Recently the market has been flooded with CAT5 shielded snake options based around the Neutrik Ethercon series of connectors which is great for the pro audio industry because it offers us another option for getting multiple channels of audio from point A to B.
Below are links to some CAT5 shielded snake options by Sound Tools (Rat Sound), Radial Engineering, Whirlwind & ETS.
Sound Tools – cat family web page
radial engineering – catapult web page
whirlwindusa.com – catdusa web page
etslan.com – InstaSnake web page
Here is a wiring diagram for the Sound Tools platform.
soundtools.com – cat wiring diagram PDF
Here is the wiring diagram for the Whirlwind platform.
whirlwindusa.com – catdusa user guide PDF
Note that the two platforms do NOT use the same pin out which shouldn’t matter as long as you don’t mix and match devices from different manufacturers.
Each of these manufacturers state that their CAT based products will support some or all of the following purposes. (analog audio / digital audio / comm / DMX). It could be that technically they’re all fully capable of supporting each one but it could be that you wouldn’t want to try to combine them on the same CAT5 snake. For example, unless I knew that it wouldn’t cause damage, I wouldn’t try to use a single CAT5 snake for analog audio, digital audio, comm and DMX. It might work but it might also let the magic smoke of one or more devices up or down stream.
Each platform has it’s own features related to terminations that might make you choose one over the other. I especially like the options that provide both in and out ethercon / RJ45 connections on the same box so you can daisy chain one box to the next and the next…The Radial Catapult series offers break out boxes with and without transformer isolation. The Whirlwind boxes can be rack mounted using a plate.
I will be choosing one of these platforms to build my next measurement cable package which will reduce the amount of standard audio snakes I have to transport and also the number of long XLR cables I use.
Dave Rat has done some interesting videos related to using CAT cable for AES versus XLR cable and AES specific cable.
Of special interest to me is the Rat Sound SuperCAT series of CAT5e cable specifically designed for pro audio purposes.
soundtools.com – cable web page