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Review and (unofficial) measurements of Thomann SSSnake Cat Snake 3FB and 3MC (Analog cable snake over Category 5/6/7 cable)

Rja4000

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Sending audio analog signal over standard Cat 5/6/7 cables over long distance:

Measurements of Thomann SSSnake Cat "Snake" Extenders


Hello

Here is a quick review and some measurements about a... "cable" (kind of).

Actually, this is a full range of accessories Thomann (one of the major music stores in Europe) is saling under its own SSSnake brand.
Here is a link to the range.

Thomann_3MC.png
Thomann_3FB.PNG


I purchased 2 components: A 4 Female XLR "stage box" ("3FB") and a 4 Male XLR "splitter" ("3MC").
Price of those is quite low (below 30€ each)
Connection between the 2 boxes is done through standard RJ45 Category 5/6/7 cable.

I've performed following measurements using a 30m Cat5e UTP cable I had at hand.
This would not allow Phantom power transport (you need a shielded cable for that), but that's enough to transport audio signal.

(For facility, I'll call the assembly of the 2 Thomann connectors + the UTP cable "the cable" below.)

To assess performance, I measured some key values first "Direct" (from DAC to ADC through a set of XLR cables) then through the Cat5e cable.

Measurements are, as usual (for me), performed using
1. RME ADI-2 Pro fs R as a DAC (both output merged into 1 mono channel)
2. E1DA Cosmos ADC (from @IVX, Grade A, set to 6.7Vrms range, measured in Mono) as an ADC for SINAD and noise measurements
3. RME ADI-2 Pro fs R as an ADC (both input merged into 1 mono channel) for High frequency measurements and Frequency response
4. Virtins Multi Instrument Pro 3.9.5 as a measurement software
Performances of this is not supposed to match with Amir's Audio Precision, but as we will compare 2 measurements with just adding the "cable" we want to test, that should make no real difference. As you'll see, the performance of the test set up should be good enough to get a good idea of the added "cable" transparency.

SINAD dashboard
Direct

SINAD_Direct.png


Through "Cable"
SINAD_Cat.png


Noise floor
Direct
Noise_Direct.png


Through "Cable"
Noise_Cat.png


32 tones
Direct
32 tones_Direct.png


Through "Cable"
32 tones_Cat.png


Frequency response (96kHz sampling rate)
Direct
FFR_Direct.png


Through "Cable"
FFR_Cat.png


1kHz Square wave @768kHz sampling rate
Direct

Square_Direct.png


Through "Cable"
Square_Cat.png



Bottom line

I don't know for you guys, but, for me, I don't see any difference to speak about...


(Spoiler: I tested another similar device, from another brand, for which this is NOT true)


Important notes
Those devices exist in various brands.
(But this one is exceptionnaly cheap).

They all use the 4 twisted pairs you find in each Cat 5/6/7 cable to transport 4 separate balanced signals.
But they don't all use the same pairs for the same channels. And, more importantly, some brands are reversing phase on some pairs.
So mixing such "connectors" from different brands at the 2 sides of the Cat cable may be done, but you'd better check what impact that has.

Wiring for the Thomann SSSnake brand may be found here.

Phantom power may also be sent if you use a foilded/shiedled Cat 5/6/7 cable (the phantom power will use the shield)
DMX signal may also be transmitted.
I suppose that AES/EBU digital audio may also be sent using those extenders.
I didn't check any of those though.
 
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voodooless

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Great writeup. Was lurking at these. They seem very reasonably priced. Even from China these things tend to be more expensive. Good to know they perform well.
 
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Rja4000

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2 additional measurements:

SINAD through all 4 channels chained
That gives you a total of 120m UTP cable

SINAD_CAT_x4.png


Crosstalk
3 channels chained, fed with signal.
Measurement taken on last chanel, with no signal

Crosstalk = -110.88-0.95 = -109.93dB

Crosstalk_Cat_x4.png


This thing just works. :cool:
 
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Speedskater

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The pro audio industry has been using 4 pair CAT cable in XLR balanced interconnects for two decades now. (the newest bonded pair CAT cables have even better specs). But for phantom powered mics, not so much.
 

