Q: “Regarding your Word for the Day definition of Serve Shield: ‘…the serve’s superior flexibility often makes it more reliable in “real-world” instrument applications.’ Does this mean that for mobile recording situations with mic cables, where I will be coiling and uncoiling mic cables, and doing it with the correct technique, that I should use a cable with a serve shield and not a braided shield?”
A: The WFTD definitions of Serve Shield, Braided Shield, and Foil Shield do a good job of explaining their relative distinctions, but it’s not really the full story. There are other elements that make cables better or worse for some applications such as jacket material and thickness, the metals used in the conductors and shields, and certainly the construction of the connectors at each end.
If you were to build three cables using the same materials and techniques, with the only difference being the shield type, then yes, the one with the serve shield will most likely last the longest under the conditions you describe. But this doesn’t mean that a serve shield cable bought off the shelf will outlast a braided shield cable. One benefit of serve shields is they can be relatively inexpensive to manufacture. Consequently some of the cheapest cables on the market use them; cables which are very poorly built using inferior materials. These aren’t likely to outlast even a moderately priced braided shield cable. The main thing to worry about in cables for live use is the overall quality and durability.
There have been some past Tech Tips that covered some differences between connectors and jacket materials. This is probably a topic that should be revisited in some upcoming issues.