Cable management, when my studio workspace is a table, with no panels or hiding spots for cables?

Coriolis

New Member
Part of building a studio, is making a clean, functional workspace that one can feel pride in. But my desk is just a plain table, with no panels for hiding cables, and I have about 20 cables, hanging behind my desk like spaghetti, and it's a magnet for dust and cat hair. Does anyone have ideas how I can organize and clean up the wires?
 

JohnG

Senior Member
I drill holes in my desk. And use lots of cable ties.

IDK how you avoid dust. Periodically I wipe some things, vacuum -- but it's kind of a perennial condition.
 

Gerhard Westphalen

Scoring Mixer
I'd suggest having everything lead to 1 or 2 points (preferably under a monitor or behind a piece of gear) and then use cable ties (the velcro kind) to keep it all together going down behind the desk. If you want to get fancy you can use a sleeve to cover each bunch of cables. In my studio I have one going to my desk, and then one going along the side ways to get to my surround speakers and other things I have in those areas.
 

Morning Coffee

Active Member
You could perhaps try some sort of flexible piping tubes (convoluted tubing, split tubing?), which you could probably find in the plumbing section of a hardware store. Some of these tubes have a split up the middle, making it easier to wrap around cables rather than pull the cable through the tube. As for dust and cat hair, that's another issue altogether!
 

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Coriolis

Coriolis

New Member
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That's what I ended up doing. Bundling the cables and wrapping it with Paracord. It should make it easier to sweep under the desk now, and it looks cleaner and less distracting
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
View attachment 30936
That's what I ended up doing. Bundling the cables and wrapping it with Paracord. It should make it easier to sweep under the desk now, and it looks cleaner and less distracting

Isn't winding live wires around a steel core how you build an electric magnet? I'd be slightly worried this setup might cause electromagnetic interference that you can hear in recordings, but I'm not an engineer.
 

LowweeK

Monkeying with libraries
Isn't winding live wires around a steel core how you build an electric magnet? I'd be slightly worried this setup might cause electromagnetic interference that you can hear in recordings, but I'm not an engineer.
I thought the same. Plus I was always taught to keep power and signal (audio, midi) cables away or crossing at 90° angle. And buy good cables too :)
 

TomislavEP

Active Member
I use plastic ties of various sizes for permanent grouping of certain cables; also for the internal cabling of my computer systems. After I put them on, I cut away the excess tail. Also, fasteners for the cables I need to separate occasionally, sleeves for some applications as well as the ferrite cores. The last ones are not only a noise preventer, but also act as a counterweight which helps cable management.
 

wst3

my office these days
Moderator
I have wired up a couple of studios in the last 30 years, the tools available today are so much better!

Try to steer clear of plastic zip-ties. First, they are a pain to remove should you need to add or remove or re-route a cable. Second, if you cinch them to tightly they can, over time damage cables. There are dozens of options for velcro-like cable ties, I strongly recommend them. If you already have bags of the plastic zip ties, and you don't want to spend extra then leave them a little bit loose, that makes them easier to remove and reduces the opportunity to do damage.

Use "cable sock" to group cables together - it keeps things organized, and it looks so much better! In the past I used the spiral wrap and split type plastic tubing, and they work, but I think cable sock works better and looks better.

It is a good idea to group cables with similar signals - either level or type. Sometimes that can be a bit of a challenge, e.g. I generally have only two cables carrying SMPTE Time Code, a nasty signal that seems to bleed into anything else. I finally resolved that one by getting an MTC converter and running timecode over MIDI.

Power - if you don't have 60 Hz noise then count your blessings, if you do then purchase power cables that twist the two power conductors, Middle Atlantic sells them, I'm sure others do as well. Also, keep them short, again you can buy them in specific lengths. Crossing power and signal cables at right angles is still an excellent practice too.

Unless your desk/table is marble or glass it does make sense to create pathways from top to bottom. If you drill holes you can make them look nicer by adding grommets or sleeves, both of which are available from many sources. Since I never know what I want to do next year I generally run cables over the back of the work surface, grouped by signal type, bundled with cable sock, and arranged to minimize crosstalk. It also looks a little nicer<G>. There are companies that sell plastic blocks to hold the cables in place, I've used them in the past, but I have a bin full of cable tie anchors, so that's what I use these days, and I make the cable tie loops loose.

Cabling inside a rack follows all the same guidelines, except I add cable supports where I can. Velcro is the better choice for cable ties in the rack too. Run power down one side, audio down the other, and if you have microphone and line level audio separate them by 6 inches or more. Speaker level audio is not often the victim of crosstalk (except for SMPTE Time code) but it can be the aggressor. I run speaker lines out from the bottom, perpendicular to the rear face, and locate them to one side or the middle depending on the rest of the cables.

Take your time, plan, measure twice & cut once, etc. You can make it look nice with very little effort and not a lot of cash.
 
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Coriolis

Coriolis

New Member
Isn't winding live wires around a steel core how you build an electric magnet? I'd be slightly worried this setup might cause electromagnetic interference that you can hear in recordings, but I'm not an engineer.
I didn't actually wind the cables. The twisty stuff is paracord. I didn't want cut the paracord, so I just wrapped the bundle. I haven't noticed any interference.