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Microphone Month 2


An interesting word. Aside from the obvious reptilian reference it also is used to characterize individuals who are not trustworthy, plumbing equipment, and as an economic reporting method for currency, among other things… and those are just the nouns. In the audio visual industry snake refers to sets of cables that are all contained within one larger cable. The most common application we see is the need to get many audio sources from a stage to the FOH where the signals are mixed and prepared to be amplified through a PA system. Rather than run dozens of individual cables over this long length it is more convenient to use a snake. At the stage end there is generally a box with XLR connectors where each source is connected. At the mixer end there is generally a breakout where the individual wires or lines can be plugged into the console. Similarly in the studio, snakes are used to connect many inputs and outputs between the mixer and multitrack tape machines. The list of examples is endless. Historically snakes have always been configured so the individual wires of each line are contained individually within the larger cable. These may be segmented in groups and, occasionally, may share a common ground wire, but each signal has its own wire. Now we are starting to see digital snakes where many signals are multiplexed together and transmitted on just one or two wires. At the time of this writing these systems are quite expensive, but as more and more audio is handled in the digital domain it is likely that these types of solutions will become more cost effective.

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