The landlord of our new studio location really likes organized racks and cables. His control room looks like a server farm installed by IBM. Cables are loomed, labeled, and cut to length. No excess clutter can be found. But I come from the school of thought that anything behind the rack is fair game. That’s where the sausage is made, and it is nobody’s business. Leave extra connectors hanging to test review gear for Tape Op? Do it. Want a MIDI octopus for that EDM side project? Whatever. I have records to finish, and I don’t have time to make this look like a showroom. It’s a working studio, FFS!

Recently we’ve had a bunch of visitors — corporate people, movie producers, business investors, professionals from other sectors, and decision makers from trusts, organizations, and institutions. Maybe even an orthodontist or two. And you know what? Few of them have ever been in a real recording studio, so when they see a mess of cables, do you know what they think? That you’re a busy stud? No! They think you’re a slob who can’t manage your workspace and are unworthy of their business.

So, I started cleaning up my rat’s nest. Lookie here! I found several expensive IEC cables that powered... nothing. Numerous pairs of expensive XLR cables hid a punch-down tool that we had thought was lost forever. Two lacrosse balls, and a fire extinguisher also chimed in, “Present!” In short — I’m trying to clean up the cable runs.

Once you get the cables running in groups, you want to keep them bundled. This reduces strain, decreases the chance someone will trip, and improves the look. When covered in a black sleeve, cables almost disappear from plain sight. Like many readers, I grew up with those plastic tube, split down the middle, cable organizer things. They’re cheap, flexible, and allow cables to enter and exit freely. However, they tend to crack over time, cut the snot out of your fingers, and never stay straight on floor runs.

JOTO makes a nice alternative — a stretchable neoprene sleeve in your choice of 19’’ or 40’’ lengths, and beige or black colors. A sturdy zipper runs the length of the sleeve. Lay it flat, put cables in, wrap the sleeve around, and zip. You end up with a nice wire-burrito. The tube will lay straight and flat, or as curved as you want it to be. The neoprene itself is very flexible while still offering strain relief. Once zipped, the outer diameter is about 1.2’’, although the neoprene can expand. When I couldn’t fit all my cables in one, I was about to see if JOTO made wider models. But then it hit me — just zip two or more sleeves to each other! Connect the male side of the zipper from one sleeve to the female side of the next sleeve, and so on. The one downside is that you can’t branch off a cable from the main “trunk” without poking a permanent hole in the neoprene. But then again, if you cut a small slice into black neoprene and decide later not to utilize that opening, you’ll probably never see the cut unless you’re intentionally looking for it.

While my rack doesn’t look like the wiring harness inside a modern attack helicopter, it is vastly more organized than my previous setups. Having a flexible cable sleeve like the JOTO is the final touch to keep things together. It reduces the risk of accidents and increases the likelihood that cable runs will stay organized. Very recommended.

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

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