AdamG247

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Nice work @Rja4000 , @amirm likes it too and promoted this review to the Front Page Review section at the prompting of @voodooless.

Bravo Zulu Sir!
 

peniku8

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I have the more compact version of this adapter and measured it through my 50m drum of cat5e with no significant signal degredation to speak of.
Good compact multicore solution!
I personally use it to measure speakers outdoors (xlr to send signal to active speakers and another channel for the mic signal return). I need about 45m of cable, so the 50m ethercon drum I have is perfect. Been using 10x10m XLR cables before and it was getting pretty annoying.
The measurement mic is also phantom powered and I haven't noticed any issues. I think I even compared it with the mic too, with no difference.
But some large diaphragm condensers draw a lot more current, maybe those are choked by long thin cables. Not planning on using it with my Neumann mics though.
 

LTig

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Great work.

I wouldn't count on being able to transfer AES/EBU signals. This standard requires a cable with 110 Ohm wave impedance. I have no clue if there are CAT cables with 110 Ohm.
 
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Rja4000

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Great work.

I wouldn't count on being able to transfer AES/EBU signals. This standard requires a cable with 110 Ohm wave impedance. I have no clue if there are CAT cables with 110 Ohm.
Looks like 100 ohm.
I will test AES jitter.

 
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Berwhale

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I've performed following measurements using a 30m Cat5e UTP cable I had at hand.

Out of interest, was that solid core or stranded CAT5E?
 

Nango

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Great work.

I wouldn't count on being able to transfer AES/EBU signals. This standard requires a cable with 110 Ohm wave impedance. I have no clue if there are CAT cables with 110 Ohm.
I was told sometime it is not only the cable that needs to be of certain ohm but also the plugs, these are way more difficult to find than to build the cables. For ex. take the BNC digital spdif cables that need to be 70 ohm, you cand find some or build yourself but it is close to impossible to find a mfr doing those terminals at 70 ohm, all are 50 ohm rated.
 

AdamG247

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First time !
Thanks ! I'm honored :)
Gratitude goes to Voodooless for nominating your thread and Amir for approving. I did precious little in the process.
 

LTig

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I was told sometime it is not only the cable that needs to be of certain ohm but also the plugs, these are way more difficult to find than to build the cables. For ex. take the BNC digital spdif cables that need to be 70 ohm, you cand find some or build yourself but it is close to impossible to find a mfr doing those terminals at 70 ohm, all are 50 ohm rated.
That's true but I don't know whether XLR connectors are 110 Ohm. It's probably not that important because the frequency range is not that high.
 

Speedskater

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a] XLR connector impedance just doesn't matter. As LTig wrote : because the frequency range is not that high.
b] exact impedance of cable. For shorter cables (lets say 30 meters/30 feet) at these frequencie, 110 & 120 Ohms are the same.
c] solid or stranded. The only time that this is a question, is about attaching the conductor to the connector.
 

jensgk

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If I were to place a turntable (RIAA output) 33 ft away from active speakers, would this type of connect be suitable, or is it overkill?
 

fatoldgit

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Thanks for posting this.

I have been wondering about this type of device for years and put off some tinkering cause of the "fear factor" of not knowing about their transparency.

Now I can astound my wife with buying more "junk" that she doesnt understand nor see any benefit to having and I can fill some more of my retirement time buggering around with devices and gear.

Our "forever" house (built in 2008) has full structured wiring including 48 runs of cat 6 (unsheilded), which of course my wife doesnt understand nor see any benefit to having.

I will try AES/EBU as well as analogue.

My wife and I salute you, Sir!!!!

Peter
 
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I used this cabling to route analog signals to my side and rear surrounds and a rear sub in my home theater. Mitigates cabling and works great. Note: It is critical to use properly shielded CAT cabling to insure ground continuity.
 

Berwhale

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