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What is an Audio Snake? How Does it Work? (Answered)

Are you looking for an innovative way to add depth and dimension to your musical productions? An audio snake might be just what you need! In this article, you will learn about the benefits and uses of an audio snake in music production.

This article covers what an audio snake is and how it works. So if you’re looking to add a little extra excitement or are just curious about the audio snake, this post is for you!

Image of an audio snake cable wire connected to a server. Source: brett sayles, pexels
Image of an audio snake cable wire connected to a server. Source: Brett Sayles, Pexels

What is an audio snake? Simply put, an audio snake is a single physical cable that incorporates many individual audio cables. The length, number of channels, and kinds of connections available in a snake are all variables. Snakes simplify patching and running numerous lines. However, they are optional and only an optimization.

What is an audio snake?

The word “snake” is used to refer to a collection of cables that have been firmly bundled together in a tube or other binding. Instead of running many individual cables, you may simply run the snake cable from one site to another, saving both time and money.

It is common practice for sound professionals to run a number of XLR cables or a multi-input box with several XLR connectors from the stage to the soundboard or public address system. But musicians may also benefit from using a cable snake.

Snakes are useful for guitarists who use the “four-cable approach” to link their pedalboard at the front of the stage to their amp at the back of the stage. A pianist might use a snake with several keyboards and synthesizers to send their signals to the mixer or the front of the house.

Professional audio and music applications often employ snakes to transmit analog audio signals; however, some snakes also transmit MIDI and digital audio signals and provide AC power for operating pedalboards. A snake may be balanced, unbalanced, or a hybrid of the two, and its ends may have any combination of connection types (XLR, 1/4″, DB25, RCA, MIDI, etc.) as needed.

The use of snakes helps to streamline and organize complex audio systems. A single snake may be run between two points rather than many lines. This saves time and maintains a neat environment. Multi-pin connections, XLR cables (3-pin), or phone cables (1/4″ TRS) are the most common kinds of jacks used in snakes. This means that it is possible to “snake” any audio signal via any connection.

How does an audio snake work?

An audio snake is a piece of equipment that takes an analog audio stream and digitizes it so that it may be stored and played back digitally. When recording music or speech, for example, fidelity is very crucial, and this conversion helps reproduce the sound more faithfully.

Types of an audio snake cable connector

Each snake’s tail may be connected to one of three possible sources:

Breakouts

The most typical usage for a breakout cable in a home recording setup is to combine the various inputs and outputs on a microphone preamp.

It’s up to you whether the snake goes out to the live room floor or to another piece of equipment in your rack, such as the audio interface.

Junction boxes

If the snake’s purpose is to relocate the inputs of your preamp to a better location (such as the live room). Then a junction box is a connection you’ll find on the opposite end. In pro studios with multiple rooms, junction boxes can often be seen as a built-in wall outlets, such as the one in the picture.

Dsubs

With Pro Tools HD, and various other high-end hardware with multiple channels. Dsub connectors are used in place of the XLR/TRS connectors because they allow you to connect far more ins/outs to a single device. If you’ve never used them before, they’ve probably had you puzzled up ’til now.

Dsub (D-subminature) refers to a connection with a distinctive “D” form. Dsub has numerous different iterations. The DB-25 is widely used in professional audio. Although it is not often utilized with TDIF digital transmissions (Tascam Digital Interconnect Format). These days, a DB-25 is most often used in a recording studio to combine eight separate analog signals into a single balanced jack.

What are the benefits of using an audio snake? 

The high-quality sound may be achieved in a number of contexts with the help of audio snake cable. It is more convenient, both logistically and spatially, to run a single cable that contains all of the audio wires than to run many cables. The sub-cables are jacketed to prevent crosstalk and isolate the internal cables from one another. Despite its portability and ease of termination, an audio snake cable is also a great option for permanently installed systems.

Image of an audio mixer with audio snake cable connected to it. Source: tstudio, pexels
Image of an audio mixer with audio snake cable connected to it. Source: Tstudio, Pexels

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Live sound Snake setup-how to use an audio snake” from the Shir Soul Music YouTube channel.

A video called “Live sound Snake setup-how to use an audio snake” from the Shir Soul Music YouTube channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the audio snakes.

How do you test an audio snake cable?

To use, insert the cable end of the snake into one socket, the microphone cable into another, and the cable tester into the third. Verify the functionality of each numbered plug and wire. When a cable has a problem, it is more likely to be at one end than the other.

What cable is used for snake cable?

A thick cable with anywhere from four to sixty-four individual audio cables housed inside a single, sturdy outer jacket is known as an audio multicore cable, snake cable, or multicore.

Why is snake cable a more cost-effective and efficient choice?

Snake cable, or audio cable, is a neat and inexpensive method to transmit sound equipment from one location to a control room or mixing board. It reduces bulk, saves energy, and saves time in mobile settings by doing away with the need for many lengths of untidy individual wire.

Conclusion

Despite its apparent ease of use, the audio snake may provide your music creations with a distinctive sound. The strength of this instrument is in its ability to boost the loudness of a single instrument or vocalist without compromising the integrity of the rest of the recording.

This article covered what an audio snake is, how it works, and the types of audio snake cable connectors. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • The word “snake” is used to refer to a collection of cables that have been firmly bundled together in a tube or other binding.
  • An audio snake is a piece of equipment that takes an analog audio stream and digitizes it so that it may be stored and played back digitally.
  • Each snake’s tail may be connected to one of three possible sources such as the breakouts, junction boxes, and Dsubs.
  • Microphone cables are often routed via audio snakes to prevent them from becoming too long (generally a soundboard).

So, is it better to use an audio snake when recording? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.

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Audio Apartment Author
Written By Andrew Ash
Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I've been making music since I was a kid. I now run this blog all about home studios and music production. If you want to improve your home studio setup, this is the place for you!

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