The use of Cat5 cable is almost ubiquitous in various fields of the technology world, including computers, telephones, and, of course, television. The reason for this is that there are plenty of advantages in terms of its use over other forms of signal transmission cables. One of them is that, for instance, we are talking about one of the lowest cost cables for commercial networks. The cost difference between Cat5 cable and other types is almost forty percent. Also, it can transmit up to four signals at a time, and this means that less cable has to be used to transmit signals between cameras or equipment that are pretty close together. Similarly, they can be used for a variety of different technologies and equipment. They are commonly seen in the television and broadcasting world for transmitting video and audio but they are also used in the computer networking world for transferring Internet and network signals.
Now, in the subject that concerns us here, these cables can be quite useful despite the fact that in many forums on the Internet it is said that the resulting sound is lousy. The truth is that analog audio over Cat5 cable is a great combination that allows excellent performance in the world of audio mixing and post-production, in general, and many professionals such as Enhanced Media use it frequently. Let’s consider the major drawbacks of analog audio. On the one hand, it does not allow multigeneration because each time a copy of the original recording is generated, losses occur, and the resulting signal has more and more noise and is less similar to the original. In this sense, a cat5 cable can be a very useful option.
Those who use analog audio over cat5, usually do so by means of extenders like this one, which can easily be found on Amazon. The advantage of it is that, in addition to allowing you to go from stereo audio to stereo mini audio via a dip switch, you can get a high-quality audio signal extension at a very low cost. Composite audio signal and power can be transmitted up to a distance of approximately 250 feet, which is more than enough. However, these extenders are not the only solution. It is possible to connect a Cat5 cable to regular RCA connectors, which can be plugged, for example, into a speaker system of different power ratings. This allows high-quality sound at a very low cost and with very practical cable management. However, the extenders offer a very simple advantage: twisted-pair network cabling. This, firstly, offers a little more protection to the system and prevents the presence of outside interference, and, secondly, provides a greater range of signal transmission distances.
It’s important to point out the fact that it may not be a good idea to use analog audio over Cat5 when dealing with high-power sounds since these cables are not designed to transmit such voltage, and thus could lead to a serious electrical problem. It is advisable to do this with speakers that are not high-end, in controlled spaces, and having basic knowledge of electrical circuits.
The way to connect analog audio over cat5 is actually quite simple. One of the least complicated and safest ways is through a Catapult System. This is about creating an audio snake. The Radio Catapult system is a series of stage boxes that carry four channels of analog audio over standard Cat5 Ethernet cables, allowing you to create an audio snake using a cheap and lightweight Ethernet cable that can also work with a building’s existing wiring infrastructure. Each box consists of one transmitter and one receiver, without an external power supply. This system allows sending audio signals over long distances while using a single Cat5 Ethernet cable, replacing large and high-priced multichannel audio cables. At the other end of the Snake, the RX Four receives the analog audio so it is possible to distribute it to the front of the house console for playback over a PA system.
An interesting advantage of this Catapult system is that users can create various combinations of modules, allowing them to adjust the equipment to the appropriate inputs and outputs in order to meet their particular application. The Catapult system is based on four twisted pairs of conductors in the existing Cat5 cables to transmit analog audio. Just like a typical audio snake with no digital conversion necessary. Using shielded cables is recommended for the best audio quality over long distances. That also allows you to connect devices to the Catapults that require a fan of power. All of the Catapult modules are completely passive, with no need for power, so you can use Cat Five Cat6 or Cat7 cable.
So now you know. This can be a very practical, low-cost, easy-to-use option, which is perfect to extend the audio signal for longer distance transmission and for a nice and tidy setup, which is a must for all professional installers.