I've gone through two and half incarnations of my living room studio. And unlike most home studios, my current setup leans more in the hi-fi direction instead of in the all-in-one 4/8/16-track direction. My first living room studio had wiring custom made by Conquest Audio. I spec'd out the cable lengths, snake configurations, and connectors via fax and phone, and Conquest sent me the cables. I was blown away by how much better everything sounded than with store-bought (e.g. Hosa) cables. The improvement in clarity was phenomenal. Having a degree in electrical engineering and therefore being very practical and somewhat dubious about high-end audio claims and marketing B.S., I wasn't convinced that a change in cables would deliver such a perceivable difference, until I heard the Conquest made cables. I was impressed. When I moved to a new house, I ordered wiring and patchbays from Redco Audio. Again, I spec'd out everything via fax and phone, and the custom-made cables arrived on my doorstep. I chose Redco over Conquest because they were willing to do some of the esoteric layout work that I needed. I wasn't expecting any change in audio quality over Conquest's cable. So when I plugged everything in and started on my first session, I was blown away. The noise that I had attributed to my gear dropped significantly. The teeny bit of playback crosstalk that I'd figured came from my multitrack's heads disappeared. The loss of "air" to which I'd become accustomed - thinking it was due to my "affordable" console - went away. In short, I was quite surprised at yet another leap in sound quality. I will note here that the Redco wiring/patchbay was about twice the cost of the Conquest wiring. And the Conquest wiring was about twice more costly than store-bought (Hosa, etc) wiring. But if you're looking for that "next step" in audio clarity, you really should check out Conquest or Redco. Considering that the chances are pretty high that the project studio gear you own today is capable of recording audio with much more fidelity - at a fraction of the cost - than the professional gear that was popular a decade ago you really owe it to yourself to check out high quality cabling. Like me, you might be surprised at how much of a difference wiring can make. (www.conquestsound.com, www.redco.com)

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

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