Friday, September 24, 2010

How To: Properly Wind & Store Cables (XLR, DMX, INST, Speakon, Power) The Over Under Method

I still remember when I was properly taught how to wind cables.  My instructor was acting as if it was the most important thing in the world.  I remember thinking that it was no doubt important but certainly didn't think it was as crucial as he was making it out to be.  I couldn't of been more wrong...  Knowing how to properly wrap cables is one of the most important things you can know as an engineer, musician, DJ, producer whatever.  Not only will it prolong the life and sustain the sound quality the cable is capable of delivering but you also won't look like an inexperienced idiot when a real professional has his eyes on you for whatever reason.  You never know who's watching you setup and tear down your gigs.  Act like an amateur and you'll be treated like one.  Act like a pro and in turn you will be treated like a pro.  In short, know how to properly wrap and store your cables.  You'll save yourself some money and avoid potentially loosing an opportunity because you didn't take the time to learn a crucial part of the audio industry. (as crazy as this sound it is indeed true)

The two most common ways I see people wrapping up cables is either by wrapping them around their elbow (very bad) or by holding the cable in their hand and looping it around and around with their dominant hand. (less bad, but still no bueno)  The problem with both of these methods is that they introduce continuous twists into the cable.  Cables have a shielding that is usually a mesh screen to protect from interference.   If you're constantly introducing twists you begin to wear down this shield that works to prevent electrical interference from entering your signal path. Once you've destroyed the shield it can't be fixed you need to replace the cable.  If you have any cables that will no longer stretch out flat on their own these cables have been ruined by subjecting the wire to too many twists for too long of period.  The metal shield is no permanently twisted, in turn causing the cable to be twisted.  Not to mention wrapping the cables in either of these manners leads to a massive pain in the ass when you're un-winding them.  If you're currently making this mistake correct it now, it's never too late to start doing something the right way.

Here is the correct way to wrap & store your cables, it's known as the over under method. Since I assume this will be hard to explain in words I'll include a video demonstrating this process as well.  Start by holding one end of the cable in your submissive hand with the connector facing you. Use your dominant hand to grab a section of cable then make one normal loop back up to your submissive hand.  Next, grab the same length of cable with your dominant hand again; This time though make a loop twisting the cable in an inverted direction while bringing it back to meet up with your submissive hand holding the loop.  Follow this with a regular loop and then another inverted loop repeating this process until the cable is rolled up.  Basically remember to twist one way and the other and you'll be ok.  This way you introduce a twist followed by an inverted twist thereby making the net twists on the entire length of cable 0.  Not only does this extend the life of your cable to almost forever, when you un-roll it, it will just spread out without any tangles or kinks on it's own. This saves time during setup which is always crucial.  I know this sounds confusing but this video (as cheesy as it is) should help you to understand the concept.  Just don't tie a knot in it like he did, buy cable ties. It seems hard and even awkward at first but after some practice it just becomes second nature.  Once you get it you can use this method to wrap up just about anything!


  1. Useful means to wind up cords...I recently lost an XLR cable due to poor winding on my part, so it is nice to be reminded of a proper way to wind them up.

  2. Not only will it prolong the life and sustain the sound quality the cable is capable of delivering but you also won't look like an inexperienced ...