The Iconoclast XLR cable is a star quad cable -- but it's a star quad with some very unusual features inside. Star quad cables produce excellent noise rejection qualities as compared to conventional pairs, albeit usually at some cost in higher capacitance. A typical star quad XLR cable has four conductors, each insulated in a dielectric, helically cabled together. Iconoclast does away with the individual conductor insulations -- the bare copper conductors are suspended in air-tube chambers, where they are centered by use of a spiral spacer filament. These four chambers are separated and bounded by a clover-leaf-style central spline, enclosed in an outer FEP layer, then covered in a bare copper high-coverage braid shield and finally jacketed in FEP. The physical separation of the conductors and use of air dielectric result in a capacitance so low that the first-generation design can be used as an AES/EBU digital cable -- impossible for conventional star quad designs, where the high capacitance takes the impedance well off-spec.
This unusual design mirrors the layout of the Iconoclast RCA, with the effect of making the electromagnetic properties of Iconoclast RCA and XLR interconnects as similar as possible. For more on the "whys and wherefores" of Iconoclast XLR design, see the RCA/XLR Design Brief in The Story of Iconoclast.
The original Iconoclast XLR design uses four solid copper wires as the signal conductors -- one in each of the four star-quad air chambers. One consequence of this arrangement, and its resulting low capacitance, is that this cable is suited not only for analog, but also for digital AES/EBU applications.
After development of the first Iconoclast RCA and XLR cables, Galen revisited one key aspect of the design to see if he could bring down the cable's inductance. Four wires instead of one in each channel, arranged in a tiny star quad, would do this, but only if they could be kept physically separate; if they touched, being uninsulated, they would behave as a stranded wire. A small FEP separator, shaped in cross-section like a plus sign, was the key: easy enough in concept, but difficult to implement successfully on a production cable. After some experimentation, it was found to be doable, and the result is the "Generation 2" Iconoclast XLR cable, the 4x4. The outer star quad of the 4x4 cable provides superb common mode noise rejection without the high capacitance usually associated with star quad cables, while the inner, tiny star quads reduce inductance (with a modest increase in capacitance). This change to inductance and capacitance takes the cable outside the impedance spec for AES/EBU, however, so it should be used in analog applications only.
Iconoclast XLR cables are terminated with Neutrik NC3MXX-B and FXX-B male and female XLR connectors, using WBT silver solder. All termination work is done in our Seattle shop, and all cables are accompanied by a test report showing final measured values for capacitance, inductance and resistance.
There are three options available for the signal conductor composition (shielding is TPC on all varieties). The difference between these is purely one of material, and not of design; regardless of whether your cable is made with TPC, OFE or OCC, the internal structure is the same, and the termination methods and hardware are the same.
The conductor choices for XLR cable are TPC, OFE and OCC. TPC is Electrolytic Tough-Pitch Copper, widely used in communications cable of all sorts. OFE is Oxygen-Free Electrolytic Copper (99.99% pure); OCC is Ohno Continuous Cast copper (99.99998% pure). The outer jacket color is red for TPC, violet for OFE, and green for OCC.
One thing that's very noticeable about the Iconoclast XLR design is that it's not a terribly flexible cable. It's thick, and it starts to offer up resistance to bending once one gets it down to about an 8-inch radius bend. While it can be bent a bit tighter than that without kinking, this is not a cable capable of an abrupt turn. If you have limited clearance behind your equipment, this can pose a problem. Two potential solutions are available.
Right-Angle XLRs: We can make these cables with right-angle XLRs on one or both ends. However, right-angle XLRs are not always a great solution, and whether they work for you will depend upon the particular constraints of your setup. What's more, a right-angle XLR is not a "swivel" connector -- once installed, the bend is in a fixed orientation which cannot be changed without taking the connector entirely off and re-attaching it. If you think you may need right-angle XLRs, our procedure is this: first, if you're at all in doubt as to whether you will keep these cables, please "audition" them in a straight-XLR configuration, making whatever allowances you must in order for them to fit. Then, write to us. We'll send you pictures indicating which directions the right-angle XLRs can be oriented (they aren't continuously variable and will point only in certain directions). Let us know what orientations you think you need; we will then send you XLRs without cable attached, so that you can test whether they will fit in such a way that the connectors can fully seat and not obstruct other jacks. Once you're able to confirm that the orientation will work, we can then build you a final set of cables. While this process may seem a bit slow, trust us: it's the only way to anticipate and avoid the often-unforeseen issues with right-angle XLR fit, and to avoid frequent frustrations and returns.
Belden BAV High-Flex Cable: If right angles are not a good solution for you, or if you'd like to try out the Iconoclast XLR design in a more economical version, we also offer the BAV XLR cable. Galen designed this cable for the studio market, where flexibility, flex life, and crush resistance are important. It uses polyethylene dielectric and a PVC jacket, and is very close in construction details and electrical characteristics to the Iconoclast Generation 1 product -- but it really doesn't start to push back against strain until it's at about a 4-inch bend radius, and it can go even tighter without deforming.
We accept returns for any reason whatsoever within 30 days of purchase.
To see prices and to order, use the tables below. And to help with XLR orientation, please see and fill out our XLR Orientation Form.