If you operate a studio or enjoy tinkering with things that involve electrical signals and wires, a precision crimper should be in your toolbox. Over the decades, I’ve worked on countless electrical projects — studios, instruments, cars, boats, RC vehicles, computers, and even costumes — but I’m embarrassed to say I purchased my first ratcheting crimping tool, a Wirefy 8.7’’ crimper <wirefyshop.com>, only three years ago. I quickly found myself addicted to the ease of making electrical connections without the hassles of a soldering iron, flux, cleaner, clamps, and shrink-wrap. To make a crimp, I place an appropriate terminator into the slotted teeth of the tool, squeeze the handles just enough to capture the terminator, slide the stripped end of the wire into the open end of the terminator, then squeeze the handles until the ratchet hits its limit and the handles spring open — super quick and very consistent. The Wirefy’s tool-less, quick-change dies allow me to swap out the tool’s “teeth” so I can work with heat-shrink connectors, coaxial terminators, butt joins, multipair pins, and so on — using one tool and my ever-growing set of dies. I’ve completed all sorts of equipment mods/repairs and cable runs in my studio (as well as added countless farkles to my various vehicles) with my Wirefy crimper. The Wirefy crimper looks exactly like the tools found under many other brandnames on Amazon and elsewhere, including LiCrim, Rhino, ABN, Titan, Everest Media Solutions, and Astro Pneumatic. Five minutes of Googling reveals that all of these quick-change crimpers are made by Hsun Wang of Taiwan. I’ve bought dies from some of these other brands, and they work perfectly with the Wirefy. I was happy enough with my first Wirefy that I purchased the high leverage 9’’ version too. Being the Gear Geek, I didn’t stop there, and I purchased crimpers from IWISS <iwiss.com> and Klein <kleintools.com>, which fall into a second grouping of rebadged crimpers that also include the likes of Paladin, Eclipse, and Haisstronica. These lack the quick-change die feature, but their screw-fastened dies are precision-machined to stricter tolerances than Hsun Wang’s, so they work better for smaller, high-density barrel-pin connectors (e.g., D-subs for multitrack audio or waterproof DT connectors for vehicles). I even bought a third set of crimpers from iCrimp and Sparkfire for one of my other passions (fishing), but I won’t bore you with those details. Are crimped connections suitable for carrying audio signals? Do a web search, and you’ll find plenty of opinions espousing the “gas-tight micro cold welds” resulting from a good crimp, and an equal number of posts denigrating the corrosion-susceptible, incomplete mechanical connection of a bad crimp. I’ve had zero issues with the crimps I’ve made with my ratcheting tools, using terminators from Wirefy, Pan Pacific, and Deutsch. Also, in marine environments especially, crimped connections using tinned-copper wire and connectors outperform soldered ones for mechanical longevity, signal integrity, and corrosion resistance. ••• During the pandemic, I stopped most of my air travel, so I returned to my pre-9/11 habit of keeping an “everyday carry” tool in my pocket. My favorite pliers-style EDC tool is the Leatherman Skeletool CX <leatherman.com>. It’s thin and light, equipped with only the essentials: needlenose pliers, wire cutter, knife, locking screwdriver-bit holder, and bottle-opener. A functional pocket/belt-clip along with a lanyard hole and carabiner allow several carry options. Note that the CX version has a higher-quality blade than the non-CX, but it’s not ideal for opening or breaking down cardboard boxes. For that, I keep a minimalist Gil-Tek RUK V2 <gil-tek.com> in my back pocket. A low-profile metal frame (aluminum, brass, or titanium) holds a standard utility-knife blade; thumb-pressure against the side of the blade allows me to safely slide and lock the blade in three different positions, without any other parts.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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