and coiled correctly. Basically, if you’re wrapping cable at an event, you should be using this technique.
The “over-under” mic cable coiling technique is the best way to extend the life of your microphone cables and keep your job in the audio visual industry.
Why Does Proper Cable Wrapping Matter?
Before we get to the over-under technique, let’s look at why winding the cable around your elbow or (straight coiling) is a bad idea.
Inside each cable there are usually between 3-10 other (smaller) cables inside the housing. When you wind a cable in the same direction over and over (known as straight coiling), you’re actually causing the cable to twist with every loop you make. This causes additional friction between all of the smaller cables inside the same shielding and will eventually wear out, causing your cable to no longer work.
Aside from helping the cable last longer, using proper technique will also help the cable to lay flat when you are setting up audio visual equipment at an event. If the last person who used the cable didn’t use good technique, the cable will tend to bend and stand out from the wall and sometimes stand up from the floor because it’s holding it’s “cable memory” of constantly being coiled in the same direction.
The Over-Under Cable Wrapping Technique
The over-under technique helps relieve stress on cables, makes them easy to unwind, and everyone who uses the cables after you will expect it to be wrapped in this manner.
In order to wrap the cable correctly:
- Twist the cable in one direction to make the first coil
- Put a twist in the cable to receive the pressure from the twist that you did on step one.
- Repeat steps 1 & 2 until you’re finished
- Use velcro or electrical tape to secure the cable coil from un wrapping.
When you wrap your cable (XLR, DMX, SDI, etc.) it’s important to try and work from side to side on the coil. When you’re done, you should be able to pull cable from either side of your coil while leaving the rest of the cable in your palm.
It will take some time to get used to this new technique if you haven’t done it before, but before long you’ll be an old pro. Once you’re up to speed, you should be able to wrap a microphone cable properly as fast as you can walk.